Sunday, November 20, 2011

12 or 20 (small press ) questions

Rob Mclennan interviewed me for his series on small press publishing. A snippet can be found below. Read the entire interview on rob's blog at http://robmclennan.blogspot.com/2011/11/12-or-20-small-press-questions-dawn.html

1 – When did Palimpsest Press first start? How have your original goals as a publisher shifted since you started, if at all? And what have you learned through the process?

Palimpsest began in 2000. At that time I was publishing a literary journal called Kaleidoscope. It wasn’t until 2004 I began to publish trade books and then later chapbooks. It was a very gradual process for me. It took me a long time to view myself as a publisher, and then even longer to do things like get proper distribution, hire editors, and apply for grants. It wasn’t until 2008 that I first applied for a grant. I was very conflicted about this leap. Funding meant that I could afford sales representation, warehouse storage, and hire editors and designers. When I received funding I started doing more and more, because I could, and then when my funding was decreased, I was left with a lot of debt. My first four years of relative calm anonymity in publishing suddenly turned into a thrilling and terrifying rollercoaster. It’s a lot of ups and downs and I never know what is around the next corner. At this point, I am just trying to hang on. In the beginning I had no business savvy, no five year plan, no funding — I did it because I loved it — but I had to learn to strategize, create marketing plans, do inventory valuations and balance sheets. I’m exhausted all the time. The stakes and expectations are higher, and yet I still do it because I still love it. My original goal was to find and publish great poets, and although publishing great authors is still my overriding goal, the growth of Palimpsest has paradoxically made survival much more precarious.

2 – What first brought you to publishing?

My love of poetry and books. I’ve always admired the writer/ artist, who both writes and produces his own beautiful editions. What a lovely bringing together of talent and vision, to be able to make the object, the book itself, say something about the words it contains. The way the design, typography, and materials all work together to communicate the author’s voice truly fascinates me. I started a press to learn more about the process, to be involved in something I found exciting and important.