Inside The Authors Studio: Hypertrophic Press

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Welcome back to Inside The Authors Studio. Today I’m talking to another writer and sharing our conversation with you! To find out who I’ve interviewed so far and what this series is all about, check out the original post by clicking here.

Welcome to another edition of Inside The Authors Studio. Today I am so happy to be joined by the wonderful Lynsey Morandin and Jeremy Bronaugh of Hypertrophic Press.

Lynsey Morandin got her start working as an ad agency, national magazine, and publishing house editor before becoming Hypertrophic Press’s Editor-in-Chief. She moved from Canada to the United States in 2014, bringing with her a love of hockey and Tim Hortons.

In 2010 Jeremy Bronaugh found himself in Alabama where he started exploring the local literary scene. By launching various writing groups he encouraged fellow writers in the area to share their work with the greater writing community. He works with Lynsey as Hypertrophic Press’s Creative Director.

In 2014 Lynsey Morandin and Jeremy Bronaugh co-founded Hypertrophic Press with the aim of brining the creative works of new and interesting voices to the greater literary community. Since 2014 the press has had success in multiple realms publishing a quarterly literary magazine, one novel, and two short story collections. Today Hypertrophic Press is located in New Market, Alabama where it continues to work for the publication and circulation of stories that strike a chord within the human spirit.

In my talk with Lynsey and Jeremy we discuss how they got the idea to start a press of their very own. We talk about how they have grown their literary endeavor since then and how they have reacted to challenges along the way. We even take a glimpse at what’s to come in the future. Now, it’s my pleasure to share with you a conversation with Hypertrophic Press.

[Jamie] Hi Lynsey and Jeremy! Welcome to the blog. I’m excited to have the two of you here to speak about Hypertrophic Press and your journey into the world of book and magazine publishing. But before we get into all that, let’s start things off with an introduction. How would you describe yourself to a total stranger?

[JEREMY] We’re both writers first. Of course no one is one thing anymore. 

[LYNSEY] Because we’re both writers and have submitted and been published ourselves, we know the things we love about the experience and the things we can’t stand, so I’d say we’re just two people who are trying to make sure that writers who deserve to get their voices out there can have that, and that they have the most respectful and fulfilling experience possible.

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Lynsey, you have a degree and a post-graduate certificate in book publishing. What inspired you to study this area in school? What work experience did you gain in this field after graduating?

[LYNSEY] Originally I wanted to be a high school English teacher, and that’s what I was headed to university for. When I was in my orientation, the person speaking to the group said “Who here wants to be an English teacher? Raise your hand.” Literally everyone in the crowd had a hand up and I just thought, Oh shit. I need to figure something else out. Then I was browsing through my introduction booklet and it listed a bunch of jobs you could go into with the degree I was getting, and a variety of book publishing jobs were on the list. It sounds stupid, but even though I had always loved books and writing and editing, I had never considered a career in book publishing. It was always one of those things that you just think is way too cool, something that you could never achieve because it’s just the ideal. But in that moment I decided I was going to go for it anyway. I graduated university and worked in magazine publishing for a few years. Then I did my post-grad and from there I worked for two Canadian publishing companies before I moved to the US: one was Quattro Books, a very small kind of indie trade publisher, and then I also worked in the trade section of Nelson Education, which is a branch of Cengage Learning. 

What inspired the two of you to co-found Hypertrophic Press? What were your plans for the press when you first began it? What did you set out to create for the literary community?

[JEREMY] Lynsey and I were both editors before Hypertrophic Press and Hypertrophic Press was the perfect way to use our talents to help give other writers the voice we were looking for.

[LYNSEY] Jeremy says it like it was so natural and easy and it definitely wasn’t! Having been in school for publishing, I knew how little money publishing houses made, I knew the work that went into this job, and I NEVER had an intention of starting our own press. But Jeremy is one of those people who always has some huge dream he’s striving toward and he’s VERY convincing, so before I knew it we were going over business plans and applying for licences. Our goal, once we decided to be crazy and go for this, was just to make sure that we published and encouraged new and emerging voices in the literary community and to do it in a way that made the writer feel respected and valued.

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Jeremy, in November of 2014 Hypertrophic Press published two works of yours, one novel and one collection of short stories. Talk to me about your writing. How did these stories come to you and what was your experience like writing them?

