If you've been watching, then you know that quite a bit of what time I have to put towards my writing career has been going into putting together a publishing venture. You'll notice there's a tab in the site menu now that will take you to Jane's Boy Press (or, you know, click that handy link there). This post is a behind-the-scenes look at what Jane's Boy is.
If you'd asked me a few years ago if I would have thought about going into publishing, I would have emphatically said no, but it does have a certain appeal. The main draw for me has been the number of incredibly talented writers that I have worked with in workshops--ones that I've attended and ones that I have led--who deserve to have their work read. It's not easy to get published, but once you begin to get things out there, it does begin to get easier. I'm hoping that Jane's Boy will be a way to help get people into the publishing world. One more place putting out work by new writers means one more opportunity for new writers to be getting their work out there.
At first, I had planned to call the business Lake Effect Press (if you live in NNY, you know what that phrase means), but after a bit of digging, it turned out that someone out there already has claim to that name. When I knew I couldn't use that, I began trying to think of new options. I knew I wanted a name that was connected to my family, specifically my mother's side of the family. I went through plenty of options, but some had already been taken (I really wanted to be Southworth Books, but that, alas, is already being used as well). One night, as I was lying in bed, one of those "about to fall asleep" thoughts came to me. My mom's name was Jane. My grandmother used to call me "my boy" when she was still alive--in fact, even when the Alzheimer's had gotten to the point that she almost never spoke, when I came to visit and walked into her room, she could still say that: "My boy." And there was Jane's Boy Press. Fortunately, I still remembered the name when I woke up in the morning.
Jane's Boy is going to be a poetry-only affair, at least for the foreseeable future. We might branch out at some point into other genres, but for right now, we'll stick with what we know, and hopefully become really, really good at it before we move onto anything new.
One of our big initiatives is going to be the Southworth Blood Chapbook Series. My grandmother's maiden name was Southworth. In a poem that I wrote about her standing up to my grandfather's side of the family after some rather shabby treatment by them (especially her mother-in-law, who used to excuse herself from Sunday dinner to "go to the bathroom" and we would sit at the table and listen to her climb the stares, go into my grandparents' bedroom, and snoop through my grandmother's dresser drawers. She flushed the toilet before she came back downstairs to maintain the illusion, but it was pretty obvious.) That poem has a line that says, "My grandmother, a Southworth in her blood," and for some reason that line still feels important to me. So our flagship series will feature her maiden name--a continued statement of her independence and role as the anchor of a family. The Southworth Blood Chapbook Series will release six chapbooks of poetry per year, every-other-month. Readers will have the option to purchase a subscription for a discount on the entire series, or buy the books individually.
The press is also going to have a journal. Initially, I wanted to wait a few years before starting up a journal, but then I remembered what it was like to just be starting as a poet. Sometimes you just don't have a whole manuscript in you yet. You're still honing your craft, but brilliance flashes out once in awhile, and you have those poems you know are your A-team. Why should poets like that be counted out of the game just because they don't have a whole team assembled yet? So we will be printing an annual issue of Ishka Bibble that we can use to feature those poems in. We'll be looking for the best and brightest--new and established--to try to put together collections of essential poetry that people can't walk away from.
Ishkabibble was another nickname my grandmother had for me when I was a little boy. She used to call me it to get me to laugh or when I was being silly. After having cycled through a bunch of other ideas (including some rather boring names like Stanza Break, and Jane's Boy Annual), I remembered Grandma's nickname for me. I had no idea where it came from or if she had just made it up. After doing some research, I found out it was a stage name for a comedic coronet player in the 1930's on a radio show (he spelled it Ish Kabibble), but the name had come from a slang term that essentially meant "don't worry about it." With more digging, I found out that "ishka" is apparently used in some regions as street slang and can mean a number of things, one of which is something that absolutely cannot be ignored. "Bibble," likewise, can mean words or nonsense (like "babble").
Put them together with all of that history, and you can get something that means words/worries/nonsense that absolutely cannot be ignored. Now what better name could you ask for than that?
At the moment, we're still building the press in terms of infrastructure. The first release is going to be my new chapbook. It's as much an experimental measure as anything--making sure that everything works and works well with my own book before I ask other people to trust me with theirs. If we stay on schedule, And the Moon is Full Tonight will be out next month. We will open for submissions in January, and we will be looking for chapbook manuscripts, full-length manuscripts, and individual poems for the journal. The chapbook series will begin releasing titles in January 2016. The journal will release its first issue by either the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016 depending on submissions. We will also release a few independent titles (chapbooks or full-lengths) in 2015 to begin building the brand name and our catalog.
We are currently building a mailing list of people interested in being kept in the loop on publications and calls for submissions. If you would like to receive information about the press, please visit our contact page and send us an email indicating that you would like to be added to our mailing list. We will not sell our mailing list to any outside parties, and we promise not to bombard you with useless email.
Meanwhile, if you know of any entities that have small-business grants available that we might be eligible for, please pass that information on to us. We're at about the halfway mark in terms of software purchases and other important materials, but we still have some equipment expenditures and subscription services that we need to purchase to have everything up and running for that projected January start date. Currently, funding is all coming out of pocket, so it's buy-as-we-can as we assemble what we need. A grant would be absolutely brilliant. Please forward any possible leads to us so we can investigate them and apply if we meet the eligibility criteria.
I have a great deal of faith in Jane's Boy, and I hope that readers will join me on the journey.