Call it ‘self-publishing’ if you will, call it an unhealthy desperation, frustration or whatever – I’m not sure exactly what my prime motivation is but it feels good to be taking charge!
Here’s what’s happened …. I have named my new poetry press. I’ve named my pamphlet. I’ve (almost) decided on the content and order, thanks to some super insightful comment and expert suggestions from an experienced poet. I have applied for my first batch of ISBN numbers. I’ve had several print quotes, and have juggled various options regarding size/format. I’ve pored over many pamphlets to see how they’ve been made, the typefaces, line height, paper weight, where the acknowledgements go, etcetera. I’ve done most of the typsetting and layout myself in Illustrator. I’ve decided what I like and don’t like in terms of cover designs, and have briefed a talented artist to come up with something beautiful.
So far I’ve really enjoyed the process and haven’t had any big problems. I realise it’s still a novelty for me. And I’m doing this as an investment, not to make money or even cover costs, although that would be nice, and not utterly impossible. So I guess the difficult thing about publishing must simply the business of money – where it comes from, how not to lose it, and how to finance the next project and stay sustainable.
My own pamphlet is being financed by moi. But in so doing, I’m getting excited at the prospect of publishing other poets. That was the point of creating a new press – to publish my own first pamphlet alongside a few other people in the same position as me, namely, those feeling ready to publish but as yet unlucky in winning a pamphlet competition (because that seems to be the only way to one’s first pamphlet). What does this mean? Am I setting myself up as a publisher? Yes and no. I see the pamphlet projects as being fairly collaborative and ‘self help’. I don’t have the experience to be an editor. And I don’t have the funds to publish endlessly out of my own pocket. So any fellow poets coming on board have to be prepared (as I am) to share the financial burden of production (although on the positive side this means sharing the sales income too.)
That said, being prepared to PAY is not the only criterion – too much like a vanity press. And I do (of course) have strong feelings about the kinds of collections I’d like to be published alongside. So there are artistic criteria, if you like. And quite a few other criteria also, the nuts and bolts of which I’m still working out. Most of all I think of a Telltale pamphlet as being a first step, maybe a springboard. It feels important to me that it’s for first pamphlets, because it gives newcomers a chance. (But will I change my mind once I’ve done one, and can’t get anyone else to publish me? Ha! We’ll see!)
The way I see it, there’s room for all kinds of publishing enterprise. This one has yet to earn its stripes. But it’s fun to try.