[JEREMY] I never really set out to be a writer. There were some things in my life that bothered me and I needed to process, and writing became the best way to communicate those ideas. I write a lot about mental illness and it’s emotional.

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From the very beginning as a writer did you plan on publishing these books with Hypertrophic Press, or was that a decision the two of you made professionally after launching the press?

[JEREMY] It isn’t that I meant to publish my books with Hypertrophic as much as Hypertrophic came out of my books. There is so much more to publishing a book than writing. Marketing, formatting, cover design – those things are all just as important when it comes to getting your book in a reader’s hands. After spending years crafting those skills, it only made sense to use them to help give a voice to other writers.

In addition to publishing books, Hypertrophic Press puts out a quarterly literary magazine called Hypertrophic Literary. In 2015 you launched your Instagram account with artwork from the second issue of Hypertrophic Literary and this caption, “The birth of a magazine.” From the very beginning your publication has embodied a sense of vitality and action. How do you understand the magazine’s aesthetic and how has it grown or changed over the past two years?

[LYNSEY] The magazine has changed quite a bit since the first issue. Because it was the first one we’d done, we didn’t have our timeline down yet and ended up not having enough time to order a print proof. The first issue is still great, but it didn’t quite look how we wanted it to look because we didn’t get that initial preview of it. Since then we’ve reduced space between lines and all in all I think the magazine has a much tighter and cleaner feel now.

[JEREMY] Our aesthetic is determined by the writers and authors we work with. I always want our artists to look at what I’ve done with their work and feel respected.

[LYNSEY] The best thing about the magazine is definitely that it changes every single issue. That has a lot to do with the artwork we are so lucky to be able to use; having a different featured artist every issue gives the magazine a whole new aesthetic every three months. 

Today, how do you decide what to include in each issue? What guidelines do you use when evaluating pieces and putting together the magazine?

[LYNSEY] We always try to have a good balance between fiction and poetry, so that plays into it a lot. It’s usually fairly quick to fill our poetry quota just because the majority of our submissions are poetry, and then we have to focus solely on fiction for a while. With both poetry and prose, we look for work that gives us a physical feeling when we read it. Something that sticks to your bones, that you think about for the rest of the day. I remember when I read T. F. Adams’ poem “Dear Annie, I Kissed Another Man” (published in the Fall 2015 issue) about the first time a woman kisses another man after her husband’s death and it just hurt. Like physically hurt. I knew it was something we needed to share with our readers. We joke about it a lot, that we like to publish things that make us cry, but those aren’t the only pieces we accept. Alex Hutchinson’s “Cakerson, Inc.” from the Summer 2015 issue was just so absurd that we couldn’t help but think about it and talk about it for days afterwards.

Once one of us picks out a piece we like, it goes to a vote. A unanimous yes from all 3 of us is the only way to get a piece accepted, but every once in a while there will be one that isn’t voted in, but that we will fight for. Sometimes it works and the other voters cave, and sometimes, unfortunately, we have to let them go.

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In addition to the stunning and mysterious fiction and poetry you include in every issue of Hypertrophic Literary, you also fill the pages with breathtaking artwork. How do you shape the visual aesthetic of each issue? Where does the artwork you use come from?

[JEREMY] We do get art submissions for the magazine, but because we have a very specific vision for what we want the magazine to be, we end up getting in contact with artists we like and asking them if they’d like to work with us. Because we need our artwork to be able to work alongside poetry, we typically need pieces that don’t have backgrounds, and we have to make sure that the artwork is emotionally evocative and simple enough to complement the writing without overpowering it. So I scout the Internet, specifically art websites, for artwork I think would work best in the magazine and give us that feeling we’re looking for.

What do you consider first when creating a new issue, the writing or the images? Or does your inspiration change with each issue?

[JEREMY] We often have the artist booked before we fill the issue. We are inspired by the artist and I think about how the artist’s work will complement the writing as it gets accepted, but we don’t let that limit us.

