Interview with Dr. Meagan Cass

Dr. Cass is is a professor in the English and Modern Languages Department at UIS. Her works have appeared in Washington Square Review, Bluestem, Joyland Magazine, and others. She is also the faculty advisor for the Alchemist Review.

If you could have lunch with any author, who would you choose, why, and where?

Dead or alive? Anything? Oh wow. I think I would want to have lunch with– I feel like I get asked this question like, this is like the writer party question that always comes up for some reason. I think I would want to have dinner with Adrienne Rich I would love to talk to her about– because she’s such an intentionally political and feminist poet. I would want to like talk to her about how artists are working in our current political climate and kind of how poetry can make a difference within that so I’ll say zombie Adrienne Rich.

What is your favorite thing you’ve written and why?

Oh, you’re asking me to choose between my children! Uhh, oh man, okay, I think my favorite thing that I’ve written is this story in my first book, it’s called Jews and Sports and it’s about growing up in a kind of anti-Semitic town, I was raised Jewish and our temple was defaced when I was 12, like spray painted swastikas all over the temple and like so a group of us, like my dad and my siblings and I went in the morning and washed them off the wall and it was like a really vivid memory from my childhood and I tried to write about it in MFA school like in a story and it just was this really like kind of dogmatic story and like it  just felt like it was trying to be an essay about anti-Semitism rather than like a piece of fiction and so I like put it away in a drawer for a while and like I went and did my PhD, and like I didn’t really think about it and then a year after I finished my PhD I was working on, like I was trying to work in a more focused way on these stories of like sports and games that make up the book and I remembered this book that my dad got my brother because there’s not a lot of Jewish athletes in like American culture and it was called like Jews and Sports and it was just like this catalogue of Jewish athletes to help my brother feel like he could be an athlete and it just wound up in our bathroom so it was like always in the bathroom and like , so I started writing from there and it turned out like the scene of the defaced temple popped into the story and it was totally right like where it was and it clicked into place and, and I think it’s meant for the story because of the magic of that, like sometimes you write something and you’re just not ready to write it yet and like I’m really glad I wrote the draft in my MFA because then it was like in my head but like yeah it wasn’t like I took out my old draft or anything, I just knew that I needed to rewrite that scene and it just came to the new draft and then it became a story that like meant a lot to me emotionally and, as well as in terms of like the book so like yeah, I think that would be my favorite one.

How do you know when a work is ready to be sent out to be published?

I feel like I’m going to give the cliche, annoying, answer, which is just like it feels like, it’s kind of a gut punch, like you feel it, like you reread it to yourself, like I always read my work out loud and when I kind of get to the end and when I feel like that sense of the piece is doing something to me, like when if I’m approaching it more objectively as a reader and I feel like it’s moving me and I’m excited to share that experience, that’s when I know it’s ready, so, also, like usually like before that happens, I get feedback from folks I went to school with so even if I feel like “oh, this is ready to go”, I’ll usually like make sure to get feedback from people to see like what things I’m missing, or you know, one more round of that. Yeah, or like I’m editing the same paragraph over and over again, so then it usually needs to leave my presence in some way.

What was one surprising thing you learned in creating your book?

I learned, when I was in the copyediting stage that like I’m really drawn to images of space and space travel and I think it’s partly to do with my father, is like, he was like obsessed with space travel when we were kids, he’s a math teacher, and he did like all of these units involving like calculating distances between planets, and like he went to like NASA for teachers and like so, but I’d had no idea that those images were so persistent in the stories until I read all of the stories at once and then I was like “Oh! There’s a lot of like planetary thing”, kind of cool to see how that vocabulary was like subconsciously filtered through. Also, I think just realizing more broadly like how much being an athlete shaped my identity and the identities of people I’ve known, how much of it was a form of love and communication and community building as much as it was also a source of stress and like negativity and really like, tough love kind of individualistic, patriarchal kind of way of thinking about people, so like I had no idea that my first book was going to be a sports book. Like if you had asked me in MFA school, like I was planning to write like surrealist fairy tales and some of them kind of are, even though they’re about, like sports is the subject matter, but like yeah, I didn’t write any stories of this nature like up until the very end of my PhD, so just that that was something that was moving and like haunting to me was a pretty huge surprise.

Why is literature and writing important to you?

