City Spotlight: Exploring Seattle's Book Ecosystem
“When I moved to Seattle in 2001, there was no publishing scene. Now, it’s completely different. [Seattle] is a player and we are taken seriously and there’s a network,” says Jenna Land Free, editorial director of Girl Friday Productions, a boutique editing, writing and publicity firm. “Agents, writers, and publishers come to Seattle to see Amazon and that makes us feel more relevant. And technology has helped — things don’t just have to happen in New York.” (And like Amazon, Costco draws book reps from every publishing house and distributor to pitch books for club selection.)
In addition to launching a new publishing program and providing self-publishing services through CreateSpace, Amazon’s reach is felt in other ways. Amazon’s Director of Author and Publisher Relations, Jon Fine, has done extensive outreach into the community, speaking at conferences and the Richard Hugo House, and financially supporting various local programs.
“Let’s be honest: We all benefit from more people writing and telling stories,” Fine said. “It’s incredibly difficult to write a book, let alone publish it. Then when you are published, it’s even harder. But it’s a golden age for authors. You can do things that you couldn’t do before. We are helping facilitate the creativity of others.”
“It’s a natural extension of our business to foster this type of creativity. We want to be in business with people who are already doing a great job,” he said, citing 826 Seattle, ACT’s Young Playwright’s Program, Artist Trust’s EDGE for Writers program and Humanities Washington as a few of the many organizations to which Amazon has given grants. He encourages nonprofits to ask for help at amazon.com/authorgrants.
That brings us to digital publishing. In addition to traditional publishing, ebooks are a viable and thriving option and Seattle’s avenues for self- and digital publishing are plentiful. Third Place Books and University Book Store have even taken an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” philosophy, setting up Espresso Book Machine stations in their stores to enable writers to quickly print on-demand perfect-bound paperback books. Writer.ly and Booktrope are helping writers find all the services they need to take control of their book project.