Tiny Magazines Everywhere: Or, Why Do
We Still Publish a Zine?
In 2002 we published two books
by Carol Emshwiller (a novel, The
Mount, and Report
to the Men's Club and Other Stories), a favorite author with
six previous books to her name. Last year our first two books (Kelly
Link's Stranger Things Happen
and Ray Vukcevich's Meet Me in
the Moon Room) were well received. We are committed to publishing
short story collections and novels by authors we feel are slipping
through the cracks.
In 1996, long before I ever thought
I'd publish any books, I started a small press zine, Lady Churchill's
Rosebud Wristlet (LCRW). Whenever I flipped through the magazines
at Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop in Boston, MA, where I worked, I was
frustrated that none seemed to have just the right mix (fiction, a
spot of poetry, a flash of humor, maybe some art) that I thought would
make the perfect magazine. Eleven issues and many long nights at the
computer later, LCRW goes from strength to strength.
In 2000, we took our first real
step toward publishing books when we published two chapbooks, 4
Stories by Kelly Link and Five
Forbidden Things by Dora Knez. The chapbooks -- deliberately
designed as low-priced editions to introduce new writers and give
them a step up between publishing stories and books -- gave us confidence
in our design and production capabilities. At about the same time
we set up a half-decent website (oddly enough, we still have a half-decent
website, www.lcrw.net, but it's larger now) and, with the advent of
Paypal, our zine and the chapbooks were suddenly available to anyone...who
had the urge to look us up.
LCRW and the chapbooks
complement our books: they give readers a way to sample our authors
without popping for the more expensive books -- the zine is only $4,
chapbooks $5, and the books $16 -- and the zine and chapbook reach
very different audiences than our books. Our books are carried by
Ingram and Baker & Taylor -- our biggest LCRW distributor is
LCRW also gave us our entrance
into the print world. We already had the bookseller's and consumer's
point of view on books; LCRW showed us the world of bookselling
from the supplier's side. We learned the importance of being nice
to busy people who don't have much time for you, how important small
things (ISBNs, design, distribution...!) are, and that a finely-judged
persistence is necessary to bring your products to the right people's
Publishing LCRW taught
us (in small affordable steps) marketing, distribution, design, how
to work to deadlines, and most of all, the importance of professional
proofreaders. In the last couple of years, we have actively encouraged
many others to start their own micropublishing houses, and are very
happy to report (and sometimes sell the results on our website) that
some few people have taken up the challenge.
The View of History from 2001
Thanks for checking out the Small
Beer Press pages. Small Beer Press exists to publish good writing.
We do a twice-yearly small press zine, a couple of chapbooks a year,
and in July 2001 we published our first two books, trade paperback
short fiction collections by Kelly Link (Stranger
Things Happen) [reviews]
and Ray Vukcevich (Meet Me in
the Moon Room) [reviews].
Our books can be ordered directly
from us but we encourage bookshops to order from distributors. Both
titles are available from Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and Consortium, which means you can walk into any bookshop in the
land and order them. The books are already listed at Amazon.com, bn.com,
and Borders.com. We do hope that you will patronize local bookshops
(you can find these online at Bookweb.org
but, whatever floats your boat.
Kelly Link and Ray Vukcevich are
both available for interviews. They can be contacted through us at
firstname.lastname@example.org. We are a small press
with all that entails (no foreign offices, no expense accounts (boo!),
small ad budget, and a decent collection of CDs we actually had to
pay for. We appreciate and encourage your interest in the small presses.
A long, blowzy, yet sober
-- much interrupted and definitely unfinished -- look at the genesis
and continuance of a small press:
Beer Press was begun under a different name in 1996, we renamed it
to something that wasn't a bad joke no one else thought funny in that
year of changes, 2000. We intend to publish one or two quality books
a year until our money runs out/we lose our day jobs/we get fed up
of reading slush. We are mainly powered by Gavin J. Grant who can
answer most of your questions.
In publishing our first books we were led to many good decisions and
stopped from making too many mistakes by our friend, the late Jenna
A. Felice, who is missed more than words can say. Bryan Cholfin
(of Crank! and
St. Martin's Press, not in that order) was another invaluable source
of publishing and printing knowledge. Would we have found the wonderful
people at Thomson-Shore without
Jenna and Bryan? No. Would we have set the books in Centaur,
probably not. (Yes, we bought Centaur. You should buy a font too.
Even if it's just a fun, cheap one like Missive -- which we bought
at the Paper Source in Cambridge,
MA, and used to set the interior titles of Meet Me in the Moon
Room.) Many other people answered questions and were generous
with their time for which we are immensely grateful. The power in
publishing is there for the taking and we encourage you to take it
up. Buy an old copy of PageMaker or QuarkXpress on eBay and just go.
Our first zines were made using Microsoft Word, it took a while and
they aren't the prettiest things, but we moved up and on. Everything
finds its own level. Yours may be handwritten and photocopied, electronically
distributed, or typeset by a professional. We say go for it.
Beginning in late 1996, with the
publication of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet vol.1
no.1 (volume numbering later dropped for simplicity's sake and
the realization (or, when thinking about it in the UK, the realisation)
that it was not appropriate), Small Beer Press has slowly grown from
being distributed only within the boroughs of Boston to a small amount
of international distribution, decent-selling chapbooks, and now books.
It felt like a well-paced and natural expansion. It is only the larger
sums of money that get spent on producing the books that make it a
little more nerve-wracking. However, they are both of such high quality
that we are quietly confident that we won't take a complete bath (maybe
a small summer shower) on them.
the very first issue we have tried to publish high quality fiction
and we have been helped in our close association with the wonderful
writer Kelly Link. Her cornerstone story from the first issue, "Travels
with the Snow Queen" won the James Tiptree Jr. Award in 1997
and set the standard for future issues. Recently Ellen Klages story,
"Flying Over Water,"
from issue no. 7 reached the final Nebula ballot. A number of the
stories by such authors as Dora Knez and Sten Westgard have been given
honorable mentions in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's The Year's
Best Fantasy and Horror series. Kelly Link's story "Shoe
and Marriage" from the chapbook 4
Stories, has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award.
Since we only publish twice a year we are very limited in what we
can publish. Stories have come to us from authors we have solicited,
from people we know, and people we don't. We encourage people to read
the LCRW before submitting because we have very limited space
and we know what we want.
Although we had not published
Ray Vukcevich before issue no. 8, we
had enjoyed his stories in many magazines and anthologies. Then we
realized (no 's' this time) that he had been publishing great short
fiction for more than ten years and no one had published a collection
by him. We jumped at the chance. Seeing Rafal Olbinski's art on the
front just makes it a package we are incredibly proud of. We hope
you will enjoy them too.
us and we will probably respond. We are a small, lightly-staffed publishing
concern, so if it's more than a day or two -- and believe me if you're
writing from a book shop, paper, magazine, or zine, the answer will
be a lot faster :) -- maybe we are just on vacation (ha! The thought
and press coverage
Gavin J. Grant
Small Beer Press
150 Pleasant St., #306
Easthampton, MA 01027