Self publishing is no easy task. I was fortunate to pre-sell 1,200 copies of my book before writing a single word but, after turning down two commercial publishing offers, I worried I might not be able to get my memoir into traditional brick and mortar bookstores without the benefit of the distribution network of a traditional publisher. If you’re interested, I wrote a post for Medium about how I crowdfunded $42,000 and why I turned down those publishing offers.
Over a hundred bookstores have since agreed to carry my memoir, including one of the most iconic indie bookstores in America: Powell’s Books of Portland, Oregon.
Since 1971, Powell’s has grown into one of the world’s great indie bookstores, with five locations in the Portland metropolitan area and one of the world’s most successful digital bookstores. Only a handful of shops have refused to carry the book–and some were very outspoken about banning it–so it feels like a huge victory to have my memoir stocked at the legendary Powell’s Books. To their credit, Red Emma’s–Baltimore’s radical bookstore and vegan cafe–has also agreed to carry my memoir.
At first I thought it was strange that a bookstore that prides itself on it’s communist and anarchistic literature would be more open-minded than some of the other indie bookstores I’ve talked to. Now, I’m not so sure. I suppose it’s difficult not to judge my book by it’s cover when it has such a polarizing subtitle, so I can understand why some stores wouldn’t want to carry it, but I think those same people would find a lot they actually agree with if they only set aside their preconceived notions of bipartisan politics and read the book. They’d probably be surprised to read about what happened to me, how it happened to me, and the criminal justice reform I call for in the pages of my memoir.
You can support Powell’s by buying the memoir through their website or, if you’d prefer a limited edition printing, you can buy a first edition directly through Amazon.