Interview with Joshua Bohnsack, Joe Demes, Erik Intlekofer, and Kevin Sterne, Editors
How did Long Day Press start?
I (Joshua) had recently graduated from college and was living in Iowa City, where everyone is a writer. I noticed very few of my talented friends were publishing, though they were all writing. I wanted to start a magazine with an emphasis on the Midwest and the literature that was coming out of Iowa. I also wanted to make something by hand. So I convinced a few friends to give me some of their work and received quite a few submissions from an open call, and got a few friends to help me make Long Day Press into a thing. Eric Intlekofer helped me with edits, Evan Iacone designed the first issue, and Nick Pierson designed our initial website. Eric and I convinced local contributors and other friends to help us bind and assemble our journal in my living room.
Since then, I moved to Chicago where I met Joe Demes and Kevin Sterne who have joined the team.
Tell us a bit about Long Day Press. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
We like alcohol-induced pieces for the journal. There’s something cohesive, yet disjointed around a writer’s relationship with alcohol, and we like to see our authors play with that stigma.
We love doing the journal, but we’ve started embracing the prose chapbook as well. We co-released Colette Arrand’s Pokemon essay chapbook “To Denounce the Evils of Truth” and Kenta Maniwa’s hybrid chapbook “Someone Else’s Toothbrush.” Both titles were out of the ordinary from poetry chapbooks. We want to give writers momentum before they release a full-length and give published authors a venue to place their strange projects.
We hand-bind all of our books. The covers for our journals are made from 6-packs of local breweries. We’ll gather friends to help us, buy some beer and pizza, and spend a lot of time cutting boxes, and sewing our books. We’ve stolen a lot about our aesthetic from our friends at Spork Press. I love every release they’ve done. Richard and Drew have been helpful over the years about pushing us towards where we need to go.
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?
We recently released Long Day Press Journal 2 and Kevin Sterne’s short story chapbook “I’ve Done Worse.” Our next release will be James Ardis’s “A Head Full of Dreams,” which is a collection of Coldplay travel sermons devoted to the band’s 2015 album of the same name. It’s weird and funny and we’re excited to share it with everyone.
We are sorting through chapbook submissions and looking for a couple manuscripts to publish this year. We’ll probably put out another journal in the Fall.
We’ve started putting together a podcast called “Live From the Lonely Couch” where we talk about literature and beer as we bind books and drink Hamm’s. We plan to have interviews with writers, musicians, and artists on the show to talk and help us bind books and drink Hamm’s. We like Hamm’s.
We also want to do a spoken word tape. We like tapes.
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.
Our goal has been to start paying contributors, because we think people need to get paid for their art. That being said, we pay a very nominal amount plus a contributor copy. What we do pay comes out of my pocket. Being published is a great feeling, but it doesn’t pay the bills. I would like to see more small presses set aside money to be able to pay their contributors something, because even a few dollars covers a submission fee to another magazine.
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 Long Day Press?
We’re poor. We make books because we love them and want to get them into the world. We don’t charge submissions fees because we can’t even afford a Submittable account. I understand some presses need to charge those fees, but it’s not for us.
We make books affordably, but with quality materials. We save a lot of money binding by hand, but we would do it that way regardless. We can’t afford to release as many books as we want, so we have to make sure the books we do make are the best they can be.