20 November 2016
It’s Small Press Week! Look for these hashtags this week on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and other social media sites:
Today, we’re sharing some secrets and behind-the-scenes glimpses of life in small press publishing.
Small presses come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. Some use digital typesetting and print-on-demand technology to fulfill orders one at a time, while others produce limited editions on small letterpress machines of their own, while still others order a few thousand copies from a printer and maintain an inventory. Some run their own associated online or physical bookstores. Some employ 30 people and some are one person’s passionate hobby.
Upper Rubber Boot is a micropress, because of the small number of titles we release a year (typically 2 or 3). Because of our low profits, I run URB as a part-time job, while holding down a full-time job as a program co-ordinator and admin at a local hospital. It can be tiring! Some days I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. But it also means I can choose projects with very slim margins, or which I know will lose me a small amount of money (most of our poetry titles lose money in their first year, and some never break even). I have a lot of freedom to publish what I love.
I also have an almost pathological need to create order out of disorder, and getting everything just right scratches that itch for me. And it’s an amazing privilege to be able to work with so many intensely talented writers, and to make actual physical things that go out into the world and have a life independent of me. Curating the stories that will appear in an anthology, or helping one of my editors to take a book from cradle to—well, not grave, since none of our titles are out of print, so let’s say, healthy middle age—is extremely satisfying work.