Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Main Street Writers Movement

Interview with a Most Talented and Enterprising Publisher


Do you know this woman? Laura Stanfill

More than likely not, unless you’re a regular reader of this blog; or, you’re involved in the literary scene in Oregon, U.S.A.; or, perhaps, you’ve bought something from Forest Avenue Press

However, more folks could soon know her since she’s been nominated for Publishers Weekly Star Watch, which was created “…to identify and celebrate members of the U.S. publishing community who are on the rise and bring recognition to them on a global stage.”

Some of you who follow this blog may remember that she founded the Main Street Writers Movement

And, I’m happy to say there is a new interview with—drum roll—spotlight onLaura Stanfill !

The interview was conducted by Edwin L. Battistella—instructor of linguistics and writing at Southern Oregon University—author of six books and over fifty academic articles. He “…is on the editorial board of The Oregon Encyclopedia, and the Executive Committee of the Linguistic Society of America. He is the co-editor-in-chief of the Wiley-Blackwell journal Language and Linguistics Compass.” He also “…contributes a monthly blog to Oxford University Press, called Between the Lines with Edwin Battistella.”

As is my usual plan, I’ll share a few excerpts and encourage you to read the Full Interview

As part of her relating what she’s learned in publishing, Laura said:

“I spent two years selling books out of the back of my car—and toting boxes to bookstores for consignment—before signing with Legato Publishers Group…We have sales conferences and reps that sell our books across the U.S., which makes our marketing and publicity efforts even more crucial, because the risk is higher. But the potential reward is higher, too.”

While discussing her choice of Portland, Oregon for her business, she said:

“We…have incredibly dedicated booksellers who write excellent shelf talkers and hand-sell local titles to browsers. When I showed up as a new publisher, I found friends and allies in the indie bookstore world because I had been buying books and attending events for a decade. My mission with Forest Avenue was to urge in-person conversations about literature, so I created an events-based marketing plan that I still use today. My whole business model is centered on independent bookstores. I support bookstores; bookstores support our authors. It sounds obvious, but it’s important. Essential.”

When asked about Main Street Writers Movement, she said:

“It’s a movement geared to encouraging writers to build community at the local level by supporting each other, their indie bookstores, and local presses and magazines. If we can create these invested hubs of community goodness, then the whole national literary ecosystem will become stronger. And touring writers will be able to activate Main Street communities in the places they travel….We use #mainstreetwriters as our hashtag to help members find each other.”

Here’s where you can read more about or join Main Street Writers Movement

Again, I encourage you to read the Full Interview; but, here’s a final excerpt to help you decide to go over there :-)

When asked what she looks for in an author, Laura said:

“I look for someone who has been actively building community, because it’s really hard to sell books by authors who are only invested in promoting their own work. Debut authors are a favorite, because so many of them have spent years honing their craft, and it’s a huge honor to launch an author’s first title.

“I love working with authors who have a strong sense of their own craft and want to work together with our team to get the book to reach its full potential. That kind of collaborative spirit is essential.”

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Latest News about the #MainStreetWriters Movement


I must begin this post with a “Prologue” <— something actually hated by some writers
Main Street Writers Movement

If you get bored at any point in this prologue, just scroll down to And, Now The News

You see, this blog has way more visitors from Google searches than from folks who sign up to Follow it.

And, while I have a natural inclination to “favor” the folks who have opened a space in their digital life that let’s this blog in, I also “favor” folks who just happen to drop by because the words they put in Google search happen to be what I’ve used as Tags in my posts.

So, many days, I sit here and weigh the “relative” “value” of speaking to the “fans” or speaking to the “most-welcome-visitors”…

Yep, I just used a bunch of quoted words and I have to, because I don’t “favor” anyone who might read my blog posts—that would be kind of like favoring your family but telling all others they must obey the family “rules”; or, favoring all visitors at the expense of family…

All these words to say something I’ve said multiple times here with must less fanfare…

I tag my posts with keywords that “describe” the contents (somewhat…).

And, for the sake of “posterity” I have a Top Tags widget down a ways in the left side-bar (hang on dear subscribed family and thank you for your infinite patience...)

