Editor Interview: Naissance Chapbooks / chapbookpublisher.com
This interview is provided for archival purposes. The listing is not currently active.
Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: Four Minutes to Midnight, Industrial Sabotage, Atopia Journal, New Directions, Underwhich Editions.
Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: Fiction: Paul Dutton, Michael Aro, Peter Hoeg, Keri Hulme, Margaret Atwood, John Irving, Charles Stross, James Joyce, E. B. White.
Poetry: bpNichol, Bob Holman, Tess Gallagher, Jennifer Hill, Pablo Neruda, Kobayashi Issa, Ishle Park.
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: There are a few things that set us apart. The first is speed--we started publishing because the wait times involved were unacceptable, and rather than curse the darkness we decided to light a candle. For a chapbook-length manuscript, it's absurd to have to wait untold months for a reply, and to wait many more months for publication in the event of an acceptance. We reply within one business day to manuscripts, and accepted manuscripts have their payment copies ship within days. The second thing that sets us apart is a willingness to publish work that others may find no commercial value in publishing. Whether or not it will sell has no bearing on our decision-making process. The third thing that sets us apart is a willingness to consider cross-genre work, visual work, and other kinds of work which fit no easy categorization. If it fits in the chapbook format, we consider it worth looking at for possible publication.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: Submit somewhere else, first. Preferably lots of somewhere elses. The more experience you have with other presses, the more you'll get out of your experience with us. We are not a good press for "shotgunners" (a shotgunner is what we call an author who sends a generically formatted batch of their work out indiscriminately to a huge range of presses, hoping for a "hit"). Our guidelines are very specific, and we have very real reasons for that specificity.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: The ideal submission is aware of its own language, and is actively working to increase meaning through a leveraging of the complexity inherent in using words to communicate. After reading the submission, many images and many exact phrasings remain stuck in the mind of the reader, and, the reader is excited to share the work with at least two other people the reader can think of off the top of their head. It shouldn't just read, or flow, or go along nicely. It shouldn't even sing or scream or swoon. It should yawp.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: Our submission guidelines are very specific. The reason they are so specific is because our printing process preserves the page layout done by the author. This is how we are able to be as fast as we are. So many writers today are working in Word or some other word processing software that it just made sense to normalize a set of guidelines and remove the process of converting a page layout painstakingly constructed by an author into a different page layout for publication. We ask authors to make the pages look exactly like they want them to look WITHIN our production constraints. This radically reduces production and proofing time, and is a major reason why we are able to ship payment copies for acceptances within days instead of months.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: We prefer to know as little as possible about the person. We don't care about cover letters, or previous publication credits. The work stands alone. Any additional information about the author or about previous publication credits is more likely to work against acceptance than for it.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: We read most pieces to the end. Almost all. But, certainly, there are some times when we can tell a piece isn't right within the first few pages. We provide substantial excerpts from every publication as a way to entice purchases, and, as a way for authors interested in submitting to get an idea of the kind of work we like. To the best of our knowledge we've never decided a piece wasn't right for us within the first few pages of reading it which was submitted by an author who had taken the time to read through a range of those excerpts.
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: Pieces are read initially for strength of content. Acceptance follows that reading. If the piece is accepted, they are then read with a close eye for typos, grammatical problems, and other line-editing concerns. Where they are needed, we work with authors to bring the manuscript to its final polish.
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: We guarantee a one-business-day response time. Submissions come in at all hours of the day, so a typical day involves looking for appropriate blocks of time in which to read and respond. Because we publish only chapbook-length manuscripts, each manuscript will need about an hour to read through. Responding tends to take about as long as the reading. There's really nothing "behind-the-scenes" about our submission reading process. We read the submission. If we feel the work is compelling and strong, we generate the proofs and send an acceptance letter. If we feel the work is not a good fit for our catalog, we reply with a rejection. It's not always possible to provide specific feedback with a rejection, but, we do make an effort to do so when we can. Sometimes that means suggesting other authors whose work is similar, because there may be value and looking to where those authors are publishing. Sometimes that means other types of general editorial comment.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: I think it is important for publishers to do whatever they can to continue to love what they do. Small press publishing, which is pretty much ALL poetry publishing, and certainly all chapbook publishing, is a labor of love. No one is getting rich, or even getting rid of their day job, doing it. A geeky publisher should embrace technology. A geeky social publisher should embrace social networking technology. A traditional publisher should remain traditional--if that's what keeps them publishing. We are all of us hosing money down a hole. There are things that can be done to shrink the size of that hole, but at the end of the day (every single day), small press publishing is a net loss. If technology can help shrink that loss, by all means, we should embrace it. Because you can love a thing you break even on a lot longer than you can love a thing you're losing money on.