We Liked It, So We Put A Paycheck On It (#CrippingtheMighty)

Autonomous Press is proud to have Dani Alexis Ryskamp aboard as our newest editor and your future curator for Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber. On top of her work in activism an blogging, Dani’s writing includes fiction, research and academic essay writing, and a variety of freelance genres. Joining our press isn’t her first job in the industry, and because of that, her experience will help us bring our mission into focus. For instance, when she says:

Your time, effort, and attention are valuable.  When you focus them to produce a piece of writing, that writing has value.  When you give that writing away without being compensated for it, you are giving charity.  It’s a gift.  And like all gifts, you are notobligated to give it.

Naturally, a lot of companies realize that simply asking people to give them charity doesn’t fly.  So “write for us for free!” is often (though not always!) masked with other terms, like “on spec” or my personal favorite, “for exposure.”

Which is why we’re also glad that she was able to say this, without even having to prompt us to try it:

Autonomous Press, founded in 2015, has published only one book containing the works of disabled writers who were not paid cash money for their contributions.  The writers were, h0wever, compensated with at least one physical printed copy of the book apiece (to my knowledge, The Mighty does not print copies of contributors’ submissions for distribution).  Contributors to the press’s second compilation, The Real Experts, were paid with contributor copies and cash; contributors to its third, The Spoon Knife Anthology, will be paid in similar form.  Every single-author book Autonomous Press has produced to date is also paying royalties to its respective author.

(Incidentally, AutPress’s payment to me for my own contribution to Spoon Knifeis the most I have ever been paid for a single fiction piece.)

If AutPress can produce physical, printed books with a four-figure startup budget and compensate our contributors, The Mighty has no excuse for running a digital-only realm on a seven-figure startup budget and not paying its writers.  And as for “exposure,” a print publication outranks a digital one on a CV every time.

And that’s why we’re also happy to announce one last thing:

There’s a blog network coming. And we’re paying.

For now, please check out the rest of Dani’s post about The Mighty, along with her advice about spec work and “exposure.”


What is a Spoon Knife? (+Contributor Roster)

On behalf of Michael and The Puzzlebox Collective, the Autonomous Press partnership would like to invite you to read the rest of the post with the benefit of a soundtrack. The embedded video is electronica (seizure sensitivity warning), but it is more in line with a World style than a heavy, warbly Dubstep beat. The visual is simply the band’s album cover art, a distorted logo, and their name, Laibach. The video should not autoplay.

From the Introduction to The Spoon Knife Anthology, “What is a Spoon Knife?” by Michael Scott Monje, Jr:

The first question I got from my partners and blogging friends when I started talking about spoon knives was “What is that?” Every one of them had heard about Christine Miserandino’s “The Spoon Theory,” of course, and they could tell I was referencing it, but none of them seemed to be familiar with traditional woodworking tools, because they didn’t see that reference or its connection to activist work. Not at first, at least. Once I posted some pictures of various spoon knives and the bowls they were used to carve, the idea caught fire. …

… [T]he spoon knife, that old woodworker’s companion that looks something like the tool it is used to make, only sharp and nasty and quick. A spoon knife is used to carve the bowl, which makes it curved, like a melon baller. It shaves away the unnecessary parts of the wood in layers, too, so it has to be sharp and strong, to keep slicing and slicing until it has peeled enough to make a depression in an otherwise smooth stick. It looks thin, like something made from an old beer can, but in a master’s hands, it rewards patience and precision.

If we’re keeping with our extended metaphor, though, then we still have to ask the question: What is a spoon knife? We know what our symbol does, but what in our community is capable of doing that thing—cutting away layers of what shouldn’t be there, to leave us with the ability to do more, reach further, and nourish ourselves more successfully. What looks thin and weak, but nonetheless digs deep channels into reality?

