As my longtime readers know (hello, friends), my life has taken an unexpected turn since I started writing about writing here in this welcoming WordPress space.
In 2012, I grouped some of my Seven Questions interviews together and published a book, featuring fifteen of them and twenty-seven micro-essays on the craft of writing.
That collection, Brave on the Page: Oregon Writers on Craft and the Creative Life, was an experiment. I used the Espresso Book Machine at Powell’s to print and distribute copies. We had a launch party around the machine and the staff cranked out copy after copy, which readers and authors could hold, warm in their hands. It was truly a local experiment: Oregon authors, an Oregon press, printed while you wait at one of the best-known bookstores in the country.
The book was named a Powell’s Staff Top 5s pick, it stayed on the Powell’s Small Press Bestseller List every day for four straight months, and we did an official launch reading that attracted more than 140 people to Powell’s on a cold winter night. An unbelievable run for a little hey-why-not project.
Publishing Brave on the Page made me brave.
It took a while, but I stopped talking about being a founder of a company, or the editor of one particular anthology. I started using the word publisher. As in, I am a publisher. I am a gatekeeper. It started feeling like my identity, instead of a role I was trying on.
Hello, I’m Laura, and I’m a publisher.
By the time our first fiction title came out in September 2013, Stevan Allred’s A Simplified Map of the Real World, I became sure of one this: publishing is what I want to do with my life, and everything I’ve done personally and professionally has led up to finding this career. Publishing is a way to grow literary community, it’s a way to celebrate indie bookstores by organizing author events, and–most of all–it’s a way to put beautiful books into the world. Books that might not otherwise have had a chance.
One of my tell-tale tests is whether I want to run out into the street, after finishing a manuscript, and tell all my neighbors to read it. If I don’t want to run into the street, if I don’t want to talk myself hoarse about the adventure a manuscript has taken me on, then I won’t publish it.
I still love writing fiction, and am wrestling with a new draft of my nineteenth century novel, but I’m also focused on my five-year business plan. Growing Forest Avenue Press. To that end, we have some very exciting news that I’m not quite ready to share, but I will soon.
And because of this exciting news, there’s a little bit of farewell, too. I have to pull Brave on the Page out of print. It doesn’t fit the mission of the press any more; we publish fiction exclusively now. It’s our very first title, but we’ve outgrown it as a business. We’re not planning more creative writing collections, and we’re moving beyond our Pacific Northwest roots and opening nationally for submissions on January 1, 2015.
This is who we are now:
Forest Avenue Press, winner of a 2014 Oregon Literary Fellowship, publishes page-turning literary fiction. Its titles are infused with a fresh, complex, sometimes nutty, and often-wondrous approach to storytelling.
Brave on the Page made me into a publisher, this sweet 200-page collection fueled by the words of so many Oregon writers who put their brains to work in sharing advice on the craft. I’m so grateful to everyone who participated in that project. It’s still available through local bookstores in Oregon, including Powell’s and Another Read Through, at any Espresso Book Machine until Nov. 15, or online through Amazon, probably also until Nov. 15.
We won’t be reprinting.
It feels sad, and kind of brave, to say goodbye to the project that launched my press.
But it’s time.