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Tell us a bit about your press. How did you start? Who are your influences, in Canada and beyond? What is your mission?
Invisible is a small, scrappy, independent publisher of beautifully designed contemporary literature. Since publishing our first titles in 2007, our list has grown to include works of fiction, non-fiction– including our Bibliophonic series of music bios– poetry, and even a cookbook. Even though we’re small in scale, we take our work and our mission seriously: we believe in building communities that sustain and encourage engaging, literary, and current writing.
We’re known for taking chances on first-time authors and diverse projects that might not find homes elsewhere; that said, we love publishing a sophomore effort just as much as a debut. Our list each season is intentionally small, which means every title is a lead title. Our books are regularly reviewed by media outlets small and large, and routinely appear on prize lists long and short. We’re influenced here in English Canada by our peers at presses like Arsenal Pulp and Coach House Books, who work hard to diversify and amplify the space that is CanLit; beyond that, Les Éditions de Ta Mère in Quebec, Two Dollar Radio in the US, Brow Books in Australia, and Influx Press in the UK all continuously publish really cool work.
What about small press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
Gap Riot, duh! But also magazines like Canthius and Augur. Cameron Anstee’s Apt. 9. Stuart Ross and rob mclennan publish some of the most exciting work in Canada under various small press banners. We also love presses that specialize in translation, like Charco Press and And Other Stories.
How does your press work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large?
The literary communities we’re lucky to have been involved in are all based on super collegial relationships. Everyone is so generous with time and knowledge and help, and we try to extend that same generosity whenever we can. Members of our board and team sit on boards and chair committees and volunteer time in all sorts of ways. We do this for love, not money!
Speaking of love, we love live events—it’s a thrill to make direct connections between our books and readers, at small press fairs and markets in particular. We’ve definitely felt the absence of those throughout the pandemic, but it’s also been amazing to attend virtual launches and events that geography would make impossible for us to get to otherwise. (We’re looking for silver linings here…)
There are so many component parts in publishing; readers, sure, but also writers and booksellers and publishers and even the excellent employees at Canada Post who hold up the line to help you find the best rate for your overstuffed envelopes because books are so freaking heavy to mail. Community is what you make it, what you open your doors to. And books open so many doors.
How have the current multiple global crises impacted your work with the press?
Our day-to-day function has been relatively unaffected. Invisible has always been set up to work remotely, and because we publish only a handful of titles each season, are set up for online sales, and have good relationships with our printers, we can be more nimble than bigger publishers. Philosophically, though, we’ve been spurred to do better by prioritizing submissions from Indigenous and BIPOC writers, to put our money where our mouths are and do the work to uplift racialized writers, publishers, and other industry players. Building community is a large part of our mandate, and it’s a goal we are constantly working toward.