Welcome back to Editor’s Corner for our 9th installment, in which we hear from Kim Wyatt, founder of Cherry Bomb Books. Editor’s Corner is a VIDAWeb feature in which editors and publishers explore complex issues regarding sex, gender, race and sexuality as they relate to their projects. Kim Wyatt founded Cherry Bomb in 2012 as an imprint of Bona Fide Books, and in this edition of Editor’s Corner, she discusses the “wrongs” she hopes to right with the help of Cherry Bomb and its authors as well as their collection Get Out of My Crotch!.
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On her project, role and publishing philosophy:
Cherry Bomb Books is an imprint of Bona Fide Books, and I started it last year to publish Get Out of My Crotch!: Twenty-One Writers Respond to America’s War on Women’s Rights and Reproductive Health. I couldn’t believe that I was hearing about legislation based on menstrual cycles, and the attacks on choice were increasing at an alarming rate at the state level. At the time, several young women worked in my office, and I was concerned that they were tuning out political noise during the run-up to the presidential election, unaware that their rights and their agency were at stake. I made this book for them, for the next generation of feminists. Thanks to amazing contributors, what started out as a book on horrific legislation turned into an indictment of the kind of culture that accepts it, a deeply misogynist culture.
More simply put, I started Cherry Bomb Books to right wrongs. I was already the publisher of Bona Fide Books, but the focus of that press is to build communities around stories of place and poets. It wasn’t the right vibe for Get Out!, so I created an imprint, Cherry Bomb, for explosive writing. Based on the strength of our inaugural collection, we’ve received some intriguing proposals. I can’t wait to see what we do next.
On the current publishing climate:
Part of the reason I started Cherry Bomb was because I was reading a lot of great feminist writers, but it didn’t seem like they were represented in traditional publishing. (This is evidenced by VIDA’s The Count.) I’d also heard from writers whose publishers, who previously supported feminist voices, were hesitant to publish writing on topics like abortion. Or, worse, they thought it wouldn’t sell or might offend, and they weren’t willing to take the risk. This was appalling to hear—I wanted to publish a book about choice, and about all of the other reproductive health issues that were (bizarrely) up for debate in 2012. I felt it was my responsibility as a publisher to give voice to these issues, as there seemed to be a void.
For Cherry Bomb Books, issues of gender, sexuality, class and race are all extremely important. It was important to me, and to my co-editor on Get Out!, Sari Botton, that we invite writers tackling class, sexuality, and gender to be part of the collection. It’s amazing, the variety of topics in Get Out! – the contributors really stepped up and the book is an incredible snapshot of a troubling time. Even in 2013, maybe especially now, we need to keep the drumbeat going, to publish excellent work that examines these issues. The underrepresentation of women’s voices in publishing is absurd. When I first had the idea for Get Out!, I made a list of my favorite writers and invited them to contribute. In about five minutes, I had a list of ten, all of them women. They each agreed to be in the collection. These writers are wildly talented and should be much more widely read. I feel it’s my job to help expand their readership.
On VIDA’s Count:
Unfortunately, when I saw the first of VIDA’s Counts, I wasn’t surprised. When I see that publications like Harper’s, The Atlantic, and the New York Times Book Review aren’t publishing or reviewing more women, I think they must be hemorrhaging readers. Personally, I have subscribed and then unsubscribed for years. There is no excuse for not assigning or reviewing more women writers–if they were reading more widely, they would be! These publications need to evolve or die. I was able to come up with a list of ten smart, exciting writers each with a brave, unique lens in five minutes—all women. How hard are they trying? How widely are they reading? Not very.
Thank you, VIDA, for your essential work!
On A+ Lit People:
There is a lot of interesting work coming out of the West Coast. I love all of the great things happening in Portland, from the Independent Publishing Resource Center to Hawthorne Books, publishing writers like Lidia Yuknavitch, writers who are redefining narrative and genre. The Rumpus has introduced me to some great feminist writers. It’s an exciting time for indies, and I look forward to what lies ahead.
Kim Wyatt is the publisher of Bona Fide Books and Cherry Bomb Books. Kim has worked in most facets of publishing, including journalism, textbook development, manuscript evaluation, and as managing editor at print and online publications. Kim holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Bona Fide Books is the convergence of her lifelong love of literature and commitment to community. She founded its imprint, Cherry Bomb Books, in 2012 to right wrongs.