About

Beth Follett Publisher
113 Bond Street St.John’s NL A1C1T6   feralgrl@interlog.com

For inquiries regarding submissions, please send an e-mail message to the Publisher. See Pages for the new season titles. The Pedlar Press Facebook group also contains information about the press’s titles.

The publisher wishes to acknowledge the ongoing and necessary financial support gratefully received from the Canada Council for the Arts and the NL Publishers Assistance Program.

 

DESCRIPTION OF THE COMPANY

Pedlar Press is an independent Canadian literary press devoted to the publication of innovative and progressive novels, poetry collections and artbooks by renowned, or less-known, or unknown and emerging Canadian writers and artists. Pedlar Press is a champion of difficult work. The house believes that innovation and personal risk are among the most important aspects of contemporary literature. Pedlar has developed an excellent reputation for working in close, supportive collaboration with its writers and for the high quality work that it publishes: seven titles per year. One of Pedlar’s guiding principles is to foster an appreciation for modern and contemporary Canadian literature of enduring cultural and artistic importance, works that challenge accepted views of life and art, foster an international and multicultural sensibility of literature and preserve and extend the literary tradition that values innovation and experimentation in form. Upholding this principle seems increasingly urgent. The intention, from the beginning—to publish challenging and beautiful books—remains firm. Over twenty years of experience have sharpened skills of all sorts, from editorial to marketing. Pedlar incorporated in January 2011, and continues to be a one-woman concern, operating since 2012 from a home office in St. John’s NL. 108 Pedlar Press releases are in print.

RECENT PRINCIPAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS

2016 – Sara Tilley’s Duke (fiction) wins the BMO Winterset Award and is nominated for the NL Book Awards for Fiction. Edited by Beth Follett; Winter in Tilting: Slide Hauling in a Newfoundland Outport (artist book) receives APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award; Stan Dragland’s Strangers & Others: Newfoundland Essays (creative nonfiction) is a finalist for the BMO Winterset Award. Edited by Don McKay; Soraya Peerbaye’s Tell: poems for a girlhood wins the Trillium Award for Poetry and is a finalist for the Griffin Poetry Prize. Edited by Beth Follett; Maureen Hynes’s The Poison Colour (poetry) is nominated for the Pat Lowther Memorial Prize and the Raymond Souster Award. Edited by Beth Follett. World French language rights signed for How You Were Born (Kate Cayley), The Plight House (Jason Hrivnak).

2015 – Kate Cayley’s How You Were Born (short fiction) wins the Trillium Book Award and is a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Edited by Alayna Munce & Beth Follett; Emily McGiffin’s poetry collection, Subduction Zone, wins the Association for Studies in Literature and the Environment Creative Book Award. Edited by Jan Zwicky; French translation rights signed with Marchand des Feuilles for Sara Tilley’s novel, Skin Room. Edited by Stan Dragland. Agreement forthcoming with Marchand des Feuilles for Tilley’s novel Duke. Edited by Beth Follett.

2014 – Souvankham Thammavongsa’s poetry collection, Light, wins the Trillium Award for Poetry. Edited by Beth Follett; French translation rights signed with Leméac Editions for Susan Downe’s novel, Juanita Wildrose: My True Life. Edited by Beth Follett. Juanita Wildrose is a finalist for Amazon.ca First Novel Award; Martha Baillie’s novel The Search for Heinrich Schlögel is listed on the Globe & Mail Best 100, Quill & Quires’ Best Books and Oprah Editors’ Best Pick lists.

ROLE IN CANADIAN LITERARY PUBLISHING

Pedlar began in 1996, joining a small effort to close the gap that exists for innovative Canadian works. “Major presses have become extremely timid when it comes to taking chances on writers whose work doesn’t fit within their predetermined marketing strategies. “Avant-garde fiction” has been marginalized. . .a gulf has grown between “commercial work” and work that challenges the reader, which is now deemed a chancy investment. . .The general literary climate today is not a friendly one to readers and writers who seek in literature an experience of a unique and startling nature.” [Dennis Cooper] If it is to be excellent, a country’s literary culture must strive to include the country’s unique, sometimes disquieting edges.

