The Autonomous Press revolution
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It doesn’t take checking out many of my blog posts or podcast episodes to come across my familiar refrain that disabled people don’t need non-disabled people to a.) tell our stories, b.) create media content that shares our stories, or c.) tell us what our stories are or should be. I’m a big fan of cross-disability collaboration as well as disabled and non-disabled people collaborating. But collaboration isn’t lip service. It isn’t about making something for us and then asking if we like it. It’s disabled people in partnership, leadership, and decision-making from the beginning. (And these concepts translate to any and all marginalized communities. I just focus on disability here.)
Enter Autonomous Press at autpress.com. I want you to see their URL there, rather than hide it behind a hyperlink. Aut Press. I’m giggling with giddiness over the fabulous word play here. The “aut” represents “autonomous” and “Autistic” at the same time, as most of the founders of the press are Autistic.
From their site: “Autonomous Press (also known as AutPress) is an independent publisher focusing on works about disability, neurodivergence, and the various ways they can intersect with other aspects of identity and lived experience. We are a partnership of disabled workers including writers, poets, artists, musicians, community scholars, and professors. Each partner takes on a share of the work of managing the press and production, and all of our workers are co-owners.”
They have the Autonomous Press imprint and an upcoming NeuroQueer Books imprint, which will focus on queer issues, queering, sexuality, gender, or critical responses to other aspects of identity (such as race, class, disability) as they interact with neurodivergence and mental health.
AutPress is especially interested in publishing disabled writers of color, queer and trans writers, those who use supported communication, or other voices who are less represented in traditional publishing venues.
This is a fantastic group of people doing very powerful work. I feel shivery with excitement because they’ve been open for business for like five minutes and already have three books ready for purchase. And when I read the words on their About Us page, I feel like I am home, comfortable and safe. No inspiration porn, no stories of curing or disability as burden, and no books that center and amplify non-disabled experience. Instead, it’s about justice, access, and pride and of bringing out the voices and perspectives that have always existed and have always gotten less air time.
To learn more about the Autonomous Press founders, click on each person’s name in this sentence: Nick Walker, Elizabeth J. (Ibby) Grace, Corbett Joan OToole, Bridget Allen, and Michael Scott Monje, Jr. If you’re a writer, have a look at their guidelines for submitting a full book. And watch for any open calls for submissions for upcoming anthologies. I encourage everyone to spend some time with these folks and their work (which is often rather playful!). If you enjoyed Criptiques and the provocative, exciting ways that disabled authors were showcased there, I have a feeling every piece that Autonomous Press releases is going to both satiate you and have you thirsty to read more.