[LYNSEY] It’s hard to say. Sometimes we have had an artist booked for an issue for months if, say, we think he/she would be better suited for a particular season, and that’s long before we get the actual writing to go into that issue, and sometimes we have to get an artist sort of last minute, so the writing has all already been chosen. Either way, we sit down with every issue and we first pick the order we think the writing pieces would work best in, what mood we want to open on, what mood we want to close on, etc. Once that’s done, we look at every piece of artwork and we try to pair it with the writing it would best represent. It usually comes down to mood and color tones.

The Fall 2016 issue of Hypertrophic Literary is the eighth issue the press has published since its start in 2014. Can you guess what’s coming next? I feel like I’m about to ask a mother to name her favorite child, but I can’t resist. If you had to choose, which issue would you say is your favorite and why?

[LYNSEY] Every single time an issue comes out we always think it’s our favorite, and this issue is definitely beautiful, but I think that my favorite issue to date was Winter 2015. The content in that issue was especially fantastic in my opinion (to this day I still go back to Sara Fetherolf’s work in that issue and read it over and over), and Andreas Lie’s artwork just brought it to life so beautifully. That’s the issue I compare everything else to, for sure.

In your experience, how does the process of publishing a literary magazine differ from that of publishing a novel?

[JEREMY] Oh, God, it’s not even close to the same. I fret over every detail of a novel. Our books spend months percolating before they’re released.

[LYNSEY] He frets over everything we publish, whether it’s a book or a magazine! I think both are the same level of stress prior to publication, but the difference is that we have 3 months to worry about a magazine issue and usually about a year to go crazy over a book. So the stress with a book publication is just extended, but both drive us crazy.

In November of 2015 Hypertrophic Press released its third book, a collection of short stories by Christopher DiCicco entitled, So My Mother, She Lives In The Clouds. What drew you to this project? What have you learned or gained from it?  

[LYNSEY] I found Chris’ story “My Son” on Flash Fiction Online and I wrote to him asking him to submit to Hypertrophic Literary. That story was just so powerful and perfect for what we wanted the magazine to be. He wrote back and sent us 4 stories, of which we ended up publishing “The Worst Thing About Hell is You Have to Climb Down to It” in the Spring 2015 issue, but then he mentioned that he had a manuscript lying around and asked if we were interested. To be honest, we didn’t even read the manuscript. We read those first 4 stories he sent to us for the magazine and we accepted the entire manuscript off those alone, and we weren’t disappointed. His entire collection is pure gold. 

[JEREMY] Chris drew us to that project. That was one of the most fulfilling experiences that could have come out of being a publisher. Chris is a gifted writer and we knew that we had to publish him right away.

[LYNSEY] What we gained is definitely family. We realized very quickly that Chris just fit with us and our personalities, and he became our friend very fast and now we absolutely consider him family.

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In February of 2016, Madeline Anthes joined the team as Hypertrophic’s Acquisitions Editor. How has the press grown since its beginning and what has that growth allowed you to do?

[JEREMY] Maddie is a real gift to Hypertrophic.

[LYNSEY] It’s been really great having Maddie on board. Jeremy and I don’t often agree on writing and what we like and what works best for the magazine, so having her as an impartial third party to break the tie is awesome. She has great taste in creative writing and has brought some really great writers to our attention. She’s also the one who suggested our high school writing contest, This Kid Can Write, and she’s completely taken the lead on that. Having her as part of the team really just helps us try new things and do more with Hypertrophic than we were able to with just the two of us.

Talk to me about This Kid Can Write. In April of 2016 you launched a contest for emerging high school writers, offering a $100.00 prize as well as a spot in the Fall issue of Hypertrophic Literary. What inspired you to create this contest? What were the results?

[LYNSEY] Maddie was going to speak to a high school classroom about writing and she approached us and said she wanted to be able to offer them some inspiration and encouragement with their writing. She wanted to know if she could encourage them to submit to the magazine, but we wanted to do even more. After talking about it, we settled on the contest idea and it all started with that one classroom. It was so amazing to see all the submissions pour in for it, to see how many kids are interested in writing and how much talent they have at such a young age. Spencer David Potts ended up winning the contest (and it turns out that he was Chris DiCicco’s student, so obviously he has great literary influences!) and he was absolutely deserving of the title. We all agreed that we never would have guessed a teenager wrote that piece – it just seemed so advanced for someone of that age. We also ended up publishing Cory Stillman’s story even though he was the runner up because we just felt he was deserving of a spot in the issue too, and we like breaking our own rules!

