Amanda McCormick, with close help from Tracy Dimond and Juliannah Harrison.
1 – When did Ink 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?
Ink Press began with espresso ink, a literary journal I founded in 2009. When I moved to Baltimore in 2012, I met Tracy Dimond who founded a writing workshop called Gin & Ink. We bonded over our vision for art with community.
In 2012 we decided to partner to create, Ink Press Productions: a multi-leveled project committed to building community and delivering affordable-handmade art to the public.
Together we have learned that the most limited resource we have is time.
2 – What first brought you to publishing?
When I was younger, I wanted to be a journalist so I became the editor of my high school newspaper, Paw Print. Since then, I have consistently been involved in the printing & distribution of books. I have come to want to know what books can be rather than try to prescribe what they are.
3 – What do you consider the role and responsibilities, if any, of small publishing?
Engage in the collective dialogue by supporting each other and DON’T be boring!
4 – What do you see your press doing that no one else is?
We’re not boring—haha jk. There are a lot of great independent presses out there doing amazing things. I can’t pin down what makes us different—maybe it is that we are operated by Tracy Dimond & Amanda McCormick? There are no other versions of us in the world.
5 – What do you see as the most effective way to get new chapbooks out into the world?
There are so many ways to get books out into the world. The first one and maybe most important is to do it! Make it happen and don’t consider your limitations. Everyone has limitations just like everyone has abilities. As a publisher I was lucky to find a collection of people who are interested in me and my artistic vision. Likewise, they have their own artistic goals. I realize how important it is for people to cooperate in life and art. In that way, I’d say the best way to get a book out into the world is to plant an idea and let it grown with the people around you & find more seeds: make the process fun and meaningful and build it in an environment that is generous and grateful.
6 – How involved an editor are you? Do you dig deep into line edits, or do you prefer more of a light touch?
The type of editor I am depends a lot on the situation. Sometimes I like to dig deep and work close with the write and their work. Other times, like in the case of the chapbook contest, I am looking for something that leaves me speechless (in a good way).
7 – How do your books and broadsides get distributed? What are your usual print runs?
We mostly distribute hand-to-hand at readings or events or through Internet sales. We do not have a set number of books to print but we are interested in the exclusivity of smaller runs. Having limited resources plays into how we create but we welcome that challenge.
8 – How many other people are involved with editing or production? Do you work with other editors, and if so, how effective do you find it? What are the benefits, drawbacks?
Tracy and I both work very intricately on most projects. We also have regular input from other artists, our friends in Baltimore. Plus, our publishing process is in collaboration with the writer. There are great benefits to publishing handmade books as a team—in fact, I could and would not want to do it if I didn’t have the people I have to do it with. It challenges me to compromise but that is not a drawback.
9– How has being an editor/publisher changed the way you think about your own writing?
Being a publisher has changed the way I view my own writing in the same way that the my daily activities influence my writing—I can hardly remember a time I was interested in writing without also being interested in book-making and publishing. From that, the benefit of working closely with other talented and ambitious writers is that they inspire me and I get to take that inspiration to my own writing and art.
10– How do you approach the idea of publishing your own writing? Some, such as Gary Geddes when he still ran Cormorant, refused such, yet various Coach House Press’ editors had titles during their tenures as editors for the press, including Victor Coleman and bpNichol. What do you think of the arguments for or against, or do you see the whole question as irrelevant?
I am totally for DIY publishing! It is empowering and gives you a freedom to do as you please with your work. We’ve published my chapbook and Tracy’s book, but we also love opportunities we have to work with other writers. We didn’t publish either of our books for the sake of publishing, but rather because they were strong conceptual projects that we wanted total creative control over. Unlike anything, I see DIY publishing as a conceptual gesture to move away from the institutionalization of art: it is important for artists to know that they aren’t obligated to be legitimized through an establishment. That said, I also think it is important to connect with other people that you admire in independent publishing and putting my writing in the hands of another publisher is a great way to do that. Yes! Publish my book! Submitting work to another press is a way to say “I care enough about what you are doing to trust my writing with you.”
11– How do you see Ink Press evolving?
It is hard to see how Ink Press Productions will evolve even in the coming year. I feel all we can do at this point, with our resources, is keep it up and do our best to work toward a sustainable future.
I would like to see IPP become an organization that supports art and provides a source of security for people devoted to a life of creating.
12– What, as a publisher, are you most proud of accomplishing? What do you think people have overlooked about your publications? What is your biggest frustration?
As a publisher, the thing I am most proud of accomplishing is the connections I have built with others artists of similar missions. Of course I am proud of our books and the events that we hold, but all of those things are nothing without the people involved.
Time is the most frustrating resource. Tracy and I both have jobs and are going to school, so we’re very careful to not overload our publishing schedule. We have big plans to build up Ink Press Productions, but we have to acquire capital and credibility in order to grow.
14– How does Ink Press work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large? What journals or presses do you see Ink Press in dialogue with? How important do you see those dialogues, those conversations?
Hmmm, this is a tough question. I feel like everything we do is an attempt to engage with the literary community, both immediate and extended. We use our artistic gestures to be a part of a conversation centered in many of the things I’ve already been talking about. I suppose the most direct connects we have are through the project-based collaborations we do with other presses. For example, this past spring we partnered with sunnyoutside press to put on an event producing the “2-Hour Chapbook” for the Buffalo Small Press Fair. Currently, we are working with jmww to create a handmade edition of their chapbook contest winner. This fall, we are partnering with EMP, a local arts collective, to build a workshop series focused on writing and handmade books.
15– Do you hold regular or occasional readings or launches? How important do you see public readings and other events?
We try to have a launch event for every book we publish. We like to celebrate our accomplishments! In addition, we do a number of readings and events. We are interested in exploring how we can create something innovative and artistic in a space for the public to be involved. We want people to be proud of what they create, so we strive to add it to a public. So yes, any public event is important for the press.
16– How do you utilize the internet, if at all, to further your goals?
We use the Internet for sales and promotions. We’re still trying to navigate the internet side – handmade art encourages someone to feel it’s body. The internet works best for visual and audio work, but we have been able to stay connected with people through the internet.
17– Do you take submissions? If so, what aren’t you looking for?
We only open submissions for particular projects. Otherwise, we publish books mostly through solicitation of writers we know and admire. When someone approaches us directly, we will always consider their work. We ask that they email us the project.
18– Tell me about three of your most recent titles, and why they’re special.
I’m Just Happy To Be Here by Mark Cugini: We met Mark a few years ago. He asked if we would consider his manuscript. After he emailed it to us, we knew we wanted it. His poems are a poetry party in a Staten Island duplex, but they are also full of sincerity. He strikes a beautiful balance.
Work Ethic by Tim Paggi: We are in the MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts program at the University of Baltimore with Tim. Both of us loved his writing from the first workshop we had together, so we talked about soliciting a chapbook from him. The discussion of despair and hope, through neon and food imagery, drew us in. We felt we could make a beautiful book with him and were overjoyed that he agreed before his manuscript was even finished.
espresso ink V : A literary anthology on CD. This was a really fun project because it was something that we never attempted before and it involved so many people. We took some of our ideas about community and performance and combined them into a handmade / letterpressed CD and ‘lyric book.’
12 or 20 (small press) questions;