Emily Victorson

Forest Park’s Allium Press is hoping to snag a $150,000 small business grant from a Chase online contest, said owner Emily Victorson.

The Chase ‘Mission Main Street’ contest appeared in a Twitter feed, and Victorson decided to jump in.

“We have to get 250 votes to get to the next level,” Victorson said. Voting takes place through the Chase Mission Main Street grants webpage, which is linked on the Allium Press Facebook page. Voting ends Oct. 17.

Twenty small businesses will receive $150,000 grants from Chase over two years.

The publishing company has been around for five years, and published 14 titles by eight different authors. Victorson’s niche is that she publishes fiction, mysteries and young adult fiction – all with a Chicago connection.

“Our competition consists of books by major publishers that are backed by significant publicity budgets, as well as the glut of self-published books,” Victorson said.

Victorson said she wants to “increase the discoverability of our titles.” She’s got plans to spend the $150,000 by taking on a staff member or two and moving the operation out of her home on South Elgin Avenue. This is the best way to put out more books every year, Victorson said.

Victorson started the company after being laid off in the 2009 economic downturn. She had been a 25-year librarian, historian and book designer. Her love of Chicago history was born in the library of the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Museum) and the Newberry Library.

 With the lower costs of publishing-on-demand technology, she realized it was easier than ever to start a publishing company. The company’s name, Allium, is the Latin word for “Onion” and her company motto is, “Rescuing Chicago from Capone … one book at a time.”

Victorson likes to organize events with other small publishers and has helped set up “pop up” local book fairs. She formed a publisher’s collective called Chicago Books United that displays at the Printer’s Row Lit Fest. She also serves on the board of the Chicago Book Expo and the Forest Park Public Library.

She also wants to work on a couple of anthologies of Chicago-based authors of the past.

A long-term goal is to create a cooperative workspace, hopefully in Forest Park, that other publishers can share to hold meetings and do collaborative marketing projects, she said.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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