Giving Back to the Writing Community

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 want to bring this kind of joy to my Forest Avenue authors; this photo of me was taken during our Jan. 7 Powell's reading.

I want to bring this kind of joy to my Forest Avenue authors; this photo of me was taken during our Jan. 7 Powell’s reading.

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!

About Laura Stanfill

Publisher, Forest Avenue Press
This entry was posted in Books, Publishing, small press, Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Giving Back to the Writing Community

  1. 4amWriter says:

    Well, happy birthday and happy celebratory year — whatever you make of it. I am sure that writing a rejection is excruciating. I can’t imagine having to do that myself. I’m positive you’re choosing the best of the best, though, knowing a little bit about you and your goals. 🙂

    • Thanks, Kate! It’ll be a busy year and I’m excited to have a goal, even if it is somewhat intangible and hard to measure. Focusing on three people, and getting their books into the world, makes writing the rejections worthwhile, although they’re still really hard to do. Especially ones where I know other people could love the manuscript, but I don’t love it, or I love it but don’t think my target audience will relate to it. And especially because I know a lot of the people who submitted. I think that’s another reason I wanted to clarify my plan for the year this way and focus on the positive results of this difficult process.

      I am so thankful for my informal committee of readers who have looked at queries and pages with me; ultimately whatever I choose will have to be my decision, but it’s great to have thoughtful readers weighing in.

  2. jmmcdowell says:

    Happy Birthday! And I know you are going to provide your writers with the support we all dream of from a press. 🙂

    • I hope so! The economic realities of the business are pretty pathetic, especially when you start adding up all the hours the writer spends on the manuscript and all the hours the publishing team spends turning it into a book. If I can remember this focus–three authors, their books in the world–that should help if we don’t meet or exceed everyone’s expectations.

      My first author said he had one of the best days this week talking about cover design with our team. I can’t wait to get him up at that Powell’s podium in September!

  3. Happy birthday!

    Writing the rejections is tough, but so is making the decisionse in the first place, I’m sure.

    I look forward to more news.

  4. Gigi Little says:

    What a lovely place to be in! En avant!

    • Once I figured out, oh yes, this is what I’m going to do this year, as a way to pay back all the joy and encouragement I’ve received from others this year, I was ready to get started! I’m having so much fun winnowing down our amazing submissions to two. It’s hard but wonderful, knowing that when I get to that point, I will be making two people very happy.

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