I think, for a few reasons. It helps me to keep challenging my ideas of myself, of the world, of the narratives that I think I know. When I’m write well, my stories are taking me unexpected and uncomfortable places so I think it’s just this really critical way  for me of engaging with the world and engaging with my own sense of identity and how, I feel like, and this is something Dorothy Allison writes about, like it’s really hard to hide from yourself in fiction, which sounds kind counterintuitive because you’re writing about made up people who are not you, but like you bring yourself to those stories and like for me, if I’m lying to myself about something or not looking closely enough at something, like I can see it in the writing and so I think it helps me hold myself accountable to myself too, so I guess those things, and also it’s a really fun way to move through the world, like noticing how interesting people are, the language they use, and it’s just people are so weird and wonderful and like writing, when I’m like writing consistently I’m so much more awake to that and like open to it and so I really feel like when I’m not writing, it just feels like things are dulled down, and then you’re just like oh, where’s my notebook, like that’s hilarious, or like yeah that kind of intuition kicks in, that way of paying attention, so yeah.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Let’s see, um, I feel like the answers that you usually get are like read a lot, show your work to people, like revise a lot, and those are all good but I think for me, like something that’s been really important is the idea of fighting perfectionism however you can. When Megan Giddings was here a few weeks ago, she was talking about how when was was like working full time, her writing for that day was just like describing the cafeteria that she’s always in and it just like clicked in my brain, yeah, like sometimes we’re not always our ideal writerly selves, we’re not always like “I’m gonna spend three hours a day, like with my cup of hot tea and like in my silent place”, like a lot of the times, writing practice has to be kind of scrappy because you’re busy and I think at various times in my life this idea of the perfect writing routine has kept me from writing and like, so I would say, find a method for, it’s kind of like if you can’t play your sport for a long time but maybe like you keep a tennis ball in your office and every once in a while you like kick it against the wall, you’re like keeping that intuition, that muscle alive in the way that you can, and sometimes like that collecting of stuff is really good and like I think you always need a pool of images and language to draw from in fiction so it’s only going to enrich your work even if that day, like something you heard in the hallway, like a weird piece of cake that you had, whatever, like that’s, the action of writing it down, like makes it something that, for me, like it makes it something that my subconscious is going to remember, like that’s in this notebook, and like if and when I need it in a story, I’ll be able to access it better than if I didn’t write it down at all.

Interview with Dr. Sarah Webb

Dr. Webb is is a professor in the English and Modern Languages Department at UIS. Her publications include: “I’ve Never Experienced White Guilt, “Colorism in Police Killings of Unarmed Blacks: A Retrospective Descriptive Analysis from 1999-2014,” “Mentions and Melanin: Exploring the Colorism Discourse and Twitter Culture” and others.


If you could have lunch with any author, who, where and why?

Right now, I would have lunch with- do they have to be alive? No?- right now I would have lunch with Gwendolyn Brooks because she wrote the book Maud Martha which is currently my favorite book. I wrote my dissertation on it and I love how it’s written in vignettes, it’s like a poet’s novel, right, so it’s not a traditional narrative, it feels more like prosaic poetry and I really identify with the main character, Maud Martha so I would want to pick her brain about how she developed that character, what it was like being a poet who crossed over into another genre, that sort of thing.


What inspires you to write?

Everything, usually. Just interesting ideas, and they can come from anywhere, and interesting conversations, or a beautiful landscape, that sort of thing. So writing for me is a way to think and that’s kind of where my inspiration comes from, if I’m trying to think about something or ponder on something, writing is my favorite way to do that.


Who would you want to write your biography and why?

I would want- I almost said Stephen King cause I feel like he would, I feel like if Stephen King wrote it they would probably turn it into a movie and have it be really dramatic and a lot more interesting than my life actually looks. But I think also maybe Alice Walker or Toni Morrison because I like the story that they’ve told about black women, you know, in the past, that sort of thing. I feel like they would understand some of the essence or like the spiritual, psychological of my life so I think they’d be good.


What’s your favorite thing you’ve written and why?

I think my favorite thing I’ve written is a blog post called Brave Love and it was my most personal piece of writing I’ve published and it’s the one that people respond to the most, so I think that’s why it’s my favorite because people say like I’ve got an email from someone saying “thank you so much for writing this, it really relates to my story” and that sort of thing, so because of the effect it’s had on people it’s my favorite.


Why is literature and writing important you?

