The Inspiration Behind Sigma’s Bookshelf

It seems whenever you start up a new company or invent a new product, one of the first questions people tend to ask is, “Where did that idea come from?” 

Justin M. Anderson, 16, the founder of what is believed to be the first publishing company exclusively for teenage authors, credits John B. Goodman, founder of Minnesota-based The Goodman Group, with inspiring his new company, “Sigma’s Bookshelf." 

“Right after my first book (Saving Stripes: A Kitty’s Story) came out, Mr. Goodman bought 25 copies and distributed them to kids at his intergenerational Learning Centers in Florida and Minnesota,” said Anderson. 

But Goodman’s generosity didn’t stop there. A few months later when Anderson got the chance to meet him in person and thank him, Mr. Goodman reached into his wallet and pulled out two $100 dollar bills and handed them to the teenager. 

“I was kind of in shock. It was so unexpected,” said Anderson, who at first wasn’t sure he should accept the money. Realizing his uncertainty about the large gift, Goodman told the boy he wanted him to keep it and do something good with it. Anderson got the nod of approval from his mother, and eventually went on to use the money to secure more copies of his book, which sells for $10 with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the charity that had helped him with the kitty rescue he wrote about. To date, more than 200 copies of the book have been sold and Anderson has helped raise thousands of dollars for S.O.S. Rescue Relief, Inc., a Plymouth, Minn., nonprofit dedicated to preventing euthanasia in adoptable animals.

The encounter happened in Dec. 2015, just three months before John B. Goodman’s death. As Justin and his mother were heading to the memorial service, they had a conversation about how sad it was that the world had lost someone who was so generous. “Justin said to me, 'I hope that one day I can do what Mr. Goodman did for me and hand out $100 bills to people',” said Justin’s mother, Rachel M. Anderson. The conversation then led to the idea that he didn’t have to wait until sometime in the future to help others. He could do it right away. 

A short time after the memorial service, Justin and his mom decided to start up a publishing company that would allow teenagers to bring their books to market for free. The company is called Sigma’s Bookshelf, and it just started up in Oct. 2016. The name was inspired by Sigma, one of the characters in Justin’s debut novel, Nothing But Trouble, the story of a cancer cure project with some unusual side effects.

Sigma’s Bookshelf requests all completed manuscripts be submitted via the website, Not all titles will be accepted for publication. There is a review process.

"We want to make sure the content we print will reflect well on our brand and the kids whose work we publish,” said Rachel M. Anderson. 

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