That Top Tags widget could also be called a Tag Cloud—basically a place to see keywords that guide you toward groups of posts that have some “similarity”—tags with larger font having more posts in the collection…

Some folks might even call the Top Tags widget a Research Tool—there are now more than 1,900 posts on this blog, all tagged and grouped in that widget

O.K., almost done with the dreaded Prologue…

This post will be tagged with “Main Street Writers Movement” and this post will now also refer folks to the Tag “Main Street Writers Movement“; plus, this post will be in that archive…

Yes, I know I may have lost some readers over that prologue; but, some of the family may have forgotten the “value” sitting in the Top Tags Widget; and, some visitors from Google search may become members of the family :-)

And, Now The News

Main Street Writers Movement, itself, may be news to some of you; so, here’s the elevator description:

“The Main Street Writers Movement urges experienced writers to strengthen the national literary ecosystem through passionate engagement at the local level. Let’s honor and amplify our communities’ underrepresented voices. Let’s buy from local bookstores and small presses. Let’s leave our houses and dance in the streets to the sound of each other’s words.”

And, here’s who should consider aligning with this new Movement:

“Writers, readers, booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, agents, and anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”

I do hope you’ll explore all the posts about Main Street Writers Movement; but, if you like what this post has to say, you can Sign Up Here (No Cost)…

The enterprising novelist, award-winning journalist, editor, knitter, and Founder of MSWM is, Laura Stanfill, publisher of Forest Avenue Press.

Here are some of Laura’s comments from a recent email conversation… Main Street Writers Movement

On her current schedule:

“I’ve been quiet on Twitter lately, and summers are always a mish-mosh of trying to get things done between kid camp hours. I’m determined to have a summer with my kids this time instead of working through it while they play…. And I’m revising my own novel for an agent—very exciting but I’m doing my best to balance everything…. Main Street is still cooking but I think the next big push will be this fall.”

And, about the monthly MSWM Newsletter:

“A newsletter is coming out this week; it’s written, I just need to click send.”

About a major article that will soon appear:

“The next Main Street article will be in the Independent Book Publishers Association magazine, I think next month, featuring two Main Street members in Michigan interviewing each other about the movement and the importance of building local community. I’m really excited because it’s the first piece of publicity that came organically from the movement, instead of me sending out information.”

Main Street Writers Movement Then, there’s what she’s going to be doing, In Person, to spread the Movement:

“The next tradeshow I’ll do where I am actively signing people up will be the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association in October—all booksellers and librarians, but they totally fit our mission—and then Wordstock in November. I expect good boosts of numbers and visibility at both of those festivals.”

Finally, there are some details of what’s happening with an upcoming Major Video Interview:

“He has the footage back from the videographers now but wants to add “B roll” of filming here in Portland, with a few other editors and authors, before he turns it into a viewable mini documentary. I think it’s going to be amazing. His questions were great. He’s doing a series of these—one with a bookseller, one with a publisher (me), and one with a reading series/literary magazine collective.”

So…

Stay Tuned for more News about #MainStreetWriters and, in the meantime, Consider Signing Up
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“These are scary and uncertain times…” ~ “What’s a writer’s calling…”


These are scary and uncertain times... ~ What's a writer's calling...

Image courtesy of Antonio Jiménez Alonso ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/Capgros-58778

One week ago, I published a post called “Words Are My Matter” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin.

I’ve been reading that book and can recommend it to all Readers, Writers, and Publishers…

The other day, I got to a particular essay that had these words:

“Where am I to find strength and hope in this world? In my work, in trying to write well. What’s a writer’s calling, now or at any time? To write, to try to write well. What work will make a difference? Well-made work, honest work, writing well written. And how might we create a community of purpose? I can’t say.”

The thoughts in that essay are explored by Maria Popova in her article, Inner Preacher vs. Inner Teacher: Ursula K. Le Guin on Meaning Beyond Message and the Primary Responsibility of the Artist.