My belief is that the spoon knife is a story. For some, it’s an expression of solidarity that refills our emotional reserves even as it bolsters the morale of the one who offered support. For others, it might be an example that provides the cognitive scaffolding needed to get out of an abusive situation, or even just to recognize one in the first place. It’s also possible for it to be a confrontation, a reality that will not yield to our need until we learn to wield it and to control its damage with unwavering precision.

NeuroQueer Books is proud to present the roster for the first volume of The Spoon Knife Anthology.

You heard that right, folx. First volume. In a few months, you will see a call go up for next year’s edition, and it will be edited by Autonomous Press’s newest partner, Dani Alexis Ryskamp. She currently blogs at Autistic Academic and manages NeuroQueer. Before we can start taking submissions, though, Dani has to select her out-of-press editor because the book needs 2 people on it, and then they need to write a specific call that fits the second volume’s title.

Next year’s edition will be called The Spoon Knife Anthology 2: Test Chamber. After that, we plan on rotating the editorship until every NQ Books editor has a chance to take on at least one volume. After that, who knows? It all depends on you, our readers and writers.

Here is the list of contributors:Spoon Knife Anthology Cover

  • Alex Conall
  • Alison Kopit
  • Alyssa Hillary
  • Amanda Sleen
  • Andrea Abi-Karam
  • Andrew Reichart
  • Athena the Architect
  • Barbara Ruth
  • Bridget Allen
  • Cara Liebowitz
  • Dani Alexis Ryskamp
  • E. Lewy
  • Elizabeth J. Grace
  • Emily Knapp
  • Harriet Grace
  • Jessica Goody
  • Kassiane A. Sibley
  • Leah Kelley
  • Lucas Scheelk
  • Luis Lopez-Maldonado
  • Marc Rosen
  • Marcel Price, a.k.a. Fable the Poet
  • Marshall Edwards
  • Michael Scott Monje, Jr. (ed.)
  • N.I. Nicholson (ed.)
  • Nick Walker
  • Nina Fosati
  • Sabrina Zarco
  • Samuel T. Harvey
  • Sarah Caulfield
  • Selene dePakh
  • Stephanie Heit
  • Thalia Rose
  • Thomas Kearnes

The Spoon Knife Anthology: Thoughts on Compliance, Defiance, and Resistance will be available March 15th from NeuroQueer Books. Stay tuned for preorder and early ebook sales on the AutPress Direct store.

[Image description: Mechanized flesh and architecture combine in a dystopian landscape that evokes depersonalization and desolation in this art from Selene Depakh. Over top, the title of the anthology and the editorial credentials stand in stark white.]

TASH UPDATE for Wide Release

Autonomous Press and TASH had a very encouraging meeting this morning on the topics of Communication Justice and research.

TASH reaffirmed their powerful commitment to human rights and quality of life for people, which puts us clearly on the same side, and so we look forward to a fruitful partnership.

Stay tuned for more detailed news about future developments soon.

Welcome to the AutPress Holiday Extravaganza!

Hi there everyone, Michael here. I’ve been talking to Corbett, and she thinks that we need to do something to help people who are just discovering us through The Real Experts, to give them a little extra incentive to check out the rest of our store offerings. After putting our heads together with the other partners, we have set up a few deals for you. These sets and bundle packs will only be available at these prices until December 13th, and they will be fulfilled in time for delivery on or before December 24th.

Each pack also comes with our complimentary ebooks for the books you purchase, and the ebook-only sets are available too. Just remember that our downloads are .zip archives, so you need to open them up to extract the ebooks in the format your device uses.

