The Indie Presses of Portland

In Portland, there’s an independent press for every sort of project you can imagine. More importantly, each press has a unique mission statement that will help you, the writer, find the best match for your personal and creative goals. Let this guide to local indie publishing houses help you decide where to submit your next piece.

  1. Tin House: Although they were part of the literary world for years beforehand, Tin House officially became an independent press in 2005. Tin House publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as out-of-print and underappreciated books. Titles include Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing by David Naimon and Ursula K. Le Guin, Pretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid, and Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett.
  2. Overcup Press: Overcup specializes in nonfiction books with a strong design element, including books on travel, art, literary nonfiction, and design, as well as epicurean titles. Their titles include Volcanoes, Palm Trees & Privilege: Essays on Hawai’i by Liz Prato, 99 Ways to Make a Pipe: Problem Solving for Pot Smokers by Brett Stern, and The Tall Trees of Portland by Matt Wagner.
  3. Perfect Day Publishing: Perfect Day Publishing has been an indie press in Portland since 2011. They focus on emotional stories in the form of literary nonfiction, essay collections, and memoir. Titles include Stranger in the Pen by Mohamed Asem, What About the Rest of Your Life by sŭng, and Yeah. No. Totally. by Lisa Wells.
  4. Microcosm Publishing: Microcosm Publishing began as a record label in 1996 and has transformed into a press that focuses on building skills, exposing hidden stories, and fostering creativity through nonfiction books and zines about self-improvement, gender, and social justice. Recent titles include Chainbreaker Bike Book: An Illustrated Manual of Radical Bicycle Maintenance, Culture, and History by Ethan Clark and Shelley Lynn Jackson, Coping Skills: Tools & Techniques for Every Stressful Situation by Faith G. Harper, and The Practical Witch’s Almanac 2019: Expanding Horizons by Friday Gladheart.
  5. Forest Avenue Press: Forest Avenue Press was founded in Portland in 2012 and largely publishes adult literary fiction related to Oregon and the surrounding area, focusing on works that involve activism or that put new twists on fairy tales and folktales. Titles include Parts Per Million by Julia Stoops, Queen of Spades by Michael Shou-Yung Shum, and The Hour of Daydreams by Renee Macalino Rutledge.
  6. Future Tense Books: Future Tense Books began in Spokane, Washington, in 1990, briefly moved to Arkansas, and settled in Portland in 1992. This press focuses on publishing the work of groundbreaking authors in the form of novellas, story collections, and novels that go in unexpected directions. Titles include I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do) by Tatiana Ryckman, Liar: A Memoir by Rob Roberge, and Pretend We Live Here by Genevieve Hudson.
  7. Burnside Review: Burnside Review, formed in 2004, puts out a journal issue every 9–12 months in addition to publishing full-length books of poetry and chapbooks through their contests. When their submissions are open, they accept fiction and poetry to be published in their journal. Titles include Such a Thing as America by Sarah Blackman, The Volunteer by Andrew McAlpine, and MEOW by Mark Baumer.

And, of course, there’s our very own student-run Ooligan Press.

Inspired yet?

Publishing Roundup: Harlequin Romance, Oyster, and the Rise of the Independents

It’s time for another publishing news roundup, straight from the Ooligan source! Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the bubble of our little publishing house, but it’s important to remember that there’s a whole lot happening out in the publishing world right now, given that the whole industry seems to be teetering on the brink of a massive overhaul.


News for big publishers is a bit bleak this month as Harlequin, the classic romance publisher of Fabio-covered, bodice-ripping fame, was sold to News Corporation and, consequently, HarperCollins Publishers for $415 million at the beginning of May. Following the announcement of their sale, Harlequin reported a 14-percent decline in profits from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014—no doubt a consequence of their continued struggle to keep up with the increasingly digital market of the romance industry. A larger than average number of romance readers consider themselves frequent or avid readers, and they appreciate not only the anonymity of reading romance on e-readers but also the instant accessibility and decreased price of the e-book format. Because of this, romance as a genre is shifting to a primarily digital format faster than many other genres out there. Indeed, a 2012 survey by the Romance Writers of America found that nearly 50 percent of romance readers are likely to buy books to be read on an e-device, and there is little doubt that this number has since increased. Harlequin is an old enterprise, having been founded nearly sixty-five years ago, and publishes nearly 110 books every month. However, the New York Times reported that, in 2012, 50 Shades of Grey outsold Harlequin’s entire North American retail sales, and even though that romance giant provided a boost for romance sales everywhere, Harlequin did not manage to survive the most recent round of mergers (starting with the merger of publishing giants Penguin and Random House in 2013) that drastic changes in the publishing industry have brought about.


In other digital news, Oyster Books, a book subscription service that is quickly attempting to become “the Netflix of book borrowing,” made a leap toward its goal in early May as it partnered with over 500 new publishers and now offers over 500,000 titles for borrowing. Among these publishers is giant HarperCollins, which alone added nearly 10,000 titles to the Oyster database, including massively popular titles such as Life of Pi and American Gods. Many sources are calling Oyster’s claims to be the Netflix of books hyperbolic. As the International Business Times points out, it’s impossible to compare the way that people consume books to the way people consume television. The monthly price for Oyster is $9.99 for unlimited borrowing, unlimited being the buzzword here. However, people read a lot slower than they watch films and television shows. IBT estimates that, at the rate at which the average person reads, each book would still cost them about $2.49 apiece at Oyster’s monthly rate. That’s only a little bit less than the cost of owning the books in an e-book format, nevermind the fact that many of these books are available through library e-book lending services for free. Oyster CEO Eric Stormberg insists that he’s competing by offering not only a larger volume of works but also works that can be attained more quickly after a book’s release than it might be through the library. Right now, that time gap is probably be the key to Oyster’s success. Given that they still haven’t even stretched themselves to the Android market, their success or failure remains to be seen. Only time will tell if people are willing to buy into an e-book subscription service.


Lastly and most optimistically, the market climate seems good for independent publishing houses right now. As big publishers continue to squabble and generally have a hard time adapting to change (see the battle happening between Hachette and Amazon currently), independent publishers such as the profiled and discussed in Publishers Weekly are really finding their place in the market. The same is true for independent bookstores, which, in an increasingly Amazon-centric world, are finding more and more business from people who miss the warmth and community of visiting a local bookshop. Hopefully, these trends will only continue to bring success to the little guys.