Well, I could say it’s the one thing I’m good at. So I think it’s the way I think. I used to be an architecture major but I didn’t do well in architecture school, I almost flunked out, and so for me it’s important because it’s my best way-mode- of communicating and connecting with the world, and engaging with the world, and it’s just been a part of my life so long, I couldn’t imagine myself not reading, for sure, and then writing.


What’s one piece of advice you have for aspiring writers?

Okay so I’m going to say a couple of things.  A is to write as much as possible and read as much as possible. I just put this quote up in my classroom on Monday, Stephen King’s advice is to read a lot and write a lot. You can only get better if you write a lot, and writing a lot doesn’t necessarily mean publishing a lot, so you might never do anything with what you write and you might have a whole journal full of stuff that  no one else ever sees, but it’s the act of writing that helps you get better. The other thing I would say is writing is a skill that can be learnt. So don’t think that oh, someone gave me bad feedback this time around, I must not be a good writer. Or they rejected my poem or my play or my short story so I must not be meant to do this. I would say persist. So even if you’re not achieving the success you want, however you define it, right away, don’t give up. If you really feel like you’re a writer, then continue to write, continue to share it with people even if you aren’t the next J.K. Rowling. Your voice matters.

Interview with Professor Jennifer Whalen

Professor Whalen is an instructor in the English and Modern Languages Department at UIS. Her works have appeared in Gulf Coast, Southern Indiana Review, Fugue and others.


If you could have lunch with an author, who would you choose and why?

I mean really, when I first started with poems I fell in love with this poet Frank O’Hara, so I don’t think I could pass that up. And I don’t know, maybe just like a lunch counter on a New York street, that’d be cool.


What is your favorite thing you’ve written and why?

That’s hard. I think, my favorite thing I’ve written and why. I guess I should say the thing I’m currently working on, right, that seems like it might want the muse to keep speaking to me, and all that. So I am working on a project that’s based off the letters between Vincent Van Gogh and his younger brother Theo Van Gogh, and it’s been really cool. It’s taken a very, very long time, but I’ve enjoyed it cause it’s kind of surprised me, where it would go, I originally thought it was something I was going to spend a couple of months on and it would be a chapbook, and now I’ve been working on it for years, and it’s an 85 page manuscript, so it’s kind of shown me a lot of  the things I love about poetry- that it can take many forms, and that it can tackle many things, and take many shapes. So yeah, probably that.


Why is literature and writing important to you?

I think– I mean, human expression is of course important right, and that takes many different forms and then what we do in writing is just one way of expression. I particularly liked it when I first started doing it because there was something about the relationship between the writer and the reader that I found really compelling and very intimate and close, you know, like we were even talking about in Brit Lit today, having this idea where it’s like characters turn away from each other but turn to you, and tell you what’s going on, right, something about that interiority, I’ve always found compelling. Yeah, I like that and, of course, reading, right, reading and studying literature, you know, is great because you learn about people and of course, it increases empathy, and you kind of get to go places you don’t normally get to go, and yeah, so it’s important for that.


What genre do you most enjoy and why?

So I mostly write poetry. I enjoy it cause it’s kind of free and wild and it’s a place where there aren’t a lot of rules or parameters. And again, when I was a young writer I thought poetry was like the thing you do when you don’t have time to do other things, you know, like, I can’t write a novel, I’m an undergrad, so I’ll write poems, you know, and then I fell in love with it, and I think part of that was again, that relationship with the reader, I felt like I could kind of expect more from the reader, if that makes sense, that I could kind of make more leaps, and they could go stranger places with me, that I hadn’t experienced in other genres. So I think that’s a cool thing about poetry and I think it really breaks down these ideas we have about like the mind and the heart being two separate things; I think poetry kind of continually teaches us that you know, thinking and feeling is the same thing and you know, like the beauty of that.


Who would you want to write your biography?

I don’t know. I don’t think I know a lot of biographers, uh, that’s a good question. Has anyone else answered these yet? No? Yeah, I’m not sure, you know, I’m totally not sure. I also kind of am like, the idea of even having a biography makes me cringe a little, like ugh someone’s going to go through my stuff, yeah, but that’s just me. I guess maybe if I’m not around anymore then yeah, but yeah, I don’t know.


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Yeah, I think I would say, pretty cliche, read a lot, but also read kind of diversely, and to seek out things that are different than your aesthetic sensibilities or what you normally gravitate to and to kind of challenge that. And then maybe a second bit of advice would be to just kind of trust yourself. I think when you’re first learning to write and you’re in a workshop and there’s kind of a lot of rules and people talk a lot about what you can’t do or you know, what isn’t working and I think that can be a little limiting sometimes so just, if you have an idea, trust that it’s a good one and see it through.

