Small Press Week is an event conceived of and organised by Upper Rubber Boot Books to “talk about exciting new releases, classic back-catalog titles, and what makes small press publishing so fearless, intimate, creative, and heart-warming”. Today is day two and we were asked to share something about our how our press came to be, or about its past. Pen and Kink is new. Like, really, really new. We haven’t celebrated our first birthday yet. That means there isn’t a whole lot of history for me to choose from, so I’m going to talk about how it came to be.
Originally, Pen and Kink Publishing was only going to be used for me, Cori Vidae, to self-publish my own work. Then something happened.
Even before Pen and Kink came to be I was (in addition to being a writer) an editor and anthologist. Last year I was working on two different anthologies. One had just opened up to submissions while the other was pretty much ready for publication–all the stories had been chosen and edits had been finished, it only needed contracts finalised and it would have been good to go. Then, without any warning or notice whatsoever, the publisher that was meant to publish them pulled their support. I could have let the anthologies die but… do you see that frog over there? I’m kind of like that frog. I love water and I’m stubborn as hell. The loving water part is irrelevant to this story, but my stubbornness most certainly is not.
There was just no way I was going to let those anthologies die. So I decided to publish them myself with Pen and Kink.
I’d had some experience publishing anthologies before, in a different genre under a different name (Cori Vidae is a pseudonym) but this would be my first time venturing into the world of being a royalty-paying publisher. And just to further complicate things, I still intended to use Pen and Kink to publish my own work as well.
I’m not trying to hide the fact I’m self-publishing my own work here and I’m not using the other titles to camouflage it or anything deceptive like that. I’m very open about what I’m doing. It’s nontraditional, but it works for me and my authors.
And that is why Pen and Kink has two separate arms, if you will. On one side is my stuff that I’m self-publishing, on the other are titles written and/or edited by someone else. Both sides, or arms, take advantage of the same back end–the torso, if we’re going to continue with this body metaphor I’ve got going on–but they are otherwise independent of each other.
Once I knew I was going to be publishing other people’s work, though, I knew I couldn’t do it alone. And so I turned to Elesha Teskey. She and I had spoken about her helping me out on some other, smaller, projects, so when I approached her to see if she would be willing to be Pen and Kink’s publicist it was with no small amount of trepidation. I knew I was asking her to take on a big responsibility and put a lot of faith in both me and the press. When she accepted I was incredbily excited! We put our heads together and, in only a couple of weeks, had set up the skeleton of the press and were ready to announce its existance to the world.
February 22, 2016 we officially announced our opening. The months since then have been an adventure, both exhiliarating and exhausting, but I couldn’t have asked for a better person to have at my side!