Wednesday, August 24, 2016

some notes from behind the scenes of dgp

Every once in a while, I like to do a rundown on my experiences and procedures as an editor and how things operate at dgp. (it's handy for new authors, who might be interested in timelines and schedules and stuff, but also gets me thinking about better, more effective ways of doing things. Sometimes, it's all chaos all of the time, (really most of the time, especially when you add in dayjob obligations, my own creative work, and other timesuckers (long commutes, errands) or in good times, leisure (but then what is that?)

I tend to work on several titles at a time, which thanks to expeditious use of post-it notes, dropbox,  and e-mail folders usually keeps some of the chaos at bay. Usually I might be releasing one chap, laying out another, or doing final proofs on another--sometimes all in the same week, so these things help me to keep organized.  I usually start by corresponding with  upcoming authors to secure the most final version of the chap if they've made changes since the acceptance or have updated acknowledgements.  Usually, if we haven't already, we will begin talking about the cover--general things they'd like to see,  other covers they like, pieces of work from artists they might know who would let us use it.   Sometimes,  they have designer friend who are willing to layout a full cover and deliver a print ready file.  Sometimes I work from scratch with my own ideas or things they've suggested, or sometimes create specific pieces of work on my own that fit with the book.   For my own layouts,  I use a combination of various photo editing programs and MSWord or Publisher to create a pdf (obviously there are better ways to do this with things like the Adobe Suite, but since I like to be able to access files at various times on a host of different computers --at home, the studio, the library where I work.

Depending on the formatting, inside layout can take anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days.   and I find myself making decisions on text size fonts margins and such. I also use word for this for the same access reason above.  I usually take a pass through on the first galley to catch any noticeable missteps or formatting issues and then send it to the authors for a look, which they then make suggestions on.   If there are more complicated formatting things or questions, there might be a couple more rounds of back and forth.  Once I have a finalized version I will run a test print to make sure all looks good.

At this point, I begin getting get the webpage up and start promoting the book through social media channels and such. I try to do this at least a week before I actually start printing because I can gauge how many copies we are going to need right out of the gate.  I usually do a first batch anywhere from 30-50 depending on whether the author wants to pick up extra copies, or if there are a lot of initial orders or requests for review copies.  I will then keep printing in batches of 10 or so as I need more. I try to keep at least a small batch in the studio of the last year or so's releases for when we have open studios.

It usually takes about a week to two weeks to print, collate, bind, and trim the books (this can be longer or shorter depending on how many books I am working on at once and the volume of orders and author copy requests at any given moment (and how much studio time I am getting in)  Since I am still coveting a tabletop press, I have a big metal weight that I use to "smoosh" the books to make them nice and evenly flat, so I try to leave them under that for a day or so before I ship them out.

 I am usually about 2-3 weeks processing time on outgoing books depending on how new the title is and the volume of orders. I try to send out anywhere from 20-30 orders per week, which necessitates some time making copies if I don't have them in stock, stuffing envelopes, addressing labels and fixing stamps (or sometimes printed labels.)

I also spend a small portion of time monthly ordering supplies, ink, paper, cardstock, shipping supplies. During the summer and early fall, I am also reading submissions for the following year's schedule, which has it's own set of procedures and processes And sometimes reading submissions for wicked alice. or other special anthology projects.

Over the years,  there are things that have made my life so much easier. Booklet format  and double sided printers saved me years of laying things out with alternating A/B sides. Faster printers.  Better, heftter trimmers and staplers. We will occasionally hand bind a chap (saddle style or japanese stab binding) but 99 percent are staple bound.  (I adore beautiful hand bound books, but I am really sort of terrible at it and wind up bleeding more than binding).

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Perhaps it's a tad self-indulgent, but sometimes I like to play the 10-20-30 game with my memory.  On the bus ride downtown this morning I got to thinking about the 30 Years mark, and it's absolutely crazy to me that 30 odd years ago I was ever 12, ever in the 7th grade,  and ever starting junior high and absolutely terrified.  It's long enough ago that there are really only snippets of memory.  So much trepidation.  Getting lost.  Getting to class on time. The fear of figuring out the combination lock on my hall locker.  The fear of horrible gym outfits with scratchy polyester shorts (and their attendant distance  running and awkward gymnastic demands).  But also my first experience carrying a purse on the regular, which was a knockoff Chanel quilted bag with chain strap, but later, after said strap broke, huge pastel colored totes. My love of the vending machine for fancy pens and a steady diet of roll on lip gloss.  My typing class and learning to play the clarinet in a band room that smelled a little like brass, a little like old spit.

