What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
I believe middle-grade in general has a lot of vibrancy, and I think the industry will continue to see a rise in sales and readership there.
And given the current political climate in the U.S., I think the trend of “feminist literature” will continue to rise. Of course, one could argue—I certainly do—that “feminist literature” is more than a trend; it’s a timeless and relevant example of the power that narrative holds to speak truth, comfort, and empower readers.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
My team and I have a strong editorial vision and social mission for our list: We’re dedicated to sharing stories of real, flawed characters that shed light on the diversity of human experience and help readers connect to humanity. In general, we want to see submissions that do that, and do it beautifully, regardless of genre, audience, or topic.
However, there are a few areas that I’m especially interested in: narrative nonfiction and memoir from women of color; fun and adventurous middle-grade fiction that features STEM elements; retellings of fairy tales or classics, especially with an inclusive spin; upmarket or literary fiction; and quirky, creative YA. (It’s too hard to pick just one!)
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
Amberjack Publishing is pivoting away from genre women’s fiction. The very concept of “women’s fiction” has become frustrating to me: I refuse to accept the idea that women’s experiences must be pigeonholed into a single genre, that only women should read or be interested in women’s stories, or that fiction centering on women should conform to a certain set of plots, tropes, or expectations. I want to see stories about real, nuanced, imperfect women that break those boundaries. I want to see stories that focus on diverse women in diverse situations and in which the characters are informed by, but not defined by, their identities.
How do you work with self-published authors?
We don’t. We are a traditional publisher that typically accepts only agented submissions, and we’re interested in a close editorial and marketing relationship with each author and book we acquire.
What do you want to change about publishing?
I’d like to see more visibility for small press books and small presses in general, especially in media coverage, trade coverage, and award attention on a national level. Amberjack Publishing is working to be the change we want to see in the publishing world. Our recent release I Am Yours: A Shared Memoir by Reema Zaman has received national media attention and recently completed a 10-city book tour; we’ve received two New York Times book reviews in the last six months; and we believe we have some awardworthy books coming this fall. While it’s challenging to make space for ourselves as a small press and to create that kind of change from the bottom up, I’m proud of how much we’ve achieved and excited for what we and our fellow small presses have on the horizon.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
Amberjack Publishing is the only trade publisher based in Idaho, which immediately gives us a unique approach to publishing compared to our peers in the industry. Boise’s literary and cultural scene is thriving and growing rapidly, but it is still growing. Because our community is much smaller than that of, say, New York or Portland, Oregon, Amberjack has a unique—and thrilling—opportunity to be intimately involved with the scene’s ongoing growth.
The network of close relationships we’ve built—with local booksellers, with Idaho’s literary organizations, with regional media, and with other community spaces and partners—is something that could only happen here. That foundational personal approach to community and relationships is one we bring into our work with authors, booksellers, and other industry professionals on a national scale. We’re a local publisher, but “local” is wherever the book is.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to give a quick shoutout to a few of our literary partners in Idaho: Rediscovered Books, Storyfort, and The Cabin. Rediscovered Books is Boise’s indie bookstore, with thoughtful booksellers and author events that make our community a richer, more welcoming place; Storyfort is an annual storytelling festival under the umbrella of the Treefort Music Fest that always brings in fresh and exciting voices; and The Cabin is Boise’s literary arts organization, which does such an outstanding job of both bringing authors to the area and providing writing workshops to all ages and communities.
Dayna Anderson has been the publisher of Amberjack Publishing, based in Eagle, Idaho, since 2014. Before publishing, she worked in government affairs, both in lobbying and campaign management. The exposure to strong personalities, the building of living brands, and their impact on the world made politics a perfect training ground for a life in publishing. When not buried in manuscripts, proposals, contracts, and spreadsheets, Dayna can be found hiking the Sawtooths with her family.