Friday, March 26, 2010

12 or 20 (small press) questions: with Janet Vickers, Lipstick Press

As well as being a publisher, Janet Vickers' writes poems too, and her poems have appeared in sub-Terrain, Grain, The Antigonish Review, and in various anthologies in Canada and the UK. Her claim to fame is that she once stood behind Margaret Laurence in the Lakefield IGA and decided not to impose on her privacy by asking for an autograph.

1 – When did Lipstick 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?
Lipstick started as a publisher in July 2009 with Heidi Greco's A: The Amelia Poems. I didn't really have original goals other than to create beautiful chapbooks in content and appearance. Through the process I have learned that the poet has the talent to imagine how the finished book should look and feel. I've learned how valuable it is to tap into that vision. The poet gives birth and the publisher is the midwife. 

2 – What first brought you to publishing?
Lipstick first started as a self-publishing outlet in 2006 when I printed my chapbook You Were There and then in 2008 for Arcana.  I became aware that other writers whose work I really valued were not getting published very quickly.  Two percent, or less, of work being submitted to publishers, is getting out there. I didn't study publishing but I knew, as someone who writes poetry, that a need was not being met. So I began publishing.

3 – What do you consider the role and responsibilities, if any, of small publishing?
To strengthen and support the voices of Canadian poets, by making it available in affordable yet beautiful booklets.  

4 – What do you see your press doing that no one else is?
I don't know enough about the other presses to know, but I don't expect I am doing anything very different.

5 – What do you see as the most effective way to get new publications out into the world?
Readings. Small retail stores, including book stores are becoming extinct, but there is a hunger for community that includes a current literary existence. 

6 – How involved an editor are you? Do you dig deep into line edits, or do you prefer more of a light touch?
I dig deep but understand that my 'dig' is as subjective as any reader or writer, and always prefer a dialogue when it comes to editing. So far my authors have been very polished and their manuscripts have arrived almost camera ready.

7 – How do your books get distributed? What are your usual print runs?
My books are mostly distributed by the writer who already has an unofficial fan club, through a book launch if geography allows (I don't have a travel budget), and then I keep books in stock for requests via email and the internet. My print runs are 60 - 100 copies.

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?
I work with the author and the printing company, anyone who is willing to give advice, and my multiple selves. 

9 – How has being an editor/publisher changed the way you think about your own writing?
They are two different creatures. My own writing, when I get to it,  is a wild animal with its own imperious appetite that I can't reason with. 

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?
Since publishing other writers, Lipstick Press will not publish my own writing as long as I am publisher.  This might be because I am not interested in self-publishing any more.

11 – How do you see the press evolving?
Haven't been in the business long enough to know, but I sense that culture is drawing back from big towards community.  I think we realize how valuable literature is in terms of civil consciousness and we understand that while celebrity can be the end result of talent and brilliance, culture does not require fame and fortune to remain relevant. 

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?
Co-creating beautiful, relevant books, with talented writers. Affirming the worth of the poet.

13 – Who were your early publishing models when starting out?
Leaf Press perhaps - they create chapbooks and the publisher writes the nicest rejection letters.

14 – How does Lipstick engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large? What journals or presses do you see your books in dialogue with? How important do you see those dialogues, those conversations?
Well I have recently moved and I think I am very much in process now and have some hopes for the future. Mostly I have organized locally with other non-profits and small business. I have enjoyed inviting writers to literary salons in my home.

15 – Do you hold regular or occasional readings or launches? How important do you see public readings and other events?
This is something I want to do more of - they are the face to face profits of community.

16 – How do you utilize the internet, if at all, to further your goals?
I have a blog and website to get the message out.

17 – Do you take submissions? If so, what aren’t you looking for?
Lipstick Press publishes about three chapbooks a year.  I will be accepting submissions from June 1 until November 30.

18 – Tell me about three of your most recent titles, and why they’re special.
how it is I am not married / I want to live in the runcible spoon by rob mclennan - a collection of very personal reflections on the gap between nonsense and need.

Winter Gifts by Keith Wilkinson - a collection of poems on the "greatest gift of all", you know the one "the giver wants to keep".

Grief Blading Up by Elsie K. Neufeld - reveals loss and grief as they work through the seasons of birth, growth, death and re-birth of a garden.

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