QUALITY OF THE PUBLISHING PROGRAM

Pedlar is expressing a diversity firmly controlled within its mandate for encouraging the new, for testing literary boundaries. Whether the genre is graphic novel, poetry, fiction or nonfiction, the criterion is always excellence. The literary awards and award nominations received by Pedlar authors, the number of excellent submissions by senior writers, the ever-increasing interest by reviewers in Pedlar works and their authors—these demonstrate the vitality of the house. Kenneth Harvey, founder of the ReLit Awards, writes, “Congratulations to you on doing such a great job. I am a huge fan of your books. To my mind, Pedlar is one of the very best publishers in Canada today.” Pedlar is an eclectic, non-specialist press that attracts a wide variety of edgy writers. Open to the diverse cultures that exist in this country and wishing to honour diversity within regional communities, Pedlar knows that lovers of the avant-garde are everywhere. In the words of Charles Bernstein:, “The contribution of small press publications is that they articulate specific, not general, aesthetic values; that they do not allow market forces to be the primary arbiter of value; and that they provide sharp contrasts with the otherwise available literature of the time.” Pedlar has achieved a special and distinct commitment within the great fluctuating uproar that is Canadian literary publishing.

Quality of the Pedlar program, clarity and fulfillment of vision

For over twenty years, Pedlar has responded with openness to the artistic vision of its writers while also keeping a sharp focus on the house vision. Pedlar remains true to its founding principle—Keep it Small and Do it Right—maintaining its thrust even in the face of escalating market challenges. Faith and devotion are the foundation and the continuing context.

In-house and guest editors are sticklers for good writing that may well take unanticipated and exciting directions. Don McKay was guest editor for Stan Dragland’s Strangers & Others: Newfoundland Essays (St Johns), Jan Zwicky for Emily McGiffin’s Subduction Zone (Toronto). A second novel by St. John’s author Craig Francis Power, winner of the 2012 ReLit Award for Fiction, was guest edited by Ken Sparling. Stan Dragland edited the debut short fiction collection by Paul Dean. Owner and in-house editor Beth Follett worked with returning author Anne Fleming and emerging writer Anne Golden. Pedlar’s presence in the Canadian literary scene continues to generate excitement, admiration and respect.

Highlights of current and forthcoming titles:

What does it mean to be human at this moment in history? All Pedlar titles make some exploration of this question, contributing thereby to the continuing vitality of Canadian cultural life. In 2013 Pedlar published Light by poet Souvankham Thammavongsa, “a poet now at the top of her game.” (Kevin Connolly) Sara Tilley, Stan Dragland, Soraya Peerbaye: these are three of the 2015 Pedlar writers who explore unconventional process and form. There isn’t another recently released work as original as Sara Tilley’s Duke (2015) and Martha Baillie’s most recent work, The Search for Heinrich Schlögel (2014), follows a long line of innovation in the European tradition. The 2016 list features innovative novels by Anne Golden (Montreal) and Craig Francis Power (St John’s), a debut of exceptional short stories by Paul Dean (St John’s), works of poetry by Anne Fleming (Vancouver), Jessica Hiemstra (Toronto) and Concetta Principe (Toronto), and Volume Two of Stan Dragland’s Strangers & Others (St John’s). The 2017 lead title will be an exceptional artbook released to coincide with the opening of a retrospective of artist Gerald Squires’s works at The Rooms (St John’s), and featuring texts by Michael Crummey, curator Caroline Stone and Stan Dragland. Gerald Squires was born in Change Islands, Newfoundland, in 1937. He obtained much of his early training in art in Toronto, where his mother, a Salvation Army officer, was stationed when Squires was twelve. In 1969 he returned to live in Newfoundland. Squires received the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council’s Ted Drover Award for Achievement in the Visual Arts in 1984 and an Honorary Doctorate from Memorial University in 1992. In 1999 he was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art and was also appointed Member of the Order of Canada. He received the Golden Jubilee Award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 2003 and in 2008 he was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council’s Arts Hall of Honour. Major exhibitions have travelled across Canada, and his works have been included in more than 300 group exhibitions in Newfoundland. Squires died on 3 October 2015.

Quality of Presentation

Of the 108 titles in print, Pedlar has received 80 nominations for literary and/or design awards. Publishing exclusively handheld literary books, Pedlar Press is a ‘boutique’ house with a steadfast and committed clientele. All Pedlar books are beautifully designed, with form, typography and cover image carefully considered for their relation to content. The designs push conventions, sometimes to surprise, always to delight. All Pedlar books are printed on gorgeous papers at Coach House Printing. Zab Hobart won for Pedlar eleven Alcuin Society Citations for Excellence in Book Design.

Before contracts are signed, Pedlar authors are asked to identify their tradition and to describe at length their publishing expectations. Every effort is made to weed out authors whose expectations fall outside the Pedlar market. Only authors whose writings are of the highest quality, with manuscripts already polished and compelling, are accepted. Signed authors are given a timetable, which outlines the editorial and production dates and deadlines. At least four edit passes are completed between author and editor before a final manuscript is approved. Beth Follett chooses all cover artwork. Artwork and manuscript files are sent in a timely fashion to designers. Pedlar authors are consulted every step of the way, but final production decisions rest with the publisher. Coach House Printing receives the cover and page files at least six weeks before the title’s release date. Pedlar designers oversee the titles’ printing.