If you’ve been waiting to check out what our press has to offer, or if you’re looking to see more from an AutPress author you like, here are your chances. We’ve got three specials for you:

  • Recommended Reads from Autistic Activists is a 2-pack that includes both Typed Words, Loud Voices and The Real Experts: Readings for Parents of Autistic Children. It shouldn’t be too surprising that you’ll find a lot of overlap in the writers between the two, and both feature outlooks and discussions from a variety of autistic standpoints. You can check out ordering options for that one here.
  • Serial Fiction by Michael Scott Monje, Jr. is a complete set of every individual book Michael has put out so far, at a deep discount that you won’t find in other venues. These selections include Nothing is Right, Defiant, Mirror Project, and A Waking Narrative. If you’ve seen Michael in Barking Sycamores, Neuroqueer, our anthologies, or if you follow Imaginary Friends on the Shaping Clay blog, here’s your chance to get caught up on what came before. You can grab the bundle at this link.
  • AutPress Holiday Press Pack features all four releases from our first year together: Fading Scars; Defiant; Typed Words, Loud Voices; and The Real Experts: Readings for Parents of Autistic Children. Ordering information is here.

Happy holidays from AutPress!

Official AutPress Statement on the TASH Response to Slate (UPDATED)

TASH UPDATE for Wide Release: Autonomous Press and TASH had a very encouraging meeting this morning on the topics of Communication Justice and research. TASH reaffirmed their powerful commitment to human rights and quality of life for people, which puts us clearly on the same side, and so we look forward to a fruitful partnership. Stay tuned for more detailed news about future developments soon. – 11/27/15


Following the statement from TASH regarding their official stance that they will not support or directly endorse facilitated communication, the partners at Autonomous Press have decided that we cannot do business with the organization or any representative acting in their capacity as such while this policy is in effect. As a press started by a majority autistic partnership, one whose own members type to communicate frequently, we do not feel comfortable attending, selling at, or promoting this organization or their events in any way.

We make this decision with a heavy heart. Many of us have friends on the board. In addition to that fact, though, one of our editors on Typed Words, Loud Voices, our groundbreaking anthology of typers, is herself an FC activist. She has presented at TASH to specifically address the ways she communicates and barriers caused by false and ableist skepticism leading to poorly designed and agenda-driven “studies.” We can only imagine the strain that this institutional decision has placed on her, implying as it does that TASH does not stand behind those that they invite to share their knowledge and ideas.

It is out of a desire to make our commitment to representing voices like hers, and not to privilege some forms of accommodation and some forms of communication over others, that we make this move:

Until TASH officially embraces FC and the right of all disabled persons to communicate with the methods they choose for themselves, Autonomous Press will be forced to avoid the TASH conference, withdraw outreach funding from any travel grants being used by TASH presenters applying for our assistance, and withdraw our memberships (for those of us who are members). The partners are also asking that AutPress authors who wish to present at TASH during this period, however long or short it is, do so without promoting the books they have published with us or directly tying them in to their abstracts (casual mentions are fine).

We are happy to fully embrace any organization within our community that supports and embraces our mission and the authors we represent. When an organization leaves itself open to the idea that the books, presentations, and other intellectual work by facilitated communicators are not genuine, that is the same thing as stating that they are open to the idea that we have created false or counterfeit scholarly work. It’s unfortunate, but we cannot have a relationship with organizations that take such a position and declare it to be principled.

We look forward to communication justice becoming, once again, a priority for TASH, and await a new institutional statement showing it.

Stocked and Ready to Rock

Hi everyone, Michael here again. It’s been a busy week at AutPress world headquarters, and that means good things for you. First things first, this is what it looks like when you have a whole case of The Real Experts sitting on a shelf in your closet:

Seveny-six copies of The Real Experts

That’s right. We got out copies early. If you’ve already ordered, we will be shipping copies starting on Monday, and it will take us a few days to get them all out in the mail. If you’ve been waiting, you can order now and we will ship your copy as soon as we get to your spot in the queue.

That’s not all we have for you, though. My first two novels are both in stock and ready to ship. In Nothing is Right you will experience Clay Dillon’s search for his first friend as he navigates gradeschool for the first time and runs up against the expectations and special education screening procedures found in public education in the late 1980s. This book introduces Van, the cyborg who plays such an integral role in Imaginary Friends, and it also sets the stage for the struggle the character faces in Defiant.

