A new adventure for URB

19 April 2018

To everybody who donated to our kickstarter, thank you so very much for your support! I’m very grateful. I’m not sure how to express how much hard work goes into making a book, and having concrete proof that people appreciate my efforts is tremendously heartening.

However, after looking carefully at the project, it was pretty clear that we weren’t going to reach our goal, and that I needed to do more to showcase how amazing our writers are and what great books these will be. I’ve been brainstorming with some of my more marketing-savvy friends, and have a ton of new ideas for ways to bring the attention to my writers that they deserve.

We’re going to retool a few things and relaunch the kickstarter on June 1st.

     

I’m also retooling Upper Rubber Boot somewhat. TL;DR: we’re becoming a not-for-profit. (This won’t affect my current writers, whose contracts will simply be assigned to the new entity.)

When I started Upper Rubber Boot in 2011, I thought that it would grow over time until it became a full-time job. I put some money out of every paycheck into the URB bank account to keep it afloat (and I’m still doing that), and I started small. I built up the business to what it is today—a small press that puts out a few good books every year, but, let’s be real, is not appreciably closer to supporting me than it was seven years ago. It has never turned a profit (the closest it came was 2015, the year we published Choose Wisely and How to Live on Other Planets, when we basically broke even). I’ve had all of the challenges of running what it turns out is a non-profit business, without any of the benefits of non-profit status.

      It’s become clear that turning URB into the kind of going concern that could replace my income as an administrative assistant would involve a level of investment of both time and money that I don’t have available to me, and would also require me to make more profitable decisions in terms of what I publish, instead of focusing on the short fiction and poetry that I love, but which is never going to sell bazillions of copies.

I’m lucky to have a fulfilling day job (at a hospital, where I run a clinical fellowship and the lives of four surgeons, and a bunch of other projects including the medical humanitarian work in East Africa and Haiti that I feel so privileged to get to be involved with) where I hope to stay for a long time, so the desire to write and publish full-time that I felt so keenly seven years ago has faded.

 
I’m finding that my priorities in life are shifting. Over a year ago, my best friend and one of the best humans I’ve ever known was diagnosed with cancer. I went back home to Nova Scotia to see her several times, and was able to say goodbye before she died in December. That experience, common as it is, has made me re-evaluate my life in view of what suddenly seems a more realistic mortality. I want to spend my limited time on work that matters. One of the amazing things about micropress publishing is that, because it’s not our main hustle, we can create a space where capitalism is incidental (though not, sadly, entirely escapable) and bring lovely, thoughtful, insightful, and/or challenging writing into the world, without much reference to how well it’ll sell. Doing that is going to be a little easier with not-for-profit status.

Thanks for being here with me. I’m so grateful for all of you.

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