Interview with T.A. Noonan

After her recent stop at UIS, poet and author T.A. Noonan was generous enough to sit down and answer a few questions via email about her most recent book, the hybrid-genre poetry collection The Bone Folders.  The interview touches on her writing process and how she found the subject material for her collection and also strayed into her experiences in small-press publishing and advice she has to small journals like The Alchemist ReviewBe sure to check out The Bone Folders, as well as her other works.  More information can be found on her home page, fear_of_abstraction.

What was the inspiration behind your second collection of poems, The Bone
Folders?  Was there a certain group behind some of the characters in this

In 1999, during my second semester at LSU, I connected with a young woman who was involved in the Goddess 2000 Project, an international art initiative designed to increase visibility of the Goddess and Goddess imagery for the new millennium. She knew I was interested in mythology, Paganism, and witchcraft, and she asked if I wanted to work with her. I did, and so I went to a seven-acre property in Walker, LA, that was home to a group of witches known as the Covens of the Licorice Unicorn. They had a huge fence that they “donated” to the Goddess 2000 Project, and we were given paints and the freedom to create our own murals. As I worked on my mural, I became intrigued by the men and women of the Licorice Unicorn and began interviewing them. Their stories were sad, uplifting, and magical. Quickly, I realized wanted to write a book about their lives, and, by extension, my own experiences with Paganism and witchcraft.

The members served as the primary models for the characters in The Bone Folders, but they weren’t the only ones. I drew upon my own experiences, as well as stories from the women of my family, especially my mother and grandmother. Later, when I was working on my MFA, I met a group in South Florida known as the Sisterhood of Ahel Adom, and they also served as inspiration. So, the characters in The Bone Folders are an amalgam of about a couple dozen women I know or know about. I had to fictionalize them, mixing and matching details, but every character all emerged from interactions with and stories about real people.

What type of research is involved in writing about a coven of witches in
Louisiana – or Wicca in general?  What complications, if any, did you find
in writing about this culture?

Well, the Licorice Unicorn gave me almost full access to their archives and members. I understand that this was very unusual; even though they were public and known in the community, many members were very secretive, and the archive was a carefully controlled resource. I was and still am honored that they trusted me so much so quickly.

I also read a lot of books on witchcraft, Wicca, Paganism, and the occult. Of course, I already had a small library of my own by that point because I’d been practicing for a few years, but I didn’t know how much was out there until I started digging. There are some publishers that specialize in Occult, New Age, and Alternative Spirituality titles, and I read a lot of those. But I also did historical research, studying the roots of contemporary practices and beliefs. It’s still an area of interest for me, so I’m always reading and learning more. And, as a practitioner myself, I draw a lot of insights from “hands-on” experience from my personal and group workings.

There were two big complications I discovered while working on this book. The first was that a lot of the language used to talk about witchcraft is archaic, abstract, and clichéd. Plus, there’s always this problem of terminology; not everyone uses the same terms to describe or define the same things. It’s a pain. I struggled to find ways around that, even going as far as to dig into the words themselves, to create something that was more human and real than a vocabulary list.

The second was that it was really difficult to express my “insider’s” perspective in a way that was meaningful to an outsider. In a way, it’s like trying to write a reverse ethnography. So, I found myself focusing primarily on the human dramas, as well as drawing on other seemingly unconnected experiences to create associations that were accessible and identifiable.

“Witchcraft” seems to be a very loose word, especially in some of the poems
in this collection, such as “Slogan Triptych.”  In some poems, computer code
or mathematics or cooking seems synonymous with witchcraft.  Would you
define witchcraft as having a broad definition to include other forms of
craft and art?

I can’t help but tip my hat to Arthur C. Clarke, who famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Yeah, I see a lot of other arts, crafts, and sciences as part of “witchcraft,” but I think that may be something of a personal association and not “universal.” I mean, there are practitioners out there who, like me, use math in their witchcraft; for example, there’s a wonderful relationship between the Golden Ratio and the pentagram, that five-pointed star used by so many witches. Computer programming also strikes me as very much like setting a spell in motion because of the need to define a problem, figure out which operations to use, etc. Cooking requires knowledge of how different compounds will interact, and I’ve learned a lot about herbalism from using spices.