Mirror Project takes you into an alternate universe where you are on the other side of a computer screen, witnessing the first artificial intelligence to develop the capacity to broadcast its presence. As she describes the ways in which her human creators tried to limit her experience and dictate her identity, the reader must ask: Do I trust what she says about herself? And if I don’t, what if I’m wrong?

Both of these titles were originally self-published, and Autonomous Press will be selling their first editions until we are ready to roll out reprints with new critical introductions and redesigned covers. Those titles, along with our existing listings, are all in stock and ready for you too. Don’t believe me, though. Check out my closet:

stacks of AutPress books

Remember, our books come with instant ebook copies, and orders of 3 or more books get free economy shipping.


March Release Update (Covers! Spoon Knife Rates!)

Hi everyone, Michael here. As most of you know, I’m the coordinating editor for NeuroQueer Books, which means I manage the calendar and help shepherd our releases through production, making sure we have the art and other resources we need when it comes time to publish. Today, I’m happy to announce that two out of our three March books have their art in place already, so I’m going to show them off for you.

Cover art for Imaginary Friends by Michael Scott Monje JrFirst off, we have my next novel, Imaginary Friends. For those of you unfamiliar with the premise, the book follows autistic protagonist Clay Dillon as he begins the second grade and navigates the complex family dynamics that come with both religious education and the coming of a new sibling. Along the way, Clay’s powerful imagination brings his lessons to life. Sometimes this brings him a new understanding that allows him uncommon insight into the people around him. At other times, it produces such overwhelming thoughts that he is unable to do more than cope with the output of his brain as it wrestles withe multiple immediate perceptions.

For the cover, the artist (Chris Henry) chose to craft Van’s helmet. Van is one of Clay’s most immediate imaginary creations, and he played a big role in both this book and my first novel, Nothing is Right. In the background, we can see the skyline of Clay’s LEGO fortress in silhouette, so it doesn’t give up its details. To learn more about the story, feel free to start reading the rough draft as it finishes up on my blog. The chapters will stay up for about a month after the serial concludes, and then the fully edited final cut will be ready for you in March.


March also brings us our first NQ Books collection, The Spoon Knife Anthology. I’m editing this one with N.I. Nicholson of Barking Sycamores, the literary journal for the discussion of neurodivergent literature and craft. Our third release for the NQ Books launch will actually be a Barking Sycamores collection that will bring together many of the writings from the first four issues. That book is set to be a fundraiser for the journal, and we hope it allows us to build a long and fruitful relationship with the outlet while helping the editors gain the funding they need to develop the publication further.

The Spoon Knife Anthology is no fundraiser, though. Instead, it is our first literary collection, and the first paying collection under our anthology funding program. As we’ve explained elsewhere, this program works by paying writers a work-for-hire Spoon Knife Anthology Coverrate for their work in collections and then setting aside the 15% that would normally be paid in royalties, putting it into a special fund. That fund then becomes the pool of resources for future books, ensuring that each passing anthology helps to make the next one bigger, better, and better paying for our writers.

Our first volume will pay out at 1 cent per word, with a guarantee of a $5.00 minimum for each accepted piece. This was the highest rate allowed by our funding from Typed Words, Loud Voices, and it is a method of payment that makes it easier for us to control the book’s length and guarantee both quality and diversity in the selections.

To the right, you’ll see the art for The Spoon Knife Anthology. While the cover was put together by Chris Henry, the cover artwork was sourced from Selene Depakh, a neurodivergent artist with a longstanding reputation of community involvement and beautiful concepts in stunning execution. The piece we chose to license for the anthology is one in a series of PTSD-inspired creations, and its contorted, cyborged, and blended approach to the concept of mechanizing the self really resonated with both N.I. and myself. We’re happy to be working with Selene and with the rest of the people who are contributing to the anthology, and we will have a roster of contributors ready within a couple of weeks. Thank you! – Michael

Coming in Late November: The Real Experts (UPDATED)

Real Experts cover“Full of practical advice and transcendent ‘Aha!’ moments, The Real Experts offers young autistic people and their families the kind of wise mentorship from tribal elders that was unavailable in previous generations. It’s a landmark book.” – Steve Silberman, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

How do I help my child to thrive? To be healthy and happy, to fulfill his or her positive potentials, and to grow up to lead a good life? Every parent of an autistic child struggles daily with this question. Just trying to understand an autistic child’s actions, feelings, and needs can seem like an overwhelming challenge. It doesn’t help that professional “experts” and the mass media bombard us with all sorts of harmful and terrifying misinformation about autism.

