Four Chambers Press is an independent community literary magazine and small press based in Phoenix, AZ whose mission is to give greater visibility to the literary arts and encourage their participation in the larger cultural scene.
We publish a yearly journal, single author works, and special projects and anthologies. Each issue, we partner with local artists to produce illustrations for our winning stories and poems. For our special projects and anthologies, we partner with local businesses and cultural institutions to create unique opportunities for literary performance, place-making, and public art.
In addition to publishing, we also organize writing groups, salons, featured reading series, collaborative shows, and other events and programs that give people the chance to come together and engage with literary art
Basically, we think of ourselves as a heart: something organic, centralized, and part of a larger body; that connects, supports, and circulates life. While other presses may be publishing literary work (and some of them may get that work from the community), we are publishing work to build community.
WHY WE'RE DOING A KICKSTARTER
Right now, Four Chambers is wrapping up two projects--a special project with Welcome Diner and Welcome Chicken + Donuts entitled Welcome Home: Poetry and Prose for Welcome Hospitality and our third issue, Four Chambers 03, which we will be releasing in September and October of this year (2015).
Unfortunately, while we have the manuscripts assembled and ready to go, we don't have the money to go to print.
More to the point, we don't have enough money to stay in business.
When we started Four Chambers, our start-up money came from our Founder and Editor in Chief (who made a personal investment of $5000). Since then, we've established a circulation of around 500 people, published four titles in a year and a half, executed some interesting public art projects, been featured in the Phoenix New Times, local NPR affiliate KJZZ, other media, and basically made a name for ourselves as a reliable and trustworthy source of literature here in Phoenix.
Two years later, we've realized a sales model simply doesn't fit how we operate or what we actually do. As a small press, our print runs aren't large enough yet to yield a lower unit cost and create a meaningful profit. So while we're reaching new audiences with every project we release, we're still a young organization, we're still working towards our goals, and we need additional support from the community as we grow.
While it would be more cost effective to move into an online model, print is integral to our mission. We cannot table at festivals, visit classrooms or do any of the outreach and activities we do without something physical to give someone. Publication is the nucleus of our organization. We cannot be present in the community without print. We want literature to be close to people, to be a part of their homes--to have our books carried around in backpacks and purses, to sit on people's tables or shelves. We want people to develop relationships with our products, to have something beautiful they can take pride in. We want it to be real.
We didn't start Four Chambers because we wanted to make money. We started Four Chambers because we are people who love writing and reading, and we wanted to create more spaces where we could come together. Even though Phoenix is the 6th largest city in the nation, rich with visual art, theatre, dance, music and other forms of art, it can still be relatively difficult to find places to engage with local literature. And while there are a number of other publications circulating throughout the Valley--zines, institutionally-affiliated journals, online magazines, not to mention tons of people organizing readings, open mics, and other events--we are more or less the only literary magazine here in Phoenix.
Each issue, 50% of our published work comes from local authors--a percentage that happens naturally, without quotas or requirements, that speaks to the immediacy of the need we're attempting to fulfill. Authors can always submit to other publications in other cities, but what we're offering people is a chance to really engage with one another, to participate in something meaningful, to take culture into their own hands, to be connected through literature and, in short, to build community. Four Chambers is more than a literary journal or a small press. We're a provider of cultural services and value. We're a community.
Assuming we can raise the necessary funds, over the next couple of months we're going to complete our remaining projects, continue growing our circulation, and identifying alternative sources of revenue as we plan for next year.
Any funds raised over our goal will go directly towards providing art for our third issue (which we had to cut from our budget given our shortfall). After that, we'll pay off our credit card debt (which we used to purchase necessary performance equipment and print our last issue) and renovate our website.
Risks and challenges
Given how close our current projects are towards completion--the manuscripts are assembled, the quotes have been retrieved, the books are designed and laid out--the only thing keeping us from going to print is the money necessary to do so.
Next year, we plan on releasing two manuscripts of poetry from two local authors, Four Chambers 04, and two special projects (TBA). After fulfilling this Kickstarter and going to print on these two projects, we'll still be left with enough money to fund our first single author work, thereby seeding our operations for the rest of year as we turn over inventory.
This being said, we're looking into a number of different options for increasing and diversifying our revenue--instituting a ticket fee for some of our events, launching a chapbook contest, and creating a membership / pledge model with benefits and gifts--in order to create a stronger business that is less reliable on sales. If we don't move our inventory as quickly as we need to, these additional streams of revenue should make up the difference. If we still don't have enough money, we'll lower our print runs on special projects, adjust our timelines and begin the longer process of looking into fiscal sponsorship, grants, and non-profit.
If these projects are not funded, we will have to suspend operations as we figure things out, delaying our current production cycle for six to eighteen months. In all likelihood, this will lead to the end of the business.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)