The official weblog of the little-poetry-press-that-could, Plan B Press. Specializing in chapbooks, we have published of over 40 books from authors both local and international.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Paying for Information, Literature and Art

So I heard that will start charging a fee soon to view content. As someone who likes to have access to online news, my first reaction, obviously, is to say, "No." However, my rational side quickly steps in, thankfully I have one, and thinks it over a bit.

As a current, yet reluctant, resident of northern Virginia, my local newspaper is the Washington Post. I have never read a Virginia newspaper. There ARE local papers, super local, but nothing close to WaPo. WaPo recently raised its prices. I was a bit stunned to see the daily paper price double. Usually I read the online version. It's the most up to date, I can see older stories that I may have missed from previous days, and there are more interactive features, like chats and polls that would be missed in the paper format. But the paper format still has an allure. I tend to read more of the paper, taking in stories that I might otherwise skip. I can also carry it with me and read it while commuting.

When I was living in Philadelphia, we subscribed to the Inky. That is, until our newspaper deliverer broke one of our front door windows with a particularly fierce throw. Sunday newspapers are heavy, but not THAT heavy. We had a brief subscription to the daily paper, but we could never seem to read it every day. The papers would stack up and by the end of the week we would be recycling whole sections that we had never even gotten to, or conversely we would try to soak up stories that were irrelevant, like theater reviews for shows that had closed or community meetings that were scheduled for yesterday.

I also never really understood the point of having a Daily News and a Philadelphia Inquirer. I realize that the Daily News is more blue collar and the Inky more blue blood. But couldn't the two be combined? OR another thought. WaPo has a free daily version available at train stations and some bus stops called "Express" and it runs pieces that reference stories that are in its mother paper. Kind of an 'if you like THAT, than try THIS!" kind of thing. Philadelphia already has the Metro newspaper, but competition couldn't hurt.'s website is a lot better than it was and I think that it provides a useful resource. However, it's odd that there is a main page, then links to the two completely, utterly, different websites of the sister papers: Inky and Daily News. And the kicker for me? The cover story for is not the same as either of the cover stories for the papers. (sigh)

But the content of these news sources, no matter how fragmented, is still valuable. Philadelphia papers have talented writers, and there is a lot going on culturally, artistically and politically in Philadelphia. There should be a wealth of material. We should be willing to pay for that. But it is about priorities and mindset. Some folks are willing to put down $12 for a sandwich at lunch, but are reluctant to buy an independently made product, like a piece of art, a book, or a performance. These experiences, tangible or not, will last your whole life,.. unlike that sandwich. Paying for your local information, although not as tangible and not as impressionable as more artistic pieces, is also something that shapes you and provides something meaningful. It is a resource. You really do appreciate something more if you pay for it yourself, like a car when you're a teenager or the first clothes you buy for yourself. But can get enough people who are willing to pay for it? I just don't know.

Like a subscription to any other website, such as e-mail, Flickr, etc. it's a matter of priorities. In economically difficult times, it may be hard to warrant a subscription to an online newspaper, a book purchase, or a ticket to a performance, but it can be food for the soul. And we all make choices every day about where our money is going.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring 2009 In Progress

We are laying out our three books for 2009. Two proofs are already completed. Printer quotes need to be gotten. Covers need to be thought out. The anthologies that will be available to the public probably won't go up until this summer. I plan to release them as a unified bunch. We plan to be moving this summer as well, so there will be a bit of upheaval again, but we will spread the word as much as we can.

One of our earlier authors, Jim Mancinelli is starting a reading series in the Fishtown neighborhood of Phladelphia beginning on the first Friday of April. Our website has details. Two of the first night's guest poets are also former Plan B Pressers: Michele Belluomini and Ryan Eckes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

our sisyphus moment

I reach for an empty mug of coffee, awake since the kids stirred at 5 AM. Hours of whoosh pass, Katy off to work and the kids now napping. I reach for an empty mug of coffee. And stare at our running man. The running man. He is in constant motion, He's a kindred of the White Rabbit in the Alice in Wonderland stories. He a blur of activity. An outlined image - a swirl of light.

And every day he runs up the hill (to paraphrase Kate Bush), trying to scale the peaks. Trying to launch himself into space. Forever young and jubilant. Forever rushing - likely in too many directions at once. Forever, like Sisyphus, trying to do the heroic and impossible simultaneously.

It's hard to be the running man, running with a briefcase full of dreams, in front of or against his shadow. And yet, our logo does define us quite accurately. Constantly in motion, in full sprint. Gripping our briefcase tightly. Mad as a hatter. And grinning ear to ear, just thankful to being ALIVE and able to pursue our goals, however often they may change.

But they don't really change; our lives have. Katy and mine. We have added "parent" titles to Co-founder and Editor, and Creative Director. It's a different thing, certainly. My attention, which is well known for it's shortness, has gotten shorter. My energy levels are through the roof. I am ready to roar (we saw lions at the Zoo over the weekend, they were noisy)

It's springtime and we are ready to ZOOM!!!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Meeting Time!

We had our first official meeting in months yesterday. It was actually warm weather the last time it happened. We've been managing fairly well in spite of this, but... signals were getting crossed, assumptions were being made, and we didn't have time to really regroup.

So we discussed our spring lineup, plotted what paperwork we need to get in, who needs to be contacted, and what quotes we need to send to our printer. The last of the submissions are trickling in, as I mentioned in the last post, but those should be on their way to judgedom soon. We all have checklists of what needs to get done. Now we just need to actually do it.

Sometimes all it takes is a good meeting to actually discuss the current needs, issues and successes to figure out what you need to do. We're notfans of beurocracy so we don't use the official meeting format, whetever it's called., Roberts' Rules of Order or something?... I could Google it, but I don't feel like it. And as you can see, we don't meet often and talk about "synergy," "thinking outside the box," "no I in Team" or any other of those meettings-from-hell catchwords and phrases.

It was good and I hope it reflects in how our spring season runs. We'll see....

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Considering your Book/Contest Submission

The contest has now ended and we will be reviewing and sorting the manuscripts, setting them up to be judged. Once we receive the results we will create the book and and announce the winner online.

For those of you that decided not to submit to the contest but would like to submit your manuscript to us (please give us a few months) or to another press, please consider the following before clipping the papers together and signing your name in the introductory letter.

1) Does it seem like a collection? Is it a unified vision?

2) What do you want it to look like? How does the text look and what about the cover?

3) What would your dream book look like? ...aside from having a "New York Times' Bestseller" label on the front cover.

4) What will separate your book from someone else's on the same shelf at the bookstore? (the answer is not, "my genius writing style and clever wordplay" although I'm sure it's true.) What would make someone pick your book up over another?

Please consider these things before putting that manuscript in the mail. It will give your book much more clarity whether you submit it to us or any other press. In the meantime, we'll keep you informed of the contest's whereabouts.