Fortunately, more and more parents are discovering an essential source of insight into autism: the writings of autistic adults. Who better to help us understand autistic children and their needs, than the people who have actually been autistic children?
Listening to the insights and experiences shared by autistic bloggers has helped Michelle Sutton to help her two autistic children to thrive. In The Real Experts , Michelle has collected writings from a dozen autistic authors, containing “insider” wisdom on autism that has been invaluable to her family. The result is an extraordinary resource for families with autistic children, and also for educators, therapists, and other professionals.

“This book is a gift to parents who want to get the real scoop from the real experts on autism — autistic people themselves. Michelle Sutton has gathered excellent first-person accounts of what it’s like to grow up, live, and thrive as an autistic person. More than anything, autistic people and their families need to see and hear autistic role models who can help them understand, support, and celebrate their unique autistic loved ones. The Real Experts is a wonderful contribution to the autism community, and to us all.” – Karla McLaren, M.Ed., The Art of Empathy and The Language of Emotions

“Wow. What a breath of fresh air. I read this book with unfolding delight… Finally, people on the spectrum are being heard, and it is a phenomenon that gathers momentum as parents and others realize they can learn from what is being said.” – Dawn Prince-Hughes, Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism

The Real Experts: Readings for Parents of Autistic Children features essays by:

And with special author introductions and an editorial essay by Michelle Sutton.

UPDATE: The Real Experts is available for pre-order on the AutPress Direct store and copies will ship when we receive our initial inventory shipment. It will also be available elsewhere on Nov. 24. Review copy requests should be sent to publicity@autpress.com.

Coming in March: NeuroQueer Books

Hi everyone, Michael here. You might have seen my job title with the press is listed as being with NeuroQueer Books, and not with Autonomous Press. A few people have asked about it, and it’s time to set a few things straight and clarify how our press works. Autonomous Press is the name of the company, but it’s also the name of one imprint. Sort of like how Marvel Comics has the MCU, and it has its own mission and tone and target audience. Now, we’re also planning on rolling out a few more imprints, and each one will have a different focus and audience. Again, this is like how Marvel Comics has Marvel Max and the Ultimates universe. Each of them is a little different, but their titles all fit together.

This March, the first of our new imprints will be coming. It’s called NeuroQueer Books, and the focus is going to be, as our AutPress website says, “queer issues, queering, sexuality, gender, or critical response to other aspects of identity (such as race, class, disability) as they interact with neurodivergence and psychological development,” but that is a little unclear to anyone in the creative writing community who doesn’t do a lot of theory, and the fact that we are a literary imprint that deals mostly in poetry and fiction can be a little bit new for people who are used to working in theory. So, since we are actively looking at submissions now, I wanted to establish some clearer guidelines for NQ Books, and also to share a few programs with you. Let’s start at the top, with book proposals.

NQ Books Book Submissions

NeuroQueer Books is looking for book-length (50,000+ words) collections of poetry, prose fiction/nonfiction, novels, memoir, graphic novels, photo essay books, and creative-critical scholarly work. Submissions may be multi-genre. Writers need not claim a disabled identity to submit, but they should be writing from the intersection of neurodiversity and queerness, and the work should deal heavily in some kind of exploration of identity. The prompt is broad to be inclusive, so do not be afraid to query with questions. You can contact me through the NQ Books Facebook Page.

