Once your eyes dive into a couple of poetry and fiction books by Small Doggies Press, you’ll understand how this small press carries a fearless bite behind every published author. Whether you’re a new or fanatic reader of the press, you’re immediately invited to explore the human condition through honesty, filled with a diverse range of narratives and wordsmiths.
We can thank Carrie Seitzinger, one of the master minds behind Small Doggies Press, for our access to such courageous authors. Carrie not only tackles the press, but is also Editor-in-Chief of NAILED Magazine, and she is the Senior Project Manager of the boutique digital marketing venture, Small Doggies Omnimedia, LLC.
Below we had the wonderful pleasure to ask Carrie a few questions about the press, NAILED Magazine, and her life as both publisher and writer.
SPIT JOURNAL: As a young and upcoming writer, what influences or inspirations led to the birth of Small Doggies Press? What is the symbolism or story behind the name SDP?
CARRIE SEITZINGER: My partner Matty Byloos and I had been running Small Doggies Reading Series in Portland for a year and a half, and had started printing smalldoggies chapbooks that featured a piece of writing from each author who had read on our stage. We had an online literary magazine called Smalldoggies Magazine and we were not happy with how it was going. Though we were publishing well-written poetry and fiction, and some hilarious columns, it seemed like white noise in the grand scheme of the online literary world. So we retired Smalldoggies Magazine online and decided the next obvious step in a meaningful direction was to begin publishing books. (At this point we were also persuaded to break the name up from smalldoggies to Small Doggies.)
The name originally came from Matty’s experience of working with some cooky old dude in a film lab in the late 90s. The man was reminiscing to the younger employees about how much better things were back in the day, and he insisted that the pair of men’s haircutting clippers he had when he was younger were so powerful that they could buzz the hair off of two or three small doggies. I guess I could argue that keeping print books alive is a testament to the ol’ days, but really the name stuck because we are weirdos and thought that was odd and funny.
I wrestle with whether the name suits us. It’s not half as strange as we thought it was when we chose it. That’s why we had to funk it up by making the two doggies one, conjoined twins. But when I’m working a book fair and it says “Small Doggies” on my booth, you should see the looks that I get from these kind ladies. The look says, “Awwww you must be such a sweet girl to name your press, Small Doggies. I bet you volunteer at animal shelters.”
SJ: What are the most rewarding and difficult tasks when running a small press?
SEITZINGER: The most rewarding feeling is knowing that it is at least partially because of you, that a magnificent book came into the world. I mean, you’ve got to give most of the credit to the author, of course, but it is rewarding just having the right to be proud of our authors.
It is a whole new level of rewarding when our books begin to be recognized for the works of genius that they are. Like Rachel McKibbens’s Into the Dark & Emptying Field as a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, a huge national award. When we got the letter I was jumping up and down.
It is difficult finding the time to make it all happen. This is why we have never been open to unsolicited manuscripts—when would I ever be able to read them? And side note/secret of mine: I am an extremely slow reader. I’m twice as slow than anyone you know (probably including children), which is maybe why I am such a good copy editor, and plus, my comprehension is fantastic (so, ya know, don’t feel sorry for me).
Like most small presses, ours is a labor of love in every way. And so, we have full-time jobs. We’ve never had a year in accounting that ended “in the black” (yet), and I’d like the general public to know that publishing is usually a business of being in the red. Treat small presses with gratitude. What’s in it for us is not material wealth.
SJ: Can you also talk a little bit about the magazine you co-founded, NAILED?
SEITZINGER: NAILED is our newest passion. It became an idea in 2012 and officially launched in spring 2013. We weren’t looking to start another literary mag, so NAILED is an online arts and culture publication that features personal essays, columns with an edge, memoir, poetry, fiction, art, photos essays, comics, and more. We want to see passionate, candid writing expressing opinions about society and personal human struggles; providing a place for that voice is a big part of our mission. The defining characteristics of NAILED are it’s chief descriptors: artful, passionate, raw, challenging, and intelligent. Most days something new goes up on NAILED and we are always open for submissions, and for those reasons the job of NAILED is never done, and we couldn’t do it without the editors and contributors who have helped us along the way.
SJ: Any upcoming surprises for Small Doggies Press? New authors joining the press soon?
SEITZINGER: Our next book will be poetry by Stevie Edwards, Humanly. I am a huge fan of her work, and can’t wait ‘til the book is out! It will be published in February 2015.
We are also in the process of redesigning Rachel McKibbens’s first book Pink Elephant, which SDP got the rights to within the last year. Pink Elephant will get a little makeover and will continue to be available on SDP.
SJ: So, you currently run a press, magazine, additional projects, and you just got married, when do you make time to write? We’re all curious what are your writing habits like?
SEITZINGER: I’m not going to lie, it is difficult to find the time, but this is something I’ve been doing regularly since childhood, so it never eludes me for long. My writing practices are like the seasons, as soon as I get in a groove and form habits, it is time to change again. I write a lot in my head. I start seeing people or memories and they morph into moving metaphors of themselves. When I sit down to put it in words, I can recall the image or movie as it was and expand on it.
SJ: Your first book Fall Ill Medicine left us all hungry for more, readers want to know if they should be expecting a second book anytime soon? Any sneak peak synopses?
SEITZINGER: The new body of work has been about halfway finished for a year. It is written in the process of healing from childhood trauma and it tells many painful stories. As you might imagine it is hard to write it and even more difficult to know when a poem is finished being edited. I would’ve loved for it to be done by now. To take that hideous worm, bundle it, then let it out, publish it, and hope it turns into a winged creature. The process of writing and putting the book out, the bookends of my own healing. Which is probably a fantasy. We all know healing like this takes a lifetime. I hope the book can help others with that, as well.
SJ: What advice can you give to aspiring writers who are interested in starting a small press?
SEITZINGER: Know where your heart is. If you are looking for fame or acknowledgement or dollah billz, you are not going to find much of that here. I also think starting really tiny and working up to small is wise. Start by putting out one book (this includes only committing to one author at a time), give yourself extra leeway on your timelines (this includes writing out detailed timelines in the first place). Also know that going into it, when you commit to publishing an author’s book, it is your responsibility to the author to not fall off the face of the earth. Ever. I mean, if you decide you don’t like publishing books anymore, where does that leave your author? If things get hard, it’s your job to figure it out, and communication is key. Know that it’s a lot of work and it is a commitment, but it’s also fun and exciting to work with authors whose work you admire. You get to champion them!
For more information on Carrie Seitzinger, Small Doggies Press, and Nailed Magazine check out the links below:
Small Doggies Press: http://www.smalldoggiespress.com
NAILED Magazine: http://www.nailedmagazine.com
NAILED Magazine Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NailedMagazine