Original version of my interview to Robert Giron (http://www.givalpress.com/)
Te Dovalpage: How do you prefer to receive a ms., directly from the authors or through an agent?
Robert Giron: In the past we have received ms both directly from authors and agents who represent them. Unfortunately, because the economy turned downward, this past October we closed our open submissions to consider ms sent from authors and/or agents outside of our contests. In truth, we get many good mss via our contests and since I read them all I keep notes on them. In the past we have published mss which did not go on to win one our awards which we sponsor on a yearly basis, both for fiction and poetry.
Te Dovalpage: When you receive a ms. from a new or relatively unknown author, which process do you follow before accepting (or rejecting) it? How long does the decision-making process take?
Robert Giron: We have always placed emphasis on the work itself. I guess it’s because all of our contests are read anonymously and then the final judge selects the winner. That said, it helps if an author has a record but initially whether the person has a published record or not the work must rise to the top. It varies with regard to reading and getting back to someone but usually 4 months or less. For those we are seriously considering it takes longer because we have so much to consider and balance before we decide to publish the work—here, I am speaking about a work not sent via our contests. Via our contests, it usually takes about 4 months before we announce the winner.
Te Dovalpage: Among the books you have already published, could you recommend some in particular to our readers?
Robert Giron: I believe we have published 44 books to date. This fall we will be releasing two more books. I would recommend that readers check out the winners of our awards. Though they are not all in the same style, there is a quality that one can sense from the works.
Te Dovalpage: Which themes or topics are you interested in?
Robert Giron: The books we have published vary in scope and topic. For our contests, there is no requirement to follow a certain style, topic or form. We are most concerned about the quality of the writing and the need for the work to provoke thought in the reader.
Te Dovalpage: Do you publish fiction and non-fiction? If you do publish fiction, would you consider publishing a collection of short stories? As for non fiction, what kind of mss. are you interested in (memoirs, essays, essay collections)?
Robert Giron: Actually we publish fiction, nonfiction and poetry. We actually have a short story contest. We are contemplating the possibility of publishing the winning stories in an anthology. It’s difficult to sell both poetry and short stories, unless a particular writer has a great following. Nonetheless, we publish to get work out there and to promote the authors. Meantime, we keep hoping we will hit the jackpot with regard to super sales. There is always hope. The nonfiction books we have published have an academic audience. For example, our women’s studies book has done well and it won a national award. We have one on the literatures of the African diaspora and another on modern American plays. We have since discontinued our children’s books; these don’t sell well unless there is color and color is extremely expensive if published in the USA.
Te Dovalpage: What advice would you offer to an author who wants to be published by Gival Press?
Robert Giron: The most important thing is for an author to keep writing and trying to get published in whatever medium one can. Certainly the Internet has opened a vastness that, if one is not careful, can drown one but it can become extremely helpful as a means to create a following and certainly to network. Because we simply cannot publish everyone who contacts us, I established an online journal, www.ArLiJo.com, as a means to give authors and artists an online venue for their work. We do not accept submissions, rather we invite authors/artists we become aware of by a variety of means. So if one can’t get his/her book published perhaps we can at least increase the flow of readers to their work via www.ArLiJo.com. Because so many publishers are having difficulties in the industry—so many folks have stopped buying books–in truth, it’s just not the economy, younger readers expect to get things for free online, etc. and others simple don’t read like the younger generation did in the past, I would suggest authors submit their work to online journals, to contests (but make sure there is a good record for the contest), and approach small presses or larger presses, if one has an agent. The big players usually work via agents only, but you know there is always an exception and these days even this might change in the future since the Internet has changed the landscape of the whole publishing world.
Te Dovalpage: Thank you so much, Robert, for this interview.