This is a book called Nature Poetry by a poet and artist called Christopher Twigg. Between 1989 and 1994, the artist Roy Marchant and I ran a small press called RMG Books and this was our second publication.

Here it is seen from the back:

The reason we started RMG was that Roy and I were both interested in creating sequential art works. Our original intention was to create an outlet for our own book works. We did this with our first publication, Pant II, a fifty-fifty split with a book work by each of us. We published 50 copies in hardback with a printed dust jacket and sold most of them at a launch party at the Chelsea Arts Club in London.

After the hangover cleared we discovered there was a bit of money left. Enough to fund a very small project. Fortunately for us Knife Edge Press (another small press owned by the artist Bruce McLean and the critic and writer Mel Gooding), liked what we’d done and suggested we work on a joint project with them. They knew an artist called Chris Twigg who had been writing a lot of poetry, which they thought would make a great book.

We agreed to split costs and jointly edit and produce the book. Roy and I loved Chris’ work and had a great time reading his poetry. Chris had also produced a whole lot of drawings. We laid everything out on Bruce’s floor. There was too much for just one volume, so we asked Chris if we could publish the set of poems he’d written most recently, because they had a consistency of tone. And there was a series of drawings based on the film Taxi Driver we liked a lot, which we all agreed worked best as a stand-alone sequence. So these made up a second, wordless section of the book.

We wanted something special for the cover, and I think it was Chris who suggested doing a really big painting and then cutting it up to bind the books with. The joke was if you wanted to see the whole painting you had to buy all 50 books.

Here is a selection of them at the launch event at The Eagle Gallery in London, April 1992:

So, how we did it was this:

1) Have a reason to publish. If you’re passionate about a project it will all come a lot easier.

2) Source the most economical means of producing the contents – in our case, Chris, Roy and I worked on the page layouts and produced them on a word processor. For the printing, we were lucky enough to be introduced to the poet and publisher, Bob Cobbing who had a top-of-the-range photocopier. (For our next book we found the cheapest printer in Wales, who did a great job. The one after that was a painstakingly mono-printed book.)

3) Don’t do anything yet – but work out if you can make the book viable – no one likes to lose money and the higher the production values the higher the cost and the more you have to charge for your finished book. By hook or by crook we kept our costs down.

4) If you’re on friendly terms with a book binder or printer ask them to do you a favour or, failing that, offer to cut them in on the profits.

5) Think about how you’re going to sell your book. We opted for throwing a launch party – which meant setting up an exhibition space for the books and providing refreshments for our guests.

6) Include all the above in your costing and price the books so you make a bit of profit – we did this so we had seed money for our next project.

7) Decide how you will split the money with the artist – 50/50  in our case.

8) Think of a name for your publishing company.

9) If you’re going to publish a large number of copies, consider getting an ISBN number. You’ll find it a lot easier getting your book into the shops if you do.

10) Draw up a schedule so that all the work is done in time for the launch event and stick to it.

11) Happy publishing!

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