LUBBOCK, Texas – At Wild Lark Books, you’ll find a cozy atmosphere, helpful staff, and of course thousands of books. Recently, the bookshop ventured into something it hopes can be impactful and help give up-and-coming authors a fair shot at having their work seen.

“Publishing is in a bit of an interesting state right now as an industry,” said Brianne van Reenen, founder and curator of Wild Lark Books. “Through my experiences in it, I wanted to try something a little bit different.”

After seeing so many authors struggle to get their books published, van Reenen wanted to flip the script. In December 2021, she decided to open Lubbock’s first independent bookstore and publishing house.

“I saw an opportunity for Wild Lark Books to bridge that gap between the community of readers and the community of writers,” van Reenen said.

Van Reenen said money can be a huge barrier when bringing a book to life, especially for those who are historically excluded.

“There’s so much cost that is involved in bringing a book to print and I didn’t want that to be a hurdle, particularly for some of the stories that can be most important for our community to have,” van Reenen said.

In August 2022, she created a nonprofit called the “Wild Lark Books Fund” to make publishing possible for writers of all backgrounds and ages.

“We can use the funding for providing programs, whether that’s educational programs, resources, outreach programs, and then also provide the funding services behind some projects to bring more stories to print,” van Reenen said. “It’s specifically designed for stories and authors from historically unserved communities and minority voices.”

Van Reenen said every book on the shelves is new, so authors can be compensated for the sales of their publications.

Wild Lark Books has 32 authors in its portfolio, and 15 of them are already published authors.

“We work with authors all over, but it is great to be able to have local Lubbock authors too that come in and get to engage with the community in a very particular and special way,” van Reenen said.

She believes all authors should own the rights to their art, and many publishing houses make that difficult. At Wild Lark Books, authors have full ownership of their work.

Where traditional published authors receive around 10%, all authors at Wild Lark Books get 50% royalties for every book sold. Van Reenen said she currently has 15 authors whose books are slated to be published this year. 

“When authors go the traditional route in publishing, the manuscript is being bought from them,” van Reenen said. “The publisher will often get to dictate a little bit of what that process looks like for the author, whereas in self-publishing, the author really is making all of those decisions for themselves.”

Van Reenen said she hopes to continue lifting minority voices through publishing here in the Hub City.

“It’s an honor to be able to bring a vision to a shelf for someone,” van Reenen said. “To see their face and their experience holding their book for the first time, it’s magical, really.”
Wild Lark Books is located at 513 Broadway St. To learn more or donate, visit the Wild Lark Books website.