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Rough Copy's Interview with the Indigo Editing Editorial Board
July 20, 2011

Ali McCart founded the Portland-based Indigo Editing and Publications a little over five years ago. Since then, she and her band of like-minded editors have worked tirelessly in forming a company whose services, publications and local presence are unaccountably unique.

In addition to its ongoing offerings of editing and writing mentorship services, Indigo hosts the annual Sledgehammer Writing Contest—a scavenger hunt/team writing free-for-all that asks contestants to simultaneously test their skills in treasure hunting and under-the-gun scribbling. Indigo puts out its own literary journal (Ink-Filled Page) and offers regular classes on the ins and outs of the writing business.

McCart—along with Indigo’s Senior Editor Kristin Thiel and Associate Editor Susan DeFreitas—will be reading at this month’s Rough Copy reading series, on July 27. I sat down with the three of them to talk about the relationship between editing and writing, their upcoming artistic endeavors, and the many-headed beast that is Indigo Editing and Publications.

Read the full interview here.

March 8, 2011

Media contact: Ali McCart amccart@indigoediting.com

As Editing Firm Grows, So Do Forests

When Portland business owner Ali McCart saw five-year anniversary of her book editing company, Indigo, on the horizon, naturally, growth was on her mind.

“These first five years have been centered on taking small, measured steps toward gaining more clients and building the literary community,” McCart says. “And while that’s great, this year I wanted to do something bigger.”

McCart decided to do two things. First, she took on a partner. Kristin Thiel has been contracting for Indigo for four years and has witnessed most of Indigo’s early successes firsthand.

“I just knew Kristin was the right person,” McCart says. “She’s already done so much for the company that I know she’ll make a great partner. I’m eager to see what the future holds for us.”

“There’s hard work and synchronicity in this partnering,” Thiel adds, “which makes this new stage all the more exciting—and promising—for Indigo and for our individual careers.”

Second on the list was a tree-planting campaign.

“The publishing industry uses up a vast number of trees simply in the course of daily business,” McCart explains. “Whether you’re actually printing and binding hardbacks or simply printing manuscripts to edit, those reams of paper add up. I’ve been keeping track of Indigo’s annual paper usage—about two trees—and replanting trees since the beginning, but this year I want to do more.”

Much more. The campaign involves a social media drive to plant 1,000 trees. For every new friend, comment or like on Indigo’s Facebook page, Indigo will plant one tree. Likewise, for every new follower or retweet on Indigo’s Twitter account, Indigo will notch up the tree count. One week in, they’re a fifth of the way to their goal.

The drive goes through the end of March, Indigo’s anniversary month. At that time, Indigo will send a contribution to Trees for the Future for the planting of—the owners hope—1,000 or more trees. Trees for the Future is “an agroforestry resource center, working with people to improve livelihoods and restore degraded lands to sustainable productivity through planting beneficial trees.”

“We chose Trees for the Future because they contribute not only to the environment but also to the economies in the areas where they plant,” McCart says.

According to the Web site, “Trees for the Future has helped thousands of communities in Central America, Africa, and Asia improve their livelihoods and their environment by planting nearly 65 million trees” since 1988.

“Editing is all about leaving something better than you found it,” McCart says. “We love doing that with books, but we’d like to do that for our planet and the world economy as well.”

In addition to providing editing services to publishers and authors worldwide, Indigo runs the annual Sledgehammer 36-Hour Writing Contest, publishes the quarterly Ink-Filled Page literary journal and hosts monthly writing classes.

Join Indigo’s social networks at Facebook and Twitter.

March 2, 2011

Media contact: Ali McCart

Ooligan Alumnus Announces Business Growth

Ali McCart, 2005 graduate from Portland State University’s Ooligan Press and owner of Indigo, announces her new business partner: friend and colleague Kristin Thiel.

McCart conceived the idea for Indigo just weeks before her graduation from the Ooligan program. She was working for a bookstore in the Portland area when a customer walked in and said, “Do you know any editors? I have a book, and I need help with it.” She became McCart’s first paying client and referred others to her as well. In less that six months. McCart had a full-time editing job.

Now, five years later, Indigo has grown to include editors in Oregon and California who service publishing companies and authors worldwide. McCart credits her company’s success to the hands-on learning experience she gained through Ooligan. In her four quarters there, she completed two internships and worked on twelve books.

“I can’t believe it’s already been five years,” McCart says. “In some ways, it seems like my time at Ooligan was ages ago, but I’m constantly recalling and using the information and advice I picked up there.”

In less than a year, Thiel was lending a hand, editing on an as-needed basis. That need remained fairly constant, and before the pair knew it, four years had gone by. In late 2009, as the company’s five-year benchmark approached, McCart began to brainstorm ways to grow the business. Inviting Thiel to partner seemed natural and immediately gratifying.

“I just knew Kristin was the right person,” McCart says. “She’s already done so much for the company that I know she’ll make a great partner. I’m eager to see what the future holds for us.”

