Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mathew Timmons Interview

Why do you publish on paper/in print?

This question almost implies that publishing on paper is outmoded - that we should move to ebooks and online journals etc. and pretty much trends in general point to the same implication - but we publish paperback books and somewhat precious chapbooks alongside certainly precious Fold Magazine - for me publishing on paper is an important choice - there is simultaneously a solid, physical, lasting quality to books chapbooks etc that is lacking in the online world - and paradoxically a much more ephemeral quality - as online journals or ebooks or whatever are virtually "in print" forever - For example, we've pretty much sold out of our first chapbook - Harold Abramowitz Three Column Table - we've very much sold out of Fold Magazine (print runs were 300 for the chap and probably 400 for Fold) and Ara Shirinyan's Handsome Fish Offices (the paperback print run 300) is getting low on supply as well (though I know we sent many more of these to bookstores, spd, etc and probably gave more away) - and these are pretty much out of print hard to get limited editions - you can't find the text online - ... though now I realize in saying this that we've had a pdf of Fold Magazine available for about a year on our website - we'll eventually take that down though - and it will be again - impossible to get your hands onSo the permanence of objecthood/ephemeral quality of print is very alluring - and the object status itself as far as design etc and literary objectness is a factor in itself - though I stare at my computer too many hours a day and read all kinds of things online - I like chapbooks and fancy magazines and real books - even to an almost fetishistic level - I collect chapbooks and small press publications - not like crazy crazy, but I do -

If you were to have a Mission Statement, what would it be?

We're deliberately vague on the website - for better or worse - but I think the statement - Insert Press publishes Chapbooks and Perfectbound books of innovative literature in Los Angeles, CA. is accurate - we also mention on the submission page that we publish 30-60 page manuscripts - and I'd say we're certainly dedicated to publishing chapbooks that are a longer single work than your average chapbook press would publish - and our one paperback so far wasn't much longer than 60pages either - but it wouldn't have worked as well in chapbook form - otherwise I'd say we're fairly committed to publishing los angeles writers - through other projects like Fold magazine etc we include people from outside los angeles, but when we started Insert Press it didn't seem like there was much around for los angeles writers that we were interested in - and so we've kept pretty close to home - which isn't difficult - for a further sense of our mission one could look at our editorial statement from FOLD and our calls for work for FOLD-

What makes you a Small Press Publication?

I would say we're closer to a micro press - if that's a word you've seen around - I certainly have heard the phrase before - I would say we're "micro" because our print runs are very small - though I have seen places that print even smaller runs - but also because we don't have a regular publishing schedule - we don't do 3 books a year for certain - over the past year we haven't published anything - though that will be changing very soon - as there are two perfectbound books coming out and a number of shorter chapbooks - also distribution - we only -
What is your budget for publishing Insert Press materials?

everything is out of pocket-

What sorts of financial support do you receive?

we recieve no financial support except through sales - which unfortunately do not come close to covering costs

How did you arrive at your current position?

Let's see - as I said in your class I was working with another publisher - helping out in some kind of assistant editor capacity and we had a falling out - so I wanted to start my own press - I started the press with a friend - Stan Apps - in 05/06 roughly - we fairly quickly decided on some projects and worked through them - our last publication was a perfectbound book (aka paperback) that we put out last summer. We've been very inactive for well over a year as Stan and I have had difficulties pulling projects together - he moved away and is less interested in doing the basic work of publishing and feels he lacks the financial resources to continue

What is the staff structure at your press/magazine?

Me. though recently I've begun to work with a brilliant printmaker and generally brilliant artist on the production of books etc.

What challenges do you face as a publisher?

being completely inconsequential or unknown - it's certainly easy to slip through the cracks as a small publisher - and money - paying out of pocket - not being a nonprofit - makes it difficult - for these reasons it's always important to think imaginatively about how to produce work and get them out there - we have a distrubutor and people generally buy things - so we just need to keep getting things out - but I have to figure out how to spend as little as possible making a good looking book - object - so it's a matter of figuring out how or where I can print out a bunch of stuff for free - often this means ferreting around institutions etc colleges whatever and putting equipment to work surreptitiously

Do you have any cover letter advice?

the best advice for a cover letter is knowing what you're getting into - who you're sending to - and keeping concise - you say - here's this work I've read from your press - here's why and how I think my work resonates with what I perceive going on in the things your press publishes - then simply mention where parts or excerpts of what you're submitting may have been published before - and possibly allude to where you see the work being placed - or what kind of categories it would fit in to for potential audience

What do you look for in a submission?

something that works with the aesthetic of the press - however vaguely defined that may be - and someone whose work I would like to promote - mostly I look for people in Los Angeles because I feel more people need to be exposed to work from this area

How are submissions processed at your press/magazine?

we have an email address posted on the site - and only accept electronic submissions - asking for a cover letter and short excerpt - 10 pages of the work - I can get the idea from that
more soon - travelling and need to get on a plane - good luck - and let me know if I'm too late - thanksM

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