Le Guin wrote it a number of years ago and the words I quoted up there reminded me of the import of a relatively new “community of purpose” called Main Street Writers Movement—which is actually for “Writers, readers, booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, agents, and anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”

The Founder of that Movement, a publisher in the state of Oregon, wrote what I can consider an answer to Le Guin’s words, “…how might we create a community of purpose?” — the publisher said:

“These are scary and uncertain times, but we must continue to use our voices and to listen to our neighbors’ words. By signing this pledge, you’ll become an official member of the Main Street Writers Movement, earning you access to literary community building tools, industry insights, and connections with #mainstreetwriters who are creating new opportunities in their cities. We’ll send you a newsletter once a month with ways to get involved and ideas to make a difference….Let’s honor and amplify our communities’ underrepresented voices. Let’s buy from local bookstores and small presses. Let’s leave our houses and dance in the streets to the sound of each other’s words.”

Obviously, some folks wouldn’t see important connections between a highly-celebrated writer’s words and the words of an Indie publisher…

Yet, there are two things I’m certain of:

1. Reading Words Are My Matter will give you the mental and emotional tools to decide what readers, writers, and publishers need in these times…

2. Joining the Main Street Writers Movement will help you gain a sense of Community which could help inspire readers, writers, and publishers to accomplish what is needed in these times…

One other thing I’m sure of is that reading Le Guin’s other essay, Staying Awake ~ Notes on the alleged decline of reading, could help you find, in yourself, the motivation to read Words Are My Matter and join Main Street Writers Movement
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The New Wave of Healing in the Dark Times . . .


We live in dark times; and, if you feel your life is completely sunny and care-free, you really should make videos about how you keep the dogs-of-malevolence at bay; then, share them widely so the rest of us wouldn’t have to suffer so much…

We live in dark times; and, I assume that most of the folks who are reading this engage in some form of art—painting, singing, playing music, dancing, sculpting, writing, and so forth…

However, this blog focuses on Reading, Writing, and Publishing; so, if you don’t write or publish, I’m fairly sure you read, right?

So…

What’s with that rather hippie-like title up there, The New Wave of Healing in the Dark Times . . .?

The simplest way for me to explain myself is to point toward that blue link up towards the top of the left side-bar that says, Main Street Writers Movement, then share a quote from the Founder of that movement; plus, share another quote from a post two days ago called, Dystopia & Apocalypse ~ Two Seemingly Immortal Genres . . .

Quote from the Founder of the Main Street Writers Movement:

“These are scary and uncertain times, but we must continue to use our voices and to listen to our neighbors’ words….strengthen the national literary ecosystem through passionate engagement at the local level. Let’s honor and amplify our communities’ underrepresented voices. Let’s buy from local bookstores and small presses. Let’s leave our houses and dance in the streets to the sound of each other’s words.”

Now, the quote from that past post (and, I can safely say that, even if you’ve already read it, it bears re-reading...):

This is your assignment.

Feel all the things. Feel the hard things. The inexplicable things, the things that make you disavow humanity’s capacity for redemption. Feel all the maddening paradoxes. Feel overwhelmed, crazy. Feel uncertain. Feel angry. Feel afraid. Feel powerless. Feel frozen. And then FOCUS.

Pick up your pen. Pick up your paintbrush. Pick up your damn chin. Put your two calloused hands on the turntables, in the clay, on the strings. Get behind the camera. Look for that pinprick of light. Look for the truth (yes, it is a thing—it still exists.)

Focus on that light. Enlarge it. Reveal the fierce urgency of now. Reveal how shattered we are, how capable of being repaired. But don’t lament the break. Nothing new would be built if things were never broken. A wise man once said: there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. Get after that light.

This is your assignment.

D’ya get the idea?

I’ll boil it down a bit:

If you have even a scrap of creativity, realize that it is Light.

Please…

Cast your Light as far as you can!

We all need more Light

BTW, if you take this link, you can get a poster with the “This is your assignment” Credo…
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#Writers Need All the Help They Can Get . . . And, so Do #Readers . . .


