Washington state may not be a hub of American or international publishing akin to New York, Chicago, or Washington D.C., but it’s definitely one of the most literate. As such, the town has multiple prospects for writers looking to be published and for word-worms looking to intern and/or learn more about the publishing industry in general.
Opportunities for Those Wanting to Publish Their Work:
- Washington State University Press is an academic publishing house that publishes veteran and new writers, especially if projects are “well-written, well-researched books focusing on the American West, particularly the prehistory, history, environment, politics, and culture of the greater Northwest region.” Washington State University Press is not currently accepting proposals for novels, poetry, or literary criticism, but publishes a variety of other materials. Start by submitting a proposal that conforms to these criteria.
- Seattle’s trade publisher Coffeetown Press has been publishing memoirs, literary and historical fiction, nonfiction, and mysteries since 2005. Many of their memoirs have multicultural themes or themes specific to niche audiences. As with most publishing houses, Coffeetown Press seeks authors with strong and distinctive writer’s voices and large and loyal author platforms across multiple social networks. Of note, Coffeetown’s submission criteria are different for fiction and nonfiction, and the company rarely publishes collections of short stories or poetry, or works over 100,000 words.
- Seattle-based Sasquatch Books is an independent publisher specializing in children’s literature as well as nonfiction pertaining to food and wine, house and home, nature and outdoors, gardening, photography, and other regional topics. Notably, Sasquatch accepts query letters, proposals, and manuscripts by mail but not by email.
- Port Townsend’s Copper Canyon Press in Fort Worden State Park (and close to several Pacific Northwest beaches and the Olympic mountain range) publishes poetry chapbooks in regular and ebook formats and seeks to foster and enrich an international community of poets, educators, librarians, donors and, of course, anyone who reads poetry. Here are their submission guidelines for poetry in any format.
- The “statement of artistry” for Pink Fish Press is passionate and unique: “We love your work as much as you do. We read everything…” While the company is not currently accepting submissions, here’s where to find details once the staff finishes working through their backlog.
If these presses decline a proposal or respond to a proposal with silence, fear not. Conduct research using an up-to-date version of Writer’s Market. Find an agent if you can. Open the covers of favorite books and/or books that echo the tone of your project and see where they were published. Visit the publishing houses’ websites to see if the publishers accept unsolicited queries from represented and/or unrepresented writers. Proceed.
Then again… maybe you’re as interested in helping authors get their work published as you are publishing your own work.
Opportunities for Helping Others Get Published
One of the best job opportunities out there now is an opening for a Senior Content Producer at Amazon. This job requires a passion for visual storytelling that provides readers with original and innovative experiences characterized by high-quality imagery and well-written, plot-driven text; a willingness to engage in brainstorming that potentially disrupts existing infrastructures while abiding by a strong commitment to user-friendly experiences; an ability to tailor a story’s format to match a story’s content; a talent for editing stories on the micro and macro levels, expanding some portions while omitting others; a knack for infusing stories with the kind of sensory details and descriptions that place readers in a story as part of the action. Additionally, the job requires enthusiasm for a rapidly changing publishing industry, unwavering follow-through for various stages of projects from design to development to delivery, and an ability to meet personal deadlines while continuing to meet and facilitate communication with other departments and colleagues. Personal experience with experimenting with digital platforms is a plus. A love for ebooks and other alternative forms of text is required. Be prepared to showcase original content in an online portfolio.
For those seeking experience in the world of publishing but not yet qualified for “senior producer” positions, internships at local publishers offer great experiences. Interns learn about editing, copyright law, fact-checking, fundraising, photography, graphic and web design, proofing, production, printing, marketing, publicity, advertising, reviewing galleys, attending and organizing company events and, if lucky, producing original content by writing short pieces, blogging, or helping with larger company projects. While most internships are unpaid experiences, volunteers receive insight into the world of publishing, make valuable connections, and receive letters of reference.
- Independent poetry press Wave Books offers yearlong internships in Seattle, usually from July to June. Information about internships for 2015 and 2016 will be posted in late March or early April.
- Seattle’s Sasquatch Books offers two quarterly internships: an editorial internship and a marketing internship. Description is available here.
- University of Washington’s University Press offers internships for University of Washington students.
- Editorial internships for City Arts magazine, a publication that cover’s Seattle’s theater, live music, visual arts, and dance scenes, usually last three months.
- A non-profit publisher of poetry, Port Townsend’s Copper Canyon Press interns gain experience in preparing grant and mailing materials, among other tasks. Internships generally last 3-5 months and are, like the internships listed above, unpaid. As compensation, Copper Canyon offers samples of books they publish and participation in special company events and author readings.
- Seattle magazine offers six-month editorial internships compensated by academic credit or, if credit is unneeded, a “nominal stipend.”
- Yes! magazine offers four types of three-month internships: media and outreach, editorial, online reporting, and education, as well as one of the most original compensations for publishing internships in Washington state: living quarters in a five-bedroom house in Bainbridge island near the magazine’s offices, a half hour ferry ride from Seattle.
Don’t see what you’re looking for? Go back to the bookshelf. Find a few of your favorite texts – the kinds of texts you’d like write yourself or work on or edit – and look at the information on the copyright page. Look up the appropriate contact information on the publisher’s website and ask about volunteer opportunities. Many companies will be happy to accept help.