Red Hen PRess

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When most people think of publishing houses, they likely think New York City.  But, not all great publishers are on the East Coast.  In fact, Pasadena is home to one literary press that is helping to change the narrative surrounding Southern California’s perception as a publishing town.  Red Hen Press is non-profit independent publisher in the Lincoln commercial area of Pasadena. Recently, Kate Gale and Mark Cull, founders of Red Hen Press, sat down with the Future Yourself Here team to share the story of an independent publisher with a West Coast voice and how a hard-working hen inspired their business venture.

What is the Red Hen Press Story?

Red Hen Press was founded as a poetry collective in 1994.   Our mission is to keep creative literature alive by publishing poetry, literary fiction and non-fiction.  We have since expanded into a micro-press and 501(c)3 non-profit publishing house.  Each year we publish 25-30 books and since our inception nearly 450 titles.  We also publish the Los Angeles Review, an online literary journal.  The Los Angeles Review speaks to the culture and people of Los Angeles.

The name “Red Hen” is a nod to the fact that I grew up on a farm as well as reference to the importance of hard work and personal initiative as told in the eponymous folk tale “Little Red Hen.”

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced in launching your company?

Being a non-profit is a hurdle in and of itself. We want to publish books that have heart and soul so we look to that first and revenue second.  Fortunately, Pasadena shares our want for publishing titles and authors whose voices need to be in the world which helps us balance our books between earned and contributed revenue. 

What is the best advice you ever received?

The best advice we ever received is to build community.  We do that by tapping in and listening to the needs of our audience. Red Hen Press created the Los Angeles Review as a way to bring more voices to the forefront of literature. In addition, we partner with the Pasadena United School District on a program to bring published authors into schools to conduct writing workshops to promote literacy and creative expression.

How do you take your books, print books vs. e-readers?

Definitely print books since we stare at screens all day.  E-books have not taken over the way many expected, but their use remains steady.  There are e-reader advantages for certain demographics such as retirees (who are not in front of monitors all day) or those with disabilities (who can adjust screen brightness and enlarge text as needed).

What was the last book you read?

Red Hen Press titles, of course!  Off the top of our heads, Big foot in Paradise by Doug Lawson, The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, Sugar Land by Tammy Lynne Stoner, Weather Woman by Cai Emmons and Dune by Frank Herbert.

What makes PAsadena an Attractive Place Do Business?

Unlike the surrounding area, Pasadena has a real sense of community. Pasadena is a city that loves and cares deeply about arts and culture. Only a handful of literary organizations exist and in Pasadena we found a community that is supportive of a literary press that represents the best that the West Coast has to offer.

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