How Gilmore Girls Do Money: Jess Mariano
Jess rested his yellow legal pad on his lap and thought. He jotted down a few words: diversity? women? new hire? and picked up his phone again, scrolling down to The Toast’s comment section.
His half-finished comment was still there, of course. It didn’t feel right, though. Jess knew from experience that when a piece of writing didn’t feel right, it wasn’t yet time to release it to the world.
Look, I’ve been reading The Toast for years—I donated, too!—and I don’t know what to do about the diversity problem, but here’s what you need to know about running a small press: first, you hire people who can get the work done.
He opened up the comment box, backspaced through “first, you hire people who can get the work done,” and wrote a lot of decisions get made very quickly when you start out, and you can’t afford to take chances on people you don’t already know.
Jess paused again. The comment had to be written very carefully, because if he did it right it would also drive readers to Brooklino Press, and he wanted to make sure they went there in a positive frame of mind. The part of the diversity in publishing article that had gotten the furthest under his skin, of course, was the joke about bookstores needing a “Lads Who Write About Gentrified Brooklyn” shelf, and if he made his comment he’d have to trust that the Toast readership would be smart enough to get that Brooklino was a play on linograph, it alluded to the great history of publishing, and it also alluded to his last name—and sure, it was a masculine ending in a Romance Language sense but that was part of the point. Brooklino sought out thoughtful, incisive, and provocative writing about contemporary masculinity, the types of pieces that couldn’t get published anywhere else.
But maybe it needed a name change, while it was still early enough in its history that no one would notice. Jess jotted down Lino Press and LinoPress and did a quick search on his phone to discover that “lino” meant “Libertarian In Name Only,” which, well, Jess wasn’t a Libertarian but it wasn’t as if he hadn’t read some of their blog posts and thought “yeah, those guys have a point.” Lino also meant “cocaine user.” Jess adjusted his search terms, hoping he would find the one where lino meant “young man.” Maybe it was better that it didn’t.
Jess wrote down Mariano Press and scratched it out, embarrassed at the idea.
But back to the original problem: Brooklino, or whatever it became, needed someone on its team besides Jess and his two best friends. It needed someone who could bring an applicable skill—not editing or writing, something like web development or SEO or maybe grantwriting—and someone who was willing to put in their own resources until Brooklino became profitable. Right now the press was funded mostly by what Jess earned pouring wine at an upscale restaurant, where people regularly assumed he was an actor. He took notes after every shift for the novel he would write next, after he finished the novel about the young man who worked at Walmart, saw the injustice of the world, and started his own business to make sure he’d never experience that injustice again.
And yet there the world was, denigrating his efforts. It was time to rewrite the story.
Great post! It made me think about how my small press hasn’t done enough to encourage contributions from women and minorities. You’ve inspired me to create a new Call for Submissions focusing on underrepresented populations. Brooklino (it’s a reference to the linograph) seeks out thoughtful, incisive, and provocative writing—so if you’ve got a story to share, I want to read it!
He hated the exclamation point, but left it in. All he had to do was edit Brooklino’s About and Submissions pages, and then he could hit “submit comment.”
Previously on How Gilmore Girls Do Money: Michel Girard
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