How a Literary Magazine Grew into a Publishing Business

Denise Petti,Raquel Pidal, Joy Stocke, Kimberly Nagy

Beyond the Glass Ceiling | Women, Collaboration and how two women grew a successful publishing company from grass roots

October, 2014: Princeton, NJ: When Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC, owners Joy Stocke and Kim Nagy first met for coffee in 2005, neither could have predicted how their futures would merge. Fueled by a passionate conversation about literature and more important, the power of stories to heal and transform, Stocke and Nagy—writers, editors, dedicated entrepreneurs and busy mothers—felt an instant kinship over the impact stories can make in every sector—and the craft it takes to tell them well.
They believed strongly in a nearly unheard-of approach at the time—the power of collaboration—a force slowly picking up speed with the growth of the Internet.

Stocke, a literary journalist with a degree in Radio-Broadcast Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was already a well-established author, community organizer of writers, and a founder of the Meridian Writers Collective reading series in Philadelphia (one of the first of its kind) and grass-roots publishing initiatives. In 2004, she brought her reputation for editorial direction and content curation to The Bucks County Writer literary magazine, situated in the heart of the “Genius belt”.

Fascinated with rapid technology developments (and possible cost-savings) Stocke was soon looking to bring the publication’s reputation and presence online to grow its demographic. She faced resistance. At the time, many publishers thumbed their noses at “online” magazines. But two years after Wild River Review ( launched its first issue in 2006, the Utne Reader named the website one of the “great” literary magazines, and praised its international literary flavor and “exceptionally interesting interviews”.

Groomed in the boardrooms of traditional publishers from London to New York City, Nagy came from the world of marketing and publicity management for houses such as Princeton University Press, Routledge UK and WW Norton. In 2003, shortly after the birth of her daughter, she left publishing to write as a work-at-home mom, focusing closely on content creation. But, Nagy never forgot her marketing and PR training, which relentlessly begged the question: “Who am I writing for?” for her clients. As passionate about promotion as she is about creation, Nagy stressed that without user-centric analysis and outreach, no creative or business initiative could ever connect with its core audience.

It was an approach the team at Wild River adopted and expanded as Stocke and Nagy rapidly grew their literary audience of creatives well beyond the mailing list of the Bucks County Writer to include international authors and journalists, publishers and TV-producers, academics and photographers, as well as non-profit leaders and entrepreneurs. In 2009, with a growing demand, Stocke and Nagy combined their talents under one roof to form Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC.


Wondering about Kimberly’s work with Wild River Review and Wild River Consulting & Publishing?

Joy E. Stocke and Kimberly Nagy

December 27, 2014. It was 2007 when Joy Stocke and Kimberly Nagy did the unthinkable: They essentially converted the highly regarded literary magazine the Bucks County Writer – founded in 1998 and published by the Writers Room of Bucks County – to an online journal.

“We were told we were going to fail,” Stocke recalled.

In reality, failure was the likely outcome if the magazine reminded in print form, she said.
“We could no longer afford to distribute print,” said Stocke, 57, who, as a literary journalist, author, and community organizer of writers, took over the Doylestown-based nonprofit Bucks County Writer in May 2003, editing it until the winter of 2006. It had been funded through advertising, subscriptions, and donations.

Both the name “Bucks County Writer” and the printed edition are no more, succeeded by the online launch of Wild River Review. Within two years, Wild River Review (at was being hailed in literary circles for its international reach and interesting interviews – and that still amuses Stocke.

“Afterwards, you’re called a visionary,’ she said, rejecting such highfalutin praise. “That was completely a business decision. For a successful business, you have to be practical.”

The Wild River Review, designed in part to get readers to think critically about social issues and leave them “nourished – they’re going to get some food out of it,” Stocke said, has attracted not only readers but potential book authors to Wild River’s publishing and consulting services.
Nagy, 48, honed her marketing and publicity-management skills at publishing houses in London and New York before becoming a work-at-home writer mom in 2003. That was prior to joining Stocke in the Wild River enterprise.

Going online was not a hard sell to the bookish Nagy.

“I love books. I am passionate about beautiful books,” she said. “But books alone aren’t enough anymore. Having an awareness of the digital world is mandatory for any author.”