Monday, July 19, 2010

Six Questions for Michael Aaron Casares, Publisher, Virgogray Press

"Virgogray Press is a proud publisher of chapbooks, and produces primarily poetry and sees the chapbook as a tool and vehicle for the independent voice." Learn more here.

SQF: According to a report by Foner Books (, “[g]rowth stagnated for booksellers in 2008, and overall book sales barely moved according to the government.” In addition, I’ve read a number of articles concerning the difficulty authors are having securing book deals. In your opinion, what is the current state of the print book market?

MAC: I can’t really answer that because I’m not involved in the supposed market. I guess in the big picture, during perpetuated economic and monetary hardships, even the book sales market would freeze up a bit. To be frank, I haven’t been affected much by this as a publisher, fortunately. My press doesn’t work on that cycle. The only thing that really keeps Virgogray from taking on any more projects is time.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a manuscript?

MAC: Voice. Topic. Functionality.

SQF: What major mistakes do authors make when pitching their books?

MAC: I wouldn’t call them “major mistakes.” I look at the Virgogray library as a whole and so it may depend on if the MS is right for inclusion at that time. Virgogray books carry a wide array of themes and tones and tell numerous stories with numerous styles. Everyone has their own unique voice and to that end, even grammatical errors may be worked out, so long as they aren’t blatant. That’s the way I see it, though every editor is different. There are many writing styles out there and a hell of a lot of personalities so I try to respect that. Paying attention to the details of our submission guidelines is always the quickest way into our hearts and that is something most editors will agree on (especially if we require no simultaneous submissions).

SQF: Of the books your company publishes each year, how many are by previously unpublished authors?

MC: Most Virgogray Press authors have been published, if at all, at least in independent periodicals, journals and blogs. Suzi Kaplan Olmsted, Brendan Kirk, and Donna Snyder are examples of those whose first collection of work was with us, though their poetry and writing appeared online or in print prior to publishing with us. Virgogray authors also do readings and are actively involved in either poetry or the promotion of their work. It really gets fun when the authors get involved. We do publish anthologies and periodicals in which we’ve presented new talent, as well as the work of unpublished authors and poets. It is these venues I encourage new writers to explore initially. Carcinogenic Poetry has been marvelous for this.

SQF: What is your advice to new, unpublished authors looking for a publisher or agent?

MAC: Put together your best work. Make it interesting and have something to say. Be genuine. Have fun. Put your love into your work. Get your name out there. Don’t stop.

SQF: What question do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And how would you answer it?

MAC: No question, thanks. I am happy to speak with you, Jim, thanks. Take care.

Thank you, Michael. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 7/21--Six Questions for Edward E. Wilson, Publisher, Absey & Co.

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