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?

Crowdfunding Tips from Write to Publish 2015

Crowdfunding. This seems to be the buzzword in DIY venues. Have an awesome tech idea? Crowdfund it. Conjured up an epic game worthy of geekdom fame? Crowdfund it. Want to publish a book? Crowdfund it.

Write to Publish 2015 included an entire panel on book crowdfunding. Nicole McArdle, marketing director at PubSlush; Chris Morey, publisher at Dark Regions Press; Patrick McDonald, publisher of Overcup Press; Todd Sattersten, freelance publishing consultant; and Leia Weathington, graphic novelist, provided insight and advice on how crowdfunding works.

Here are some tips you might have missed at the Write to Publish conference:

Use the time before a campaign—Use it to gain supporters and begin promoting the idea of the project to your outside network. Promoting a campaign before it launches will allow supporters to familiarize themselves with the project and will give you time to answer any questions they may have. It also gives you the chance to figure out the nitty-gritty stuff, like shipping costs and taxes, and build that into your budget. Take some time to build a professional presentation. Don’t just have huge blocks of text explaining the campaign; make sure to incorporate some images of your company, your team, and your logo. A video presentation may be necessary, but keep it brief and try not to read off your notes in a monotone voice. Be happy about your campaign and portray a sense of urgency. Campaigns are usually pretty quick (thirty days, generally), so you don’t have time to lollygag around. Make sure your presentation reflects that. Another tip: use the correct verbiage. Words like “donate,” “pledge,” “sponsor,” and “fundraising” lead people to believe they’re getting nothing in return. Instead, try using phrases such as “supporting a project,” “helping to bring this book to life,” and “pre-ordering a book.”

Be creative with the rewards—Have no more than ten rewards, unless you have a stretch goal. Figure out the different tiers you’re going to have and be creative about them. Use smaller rewards first (like below the retail price of the book you’re trying to fund), then go up from there. Give the fans what they want, things related to the campaign that don’t cost you too much money. For example, if you’re promoting a book, have rewards like a signed copy, a personal inscription, or a custom dust jacket. Keep in mind, the internet loves images, so incorporate that any way you can, from original artwork to sneak peeks of the finalized covers.

Develop a creative marketing strategy—Plan your marketing strategies in advance. Go local, contact newspapers and blogs, see if any local libraries or cafes will host a book reading or book signing event. Contact the niche audience that the book targets. Podcasts are also a good way to get out there. Ask your current social media followers to vote on a reward and use the winner when you launch the campaign. Doing these things will allow you to feel more connected to your supporters and for your supporters to feel like they are part of the campaign.

To make sure you don’t miss our next conference, check out Write to Publish.

Write to Publish is Brought to You by Pubslush.

Hello my friends!

I’m finally back from my vacation, and feeling eminently less stressed. Melanie and I have already met up to hash out current battle plans. It certainly makes planning easier when talking face to face!

One thing Melanie and I wanted to try this year was to find a sponsor for the conference. It was the first time any of the Write to Publish managers had tried to partner with a presenting sponsor, but to Melanie and I the idea just made sense from the beginning. What we can offer and the quality of the conference increases if we partner with someone else. We hoped that we could find a partner involved in the publishing industry, but realized we might have to go outside the industry.

We are ecstatic to announce that we have secured a sponsor for Write to Publish 2015: Pubslush, the global crowdfunding and analytics platform for the literary world. Run by a mother and daughter duo, Pubslush tailors its services to the needs of authors, agents, and small-presses. If you aren’t familiar with Pubslush, check out their website or blog. Forbes also wrote a great article about the company. Pubslush actually approached us, having heard about the conference, asking about how they could get involved; in addition to sponsorship, we thought about other ways we could benefit from their experience.

As a result, Nicole McArdle, marketing director of Pubslush, will be attending the conference and speaking on a “How to Fund Your Creative Project” panel. She will be joined by publishers Chris Morey, of Dark Regions Press, and Patrick McDonald, of Overcup Press, in addition to well-known publishing consultant Todd Sattersten.

Our other panels are almost filled as well; we are confident that by the end of summer we will have a finalized schedule to present to you, readers. We have one workshop set; two more to go. Our short story contest and our design contest should be starting around the same time our schedule is finalized. We are currently working on press releases and marketing initiatives for both those programs, so we will be ready for when we open them to submissions. The website continues to be built one line of code at a time and so far progresses well; in the meantime, some information is available at our temporary page at http://ooligan.pdx.edu/writetopublish/.

Talking with Patrick McDonald about “The Tall Trees of Portland”

Patrick McDonald is an Ooligan graduate and the owner of Overcup Press here in Portland. Recently I had a chance to sit down and talk with him about their beautiful new art book, The Tall Trees of Portland by Matt Wagner of Hellion Gallery.


Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. The Tall Trees of Portland is a beautiful book. What really made it fascinating for me were the whimsical surveys and glimpses into each artist’s workspace. Where did that idea come from?

Matt and I hatched up the idea together. We had the intention of doing it with our first book, The Tall Trees of Tokyo, but it was too difficult to coordinate photography on the international level. With this book we were on our home turf, so it was much easier. Our idea was to have an environmental shot, followed by the survey, and then four pages of art. It was an expansion from the Tokyo book, and we doubled the amount of real estate for the art. We were able to do more full bleeds and saturate the pages with color.

I notice The Tall Trees of Portland is the same trim size and price point as the Tokyo book, but the page count is much higher. How were you able to manage that?

With the Tokyo book there was the added expense of having to go to Tokyo. Since we didn’t have that with the Portland book, we were able to bump up the page count. We also pulled out the gatefolds because we wanted to make sure all the artists were equally represented. There are some who are at the top of their game and have quite a bit of notoriety, and others who are equally as talented but not as well known. By listing everyone alphabetically and giving them all the same amount of real estate and the same format, it was a great leveler.

With so many contributors, it must have been difficult to coordinate everything.

When dealing with artists, you have to accept that they are going to march to their own drum. There weren’t any challenges with the content that we didn’t anticipate in advance.This book came together in probably less than a year; the Tokyo book took us—when you figure in Tsunamis, nuclear meltdowns, earthquakes, language barriers—over two years to finish. This one went faster because we knew what we were doing and everyone was local.

Can you tell me about the acquisition process for these books?

It wasn’t really an acquisition so much as it was cooking up ideas over beers for a few months.

I’ve known Matt for twenty years, and for the last ten he’s been hanging art shows here in Portland. A lot of his shows featured artists he met in Japan. He’d bring them to Portland, let them stay in his house, and show their work here. Then he would take Portland artists over to Japan to show their work there. I thought it was just a fascinating story.

When I started Overcup, I was thinking about what kind of books would sell. Which books do people never get rid of? What needs to be a book? And for as much as I’m a writer and a reader, art books are things that nobody ever gets rid of. These are books that deserve to be books. So I started talking to Matt: “You should make books. There’s no archive for what you do. You hang a show, it’s there for a month, people buy the art, then it’s over. We should do a book of these Japanese artists, it would be great.”

Is there anything else you’d like to share about the book?

One of the trends in publishing now is a proliferation of artist monograph books, and I think for the right artists those are great. But we talk about our books as being a weird kind of travel book, as a sort of survey of a city and a creative class in that city. It just strikes me as being a lot more interesting overall because you can get a sense of place. The questions in the survey are things such as “Where do you like to eat breakfast?” and “What’s your favorite bridge?” and to me those are things that make readers feel a little more connected to the artist. The artists start to seem familiar, you start to like them because of their responses, and you get a sense of the city.