A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Probably Do Again

So what we have here is a big pile of poetry books and one issue of Poetry. The magazine came from a subscription. The books came from the bookshelves of Write616 (formerly the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters).

Why, you may ask, do I have a big ol’ stack of poetry books from the shelves of Write616? Well, therein lies a tale.

For the past couple of years, the GLCL/Write616 has shared space with Caffeinated Press, the publishing company of which I have been a part owner/director/executive/dogsbody since 2014. This past weekend the Powers That Be of Caffeinated Press met and decided that, as we are all of us older, exhausted and burned out, we will be closing down the shop at the end of 2019. Parallel to this decision, the Powers That Be of Write616 made a similar decision.

Thus closes a chapter of my life which has been front and center to my day-to-day existence for just over five years. I started as an editor in September of 2014, just after the publication of the first volume of the Caffeinated Press house anthology Brewed Awakenings. I joined the board in early 2015, and shortly thereafter we launched our journal of arts and letters, The 3288 Review (named after the miles of coastline in Michigan, as measured in 2000).

We still have a few projects in the works which are mostly completed. The last issue of The 3288 Review will come out at the end of this month. The remaining few books which are in process will be complete by the end of the year. All of the paperwork, finances, etc., will wind down by December 31.

And I will, for the first time in five years, have free time in my life on a regular basis. Of course, knowing me, I will immediately fill it with something else. Already I have ideas for a new lit journal, one which would focus more on art, interviews, and specifically the Grand Rapids literature scene.

But before I do anything like that I will start writing again. And submitting my work for publication. I have dozens of poems in various states of completion, as well as more than a score of short stories and essays. And they need homes. Also, National Novel Writing Month begins an about three weeks, so it’s time to start planning something to write.

So it goes.

New Books and a New Subscription

Books acquired week of 2018.09.30

This was an excellent week for The Library at Winkelman Abbey. First up is the latest issue of Pulphouse Fiction Magazine, followed by the latest issue of Apex Magazine. Both of these are the results of successful Kickstarter campaigns. Next are the two latest books (Tentacle by Rita Indiana, Slip of a Fish by Amy Arnold) from my subscription to And Other Stories. On the top right is Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias, from Rosarium Publishing.

The entire bottom row is my first shipment from Ugly Duckling Presse, to whom I subscribed back in July when I had a little extra money and no immediate household needs. From left to right they are Orange by Christine Herzer, Wolfman Librarian by Filip Marinovich, This Window Makes Me Feel by Robert Fitterman, Feeling Upon Arrival by Saretta Morgan, Defense of the Idol by Omar Cáceres, and Dear Angel of Death by Simone White. All are poetry, and all are beautiful editions of beautiful writing.

Once again, this week’s haul is made up entirely of books from independent publishers. Save for Ink, all are part of annual subscriptions. If Rosarium ever offers a subscription to their catalog, I will be the FIRST in line to purchase one.

Books in Translation and the Publishers Thereof, Revisited

Several years ago I began collecting books from publishers who specialize in translations from other languages into English. This was prompted by two circumstances. First, a co-worker from bygone years, Chad Post, began working at Open Letter Books in Rochester, NY. Second, on a visit to the Grand Rapids Public Library I discovered Esperanza Street by Niyati Keni, published by And Other Stories.

My eyes having been opened, and knowing a thing or two about the publishing world, I began researching small presses and books in translation. This led to the discovery that some of the most successful publishers, with the most exciting titles and authors, offered subscriptions to their catalogs. What a wonderful way to discover new authors, support small businesses, and add quality and variety to a personal library!

As of the publishing date of this post, I have subscriptions to Open Letter Books, Restless Books, Deep Vellum, & Other Stories, and Two Lines Press.

I found a couple of pages which have comprehensive lists of publishers of works in translation – The American Literary Translators Association and PEN America. What follows is a subset (probably incomplete) of publishers from these two lists which offer subscriptions to their catalogs. Links go to subscription information.

Links and Notes for the Week of March 18, 2018

* Icelandic publisher prints books only during the full moon, and burns all copies that don’t sell immediately.

* Down and Out with Warren Zevon in Los Angeles.

* How To Change Your Facebook Settings To Opt Out of Platform API Sharing. Useful information from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. For those of us still compelled, willingly or otherwise, to use the odious, toxic, and vile Facebook service.

* Socialism as a set of principles. Jacobin Magazine offers ABCs of Socialism (PDF)

* A study of the fearful white men who own most of the guns in the USA.

* Bruce Sterling’s keynote at South by Southwest 2018. Disrupting dystopia indeed.

ConFusion 2018: How a Manuscript Becomes a Book

(These are my lightly edited notes for a panel I attended at the ConFusion Fantasy and Science Fiction Convention in January of 2018)

PANEL: How a Manuscript Become a Book (19 January 2018, 14:00)

PANEL DESCRIPTION: “‘I’m just an MS…sittin’ here on an editor’s desk…I hope and pray to be a book someday, but today I am just an MS!’ There’s plenty of information on the web about how to write and sell a manuscript , but the process after the deal is signed is often opaque to new writers. We’ll walk through the steps a manuscript typically goes through between deal day and launch day, and what authors can do to help the process go smoothly.”

PANELISTS: Cherie M. Priest, Navah Wolfe, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Richard Shealy, Yanni Kuznia

NOTES

  • On acceptance: It has to be a great book THAT THE PUBLISHER KNOWS WHAT TO DO WITH (Navah Wolfe)
  • You never learn to write A NOVEL. You learn to write THIS NOVEL. The same goes for editing.
  • Pointing out places that need fixing vs. recommending specific fixes. “This isn’t working” vs. “Maybe try this”
  • When the editors do their job well, you don’t notice them
  • “Junicode” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junicode) variation of Garamond with loads of diacritics. Created to fill a need in academic publishing
  • “First pass” == “Uncorrected Proof” == “Galley”

My thoughts:

I mostly attended this panel as a sanity check to see if the rest of the publishing world did things similarly to how I did them. Therefore, for me, this panels was more about affirming than learning. Everything discussed jibed with my experiences as publisher and editor at Caffeinated Press. The notes collected here are the “aha!” moments of the panel.

The Record of My Life

I have just added a “Published Work” page to this blog. You can access it through the main menu. It’s kind of threadbare at the moment, but with a little luck I will have some publications to add by the end of the year.

Most of my published work at present consists of editorials written for The 3288 Review, and around three dozen interviews with contributors to The 3288 Review.