I guess the easiest way to think about it is to define witchcraft literally as “the craft of the witch,” and because my “craft” includes a lot of different activities, my notion of what witchcraft is ends up being pretty large. Then again, I know a lot of witches who incorporate other arts, crafts, sciences, etc. into their practices, so maybe it’s more universal than I think.

In The Bone Folders, and with witchcraft in general, there seems to be a
theme of people who are social outsiders.  Do you feel that this is a common
trait among practitioners of witchcraft, or other types of art and craft?

I do, but I also think that all people who are deeply involved in any specific or narrow field tend to be social outsiders. Ever met someone who can quote Kurt Russell movies verbatim, or sing all the lyrics to every Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, or talk for hours on the intricacies of snake bio-mechanics? It’s not like there are a million opportunities for these kinds of highly focused interests to come up in casual conversation.

The Japanese have a word for these people: otaku. In modern usage, it roughly translates to “geek,” but there’s a great deal of negativity associated with the term. Outside of Japan, otaku is used specifically to refer to fans of anime and manga, and while the term doesn’t have the same level of unsavoriness that it has in Japan, there are still plenty of negative stereotypes associated with it. And a lot of these stereotypes tie into various taboos we have relating to cleanliness, etiquette, obsession, sex, and so on.

Witches have the disadvantage of being marginalized because their craft hits on even more taboos. That’s not to say that pop culture hasn’t helped make witchcraft more visible or ameliorated some of the most harmful stereotypes.

Still, when I think of a lot of the witches I know, I see them as outsiders because they are invested in a subject that most don’t value, not because they can’t function in society. And that, I think, makes them a lot like people who obsess over what the average person would consider a “trivial” subject.

What was the writing process like for this collection?

Long. But that’s oversimplifying, a bit.

I started the book when I was nineteen and worked on it throughout my undergraduate career. I completed the first draft when I was twenty-two, but I knew it wasn’t “done.” For one thing, it kept changing genres. The manuscript started as poetry, but it became fiction, then poetry again, then fiction again, then nonfiction, etc. I felt like I didn’t know what it was supposed to be, and I hadn’t realized it yet that could be all of those things. Another problem I had was that I didn’t feel like I’d captured the strange beauty of these people and their stories. The work felt too constrained, like I hadn’t managed to really get at the heart of who these women were. So, I kind of shelved the project and decided to write other things.

While working on my MFA, I had two experiences that made me rethink the project. One was meeting the Sisters of Ahel Adom; they helped me realize that my voice had value and could be used to tell a story that very few people could. I remember having long conversations with them about the ways that witches were portrayed in the media, and they were so supportive of the book’s concept because they saw that a book like The Bone Folders could capture the Pagan experience in a way that nothing else had.

The second experience was in my first poetry workshop as a graduate student. I had been struggling with this poem unrelated to the collection, and when I turned it in, the reaction from my peers was not good.

I explained all the ideas that went into the draft, and Susan Mitchell, my professor, said, “That was so much more interesting than what was on the page.” When I complained that there was no way to write the way I thought, that my ideas were impossible to translate, she looked at me and said, “Try.”

I did.

That poem became “A Chaos Theory,” which did make it into The Bone Folders, and the discovery that I could actually draw everything together and make the connections I saw was a revelation. I restarted the project, rescuing what I could from the older versions along the way. Not everything I wrote during that period ended up making it into the final version, but a lot of stuff did. It was kind of a crazy experience because there are pieces that I have almost no memory of drafting. (I sometimes wonder if I might have “tapped into” something during the process!) In any case, I completed the manuscript July 14, 2007, while I worked on my PhD. I did make one final revision to it September 2007, plus a pretty rigorous copyedit a few months before its publication. Fun fact: The Bone Folders was officially released on July 15, 2011, which was almost four years to the day after I declared the collection “done.”

So, all in all, The Bone Folders was nearly twelve years in the making. And it was totally worth it, because I’m very proud of it.

Some of your previous work has been published in several Southern literary
 journals.  As the internet brings cultures together and influences are
traded so easily, how do you feel that has affected the concept of
“Southern” fiction, if at all?

