Guest Poet: Tightrope Books’ Halli Villegas Talks About the Fun of Small Press Publishing

Welcome to a post from Tightrope Books‘ Publisher Halli Villegas.  She’s going to talk about the fun behind publishing at a small press.  This small press offers a number of poetry books for poetry lovers like me, including one I recently reviewed, Open Slowly by Dayle Furlong (check out my review).

Without further ado, please welcome Halli:

Independent Publishing for Fun and Absolutely No Profit

Whatever possessed me? I often ask myself that, especially on days when the bills have piled up on the desk and authors are asking me if they can move the comma on their bio over one pica after the proofs have all ready gone to the printer, and the intern has lost the debit card for the fourth time somewhere between the post office three blocks away and the Kinko’s a block further, and I want to put my head down and have a good cry.

A real love of writing and reading, a frisson of excitement at the act of selling something I had been part of making, seeing a writer’s face when they first hold their book in their hands and knowing this was the closest I would ever get to making someone’s dream come true, this is what motivated me to start a press. Was it enough to build a life around?

It isn’t easy. No matter how many times you hear that from those who have published their own chapbooks, or some writing group that has put together an anthology of their own work; publishing professionally, more then a one off book for friends and family’s delectation, is not something that can be fit in between a full time job, family and socializing. The publishing itself becomes all those things and more. And it doesn’t pay. Not if you want to try to avoid publishing books such as The Seven Healing Crystals: Losing Weight the New Age Way and Five Minute Snacks for Feisty Kids. Which have their place and their market, but were never of interest to me.

So I juggle payments and bills, put money in that I earn at temp jobs, each dollar representing a latte made for some CEO, an endless afternoon answering phones in an office without windows and ask myself again: Whatever possessed me?

But then the day comes when the books are back from the printers, and the author and I open the box, breathing in the smell of new paper and ink. The author runs their hand across the cover of their book, as if touching the face of a long lost friend and turns to me and says, “Thank you, its beautiful.”

Thanks, Halli, for participating and celebrating independent and small presses.

About Tightrope Books:

Tightrope Books was established in January 2005 to bring a fresh take to Canadian literature by juxtaposing new and established writers, genres, and cultures to build an inclusive list that represents the vitality of current Canadian literature.  For more information, please visit the Web site.  Also visit the Tightrope Books Blog.


  1. It sounds like a job that’s very worthwhile despite all the challenges. Thank goodness there are people like you willing to take it on or we’d miss out on some really good books.
    Anna´s last blog post ..Review- The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney

  2. It really is worth the long hours and the latte-fetching and the headaches in the end, though, isn’t it? To get to help bring great books to the world…well done, you!