Guest Post by April Ford, Associate Publisher of SFK Press
Back when I had no clue what it means to be an author (some two decades ago), the passion and commitment required in equal doses to sustain a career in letters, I nonetheless had strong ideas about what I was and was not willing to do for my “calling.” For one, I would never sell out. I didn’t know what selling out looked like, but my fantasy involved me candidly detailing to Oprah, before a live studio audience, that no matter what, I wouldn’t let any success go to my head. Another conviction I held was that writers who take up jobs in writing-adjacent fields (teaching, editing, design, consulting, etc.) have failed at being writers. Ha! I’m happy to say I couldn’t have been more off the mark.
Since December 2017, I’ve worked as associate publisher of SFK Press. My responsibilities include guiding signed authors through the editorial, design, and distribution phases of production and designing paperback interiors and ebooks—this latter means I get to work closely with Indigo’s book cover designer extraordinaire, Olivia M. Croom! Prior to joining SFK Press, I taught French and creative writing for almost eight years to undergraduate students at State University of New York at Oneonta. Rather than hampering me from flourishing as an author myself, my time in teaching and publishing has been a boon to my craft and literary citizenship. I mean, the math is simple: Teacher of Creative Writing + Publisher of Book-Length Fiction = Never Losing Touch with Writers. And if you’re going to be a writer, you need to surround yourself with writers.
Inevitably, there are challenges to having a day job that not only makes your dream job possible but also has a hand in how successful you are in your dream job. For example, as a publisher I see all the hiccups, from teeny-tiny to mammoth, that can go wrong during the process of transforming a Word file into a marketable book. As a writer, you’re sheltered from many of these hiccups (unless your publisher is a sadist and emails you every single time there’s an issue that can and will most likely be resolved without your involvement). While a university lecturer, I might have been at the head of the classroom, but the students within were compelled by new ways of thinking and developing world views. If I really wanted to be a good writing teacher, I couldn’t rely only on my experience and expertise; I had to learn as quickly and as much as I was asking my students to learn.
This July was all about home renos for me. I purchased a condo for one (plus two rescue cats) in southwest Montréal at the end of last year, but I couldn’t get around to making it mine until now. The hallway is now my favorite space. It’s super-long, so my cats can race from end to end all day long, and it boasts two tall pinewood bookshelves. One shelf is dedicated to the books I’ve helped produce for SFK Press authors—I find it furiously rewarding, this privilege of being on both sides of the publishing process. Some two decades ago, when I set out to become an author, as inexperienced and arrogant as I was, I was also filled with drive and a love of telling stories, willing to put in the still-counting hours to sustain my dream.
April is a genderfluid author living in Montréal, Quebec, with her rescue family. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in print and online journals in Canada, the US, Mexico, Germany, and Scotland. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize for her short story “Project Fumarase” and has held fully funded residencies at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Ucross Foundation. When she wants to feel mighty, she orders Ikea furniture and assembles it by herself.
Thank you. This will help me re-focus.