Get to Know Jason Wood Publisher, Writer, Kantanoose Global
Q: What made you want to get into independent publishing?
Jason Wood: I have always been a do it yourselfer so to speak. I love working for myself and bringing my products to market. I have read many stories of great writers dealing with the judgmental world of publishers. I did not want my creative process interrupted by anyone. The literary world is at times very snobby. There are many out there that believe that formal education some how equals intelligence. Many individuals seem to get pleasure from discouraging others of pursuing their dreams of becoming writers. I frown heavily on those standing in the way of other people’s potential greatness.
The freedom of writing things my way with my words has been a priceless experience. I thoroughly enjoy fighting with editors to leave many of my mistakes in my personal stories. I believe that it reflects a clearer sense of who I am and my educational limitations. It’s part of the authenticity of the brand. I always say to my editor, “if I wanted the books to sound smarter I would have had you write them. Leave the mistakes in. I made those typos!” It’s a different approach to writing, more about the soul of the story and the lessons it can teach as opposed to intellectual snobbery.
Q: How does your business model differ from that of mainstream publishers?
JW: Although I cannot speak for the mainstream publishers, I can say that like most businesses their main focus is profit. At Kantanoose our focus is on the story. Of course I want to earn a profit, otherwise why start a business? However I start from a place of giving. My main focus is the story and what lessons it can share with the world to inspire people to make changes in their lives. When you do something from a position of giving first you get more than you can possibly imagine. That is the way to excellence. That is what Kantanoose is all about.
In addition we are streamlined. We have no shareholders, no executive board and no skyscraper offices to maintain. We answer directly to the people. I personally take in feedback from readers of all ages, economic backgrounds, genders and races. This allows me to keep a close ear to the ground rather than listing to focus groups, marketing directors and editorial boards. We are the definition of grass roots. I like to think of Kantanoose as a natural publisher. I use the word natural because we are a group of people rather than policies, we are a team of creators rather than a board of executives. We are the boots on the ground seeking to do something special and different in the publishing business.
Q: What kind of stories excite you most and are in line with the Kantanoose brand?
JW: I’m excited by stories that pull on the heartstrings. I love stories of triumph over life’s hardships. We all have personal battles, some great some small, but day in and day out, we all have our battles to face. It is what makes us human and connected. The human spirit is amazing. At Kantanoose we capture those stories and showcase those characters as we expose their highs, their lows and the lessons they can pass along. I am a firm believer that every single one of us has an amazing story to tell. My job is to tell that story. That’s what gets me excited.
Q: How many titles are you releasing in the next year?
JW: We are expecting to release at least one new title per quarter next year. After that my focus will be building a team of writers so we can increase those numbers. The stories are out there. It’s just a matter of reaching out to people encouraging them to tell it. We can help. Each book becomes very personal to me. Some of the stories I like to hold on to for a period of time before releasing them into the world. I want to become totally familiar with the story, the writer and the subject. I have no reason to rush to market. That is one of the great benefits of being the publisher, I can wait. Timing is everything.
Q: Why do you feel people should share their story?
JW: I believe that story telling is one of the most important things we can do in society. It is through stories that we learn about our culture and others. The stories we share connects us. When a grandparent talks to their grandchild about life in another time, they are sharing precious lessons with that child. When a man who did time in prison shares his story there are lessons to be learned from his experiences. It is through stories, both hearing them and telling them that we form and define who we are, where we came from and where we are going. When we die it may only be our stories that we leave behind to speak for us.
Learning from our own mistakes is smart while learning from other’s mistakes is wise. When we hear stories of other people’s lives, weather they are positive or negative we learn. Telling my story was incredibly therapeutic for me. The experience was like no other in my life. The thought of helping others to tell their story brings me joy. It is what I am here to do.
Q: Why should people read a Kantanoose title? What will they come away with?
JW: Kantanoose titles are gritty and raw. I personally oversee our project selections and I can tell you Kantanoose title brings with it laughter and tears, pain and pleasure, failure and triumph, shock and comfort. We strive to give you the story that lies under the surface of what may be perceived. It answers the “why” and explains the “how.” Our books offend some, empower others and encourage as many as possible. I’m not really interested in political correctness. I’m interested in truth and the lessons that come from knowing better and then doing better. I don’t dress up the stories. I keep them real, raw and relatable.
Q: What are 3 things you look for in a story?
JW: 1. The stories are based on real events
2. The stories that will make an impact on the reader
3. The stories that are raw, moving, and straight from the heart
Q: What kind of stories are you most interested in telling?
JW: I love stories of redemption and the ones that are hard to tell, hard to hear but necessary in order to teach and inspire. I enjoy bringing out the human side of people. The regrets, pain, failures, heartache and despair as well as the triumph, success, glory and strength of people are what I look for. I believe that in this fast paced, information age dominated by social media, quick texts as opposed to meaningful conversations, people are forgetting their identity. People are “branding” themselves as what they think will garner a positive result (more success, more money, better career, relationships). It’s as if society has ZERO tolerance for humanity and just wants this nice happy, professional robot of a person. If given the chance to tell, most people can tell an incredible story of their lives. I love those stories and I print them.
Q: Why should people trust you with their personal stories? Many skeletons are best kept in a closet.
JW: I released my own story first. My story is an incredibly personal account of the ups and downs of my own life. I candidly described my own experiences with abuse, racism, incest, sex, drugs and terrible choices I have made in my life. When someone opens themselves up that is the first step to establishing trust. It’s an exchange. Look at any relationship. The more you reveal and accept the stronger the bond grows. I know what it feels like to put your life out there for the world to see. I did it. The whole thing is intention. If the mutual goal is to teach the world through the stories of human triumph or redemption then the rest falls into place.
Q: Story telling requires one to be a great listener what are 3 ways we all can become better listeners?
JW: 1. To really listen we must first “get over ourselves”. We have to take the chips off of our shoulders and come off of our high horses and being to realize that we actually need each other.
2. Listening requires the listener to not talk. Sounds simple but you would be surprised how many people think they can both listen and talk at the same time. Remember listening is sexy. Talking isn’t.
3. Try to actually picture what someone is saying when you are listening to them. Don’t worry about how clever your come back will be. Focus on the words and vision the speaker is trying to convey to you. Open not only your ears, but your mind as well. Do your best to put yourself in the shoes of the person speaking to you.