In the past two years, what has been your biggest struggle regarding Hypertrophic Press?

[JEREMY] Time. We want to treat everything we do with the same respect and care, and carving out time to do that and juggling it with our personal and professional lives can be a struggle.

[LYNSEY] We don’t talk about it publicly, but Jeremy and I are married. Maintaining a relationship and running a business together is close to impossible, and assembling any new issue comes with its share of fights and arguments. It’s hard to find a compromise when you both have such different visions for a project, it’s hard to deal with the financial issues that come with owning your own company. All these things can put a lot of strain on us as a couple.

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How have you worked to overcome this challenge?

[JEREMY] Hyperbaric time chamber.

[LYNSEY] We try as best we can to keep our jobs separate. I go through submissions, I compile all the content for upcoming issues and make sure it’s copy edited, I communicate with submitters and contributors; Jeremy deals with the design side and he makes the choices of what art to pair with what poem or story, and he creates every page of the magazine himself. Keeping our sides separate helps prevent disagreements there; he trusts me to make the right editorial decisions and I trust him to make the right design decisions.

What are you most proud of so far in your venture?

[JEREMY] The reaction to So My Mother, She Lives in The Clouds.

[LYNSEY] I think I’m most proud of the opportunity to give so many new writers their first publication credit. But So My Mother was definitely a great achievement in like 700 different ways too.

What advice would you give to writers who are looking to pitch their work to literary magazines?

[JEREMY] Don’t pitch your work to magazines without reading what they publish. Even the best writers don’t fit every magazine. Follow the work of writers you love and writers you think you’re similar to, and see where they are submitting and pick up a new magazine and read it.

[LYNSEY] Getting a sense of what each magazine does before you submit is super important, but we know that it can get expensive and time-consuming to purchase and read them all. We just started a lit mag library at the Out Loud HSV studio in Lowe Mill here in Huntsville to help with that. Basically readers can purchase a library card and then read all the lit mags we’ve made available to them through the library. We have so many different magazines and different genres there, and we’re adding to it all the time. We’re hoping that it encourages people to actually read lit mags instead of just submitting to them, and to ensure they’re submitting to the right ones.

You are currently closed to manuscript submissions, but Hypertrophic Literary remains open year round for magazine submissions. What future projects is Hypertrophic Press working on publishing in the near future? Can you give us a sneak peek at any of the books you’ve got lined up?

[LYNSEY] As always, every 3 months we have a new issue of Hypertrophic Literary coming out. We have a fantastic artist lined up for winter, and we’re excited to see how that issue turns out. We also have a poetry collection by past contributor Shea Stripling lined up for a fall 2016 release. It’s romantic and hilarious and isn’t something that can really be described – you just have to see it!

Going forward, what are your hopes for Hypertrophic Press? Where would you like to see the magazine and the press as a whole in the next five years?

[LYNSEY] We would love to be able to do more than 1 book a year and spend more time on the business. It’s not something we ever want to do as a primary job, though. I think that when you rely on something for income it loses a lot of its appeal and can’t really be fun anymore, so we always want to keep it as a side business/hobby, but hopefully we will be able to focus a little more time on it and add some fun projects to the mix. We have a lot of ideas, we just need the time to execute them!

Do you have any final thoughts to share with my readers?

[LYNSEY] Writing and publishing are jobs you have because you can’t imagine a life without them. Jeremy and I both have day jobs that support us and pay the bills (he’s a realtor and I’m the Operations Manager for a wine bar), and we write and publish in our free time because we love it. Don’t take yourself too seriously – this is something that’s supposed to be fun and make you feel good inside. Be yourself in submissions, don’t be too formal, and make sure to participate in your local literary community.

A big thank you goes out to Lynsey and Jeremy of Hypertrophic Press for stopping by today and sharing a bit about what they do with all of us. I hope you enjoyed getting to know them. To find out more and to follow along with Hypertrophic Press, check out the links below.

Where you can find Hypertrophic Press:

Website: www.hypertrophicpress.com

Submission and Questions: hypertrophicpress@gmail.com

To check out my last Inside The Authors Studio, click here. Make sure you check back soon to meet some more incredible writers!

Have an awesome day!

 

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