by Jacob L. Snizik
Last Wednesday I was given the privilege of Skyping with someone who’s not only a published writer and poet, but is ingrained in the New York City small publishing scene. This man was Garth Graeper, and in between his two publications By Deer Light published by Greying Ghost and Into the Forest Engine published by Projective Industries, he spent years working for the small press Ugly Duckling Presse, out of Brooklyn, as an editor.
During the conversation via Skype, my group and I were tasked with asking him questions about the business, publishing, editing, whatever we wanted really. This was my question.
“Do you ever get offers from other publishers to maybe buy you out, and if so, how do you resist in order to keep your publisher small, or, would you welcome expansion?”
I thought of this question when I remembered scenes from shows like Mad Men and movies like There Will Be Blood. At some point, the big powerful business will come after the little guy with a suitcase full of cash, hoping they’ll fold under the temptation.
With everything we’ve read about these small presses, and how all of them seem to get into the business because they want to make their own way, do their own publishing, get back to the basics, really, make their own art, this question seems out of place. But, I still thought of that in case it does happen, since business is business after all.
Graeper’s answer to this, one that made sense, is that the big publishers are too wrapped up in their own dealings and functioning to be worried about presses like Ugly Duckling. There is also the other factor that what a small press will publish: off the wall poetry, writings, and visuals, are things that a big publishing company would not want to publish in the first place. They are too concerned with publishing the classics, poets that have been gone for decades if not longer.
Another answer he gave to a different question, what we could do in the publishing world if our “English” interests don’t involve teaching, was very insightful. Part of the reason I took my minor, and why I’ve done all the writing I have since I was 14, is because of the aspirations I have to eventually get published. Graeper went on at length about the options open to all of us, we could write, but also edit, work in publications, both small and big, and find poetry work for multiple publishers in multiple cities all over the east coast, even though his expertise was in New York, though he had recently moved to Pittsburgh.
Overall I loved the talk, it reminded me why I love writing and that everyone in my group, as well as I, have a bright future waiting for us if we choose to enter that wing of the literary world.
Since the link from the article we received won’t load on here for some reason, here’s the only image that was part of it, this article was the intro about Garth Graeber from Brooklyn Poets that we were given to read and overview before talking to him.