I celebrated my birthday last week, and a friend asked how I was going to top last year. I thought about that comment all day and realized I don’t want to try.
I had an amazing personal and professional year, including launching Forest Avenue Press and culminating in addressing the crowd at Powell’s during our Brave on the Page reading on Jan. 7. With that Pearl Room reading, my longtime dream came true. And I was there thanks to community support–the forty-two writers who contributed to Brave on the Page and the Powell’s staff who agreed to host our event and then helped us shape and promote it.
So what’s next? The answer seemed so obvious once I had the question in front of me. I want to give back to that community of Oregon writers and readers by making other authors’ dreams come true this year.
Specifically, three authors. It’s not a very big goal, but it’s a reasonable one.
I know who one of them is, and I expect to announce that news very soon, as we’re preparing his book for a September release. The other two will be chosen from the open submission period that just ended March 1. Forest Avenue Press received an incredible number of queries, and I’ve had so much fun reading about these story worlds that writers (and their own communities of writers and readers) have worked on so lovingly.
Rejections, incidentally, are incredibly hard to write, especially when the pages are lovely but just not to my taste. I have thought a lot about “it’s not for us,” that dreaded line, in the past few weeks, and I understand it in a new way. As the founder (editor, publisher, marketing director, accountant and floor scrubber) of Forest Avenue Press, I have to love whatever I publish, and that means saying no to some beautiful books because the subject doesn’t resonate, or because something else resonates more.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be reading more pages and working with my informal steering committee to narrow down the choices and ultimately pick two manuscripts to publish.
What am I going to do for these three writers? Publishing involves a lot of work. An in-depth editorial process. Working with a cover designer. Laying out the inside pages in a clean and professional way that matches the cover. Creating a substantial marketing plan, the kind of thing traditional publishers don’t do any more, apparently. Sending books out for reviews. Setting up bookstore readings–hopefully dream ones–and other event appearances. And advocating (evangelizing!) about these books that have won my heart and the hearts of the Forest Avenue Press crew.
I think it’s going to be an amazing year!