Thursday, August 17, 2017
a peek into dgp
Summer is slipping out from under me, both swiftly and slowly at the same time, and I am reaching the point where I am approaching a third of the way through the incoming dgp submissions for next year. There are days when I have to stop reading because I want to take everything. There are days when I stop reading because I'm flipping through and nothing is catching my fancy. Somewhere there is a happy medium and on those days, I make hard decisions about what I can possibly fit into a given month. By now, we are already chock full for January, February, March, and most of April, which is where I want to be at this point. There are also a stack of maybes that languish until the end and I fill in where there's room, though the past couple of years, my maybes had to be rejected. We'll see what happens this year.
I would like to say I read everything cover to cover, but with coming up on 500 books, I know that's not possible. So I read about 5 pages into each, longer into the ones I'm digging, all the way through the maybes and the yesses, Some are easy--a quick no--usually not due to any sort of manuscript integrity but more do to writing style. I don't even get a lot of really bad cliche stuff anymore (maybe 20%) , but some are definitely more straightforward lyrical or narrative poems that don't really excite me all that much (another 30-40%.) Stuff in this vein only when it surprises me or gets weird, or the voice is fractured or unruly somehow. There's another 10-20 % that don't seem to work as chapbooks, or are too random in their construction where I usually like a tighter focus. Another 20% that are structurally sound and well wrought but are not my favorites. And then the 10% or so that knocks my socks off and comes down ultimately to whether a not when I look at the book, I wish it were something I had written. All of which sounds horribly subjective when we think of editors choosing the "best" of any batch of submissions, but truthfully, it's a very subjective task.
Yesterday I was having a day when nothing pleased me in the first hour of reading, but in the second I managed to find a three yesses--(one this strange language collage of Tiana Lavrova (something so unusual to me that I wasn't sure if I liked it at first, but by the end, was certain I kinda loved it) and chaps from Sarah Jones and Erin Salughter. All very different books and voices but somehow all very undeniably dgp, which is very much about me and my tastes and also the collective voice that has developed through over 600 books. (and it's crazy to me to realize that's how many we've published in 13 years, and by the end of this year, even more.)
I always have been dedicated to going the maximum route rather than the scarce (go big or go home)--so we do take on a lot of books, probably way more than most similarly sized presses but I feel like they all somehow are animals moving in the same direction, maybe differently in terms of style and subject matter, but of the general species. I determined that I would never put myself in the position of having to say not to anything I really loved . Also that a flood is more effective in getting noticed than a trickle. Sometimes this means I fall behind, or freak out in the studio over time, or get behind on orders when things are moving briskly, but it's all good solid work and I am honored everyday to be able to continue to do it. And probably it feels more important now than it even ever did before--to be getting women's voices out there and into the conversation, all 600 of them (well less because of of authors with multiple titles with us, but you get the gist..)