A Look Inside Host Publications, a Small Press with a Big Heart

The bookmaking process is an intricate and often overlooked part of the publishing industry. For Annar Veröld, the managing editor at Host Publications, the process is a labor of love. Host Publications is a micro-press dedicated to promoting emerging writers. The team is small, with just two employees, Annar and senior editor Claire Bowman, but their passion is immense.

Annar Veröld from Host Publications
Annar Veröld from Host Publications

A Micro-Press

Host Publications is committed to creating a seat at the table for marginalized groups: primarily women, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ writers. Host has published over 50 titles since it began in 1988, including works by Nobel Prize winners Pablo Neruda and Wisława Szymborska. In 2019, they launched a Chapbook Prize, which awards women writers with publication and energetic publicity and promotion by their dedicated staff. The chapbook entitled "But For I Am a Woman" by Sophia Stid, the Fall 2022 winner, is available in our Gift Shop.

Open Call

At Host Publications, it all begins with an open call for submissions. Annar and Claire look for authors with a unique perspective and style, as well as someone with whom they can closely collaborate. Choosing one author from all of the submissions is never easy. Annar would publish them all if she could. "We all deserve to have our voices out there," she says. Once the selection is made, the editorial process begins. Claire's superpower is bringing out the best in poets, so she dives in, helping them refine their work. Annar is responsible for the overall design of the book. They work together, breaking the process down into manageable stages. Input to the introduction for the book is gathered from individuals familiar with the work or the poet. A layout is put together, and mockups for the cover are created. After this, the book starts coming together, and the registration, printing, and copyediting details are finalized.

From Editing to Podcasting

At Host Publications, the bookmaking process goes way beyond making a book. Because the team is small, they take on many roles, including marketing and event planning. Host Publications also produces a podcast that promotes the work they publish. In addition, they create playlists to accompany their chapbooks and even have pencils made with the book title. For all the hard work that goes into it, Annar says, the rewards are immense. In the end, they cultivate relationships with their authors, who in turn support each other and often celebrate each other's work.

Small Press, Big Hearts

The attention to detail and personal touch distinguishes a small press like Host Publications from larger publishing houses. With the larger publishers, it's a numbers game. Up to 50% of the work published at large presses only sells about 12 copies. It just isn't important to them to promote their authors because they bank on the big sellers to make all their money. In stark contrast, smaller presses like Host are driven by a desire to create meaningful and lasting work. Annar and Claire review every word and ensure that each poem is a complete piece of art. Annar says their authors are compassionate people, and she and Claire create an environment where everyone feels like family. Her commitment to the poets comes through as she tells me, "we only get to publish a limited number of books each year. Looking back at what the pandemic has taken from us, it is about the community you build, and poetry is a powerful vehicle for community building."

Publishers of Good

The bookmaking process is an intricate and labor-intensive process that is often overlooked. For Annar and the team at Host Publications, the process is a labor of love, requiring attention, focus, and lots of passion. By working with emerging writers, they support and promote meaningful work that stands the test of time. While there are challenges, the rewards are immense. In conclusion, Annar tells me, "community is at the root of everything that is good. If you are active in it and support others around you, you will see a return. In the end, it is about who you brought together. And that is really the most beautiful gift you can give yourself."

In a world where larger publishing houses are often motivated by the bottom line, it is refreshing to see a small press like Host dedicated to creating beautiful and lasting works of art.

Chapbook by Sophia Stid next to a bowl with a smudge stick and two pillar candles.
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