At different times and for different reasons, all writers need help—

Writers and Readers need help

Image Courtesy of Mikhail Lavrenov ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/MikLav-51580

—with getting new ideas, with improving current ideas, with editing or revision, with the way to construct a book…

I’ve been extremely interested in a particular phenomenon that’s intended to help writers; however, it’s also intended to help “…readers, booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, agents, and anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”

It’s the Main Street Writers Movement {which will include this one at the top (and, others, I’m sure, in the future, since I tag my posts so they can be found in groups in the Top Tags widget, down a bit in the left side-bar…)}

In fact, the Founder of the Movement said this:

“The Main Street Writers Movement urges experienced writers to strengthen the national literary ecosystem through passionate engagement at the local level. Let’s honor and amplify our communities’ underrepresented voices. Let’s buy from local bookstores and small presses. Let’s leave our houses and dance in the streets to the sound of each other’s words.”

She also said:

“These are scary and uncertain times, but we must continue to use our voices and to listen to our neighbors’ words.”

And, concerning joining the Movement (for which there are No Fees…), which you can do Right Here, she said:

 [Becoming] “…an official member of the Main Street Writers Movement, [earns] you access to literary community building tools, industry insights, and connections with #mainstreetwriters who are creating new opportunities in their cities. We’ll send you a newsletter once a month with ways to get involved and ideas to make a difference.”

But, once again, even though it’s called a Writers Movement, it truly is also for “…readers, booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, agents, and anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”

O.K., so that, apart from my normal work as a writer and my duties as a member of Humanity, is one of my top “passions” now; yet, this help for writers thing was also a factor in my writing today’s post because of an article by Jane Friedman called, Author Marketing Collectives: An Increasingly Important Component of Book Promotion.

It makes mention of a group called Tall Poppies; and, my Best Friend (from Australia, where the phrase is used to indicate folks who could use a lecture on entitlement…) feels the group is doing themselves a disservice with that name; though, they are doing quite well, probably because folks in the U.S.A. haven’t run into that phrase…

Now, that was a tortured sentence :-)

So…

The idea behind the group—

I’ll quote from the article:

“…our goals are different from a publisher’s goals. Of course, we would like to sell books but our primary objective is to give our readers access and personal interactions with authors. To that end, a Tall Poppy Author is invested in relationships and not only the kind of relationships where money changes hands. We want our stories to resonate and getting to know our readers help us do that. If a publisher has like-minded, committed, generous authors who enjoy social media it’s possible they could mimic what we do.”

Not sure about you, but this sounds to me like a group of authors who, all by themselves are doing something extremely similar to what Main Street Writers Movement is working to implement.

The only difference I detect is that Tall Poppies is a two-way street between a group of writers and their readers; while Main Street Writers Movement is a multi-dimensional set of paths between:

“Writers, readers, booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, agents, and anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”

I’ve contacted my local library here in Akron, Ohio and a large writer’s group in Cleveland, Ohio and will soon start calling local bookstores, et al.

 Thing is, the library and the writer’s group liked the idea of Main Street Writers Movement but couldn’t see what they could do with it…

I certainly won’t push them and I did recommend they read my posts about it; but, bottom line, I feel they were being insular—wanting to stay on their island, not even attempt to launch boats to make friends with other islands—remain isolated from “…anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”afraid of “diluting their efforts”…

Yet, it’s my firm belief that More can be done with More people from More diverse pools of learning and desire…

Sure, it can demand better planning, smoother logistics, more time, and a firmer commitment to the “larger community”…

But, in a world tearing itself apart into a multitude of sects and causes and parties and nations and walled-off clubs, why not make more room for the transcendent call of the Oneness of Humanity?

Actually, since the mid-1800s and more strongly since the early 1920s,  humanity has been learning to Unify…

There are more groups now, working toward unification, then at any time in the history of humanity—it’s an evolutionary phenomenon…

So… before I spin off into a cloud of aspiration, I ask you to consider (even if it isn’t through association with Tall Poppies or Main Street Writers Movement) hooking up with other folks, merging some of the goals of your group with other groups to strengthen both, volunteering with one of the many organizations working for Human Unity…

O.K., I’m signing off  ’cause I’ve arrived smack in the middle of that cloud of aspiration :-)

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