A Small Garlic Press -- Policies

A Small Garlic Press,
a 501(c)3 Nonprofit Organization, Chicago, Illinois,
an Illinois not-for-profit corporation,
FEIN #36-4126633

A Small Garlic Press (ASGP) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and an Illinois not-for-profit corporation. We are a small press staffed by volunteers who live geographically apart, while sporadically working together via the internet: email, the web, sftp, scp, that sort of thing. Most of us never "net" in person. Some of us are close real-life friends. The usual.

We are very picky and we have little money and little time. We are exceedingly unlikely to publish a chapbook submission. Yet, clearly, we can be hoodwinked into it, since we have published almmost 30, most of them in our first 6 years. All titles remain available through our online catalog and will remain so indefinitely. This is one reason why we are very picky. For the history of and the motivation behind starting A Small Garlic Press read this essay.

We are committed to giving a voice to the voiceless and using our taste and hard work to make it happen. We will occasionally give voice to the voiced also -- because the voice pleases us -- witness Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market reprinted in AgD Issue 4.

The rest of this page consists of boring details of operations, but which some of you may find useful.

ASGP is an all-volunteer group of 3 or 5 or so at any one time, a dispersed workgroup using diverse computing platforms, formed from friendships struck on Usenet in the 1990s, and finally incorporated in January 1997 as a nonprofit organization. Our cooperative work involves all manner of graphic arts, both freehand and computer-assisted, editing, writing -- and discussing and accepting poetry for publication. Some of us also read our own work in public and participate in literary mailing lists and have participated in Usenet's rec.arts.poems.

Most tangibly, we maintain a well-designed and kept-up website as a public-service, not just in content but as a shining example of how to do it right: simple, good, clean -- even beautiful -- html, handcoded, fast-loading on any device, the same page, not a tailored page for every device (!). We showcase standard navigation using the link tag (in the page's META head section), for the web browsers that support it. ASGP.org is: fast-loading pages. fast and lucid textual browsing navigation.

Our site contains the magazine, a page of links to web resources, and online Broadsides (pamphlets and links to sources of pamphlets).

We publish Agnieszka's Dowry (AgD) ISSN 1088-4300, the poetry serial. It comes out online and as a paper chapbook. We also publish chapbooks from manuscripts submitted for publication, and we have done a themed chapbook-anthology. Until now, most of the non-AgD chapbook projects have involved splitting the cost of the first-printing copies. Sometimes we have footed the entire bill.

The split arrangement has worked like this: The initial run is paid for by the press, and on taking delivery of the books, we ship a portion of them to the author. The author pays us the printing cost of those copies, and the postage, and distributes them however they see fit, while we sell them and promote them cheifly through our website and word of mouth.

The split arrangement is not a matter of recouping expenses. It's a matter of having the right to to make outlays in the first place: We must satisfy the public support criterion of the U.S. federal tax code describing the 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporations: We have to have income from outside of at least 33% of our total income.

Accordingly, we have managed to keep an operating budget, publish poems, broadsides, chapbooks, pay for our modest ISP access, and have money on hand for for reprinting copies and postage. Our book sales are tiny. We have not engaged in fundraising other than through book sales. We could use some help in promoting our titles.

We do all the pre-press work ourselves, with the author as part of the process. When we share copies as outlined above, the author and the press distribute the book jointly. The author is free to set his or her prices, but we have kept ours at $2 a book to individuals (significantly more to bookstores and persons we decide are in it to collect rare books for gain) from our inception in 1995, as something of a statement.

Our mission statement:

To promote literary and educational life; give voice to the voiceless; guide and influence by exercising our taste and take on hard work for fun.

Chapbooks: These are small volumes of work, usually authored by one person. Sized 5.5 inch by 8.5 inch, stapled, they run 20 to 60 pages and cost slightly less than the price we set. Ours are professionally printed, finished and trimmed on heavy paper. We take exacting care in seeing through the entire process. We print small initial runs (50 to 300). The books are encoded for printing into Postscript or PDF files. In principle, they can be printed on-demand, one book at a time. The actual pricing of on-demand printing had not made it practical yet (in 1997, when Marek wrote this spiele normale, but now, in the Spring of 2014? With the advent of Lulu, certain dispensing websites and other such, perhaps ...the time has come, to quote a lovely The Smiths song.

We select manuscripts based on our personal taste, literary quality as we see it, and on the idea that we as a group like the work enough not just to make it into a chapbook of our designing, but also one to keep in our catalog, available indefinitely. We always have more incoming submissions to look at than we can accommodate.

Paper and printing are tricky. We use heavy opaque white laser paper, covered with appropriate card stock for cover, saddle-stitched (stapled), with cover art and often with internal art, in grayscale.

The books are prepared in whatever manner of free text processing (Emacs, XEmacs under unix), then typset in Adobe PageMaker 6.52. We start with plaintext electronic submissions from the authors, examined and corrected by all of us (author included) online, using a PDF 72 dpi-downsampled graphics file shared through the web. When finally ready, a large (5-80 megabytes) Postscript or PDF high-resolution graphics file gets submitted digitally to a professional printer who uses a huge direct-digital press, the Xerox Docutech DT135, to lase 135 pages per minute with excellent results (and if not, they do it again, until they do). Sometimes the DT135 is equipped to make the book automatically, but most of the time this is done by a person at the printer's. This step also includes trimming the edges.

Ours is a cooperative model of distribution and getting books made and sold at tiny margins, making books always accessible to the author, and the prospective reader savvy enough to look for us in web space. Our books are marked to sell at a price just high enough to sustain the nonprofit corporation's tax code obligations (qualified outside income). The author is free to sell at whatever price, without any restrictions, which amounts to competing with the press.

We make the commitment to always keep the book in print and in distribution, and to get a new supply at cost for both ourselves and the author when the books run out. These two commitments take the place of and make more sense in the context of selling $2 books than the traditional large commercial ventures' mechanism of royalties, anti-competitive contracts, or paying a distributors who after taking their cut, are free to return or destroy unsold books. Basically, it takes a lot of love, and it costs us a lot of aggravation and time to produce our little books, and we don't want to play mass consumptions games with them.

The finished chapbook's catalog entry is displayed, annotated, and linked to a book excerpt. The cover and artwork is shown as well. A link may be created to the author's homepage. The book is announced in various internet groups and forums, placed in what free catalogs (or on-line bookstores) are available, cataloged with an ISBN number, and registered with Forthcoming Books in Print/Books in Print, as well as deposited with the Library of Congress. We try to get the book reviewed, but reviewing a tiny-run book is difficult to get done. It is what it is.

Our Agnieszka's Dowry requirements are described under Submitting.

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Design + Content: Marek. Art: LeeAnn + clipart + Marek.
Copyright © 1996-2015 A Small Garlic Press. All rights reserved.
Created 1996/3/2. Updated last on 2015/4/1. Happy 19th birthday to Agnieszka's Dowry. (8 March, UNESCO Day of the Woman)