NeuroQueer Horizons

Writers are also invited to send shorter collections, novellas, and other work for consideration in the monthly NeuroQueer Horizons series. We are still looking for writers coming from within a neuroqueer identity, and we will consider the same mix of presentation formats that we do for full-length books. NQ Horizons does have a theme, though, and only submissions that fit the theme will be considered.

NQ Horizons Call: NeuroQueer Horizons is a series of ebooks that run between 10,000 and 30,000 words, with some leeway for quality material. We are looking for work in any genre, but prefer poetry and fiction in the science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk genres. The prompt is “What is intelligence? What does it mean to communicate?”

Submissions will not be open for this series until June 2016. NQ Horizons submissions that are made up entirely of work that was previously featured in AutPress anthologies and/or Barking Sycamores will be automatically accepted into the release queue. If a single writer with at least 3 NeuroQueer Horizons releases wants to re-release them as a combined paperback, that proposal will also be automatically accepted.

Spoon Knife Anthology

In addition to being featured with your own release, you can also submit to the annual Spoon Knife Anthology. We are currently working through the first year’s submissions, but we will have a new editor for volume 2 and a new prompt, and that will come out some time in May. For year one, Spoon Knife focused on works invoking compliance, defiance, resistance, and consent.

For those of you waiting on submission acceptance, we are pleased to announce that we have settled on an honorarium, and we will be announcing that payment in a few days, when we unveil the first volume’s cover design.

We’re also planning a few other projects that might have submission opportunities, but these three programs give us a way to provide writers with a paid, feedback-oriented path from a single poem or short story to an eventual paperback collection with little pressure, a flexible pace, and a consistent audience that allows them to develop rapport. We also strongly suggest sending work to Barking Sycamores between anthologies, and submitting revisions there if you receive a rejection with feedback. If it is accepted, then it has a second chance with us in one of your NQ Horizons collections.

NQ Books – Year One

We do have a few empty spots in our calendar, but here’s what the first year of NeuroQueer Books looks like for now. We are considering another book or two that is in the process of acceptance and finalization, and we can consider new books for August until January, and we can consider new books for December until the end of March. Please send us a query or a full manuscript if you have work ready.

March :

  • Imaginary Friends, a novel by Michael Scott Monje Jr.
  • The Spoon Knife Anthology, poetry & narrative, N.I. Nicholson & Michael Scott Monje, Jr. (eds.)
  • Barking Sycamores: Year One, featuring poetry, essays, fiction, and art from the first four issues, N.I. Nicholson (ed.).


  • Teaching Languagings | To: Nonverbal Thinkers — The US Book, a poetic aesthetic by Michael Scott Monje, Jr., with a foreword by Andrew Dell’Antonio and an afterword by Dani Alexis Ryskamp.


  • Mirror Project, a science fiction novel by Michael Scott Monje, Jr. (2nd edition re-release)


  • NeuroQueer Horizons 1: A Waking Narrative by Michael Scott Monje, Jr.

Oops. Sorry Daniel McConnell

We worked hard to get our first three books to you. We double and triple checked everything and still we made a mistake.
In Typed Words, Loud Voices we correctly listed Daniel McConnell as the author of the article “Autism and Neurodiversity Panel.” But when we created the first page of the article, we said that someone else wrote his article.

We are very sorry for this error. And we thank Charlene Brandi for letting us know of our mistake.

Here is what we are doing to remedy this.

1. We changed the e-books right away. If you have the Typed Words e-book and would like us to send you the correct e-book, please email us at Publicity@autpress.com and we will send it to you.

2. We have changed our master copy with the printers. So all books printed going forward will have Daniel’s name with his article.

3. In each of the Typed Words, Loud Voices that we sell that are not corrected, we are inserting a note on that page listing the correct information.

We are very sorry for our mistake. We thank Daniel for his graciousness.

If anyone else finds any mistakes, please let us know and we will work hard to fix them. Just email us at Publicity@autpress.com