I loved my 1st period geography class, where every Friday, our teacher played current events trivia and I was a crack shot.  I kept stealing my mother's clothes (oversized button up shirts worn over stirrup leggings).  Ate a ridiculous number of odd peanut butter sandwiches with off-colored jelly that fell out of the sandwiches and onto your notebook.  How I fell a little in love for the first time that December with a very funny blonde boy who was lukewarm through the year and wound up blowing me off the next summer.  (a precursor to every funny boy who ever broke my heart).  How intense that feeling and that scary in and of itself. I hadn't yet found my core friend group and wouldn't until the next year, so I moved on the fringes of a couple different ones. At 12, I hadn't yet caught the ambition fever of high school and future careers and colleges, so middle school was more like a calm before the storm.  I do remember trying to write a horror novel in the 8th grade. Loving Edgar Allen Poe.  Mostly, spending all my time reading Sweet Valley High-sh type books I'd check out in thick stacks from both our school and public library.  Flinn's library actually did look like a library, with big windows and wood tables and a hulking card catalog, at least moreso than the orange carpeted nightmare of highschool (which was horrible and looked more like the Breakfast Club library)  and I'd spend my lunch hours in there sometimes, browsing the fiction collection.  Someday, I'll write a book, "Library's I Have Known" and Flinn's would be one of my favorites.

Friday, August 05, 2016

friday frivolity

 Since it's been unreasonably hot the past couple of weeks with only brief repreives, I've already turned my thought toward fall things--warm knits, boots, lots of corduroy.  I also managed to pick up a cheapie leather jacket for a steal on ebay (well, faux leather, but a an uncharacteristically feminine cut and a little bit of ruffle action.)  I'm looking forward to sporting it with, among other things, all my lovely fall florals, a very 90's reminiscent look, but one of my faves.

Also, sweater dresses, a perennial favorite that I simultaneously have way too many of and not nearly enough, but one of my chief favorite things about winter (of which there are really very few things--maybe sweater dresses and hazelnut hot chocolate. )  I'll be bitching about the cold in a few brief months, but with the 90's and high humidity outside, I'll indulge myself in a little daydreaming.and longing for fall.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Much has been afoot in the realms of editing and booknmaking, including all these lovelies.  I am also knee deep in manuscripts for next year, as well as making final cuts for the mermaid project and plotting out how it will manifest. (It's gonna be a box, but I think I just need a bigger box--full of poems and prints and postcards and all sorts of beautiful things.)  The manuscripts are really amazing as well, which will make final decisions super difficult to make in the next couple for month.  Things are still rolling in til the end of August.  I would like to finish up the Dali poems and the collage series I've been working on.  Also get a handle on the release of strange machine, the latest zine project that will be hatching very soon. There are other art and writing projects that are floating in the ether, some of them already underway and some that need to be embarked on. Since I have taken far too many vacations this summer, so I am doomed to work all through August, which means I can work pretty steadily through the month without interruption.  Also, September always being s a new burst of seriousness and get-down-to-businessness.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Image result for vintage klinger lake michigan

I am off tomorrow for the wilds of NW Indiana and the annual Small Prestivus festival, where we'll be taking our Aesthetics bookwrecking gig on the road. The rest of the weekend, I am hoping to hole up and decompress after a couple of weeks of just too much happening.  And, in fact, nearly a whole July of just too much happening.  I'm longing for my incommunicado retreat weekends almost like they're a drug. I start to get twitchy and resentful of the time I spend doing other things and not painting or writing, or hell even housework and cooking and hanging out with the cats.

It's hot, though--a humid,  tropical sort of hot that makes your glasses fog up when you walk out of the A/C. Yesterday, I sat about 6 inches from my new fan in the studio and folded about a 100 books.  Last night, a storm blew through with torrents of rain and cooled things off a little, but the heat is back today and plans to stick around.   I try to convince myself I'm somewhere beautiful and exotic like Mexico or the Bahamas, but there's still way too much concrete sometimes, even here in the city and even with the great expanse of the lake and it's almost ocean-likeness.

