This is the forty-sixth in Entropy’s small press interview series, where we ask editors about their origins, their mission, and what it’s like to run a press. Find the other interviews from this series in our Small Press Database here and under the Resources tab at the top of the page.
Interview with Madison Parker, Media Director, and Derrick Brown, President and Founder
How did Write Bloody Publishing start?
Write Bloody Publishing was started in 2004 by traveling poet and former paratrooper Derrick Brown.
After spending years book touring throughout Europe and the U.S.—both solo and with assorted crews of talented poets and writers—Brown realized the untapped potential in the contemporary poetry market for authors who were hitting the road in bars, theaters and clubs, building fan-bases and putting on entertaining readings.
Brown was seeing young, smart, page savvy poets, prose writers and poetry performers sell out shows, with only self-published, junky looking chapbooks available for sale. It seemed ridiculous and fateful that publishing houses—both mainstream or independent—hadn’t signed on some of the best known & hardest working touring authors on the scene today.
Brown envisioned a publishing house which celebrated touring authors, a press which would give gorgeous, modern, ISBN-kissed books to those hard-working wordsters who rocked stages, crashed on couches and slept in vans. The work couldn’t be typical and it had to soar on the page. It also had to take only the best authors and market them to the world with a distribution plan.
This has been the guiding philosophy of Write Bloody:
Let the poets and authors who tour be the marketing; let this publishing house be the source for a movement.
Brown realized that all these great poets needed were great books, and for him to get out of the way.
Write Bloody is now partnered with over 50 authors and artists, 102 titles, who are working together to make this vision come true. Brown’s background in the independent music and indie arts heavily influenced the look and feel of Write Bloody. Utilizing rock album designers and photographers, Write Bloody’s look is as fresh, hard-charging and unapologetic as its writers are.
Write Bloody authors are diverse and out there—in small record shops and large colleges, in strange theaters and swampy bars—doing readings all across Europe, Australia and the United States. Going to a reading will one day be as common as going to the movies or to see a band and Write Bloody is currently paving the way. Our books are found in bookstores around the world from Guam to Berlin. We do prefer the indie seller Powells.com.
Tell us a bit about Write Bloody. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
We are proud of our unique style by utilizing modern painters, photographers and rock album designers for all our book cover art. We publish and promote 4-14 tour savvy authors per year. We are grass roots, DIY, bootstrap believers who believe that great poetry and other forms of literature change people for the better. We believe the way authors make a living is to create broad fan bases built from heavy touring, great looking books and the ability to read well out loud. Our employees are authors and artists so we call ourselves a family.
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 do have some amazing books coming out this spring by Andrea Gibson and Jeanann Verlee as well as the We Will Be Shelter anthology. This fall 2015, Anis Mojgani and Buddy Wakefield have new books coming out. Huzzah! In addition, Hieu Minh Nguyen was recently awarded the Lambda Literary Award Finalist for This Way To the Sugar. Big things ahead for Write Bloody and the artists. Big things.
What about small/independent press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
Many people say that technology is hindering and killing publishing. We beg to differ. It is changing it—yes—and the industry is getting smaller; however, technology is opening up more doors for people to do and create and speak and share their work. With the spread of technology and social media, it is opening up for individual artist to be the catalyst for their own craft, books, and touring. This grass root, DIY approach allows the individual artists to take matters into their own hands with each show and event, creating a much more intimate experience with the craft, rather than large-scale publishing industries handling it all.
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 Write Bloody Publishing?
We operate under the idea that as long as art is created and people are reading, we will keep facilitating the medium into people’s homes. This doesn’t come without tweaking and maneuvering through the changes, but what industry nowadays doesn’t need to be flexible?
As far as costs and rising prices, anyone who gets into poetry or publishing for the sake of money is misguided to begin with; secondly, art should be approached with the idea of getting the money back into the pockets of the artists, allowing them to create more art, allowing us to push more books, and advance the publishing industry. And so the cycle continues.
We mainly rely on online sales and having the artist push their own books. The artist knows their audiences the most, giving them the closest direct contact in knowing how to reach their audience.