This is part of a series of interviews taking place with small press publishers. This interview series will be partially published online and partially in print, as a part of a nonfiction book to demystify publishing, published in January 2020 and written by Isabelle Kenyon. The following is an extract from an interview with Mason Jar Press.
Mason Jar Press has been publishing full-length books and limited-run chapbooks since 2014. The Press is dedicated tofinding new and exciting work by writers that push the bounds of literary norms. While the work Mason Jar seeks to publish is meant to challenge status quos, both literary and culturally, it must also have significant merit in both those realms.
Michael B. Tager is a Baltimore-based writer and editor. He is the Managing Editor of Mason Jar Press, an independent publisher of high-quality books. Recent publications include Necessary Fiction, Hobart, Barrelhouse, and The Collagist, among others. He lives with his wife and cats, and is a part-time narwhal. Find out more at Michaelbtager.com.
What are the most challenging things about running a small press?
Time, energy. We all have full-time jobs, many of us have children. This happens in our in-between hours and it requires a lot of energy to do it all.
What do you take into consideration when considering manuscripts and how do you compile your season of publishing (if this is curated in any way?)
Our first consideration when approaching a manuscript is whether it sits well with Mason Jar’s artistic goals and our catalogue as a whole. We love to see manuscripts that represent underrepresented voices, that maybe don’t fit cleanly into one particular genre, or that are working to dismantle or reshape expectations. We also consider a manuscript’s readiness for publication. While we sometimes extend an offer to an author whose manuscript needs extensive rewrites or expansion, we’re typically looking for projects that are already there or there- adjacent. As a small press whose staff have day jobs, we don’t always have the bandwidth to work on long term development projects, which is heartbreaking when we have to let a promising but incomplete project go, but it’s simply not a realistic practice for us right now.