An Interview with Pochino Press Editor Daniel Zarazua
Daniel Zarazua is co-founder of Pochino Press, alongside his sister Monica and wife Xiomara. “We all play an equal role, with Monica handling the editing duties, Xiomara the graphic design, and myself taking the lead on planning events,” he says. Pochino Press have made their mark as a platform for underrepresented voices from places as diverse as Addis Ababa, Taipei, and their home-base of Oakland. Their publications tend to explore the hybridity of cultures and ideas that have come together to explore new ideas, perspectives, and ways of being. “We also draw upon our experiences as K-12 educators, community organizers, and other life experiences to inform our work and connect with others beyond the literary world,” Zarazua said, “Central to our work is creating and contributing to a broader community, not just a literary one.”
Publicist Cristina Deptula interviewed Daniel Zarazua, ask him your own questions when he appears on our Small Press Editors Panel March 15th.
Questions for Pochino Press Editor Daniel Zarazua
How can interested readers find books published by local or special-interest small presses?
Go to where those who share your interests will be, virtually and literally! I don’t just mean literary events. Many of our best recommendations come from word of mouth, both online and in face-to-face interactions. For Pochino Press, we’re deeply enmeshed in our greater community, supporting local businesses, live music, and festivals as community members, not just publishers, so many of our connections happen outside of literary-specific events.
How can society and the public best support the unique role that small presses play in getting unique or special-interest books into the world?
Recognizing the value of small presses that may be giving a voice to unique and needed perspectives is a good place to start. We’re often more nimble and willing to take chances on works that we’re passionate about as our decisions aren’t driven by shareholders. Part of recognizing this value is a willingness to pay a little more than you would at a discount outlet. The money might actually have a larger impact! Speaking from a Bay Area perspective, we live here so the money goes directly to the community through us renting spaces, paying local authors, performers, artists, and caterers. Plus, all of our publications have been published with local printers. Aside from purchases, telling others about our publications, leaving online reviews, checking out and requesting our books at your local library, inviting our authors for interviews, and teaching our works in your class are just a few things that come to mind. Everyone has something to contribute and as a press we always seek ways to be collaborative.
How do small presses publicize the titles they publish, and how would people find out about those books?
In full transparency, this is an area that we at Pochino Press could experience some growth! We’re proud of our publications and related events, but we could be doing more to further our reach. We have an idea of what to do, such as booking more speaking engagements, hosting workshops, and doing more interviews, but balancing the press with our other responsibilities can be challenging, meaning that we are not reaching more people who would be interested in our work.
As a reader I try to be proactive, following key social media accounts, scouring my local public library, and frequently visiting independent bookshops. Through this process I meet people who make recommendations. Once I find a new press or author I like I follow them on social media and checkout who they’re connected to. I’m never at a loss for things to read and I love the thrill of the hunt.
What do you see as the future of small press publishing, or publishing in general, in the age of technology, Amazon and self-publishing?
We have to adapt, remain creative, and remember that relationships still matter. Yes, we’re literally selling books, but most people still want a human connection, whether that’s through online forums such as blogs, effectively using social media to build relationships, or simply talking to people! Without the connections, we’re just pushing a product, which is probably not the reason most of us started small presses.
We have to make sure that the quality of our books, from the content to the physical materials, are at a high level. Plus, are we offering something unique? Individual small presses can’t compete with the larger corporations, but should that even be the goal? We have to look at traditional entrepreneurial models, such as finding our niche and developing that, while looking to the future, using technology to our advantage, and being aware of changing social dynamics.
There are unquestionably some major hurdles for small presses, but ultimately, are we working together to create sustainable solutions? There’s no benefit in lamenting the challenges if we’re not solutions oriented.