We have a lot of new author interviews coming up in 2013, including Anthony Lee Collins of U-town scheduled for New Year’s Eve.
My writer-friend Kristen Forbes had her essay “Dream Girl” published in The Rumpus last week. It’s a candid look at the self and how we project idealized versions of ourselves especially in the world of online dating. Kristen’s essay lent its title to Brave on the Page, and this is an incredibly courageous essay. She warns on her blog that her parents and ex-boyfriends shouldn’t read it… which is all the more reason you should. This piece has inspired me to work on an essay of my own.
I’ve had some very exciting Forest Avenue Press news too.
Our Powell’s City of Books reading, 1005 W. Burnside, Portland, Oregon, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 7. I’m busy working out the logistics. We’ll have five authors reading their flash essays from Brave on the Page, followed by a panel discussion on the creative process. For more information, check out the event details on the Powell’s website. Or RSVP to the Powell’s Facebook event page.
The Portland Book Review just gave Brave on the Page a four-star review. ”For any aspiring writer who feels lonely at the keyboard, Brave on the Page is a treasure trove of inspiration and advice on the writing life that will without a doubt encourage,” writes reviewer Kristin Leigh. “In an artfully curated collection of interviews and flash essays written by Oregon writers and edited by Laura Stanfill, authors speak candidly with equal parts depth and grace about their craft.”
I’m especially grateful for the Portland Book Review’s existence because the Oregonian’s book pages have been shrinking; the section two Sundays ago featured one page of reviews, with the facing page featuring a movie review and some literary calendar tidbits. The bottom of that page was anchored by movie listings. As a former newspaper reporter, I imagine the movie folks would not have appreciated anchoring a page featuring book content exclusively, hence the review. Still.
This past Sunday was the first time (at least that I noticed) that the Books section didn’t include any full-length reviews. The lead package featured four university press books, each earning one or two paragraphs. Beneath that article, the Bookmarks column listed four bits of local book news, including the fact that legendary Portland author Tom Spanbauer has signed with Hawthorne Books for a new novel. The remaining space featured a poem by Kim Stafford. So there were eight books total featured, which is great, but I did miss being able to read some actual reviews.
And the second page of books coverage? Anchored by a ton of movie ads again. (That may have started a while ago, but I only noticed recently in conjunction with the shrinking news hole.) The small amount of editorial space left on the page was filled neatly by David Biespiel’s regular poetry column.
Have I mentioned that Brave on the Page made it into the Books pages as part of the Oregonian‘s New in the Northwest column a few weeks ago? I’m so grateful for the mention, especially with space being at a premium.
The shrinking books coverage is no surprise; we have heard lots of rumblings and commentary about that. As a regular newspaper reader, I’ve been alarmed to watch the Sunday books section turn into the books pages over the years, and now a page and a half (or page and a fourth in the case of this past week’s paper). I don’t know what the answer is; editorial space is governed in large part by advertising, and if people don’t want to advertise in the books section then there will be fewer books pages. And of course people can read all the reviews they want online, or even on Amazon–which is a whole other topic about friend-given reviews or even purchased reviews and whether five stars really means five stars. Reading reviews online mean it’s really easy to click a button and purchase a book–something the newspaper can’t compete with.
All this to say, as I get Forest Avenue Press growing, someday I’d love to be able to advertise in the books section of the Oregonian. Even if it’s a tiny little ad. I’d love to support their efforts. I think the world of Jeff Baker, who runs the section and writes a beautiful series on where authors work. And I still believe it’s an incredibly effective way to get the word out about books. Especially when the book is locally generated.
Speaking of which, since those mentions in the Oregonian and the Portland Book Review, we’ve been selling quite a number of books, especially through Powell’s, which has been incredibly supportive of our fledgling small press. I’ve always believed in buying local, and supporting independent stores, and the care and attention the staff has taken with Brave on the Page makes me even more excited to support them as a consumer.
Next year, I’d like to run some blog posts on the art of book promotion. I approach marketing from an old-fashioned, community based perspective, so if you have any questions or topic suggestions leave them in the comments and I’ll get to work.