Interview with Adam Deutsch, Publisher and Editor
How did Cooper Dillon Books start?
Cooper Dillon Books started in 2009, when I was living on a friend’s couch looking for work in San Diego. Gary McDowell and Jill Alexander Essbaum were gracious enough to give us chapbooks to produce, and after we had those in hand, we were able to open for submissions, and it built up from there. From the beginning, we’ve rejected the contest model, and strive to be a press that is open to a variety of aesthetics.
Tell us a bit about Cooper Dillon Books. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
Cooper Dillon came out of experiences working on journals and presses like Ninth Letter, Black Lawrence, and Barn Owl Review and was inspired by presses like No Tell, Bloof Books, Tuesday: An Art Project, and the Tiny Side project. Our aesthetic builds on the idea of resonance, and poems that can offer moments of discovery with every new reading. Our mission is to be “committed to upholding the values that make poems timeless.”
Can you give us a preview of what’s current and/or forthcoming from your catalog, as well as what you’re hoping to publish in the future?
Our latest books are Here is the Night and Night on the Road by Mónica Gomery, which Lillian-Yvonne Bertram called “an exquisite study in the suddenness of numbered days and the radiant pain of living with love ‘tumbling forth.’” We also have Linda Dove’s Fearn, a chapbook of moments when fear is something that’s vulnerable and even evocative of a sympathy. Forthcoming is a magnificent new full-length of poems by Jill Alexander Essbaum called Would-Land, and an experiment by Mag Gabbert that’s already teaching me new ideas about what I thought poetry could be.
We used to ask, “What about small/independent press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?” We’re still interested in the answer to that, but we’re even more interested to know what you think needs to change.
I think a lot of the small/independent publishing world has changed for the better, becoming more welcoming to whole universes of voices that weren’t getting attention just 10 years ago. For every well-established major small press there are what feels like 25 smaller places who are showing us new approaches, breaking down barriers and challenging notions of structure, design, poetics, and moving any money and skills to fresh and exciting places. I think the contest-driven reading period needs to change, and I always love to see a press do something similar to us, where one can buy a book for submission instead of paying a large reading fee. I’ve discovered some beautiful poems that way.
How do you cope? There’s been a lot of conversation lately about charging reading fees, printing costs, rising book costs, who should pay for what, etc. Do you have any opinions on this, and would you be willing to share any insights about the numbers at Cooper Dillon Books?
We cope by staying small, and my learning skills so creating books costs less for us; we also keep prices in a place that we think is comfortable for a lot of readers. Our chapbooks are $9 and full-lengths are $14 or $15. We’re paying Submittable $1 of every $10 reading fee (which is an option if people don’t want to buy books), and web design and hosting design aren’t more than a couple of hundred per year. I do the interior layouts, and, in the last few books, the cover design. The press also splits profits with our authors 50/50. The press isn’t something I can live off of—it’s less than a $10k per year endeavor, and that’s just fine. We do not run contests, nor accept grants, donations, or financial support from any institutions, and I think that keeps us free to do what we’re excited about, and to constantly discover new things we believe in and want to support.