“There’s hard work and synchronicity in this partnering,” Thiel adds, “which makes this new stage all the more exciting—and promising—for Indigo and for our individual careers.”

In addition to editing services, Indigo runs the annual Sledgehammer 36-Hour Writing Contest, publishes the quarterly Ink-Filled Page literary journal and hosts monthly writing classes. The new partnership will allow Indigo to further develop each of these endeavors while still catering to an ever-expanding client base.

“A big part of our mission is to build community,” McCart says. “With two of us working to that end, we can much better support that community.”

Join Indigo’s social networks at Facebook and Twitter.

Writers at Work Video Series

Writer and teacher Suzanne LaGrande interviews Indigo's Ali McCart for the Writers at Work video series. The interview took place at Wordstock, October 10, 2010.

Ink-Filled Page on KBOO Radio

Excerpt from the March 19, 2009, interview with Mariane Barisonek:

Marianne: [Joe], your story is about a baby who is born six weeks early with an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, and this has got to be one of the most agonizing situations anyone can be in. What made you want to write about this?

Joe Riippi (author of "Seahorse"): ...I was riding on the subway one day and overheard a conversation from some people who were going to visit some a brother-in-law who had this situation going on and was in the hospital waiting to find out what happened. And it was just ... agonizing to hear them talk about it, so that when I went home and was working on a new story, that was what ended up coming out. What must this be like for him? What's going through his mind? And ... my trying to figure that out became this character trying to figure that out....

Marianne: And Scott, your story has to be on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from this one.

Scott Parker (author of "On Shitting in the Woods and Other Tragedies of Running): ...Everbody knows about running about how [running] can be fun and sort of inspiring and physical. But there's this ... darker side, also physical, that I wanted to get out there.

Marianne: ...The story really is about how we can never run away from the fact that we're very fallible and vulnerable creatures, even though the art or the sport of running is almost to make ourselves into machines....So, what do you [Ali and Kristin] think distinguishes literary writing from, say, advertising or genre fiction?

Kristin Thiel: ...It goes beyond, here's a story from A to C with B happening in the middle...and so you have these different layers.

Ali McCart: ...A big part of [literary work] is just being able to connect with the reader on a very personal level, whether it's through similar experiences that the reader can empathize with the author or the characters in the story, as the case may be, or even without having had similar personal experiences, to be able to get lost in the story and the characters and to be experiencing what those characters are experiencing in that moment.

Download the full interview.

Our Portland Story

Still in its first year, Indigo's Sledgehammer writing contest settles solidly into the fabric of Portland with its inclusion in the forthcoming Our Portland Story, "part coffee-table book, part yearbook, and part insiders travel guide."

Indigo editors created the thirty-six-hour fiction contest not only to support writers but to celebrate Portland. Parallel but distinctly, local designer Melissa Delzio is compiling text and images for her book to "create a greater sense of community identity and pride in Portland and capture the spirit of the city at this point in time." Delzio chose to include Sledgehammer's story because, as she said, "I think it is a very unique, very Portland event and am excited to have it in the book!"

Order the book at Our Portland Story.

From the Oregonian:

As every writer knows, there's nothing like a deadline to kick-start productivity. So last weekend, 20 writers embraced the pressure as part of Portland's first Sledgehammer contest. Their mission: Write a short story in 36 hours.

Teams and individuals began their adventure at noon Saturday at Backspace, 115 N.W. Fifth Ave. They were given a writing prompt—incorporate the line "All Girl Summer Fun," taken from the name of the band playing at the cafe that evening—and a clue that would lead them on a citywide scavenger hunt.
At each destination, such as Mizu Sushi in downtown and Writers' Dojo in St. Johns, participants received a prompt to inspire characters, dialogue and action. Ali McCart, founder of Indigo Editing and Publications, organized the event in less than two months, gathering more than 25 sponsors and $3,000 in prizes.

"I thought, 'If Portland can have a 48-hour film fest, why can't we do the same thing for writing?'" said McCart, 27.

Read the entire article at OregonLive.com.

From ForeWord This Week:

...Because of their comprehensive knowledge of publishing, most of the graduates of the program have gone on to have successful careers in different areas of the industry. After graduation, Ali McCart started her own company, Indigo Editing.

“Several universities offer programs to acquire a degree or certificate in book publishing, but even then graduates face a competitive field with little to no experience,” McCart told FTW. “Upon graduation from PSU, I had already edited eleven books and publications through Ooligan Press and internships. And more important, I had the lasting support of industry professionals. When authors started approaching me about editing their books, the next logical decision was to start an editing company.”

View the complete article at ForeWord Magazine.

From WiPP Monthly:

Ali McCart, Founder of Indigo Editing and VP of WiPP, Sheds Light on the Background Leading to Her Recent Successes (by Jen Weaver-Neist)

Welcome to a behind-the-scenes look at one of your fearless leaders in WiPP! This interview details some things you may not have known about her—I know I learned a thing or two! It just goes to show you how much we each have to bring to this conglomerate of talent in WiPP and the local publishing industry at large.

Read the full interview at Women in Portland Publishing.