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Monday, April 11, 2011

The House of Words (no. 15): Small presses: Phoenicia Publishing

Beth Adams talks about small press publishing, continued

Three small stones observed,
made of pigment, paper, love--
January's gifts.

31 January 2011

Another strength of a micro-press is that it can be a speedy hare. We can bring high-quality books out a lot faster than the typical publishing cycle, and sometimes there’s an important reason to do that. Rachel Barenblat’s book happened very fast indeed – there were only about six weeks from the decision to do it until the publication, which was timed to coordinate with her ordination as a rabbi. And Christmas and New Year’s came in-between! I wouldn’t want to do that often, but with this process it’s possible.

"Cycladic Figure in a Quebec Landscape," 2010
Preparatory drawing in Conté crayon and chalk
Because I’ve spent my professional career – more than 30 years now -- in graphic design and communications, with a focus on print and digital publications, I’m used to tight deadlines where quality has to be maintained, and the whole publishing process is very familiar to me. But if I couldn’t act as editor, designer, and publisher, and had to pay someone, this wouldn’t be financially viable. Even so, it’s a labor of love; I don’t pay myself anything, and the goal is to break even, which we are doing.

I’ve worked with many other artists, photographers, writers, and musicians over the years-- and that’s important. Publishers need to know what really means to be a creative person, especially in today’s world. We need to be collaborative, and empathetic, never exploitative: then it can be a creative partnership and a rewarding process.


  1. wow, Beth Adams sounds really cool! I really liked this "Publishers need to know what really means to be a creative person, especially in today’s world."

  2. I can attest to the reality that working with Beth and with Phoenicia is definitely a creative partnership -- and I am so grateful for it and for her! Thanks for sharing this interview, Marly.

  3. Susanna,

    Yes, I think she is. She is from not too far away from where I live now, so I look forward to meeting her some day.


    There are three parts in all! Third part tomorrow.

    The way you are promoting your book is very interesting, by the by.

  4. How is she promoting it, Marly?
    And Beth, bless you for being a generous person. I hope that one of your books hits it big sometime, as unlikely as this is. Can I interest you in a yoga poem chapbook??

  5. Robbi,

    Rachel is doing a lot of speaking at synagogues, in particular--she's not going the normal bookstore route. You can see at

  6. Rachel, Marly, thank you for your kind words about working with me!

    Robbi, there are guidelines and a submission form at the Phoenicia Publishing website ( I'd be happy to answer your questions and see if your book might fit with what I'm doing there. (I am tending toward full-length books, though; as much as I love the gem-like quality of a beautiful chapbook, they're pretty hard to sell.)But please take a look and write to me.

  7. Why would it be unlikely for one of Phoenicia's books to "hit big". I loved Rachel's book and am very proud of mine! ;) Can always put positive vibes out there...

  8. Ren,

    In the U. S., the majority don't do more than three or four hundred at most, I believe. My friend Phil broke a thousand on his first one, but he had a very solid readership base for fiction.

    Just today I was skyping with Gary (back in the thread on no. 11) about adapting some of his out-of-the-box marketing ideas to fiction and poetry...

  9. Beth really is cool! I've met her in person after knowing her a long time as a blog friend. Though I'm not a writer waitng to publish a book, I've been honoured to be part of a creative parnership with Beth and Ren for Ren's book cover and must say it's been a great experience.

    Marly, you are dong an inspiring job with this House of Words series, and I look forward to the next one on Beth and the rest of the series.

  10. marja-leena--

    It is turning into a big lumpy beast! Somehow it keeps growing and popping out new tentacles.

    I just received two new pieces today, and I was in cahoots with Gary on skype to talk about marketing and pipe dreams.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.