Brian K. Friesen stands at the front of the room, a microphone in one hand and a small orange notebook in the other. “The Attic” of the Buffalo Gap Saloon and Eatery is packed full of people to celebrate him and the release of his new book, At the Waterline.
I had the privilege of sitting down with John Henley, a well-known appraiser of rare books in the Pacific Northwest. He has also been an adjunct of the PSU Book Publishing Program since its inception, teaching the survey course titled The Popular Book in the United States. We talked about his job as appraiser, his Oolie aspirations, and how his love of books—inspired early on by his mother—led him to a career of buying and selling them for Powell’s and The Great Northwest Bookstore.
One of the first things you learn in the publishing industry is to accept a kindly phrased “no” as an answer to your pitch. This lesson may sound a little bitter; however, anticipating being told no makes receiving an enthusiastic yes feel even more rewarding. I experienced this myself last term when we reached out to the American Booksellers Association in regards to attending their ABC Children’s Institute.
As students of publishing, we at Ooligan know that there are multiple nationwide publishing hubs: New York City, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, to name a few. For most aspiring book editors, designers, and marketers, the Big Apple is the endgame. These people will do anything within their power to get to New York and fight their way up to true publishing fame—even if it means living in a box with eighteen roommates and working overtime shifts without pay. In reality, that’s not such a bad goal. While New York can be rough for some, it certainly houses the biggest names in publishing as well as the competitive spirit. And while intimidating, it almost inevitably leads to upward mobility and substantial professional connections. You will meet who you need to meet to get where you want to go, point-blank, period. However, the East Coast scene isn’t for everyone—I spent my New York publishing days crying in the bathroom (no shame). For people like me, the competition is overwhelming and the upward mobility ladder too steep. And that’s okay. I was given advice three years ago that I’ve never forgotten: you need to get in where you fit in.
Zoom in to make the image big, then commit to getting yourself a physical copy to appreciate it fully—it is gorgeous in person.
Ooligan was approached by a fellow writer and editor who is involved in the Portland literary scene, which is often predominantly white. Where are the Asian, African American, Native American, and Latino writers he knows reside in this city?