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Veteran Business Spotlight: Barnwell Publishing

I first found out about new publishing imprint Barnwell Publishing when it catapulted into the …


I first found out about new publishing imprint Barnwell Publishing when it catapulted into the spotlight as a PENFED Foundation 2021 Ignition Challenge Finalist, a competition for new veteran businesses that offers prizes up to $15,000 and business coaching opportunities.

As a writer in the military community and an avid reader, I immediately wanted to know more about how Barnwell Publishing came to be.

Barnwell Publishing’s founder, CMSgt (retired) Shon Barnwell, served in the United States Air Force for 25 years. She deployed in support of Operation Southern Watch in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Shon rose to the rank of Chief Master Sergeant – a rank that constitutes only one percent of enlisted personnel. She retired from the Air Force in 2014.

Barnwell Publishing

Her new venture, Barnwell Publishing, provides a platform for minorities and women with military backgrounds to publish their stories, insights and life experiences.

You can vote here for the Ignition Challenge until February 17! Let’s support our veteran entrepreneurs!

What inspired you to start Barnwell Publishing?

In 2019, I conducted a leadership workshop for a local Fortune 500 company. After the training event, a few participants asked where they could purchase my book. When I told them I hadn’t written a book on leadership, they quickly replied, “Ma’am, that’s your homework assignment!” #Smile

Tell us about the kinds of books you publish.

Barnwell Publishing currently has six clients in our queue – five in the United States and one writer in Germany.  Our works will feature poetry, non-fiction, fiction, cookbooks, and children’s books.  The first publication is my homework assignment – “Leadership Is About Behavior, Not Titles”.  The book offers insightful stories and activities to inspire action, impact, and results from leaders across all industries.  

How do you use the skills you learned in the military as a business owner?

Everything I learned in the military is transferable to the role of business owner!  Integrity, service, excellence, communication skills, diplomacy, problem solving, and active listening – to name a few.  Also, the 3D’s – Desire, Drive, and Determination are very important.  While on active duty, I had a great desire to take care of the team. My drive allowed me to reach the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force – Chief Master Sergeant (E-9). Each day I was determined to make the Air Force better than I found it; now I’m determined to ensure the world is better than I found it.  My greatest military skillset is the ability you walk into a room of people and instantly connect.  I’ve lived in or traveled to 26 countries, so you learn to adapt very quickly.

Congratulations on being chosen as a PenFed Ignition Challenge Finalist. What would you do with the $15,000 first prize?

Thank you for your well wishes and vote of confidence!  I’ve bootstrapped $10K thus far, so the $15K would be used to purchase an initial order of books and merchandise for an upcoming conference.  I received an invitation to participate in this year’s Air Force Sergeants Association’s (AFSA) Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.  I will purchase audio-visual equipment for media interviews, client showcases, and promotional events.  Additionally, the prize will allow me to attend a Lisa Nichols “Speaking to Inspire” coaching event; as well as a Larry Broughton “Elite Mastermind” coaching event.  

I’m a big fan of small presses and what they bring to literature. What is one thing people do to support small presses like yours? 

Because we are a small company, Barnwell Publishing will only accept a limited number of projects each year.  We want writers and creative souls to know experience premier publishing support each step of the process – from concept to book launch and beyond.  We want people to share their stories with us because we are listening!  I have met many amazing people with phenomenal stories and creative vision.  The world needs to know about these Superstars.  Once the stories are told, we need people to support their work via book purchases, the development of plays, or adapting the books to movies or TV sitcoms.

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Too easy!  In five years Barnwell Publishing will be the #1 imprint sharing the voice of veterans worldwide! #LetsGo #CreateTheSpace #ChangeTheWorld

What authors inspire you? 

I love the humanness of J. California Cooper.  Toni Morrison’s ability to make words dance from the page leaves me spellbound.  The passion and advocacy of Marian Wright Edelman is etched into my being every day I live.  Lastly, my Calvin and Hobbes collection by Bill Watterson is an instant morale booster!

Pre-Orders for Barnwell’s first book, Leadership is About Behavior, Not Titles, will begin at the end of February, and direct orders can be placed at  The book will also be available at Amazon.

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