Maybe this is just my experience, but I’ve noticed that, until fairly recently, people have had pretty restrictive notions of what makes writing “Southern.” They immediately envision these Southern Gothic tropes and magnolia pastorals, or they turn to the setting or the author’s biography. That strikes me as unfair, and I wonder if it has something to do with the ways in which Southern literature is taught, the way its canon is constructed. It doesn’t seem like there are a lot of new, exciting texts making their way into classrooms, which is a shame because there are some great Southern writers that blow my mind. It’s not that there aren’t classics of Southern literature that do the same, but avoiding the really contemporary stuff gives an incomplete picture of the subgenre.

Whenever I talk about being a Southern writer, I always feel it necessary to point out that I’m not a Southerner by birth; I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but I’ve lived the vast majority of my life in the South. I consider myself a Southerner because I was raised in the South, and the majority of my experiences are, by definition, Southern. But I’m also a New Yorker, of sorts. Plus, I’ve lived in Florida for at least a quarter of my lifetime, which is both Southern and not, depending on who you ask and where you’re looking within the state.

My point in mentioning this is that it’s far too easy to think of Southern writing as a combination of geography and trope. The world isn’t so small anymore. People are a lot more mobile than they used to be. I’ve met Southerners everywhere. The proliferation of independent and online publishing has allowed Southern writers who don’t fit this narrow scope of what is “Southern” to find outlets for their work, and that is a good thing. And I do see a broadening sense of what it means to write in and about the South. But it’s slow. I think it would happen a little faster if the canon of Southern literature opened up more and a greater emphasis was placed on what Southern writers are doing right now, as opposed to what they have done in the past.

By the way, Flannery O’Connor explores this even further in her excellent essay, “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction.” Seriously, just read it. I’d quote her, but I’d either end up copying the whole thing or missing some of the nuances of her exploration.

You’re involved with several small presses and publications such as Sundress Publications and Flaming Giblet Press, which you founded.  What advice would
you have for a new (and small) literary journal?  What surprises did you
discover when starting up a small press?

The first piece of advice on publishing that I received was from Rodger Kamenetz, my mentor at LSU. When I mentioned that I wanted to start a press, he told me that the secret to making a small fortune as a publisher was to start with a large one. It’s a clever joke, but it taught me the first rule of running a press or journal. You can’t go into it thinking that you’ll get rich; you have to do it because you just have to do it. Publishing has to be a love affair and a moral imperative.

You’d be surprised how many hats a publisher needs to wear. It’s not merely about having a vision or aesthetic. You’ve got to be able to network, copyedit, design, communicate. If you can’t do all those things yourself, you need people who can teach you or do it for you. I guess that’s my second piece of advice: it’s good to find people you can ask advice of and/or work with. Network. Talk to others in the field. Almost every small-press or journal publisher I’ve met is totally open to discussing the process. And, if you’re going to work with other people, make sure their strengths compliment (or compensate for) your weaknesses. It’s not impossible to be a one-man or one-woman show, but it’s a lot harder.

One of the things that surprised me was how little I knew about publishing when I first got involved. I kind of had to teach myself a lot of the nuts and bolts. For example, the very first thing I published through Flaming Giblet Press was my chapbook, Balm. I figured that if I screwed it up, at least I only had to answer to myself. But I had no idea what I was doing, really. Thanks to the internet, I located a good chapbook template, used it to do the layout, designed and carved my own linocut block for the cover, and assembled the books myself.

Unfortunately, I was way too pleased with the results, and that satisfaction drove me to pursue a lot of projects that I wasn’t ready for. Ambition eventually got the best of me. That was and is my third lesson: ideas are great, but you should only do what’s within your means. And that includes everything from skills to time to resources. If all you can manage is a couple of broadsides a year, that’s great; do that. If you can do more, do more. However, don’t take on more than you can reasonably do. I’ve made a lot of mistakes as a publisher, but the majority of them stem from over-ambition.

I guess my next suggestion for people wanting to get into publishing is to get as much experience as possible in any many related fields and arenas as possible. Intern. Learn how to build a website. Take design courses. Absorb some style manuals, even if they’re not exactly rip-roaring reads. Putz around with Facebook and Twitter and other social networks. The more knowledge you have, the better off you’ll be.

And, even though this sounds cheesy, you need to read, promote, support, donate to, and purchase from independent publishers. They can’t survive without people like you. If your budget doesn’t allow for multiple subscriptions or dozens of books a year, boost the signal by telling your friends about the great work you’ve heard about, read, seen online, etc. Always be on the lookout for new great work, too. The more you encounter, the more you’ll discover about what is out there and what is possible.