Writers Helping Writers


(L-R) Isaac Peterson and Dr. Jessica Hammerman)

Dr. Jessica Hammerman and Isaac Peterson are the husband and wife duo behind the local publishing company, Emerald Books. As a full-service, independent publisher, Emerald Books is an author’s one-stop shop for nearly all of their publishing needs, from expert editing to layout and design.

Both owners are or have been instructors at the college level, and both are currently active writers. In fact, it was writing that helped the two bond early on in their relationship. “Writing was one of the foundations of our relationship, as we would write love letters to each other,” Peterson said. “Living in New York, I worked as a journalist and she was an editor at an art review magazine.”

In New York, the two would work together on their writing projects and eventually found themselves with a multitude of work that was waiting to be published. However, right around 2010, the publishing industry saw a major shift. “The industry went through a change where digital services allowed you to publish your own books, including distribution, assuming you had the knowledge to do so.”

While independent publishing was a side gig for the two, a certain book came across their paths that would change everything. The late Jack Schwartz, long time editor and contributor at The New York Times, had just written his memoir and was looking for a publisher. Schwartz passed in 2021 after a long battle with COVID, and much of the information from his obituary was taken from his memoir; the book was also mentioned in the newspaper.

“All of a sudden, we had a book mentioned in The New York Times, and we started to get writers to reach out from everywhere, looking to get their work published,” Peterson said.

The husband and wife duo moved to Bend around 2010, at which point Emerald Books began to take shape organically. “I didn’t immediately find work, so I kept publishing on the side,” Peterson said. “I had no plans of starting a company, but once we published that memoir, there were so many people interested in Schwartz’ life that our popularity grew.”

Peterson would continue to publish on the side while working as a part-time and freelance teacher. Eventually, he discovered his passion for publishing when he realized that he included the subject in nearly all of the classes he taught, even helping elementary age art students publish a book full of their work. “As a teacher, I wanted to provide my students something to show off their hard work, and a book worked out perfectly,” Peterson said.

After a few years working design and layout jobs at local publications, Peterson got tired of the noncompetitive wages he was being offered, so he took those design skills, combined them with his and his wife’s affinity for writing and editing, and turned their side gig into their full time job in 2016. “At first it was really just for fun, but we had so many writers reach out for our services, and we realized we had to start taking things seriously,” Peterson said. “I always just wanted to be an employee and keep doing my creative thing, but it was honestly harder to be an employee at low wages than being a business owner.”

The duo created an LLC, got their pricing right and restructured the company. Once serious time and effort was put in, the company just kept growing, even during times when other companies were facing layoffs and bankruptcy.

“We were lucky to do all that work before COVID hit,” Peterson said. “We saw layoffs and foreclosures all over, but our industry got lucky. So many writers were trapped at home and decided to write as much as they could and see if they could get published.”

With such a successful foundation based on genuinely helping new and emerging writers, Emerald Books stands as a very accessible publishing resource. In an industry where nearly everything can be done by individual freelancers, Emerald Books combines nearly all of those services, from copyediting and proofreading to design and layout; all the author has to provide is their written work.

Now, the goal of the company is to localize their growth. While they still have clients from New York and all over the world, their new goal is to grow in Bend as much as possible, from publishing local authors to being active members of their community and joining local writer’s clubs.

“Overall, publishing is a complicated business that we simplify. All you do is give us the writing and we shape whatever you can imagine,” Peterson said. “Tons of books we’ve published wouldn’t exist if the writer was just tossed into the freelance industry. With a background in art, I can do drawings and paintings to help create an author’s visual concepts, while my wife Jessica is one of the best writers and editors you’ll ever meet.”

Emerald Books • 959 NE Wiest Way, Bend



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