Last week, we were staying in the most delightful little Michigan cottage and spent Saturday afternoon riding around the lake on a pontoon and I found myself wishing that my life could be all this sort of leisure.  I'm not even a bit of a avid boater or fisherman, but there is something calming and idyllic and even somewhat old fashioned about summers on the lake, something that makes me think of my dad's side of the family and how tethered they have always been to various bodies of water in Wisconsin.  Granted, the economics were a bit different--RVs instead of cabins, one fishing boat instead of a wealth of watercraft at their disposal, but the impulse is the same.   It's definitely different than city life, but even different than country life as my parents live it.  It makes me think I need a bit more of it in my life.

Monday, July 18, 2016

In-Progress | the Dali series

A year or so back  back I started working on a series of poems inspired by Salavadore Dali's "Inventions of the Monsters" painting.  It was the first work I had done based on another artist's work since finishing my Cornell project about 10 years ago, and it seemed like an entirely different beast..  I had some individual poems that were art inspired--Gregory Crewdson, Henry Darger--that may one day be longer projects, but nothing quite so ambitions as at the hotel andromeda. While Cornell's boxes always seemed like poems themselves (and the thus the writing of poems ABOUT them, a little on the tricky side.), Dali's work strikes a different cord, at least from a storytelling standpoint, or maybe it's more mythical and Jungian somehow.  Regardless, I soon realized that my investigation of the that particular painting was actually spinning out the more and more research that I was doing. That I was discovering pieces of Dali's work that I had never encountered before and that were just as intricate and inspiring.

I had initially encountered the initial painting in the Art institute, I guess, in my visits to the Cornell boxes. It was in one of the galleries that led to the boxes on the southern end  (all of which have since been displaced and moved to the Modern Wing--the Cornell's to their detriment). There was a bench where I would sit for awhile making notes near it, so I looked at it a lot more than I would have otherwise.  It gave me the creeps and disturbed me in some weird subconscious way (I was having a lot of flaming horse dreams during that time, which I chalked up to a certain amount of imbalance in my life at that point. )  So of course, I made note to write about it at a later date.

So of course, now, moreso than a series of poems about a very specific painting, it has become a series of poems about / inspired by an entire body of work. And every stone that I turn over, seems to reveal another stone, another archetype, another image.  I feel like I am actually not writing as much as I should with the general chaos, but I am gathering like a fiend, things that one day may be poems.

Friday, July 15, 2016

friday frivolity

In my efforts to utilize this space a bit more, I've been plotting future blogposts (well, these effort usually fade after a couple of posts when I get subsumed in the general deluge, but I am trying.)  In among these future blogposts are some more serious writerly and editorial subjects (especially as I begin to delve into the dgp submission pile and line up titles for next year), but also some frivolous and girly posts where I squeal over dresses and boots and cardigans.  I used to do this a lot more a few years back, particualry when I had the etsy store and was working more with an eye toward trends and retail viability.  It's a bit different now that we have our own shop and the main focus is really the books and the paper goods rather than the other stuff. And of course, the vintage, which I now pretty much only hoard myself instead of selling it.  I realized, looking over the past year or so, that I sort miss the girly and the vintage.  So, in a effort to tame my need for frivolity, I think I will start indulging myself a little more in that regard, and in the spirit of alliteration, I bring you FRIDAY FRIVOLITY.

Historically I usually spend  alot of time saying that I don't do trends but they still  catch my eye in a subconscious way and occasionally start to filter into my wardrobe almost without me knowing it.  In the last couple of years I've fallen prey to a number of things (stripes, tulle skirts the return of the cropped dark-wash denim jacket--all things I've grown to love.).  This summer, I've been a little obsessed with a sort of boho-california dreamin' thing, populated by endless miles of paisley and  more rustic florals.  If it looks like the sort of dress you might throw on to wear to the beach, I probably covet it.   A lot of these dresses are sporting one of my fashion peeves--long flowy sleeves that aren't really beach appropriate.  Ditto the kimono craze, a look I love, but all that fabric seems really cumbersome and heavy if you are, you know, actually going to the beach (or worse, trodding the sun-fried sidewalks of downtown Chicago.)  So I started looking for pieces that were cali-boho in spirit, but not in quite so costumy a way.  More subtle, and much less looking like I'm on my way to Coachella.

In other news, this weekend, I am putting a hold on my usual  self-isolation plans and heading off to Michigan for an cabin overnighter with some of my library co-workers.  I've been promised there will be campfires and smores and boat docks sort of fun. (and the weather is actually not horrible this weekend.) I'm still hoping to catch summer wherever and whenever I can.

**you can find links to all of the above and more @ Pinterest.