CONTRIBUTION TO CANADIAN LITERATURE

The publication of new writers and the introduction of new themes and styles of writing continue to be key Pedlar objectives. By continuing to hold the highest literary standards and by making no compromise, Pedlar has achieved a reputation as an essential contributor to Canadian and Newfoundland and Labrador culture—to literature at large, for that matter, irrespective of national boundaries. Possibly in two years Pedlar will be the only Canadian house publishing exclusively handheld books of avant-garde literary fiction, poetry, literary non-fiction and art. This aim requires steadfastness in critical thinking and practice. Pedlar and its authors are devoted to ongoing and careful review of mainstream publishing activities, (re)establishing the house’s literary values and activities to complement these. Can the scope of the Press be expanded, the size of its market enlarged? Yes, albeit slowly. Pedlar’s vision is particular: bold excellence in a narrow field.

Pedlar is committed to maintaining the strongest possible physical presence in the market, as this is where customers can interact with authors. Launches, readings, Salons, panels at university and community festivals and conferences: these have been some of the recent promotional strategies. Act Locally is a Pedlar watchword. In 2014/15, Pedlar authors collectively made 170 appearances across Canada, at libraries, at community-sponsored festivals, at intimate venues such bars and cafés, at official reading series and at more prestigious venues such as Toronto’s International Festival of Authors, Winnipeg’s THIN AIR, and the Vancouver, Kingston and Ottawa Festivals. Bookselling tables were set up at over 100 venues in 2015. Newer strategies include press-organized Pop-Up events around Newfoundland and Labrador, where titles are sold, where industry myths and misapprehensions can be debunked, and where readers converse about Canadian literary production in general. A strong physical presence in the market is supported by recent reports that social media technology such as Facebook and Twitter are creating a kind of ennui in users. Face-to-face contact continues to be very important to Pedlar customers. To repeat Pedlar’s positioning: physical presence in the marketplaces selling gorgeous and gutsy handheld books. These contributions to Canadian literary culture may prove to be the most lasting and possibly the most loving.

Pedlar is deeply committed to keeping books in print. “One of the most despicable things about corporate publishers and chain booksellers is their assumption that books are inherently worthless. If a title that was supposed to sell a lot doesn’t ‘perform’ within a few weeks, it gets its covers torn off—it is trashed. The corporate mentality recognizes no success that is not immediate.” [Ursula LeGuin ] The years stretch out, during which a Pedlar author may gain an audience interested in reading or teaching or in other ways critically examining her/his earlier books: overstock is kept in long-term storage. Collaborative estimates of potential sales, alongside financially astute calculations, plus a certain amount of risk and savvy, determine the size of print runs. The pace of sales is regularly reviewed.

PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE

Pedlar grows stronger with every passing year, continuing to thrive because of its commitment and devotion to high-quality literature, as well as ongoing intelligent support from customers, arts council juries and others. Financial (and other kinds of) planning are fluid functions. The potential in a year such as 2016, with its list containing three lesser known and four renowned authors, is weighed and balanced against the sales potential of the 2015 list—four poetry collections, one fiction by an award-winning writer, two non-fictions by award-winning, well established writers—and decisions made accordingly. Sales at launches, markets and mini-festivals are high (45 to 200 books sold). Pedlar is meeting and oft-times exceeding its goals. The house is in excellent standing with authors and creditors: it holds no debt. Over the years, losses equal more or less the carried “Owner’s Draw loss,” what Beth Follett would receive were she working at a large house.

Sales & Distribution:

A new relationship with the Canadian Manda Group was begun in 2012, its reps extremely capable and enthusiastic promoters of Pedlar titles. Through their varying efforts, media interest is rising. Prestigious nominations equal an increase in sales figures. Due to the sales team’s wide experience in selling to booksellers, librarians and wholesalers, excellent advice is regularly offered on how to improve selling tools and promotional packages. Through the interventions of Manda Group, Pedlar and Indigo have reached an agreement for non-returnable online-only sales. LitDistCo, through Fraser Direct in Georgetown ON, distributes Pedlar books throughout the trade chain, while Beth Follett sells directly wherever possible. Concerted effort is made to find and open new accounts with non-traditional Newfoundland and Labrador outlets such as Downhome. Pedlar volunteers sit at small press fair tables, Craft Shows, Pop-Up events, the annual Pedlar mini-festival/Salon in St. John’s. Pedlar events continue to be well attended and universally admired. “Very unusual to have events of such high calibre in St John’s,” one attendee said at the conclusion of a mini-festival. Music to Pedlar ears.

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For more information about Pedlar Press:

http://pagesbooks.ca/features.php?type=feature&id=149