The AWP Conference is always an adventure. Each year One Story flies off to a different state in the U.S. to spread the good news about short stories. This year was no different. Our publisher, Maribeth Batcha, along with Webmaster Devin Emke, Managing Editor Tanya Rey, Associate Editor Marie-Helene Bertino and Contributing Editors Pei-Ling Lue and Elliott Holt all boarded the same flight from New York to Denver, Colorado. Jokes were made that if their plane should go down, the brains of One Story would go with it, and the carrying of the torch would rest heavily on my lonely shoulders. I joined the group on Thursday and headed directly to the bookfair, where our fearless gals had set up some beautiful rotating racks of issues, along with our new very professional-looking sign (which was just to the left of this shot–we forgot to take a picture). No more valentines or duck ponds–although I will admit to missing the air hockey table from AWP Atlanta.
For the next three days we met loyal subscribers, talked others into giving the magazine a try, and hosted One Story authors Robin Black, Patrick Somerville, Allison Amend, Michael Blumenthal, Lauren Groff, Irina Reyn, Laura Van den Berg, Jerry Gabriel, and Steve Almond (you can read his hilarious round-up of AWP over at The Rumpus) who sold their new books at our table. But most of all, we sold 5 packs. One Story 5-packs are the brain-child of our managing editor, Tanya Rey, to gather 5 themed issues of One Story and tie them together with a belly-band, stamped with an image to represent the theme. We had 5 Love Stories, 5 Travel Stories, 5 Humor Stories, 5 Experimental Stories, and 5 Stories from writers at AWP. I have to admit, these 5-packs were beautiful, but I had no idea that they would sell like ice-cream in July. Passersby would gravitate to them like they were being pulled in by a tractor-beam. We soon realized that people would rather spend $5 on a pre-selected themed 5-pack then $1 for a single story they would have to choose themselves. Amazing. Quickly, we sold out, and spent the rest of the fair jerry-rigging more. By Saturday, we had sold every single issue of the magazine that we brought. Next year, I’m thinking: only 5-packs. Or maybe we will move on to 6 packs. Or 10 packs.
Another highlight was a wine & whiskey toast that we held at our table for Cheston Knapp, author of the current issue, “A Minor Momentousness in the History of Love.” This was Cheston’s very first publication, and we all raised glasses and celebrated the launch of his writing career. Unlike last year, we were not challenged to a dance-off, but we danced, just the same, led by One Story author Tom Grattan, who I’m sure would have led us to victory. But what is best about AWP is putting faces to names–meeting the writers we’ve published in these pages and subscribers and donors who have kept us going for the past eight years. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth. We’ll see you next year, in D.C.!