July 6, 2007

Obsession of the moment: Small Dogs Press

Susan Sabo

Oh, you're going to love this one...

When Los Angeles-based writer Susan Sabo started a series of empowering independent publications a decade ago (including the magazine REAL GIRLS: The Magazine for Girls with Better Things to Do than Their Hair and the full-length book Any Girl Can Rule the World), she was hailed by many as the newest brilliant voice in the world of underground literature. So she put her money together, started her own basement press called Small Dogs, and ended up publishing two self-written novels -- She's The Girl and Collecting Candace, the latter apparently a dark Faulkneresque tale about Christian dogma and Florida killing sprees (at least according to the reviews I found online).

But like many independent publishers, Sabo got rather beaten-up by the process, and has found herself so burned out by it all at this point to not even want to carry on further. And she's still got a whole garage full of books, too; so instead of throwing them away or donating them en-masse somewhere, she's decided instead to simply hand them out for free, to anyone on the planet who wants one (or five, or ten, or fifty), as long as they pay for the postage to get the books to where they are. Or as she puts it at the new blog she started to track this project, "It's my way of telling the publishing industry to f--- off."

Righteous, Susan! Because it is difficult to be a basement publisher, it is, and people who have never had the experience need to understand that; that the rare big successes to come out of that world, the McSweeneys, the Ani DiFrancos, are the astounding exceptions to the rule, with most independent publishers working themselves to the point of exhaustion simply to break even. I can't blame Susan for getting tired of the struggle herself, because Lord knows I've gotten to that point too regarding some of my past creative projects; but I applaud her for wanting to get the remainder of the books she has actually out and into people's hands, to get them read and enjoyed by any means necessary, instead of taking the easy option and throwing them all into the local landfill one sad Saturday afternoon.

Anyway, Susan's set up a number of ways to either get involved or simply track the project's progress, from the aforementioned blog to the Flickr group devoted to the subject; at the Flickr group she also details more about how much exactly it will cost you to have a handful of these books shipped to you. Needless to say, I'll be participating (as soon as I can scrape up a couple of bucks to send her way; hey, I've got independent-publishing problems of my own these days, you know), and I encourage you to get involved too.

Susan Sabo Photography

By the way, Susan's now a professional photographer out there in LA, specializing in commercial portraits of...yeah, you guessed it, small dogs! Her work's really great; a large sampling of it can be found at her Flickr account, for anyone who wants to check it out.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 8:33 AM, July 6, 2007. Filed under: Arts news | Literature | Photography | Profiles |