The Handmade Approach to Publishing

When we started talking about making origami cranes for the cover of Kate Gray’s Carry the Sky, our fall release from Forest Avenue Press, I piped up to say I knew how. The designer, Gigi Little, asked me to make some. So I did. And then I made more. And then she crafted them artfully, with lots of time and love and Photoshop effort, into this breathtaking cover:

Carry the Sky Front Cover

An essay I wrote about these cranes, and where the paper came from, is being featured today on Gigi’s blog. Read the whole thing here. Or just read this bit about my beloved paper toilet that met a soggy end, despite how I carefully lined the bowl with Saran Wrap. (I’ve always meant to write an essay about that paper toilet.)

Before that, I made things. At home. An only child, not lonely at all, with popsicle sticks and glitter and pompoms, staples binding my own handwritten books. I made vending machines. I made a paper toilet that one of the neighbor kids used for real. I made cities. It fit that, when offered an array of after-school activities that fifth-grade year, I chose origami over soccer, and began folding neat squares of thin paper into neater, smaller, intricate objects. 

It’s pretty amazing to be involved to this degree in the actual making of a commercial object that is being released on Monday, September 1. I can’t thank Gigi enough for encouraging me to pull out my rusty paper-folding skills and then doing something so lovely with what I made.

And also on the good news front, for this new book that I’ve been working on for fifteen months, and that author Kate worked on for ten years:

hot new release for twitter


It’s a hot new release, according to Amazon, ranked #26 last time I checked, in literary gay and lesbian fiction. It’s about boarding school bullying. Not fitting in. An adult book written with crystalline prose and a mix of heartbreak and humor by an award-winning poet, who I’ve admired for many years from afar and now have the pleasure of publishing.

There’s interior art, too, a series of sixty original illustrations of a crane being folded from a blank piece of paper, illustrations Gigi did based on photographs of mine. Even the ebook features these beautiful pieces thanks to the hard work and patience of our ebook maker Cyrus

Actually, the way the book works matches the process of folding cranes. One chapter builds on the next. There are two teacher protagonists, one female questioning her sexuality and one Asian American male questioning his own sense of ethics, and their stories weave around each other, circling two students who don’t fit in, and taking concepts and phrases and echoing them, embroidering them, always raising the stakes.

We’re also doing a paperback giveaway on Goodreads right nowIf you read it, let me know! 

About Laura Stanfill

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

3 Responses to The Handmade Approach to Publishing

  1. Gigi says:

    Lovely. But, wait. You never told me about the Saran Wrap. Prepared even back then! You know what? You should write that essay on the paper toilet. I”m serious.

    • Was it you who told me to write one? Someone did; I can’t remember why it came up, or with who, but it was a few years ago. Too hilarious, thinking back on how seriously I worked on that project.

  2. Congratulations on the Amazon ranking!
    I agree about things being handmade. It pleases me no end that the cover of A Sane Woman ( is an actual drawing, not a computer-generated imitation of one. It’s probably the least photoshopped book cover you’ll find these days. It’s like the fun of seeing an old Hollywood movie like Stagecoach where you know the (amazing) stunts were done by actual performers on actual horses, not all CGI and green screen.

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