Let this entrepreneurial publishing duo pick your next read
Started by two friends, Onwe Press promotes exciting and diverse stories, especially those written by black women sci-fi writers.
Are you big fans of fantasy but always find yourself a bit put out that there are more dragons than brown people in these fictional world? Or perhaps you're a huge sci-fi lover but just yearn to see more black people than aliens in these faraway galaxies? Well, step in Onwe. They are a new independent publishing house, co-founded by Mariam Jimoh and Reni Amayo, who are on a plight to promote writers from lesser-heard communities, especially black women authors.
Their mission is clear: "At Onwe, we value three things above all: creator ownership, expressing marginalised ideas, and highlighting diverse voices. Our mission is to amplify diverse voices and express under-represented ideologies across all creative industries via unique content, products and experiences."
There’s a growing appetite for fantastical stories with Black people at the heart. From The recent bestsellers including Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi and forthcoming The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna to classics including Noughts + Crosses by the one and only Malorie Blackman.
Onwe comes at a perfect time to capture an audience thirsty for more stories with black people at the heart of the action. Their authors include Reni K Amayo whose epic feminist young adult novel Daughters of Nri was followed up recently with Descendants of the First. The series is a hit, with Buzzed calling the first ‘literary magic’’. The sequel's cover was revealed in an Instagram by singer and presenter Jamelia (below).
So, where does the name Onwe come from? The duo say: "In the Nigerian dialect, Igbo, Onwe is freedom and ownership. We as a press hope to offer this freedom to diverse voices, giving a prominent platform for authors and stories that are often neglected. 'Strength lies in differences, not in similarities' and our mission is to bring unique stories to you - hopefully becoming books that stay with you for a lifetime. Creating quality content and getting everyone reading is our mantra, and we’re excited to show you all what we’re working on!"
Alongside books, Onwe also sells a selection of lifestyle products including tees and candles. They don’t stop there either. Tune into a podcast by the team called Subtexting, a ‘"go to for all things Black women, culture, lifestyle, books and literature. Decoding the themes and messages underlying everything we consume on a day to day basis.” They added it's "always with a glass of Prosecco plus amazing black female guests from around the world."
Onwe is a positive spark in a publishing world that’s long been accused of not reflecting modern society. They join a vibrant list of publishing houses with diversity at their core, from Dialogue Books, Jacaranda Books, Knights Of, and Merky Books (set up by Stormzy). To be truly supportive of encouraging writers and other creatives from marginalised backgrounds, Onwe also put their money where their mouths are.
"We’re small but we’re mighty and we have a team dedicated to ensuring that creatives get paid their due for their world-changing work.”