In a previous post I said I was a little bit in love with the small press movement, and small wonder, with the successes brought about by these small publishing houses in recent years. Several international big-ticket prizewinners and nominees have seen the light of day only because a small press took a chance on them when nobody else would. (Stand up, Dublin’s Lilliput Press, for Donal Ryan’s Booker-nominated The Spinning Heart, and Norwich’s Galley Beggar Press, for Eimear McBride’s Goldsmiths Prize-winning A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing.)
I’ve been hoovering up books published by small independents and I haven’t regretted buying a single one of them. It’s not always you get to read something gorgeous and feel like you’re truly supporting the arts at the same time.
Today I’m happy as a sandboy to post an interview with John Walsh and Lisa Frank of Doire Press, based in Connemara in Co. Galway, publishers of some achingly beautiful short fiction and poetry collections in recent years. I’m currently reading the brilliantly atmospheric Galway Stories, a masterclass in literary styling from revered modern short-storyists which manages to be entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time. John and Lisa spoke this month at the Irish Writers Centre and it was a pleasure to see their enthusiasm for new writing.
Tell me about Doire Press. What is your reason for living?
We’re a small literary press based in Connemara and we publish poetry and short story collections with an emphasis on emerging writers. We started in 2007 with no intentions of becoming a real press but as things sometimes go, here we are six years later with a good handful of titles. We didn’t really start taking ourselves seriously until 2010 and since then things have been going strong.
Small presses have become a driving force in new Irish fiction. What can you do, that traditional publishers can’t (or won’t)?
We take chances on new writers, whereas most big publishers won’t.
Our three latest books are very different. ‘End of Days’ by Aileen Armstrong is a debut collection of short stories from a writer with a very original voice; ‘Deirdre Unforgiven: A Journal of Sorrows’ is a play by Horslips’ drummer and lyricist Eamon Carr based on the tale of Deirdre of the Sorrows; and ‘Fear Knot’ by Susan Lindsay is her second poetry collection we’ve published.
Who is your ideal writer? What are you looking for?
A new exciting talent who is willing to do his or her part in promoting the work.
What sort of promotional activity do you hope your authors will engage in? What is a Doire Press author’s job after the book is written?
Besides the usual social media, we send review copies to the relevant outlets and we try and get our writers as many readings as we can. We both feel that it is very important that the writer take initiative in promoting their work and getting readings for themselves also. We’ve decided that we will now only publish writers who are willing to commit themselves in promoting their books, just as we will. Why do all the work of putting a book together — writing, editing, layout, etc. — if no one will promote it? We see our books are celebrations of literature. We don’t want them to just sit on the shelves.
What would you say you are most proud of? What is your greatest achievement?
We’re both proud that we’ve accomplished a lot in a little time and that we take chances. Perhaps our greatest achievement is that one of our poetry books, ‘Accurate Measurements’ by Adam White, was the only Irish publication to be shortlisted for this year’s Forward Prize. Adam didn’t have much of a name and was turned down for an Arts Council grant, but we both believed in the quality and uniqueness of his writing and so we feel that his book being shortlisted is justification that we are on the right track.
And finally… a word to that talented author out there, for whom Doire Press would be a match made in heaven. Why should they choose Doire Press?
Because we work very closely with our writers from editing down to designing the cover and because we work hard to make each publication a celebration and a success.
Thanks to John and Lisa, and the very best of best luck to all Doire authors. And most importantly – thank you for reading, everyone else. Supporting our small presses means spreading the word of new Irish talent all over.
- Small Press, Traditional, and Self-Publishing: Let’s Stop Judging (katebrauning.com)