Meet Young Authors's Founder and CEO, Leah Hernandez! We had the chance to interview Leah to learn a little more about her background and where the idea for Young Authors Publishing started, as well as where it's going. Read the full interview below!
Q. How did you come up with the idea for Young Authors Publishing?
A. Young Authors Publishing started as the Young Authors Program, a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative of Purposeful Millennials Publishing, a for-profit book publishing company I started in 2017. The concept of the Young Authors Program was simple: help kids write children’s books and deposit the book royalties into a savings account. Sounds simple right? I worked with four dynamic girls from Vine City who had a beautiful perspective about the community they lived in and wanted the world to know all about it! The program came to a close and our lovely young authors had published their debut book, Roxie’s Day In Vine City.
After this remarkable experience I understood the pure imagination and perspective kids had on life as well as the complications and limits kids from low socio-economic communities faced. I decided that book publishing would be a great vehicle to self-sufficiency. During the summer of 2018 the company pivoted from a for-profit book publisher which published books written by adult authors, to a not-for-profit 501c3 exempt children’s book publisher who devoted their resources and publishing expertise to children in low-income communities. From there we were officially known as Young Authors Publishing.
Q. What made you pursue book publishing?
A. My sophomore year of undergrad I decided to write and publish my first book, Try God. After self-publishing my book, I was approached by another young lady to help her do the same thing. That led me to starting a publishing company to help more aspiring writers get published.
Q. What was your career before publishing?
A. Before publishing I was a full time student :)
However, before I fell in publishing my goal was to become an event planner and work for BET to plan their award shows.
Q. How have you grown since YAP first started?
A. Wheeew! That’s a loaded questin - my growth from when I first started YAP is hard to condense in a simple response but lets do it. In addition to the leadership and business growth, I can say I have truly grown as a person. The biggest lesson I’ve learned when starting YAP was the balance of work and rest. It’s something I did not do a good job of while in school and building YAP but now am truly honoring my time to work and most importantly, rest.
Q. How has YAP grown since its inception?
A. We went from an idea I had in my dorm room to a 501c3 non profit book publisher with global distribution and a rockstar team of 3 and board with 5 directors in less than 3 years! I’d like to think we’ve come a long way.
Q. What are you looking forward to in YAP’s near future?
A. I am really looking forward to expanding our program nationally and internationally. I am excited to see young authors from all over the world sharing their stories and earning money while doing so.
Q. The organization’s saying “We believe all kids are story worthy” is so unique. What does that mean to you and how you approach scaling YAP?
A. This statement reminds everyone (myself included) that all children deserve to see themselves reflected in children’s literature. I believe that this will help us scale our program by reaching more children whose experiences are not currently being shared.
Q. What’s been your favorite moment at YAP so far?
A. My favorite moment so far was our first book release in 2018. This was the first time our young authors saw their book for the first time. The glow and happiness on their faces is something I will never forget and keeps me going when I ask myself “Why are you doing this again?”.