The peoples’ poetry press

How one Queen’s student’s entrepreneurial ambitions and a publisher’s rejection inspired her to create her own publishing company

Molle O’Dolan started her publishing company, Printed Press, as a high school English project.
Molle O’Dolan started her publishing company, Printed Press, as a high school English project.

Turning lemons into lemonade is old news for Molle O’Dolan, ArtSci ’11. O’Dolan used one publisher’s refusal as motivation to start her own publishing company.

In her first year of a women’s and religious studies degree at Queen’s, O’Dolan already has a diploma in web design from Seneca College. She’s also working on a diploma in conflict analysis from Royal Roads University and a diploma for addiction management from McMaster University. O’Dolan grew up in Toronto and was an avid writer throughout high school. She was highly motivated to get exposure for her work, but her poetry teacher, who runs his own publishing company for more established authors, refused to publish her, she said. This inspired O’Dolan to start her own company so other writers would have the opportunity to be published.

O’Dolan created her small publishing company, Printed Press, in 2004. She said she runs the press mostly by herself—although her friends volunteer to help her out—but it doesn’t take many resources to set up your own printing company.

“All you really have to do is apply for an ISBN and put your book together. Send a copy

—sometimes two depending on the category—to the National Library, and bam: you have a book,” she said.

O’Dolan sees herself providing opportunities for young, up-and-coming poets to have their voices heard in today’s literary world.

“I will consider anyone who really wants a book,” she said.

O’Dolan sends her work to a printing company and said a hardcover book of 28 to 40 pages costs about $10 to print. O’Dolan said she sells her books for $10, looking to recoup expenses, not make a profit.

O’Dolan publishes up to 200 copies of her writers’ books.

“It depends on their talent and willingness to work hard. DJ Von Spitz is the most famous poet that I’ve published, but still not too well known outside of [Vancouver].

“We run book talks with authors, school workshops and book launches,” O’Dolan said. “Our authors stretch all across Canada and the U.S.”

When O’Dolan began Printed Press, it was financed through school board grants—her idea was originally part of a high school English project.

O’Dolan said she hasn’t published very much since she came to Queen’s because she doesn’t have many clients yet. She said she hopes to gain exposure this semester and have more printing activity next semester and next year.

“After the first two years, I left the school and was left to fund it myself,” she said. “By that point I was ready to go on tour with my book.”

The Man’s Monday launch tour, O’Dolan’s first Printed Press publication, ended up paying for itself due to the number of copies sold.

Some of O’Dolan’s other works include Reconnaissance Mission; Growing Up a Girl: A story of growing, learning, and Pillow Fighting; Spray and Missy Vic.

O’Dolan also publishes a variety of artistic, poetic, feminist and instructive ’zines, including: Broken Pencil, Stolen Sharpie, End Zone and Nuromantic. She sells them at indie ’zine festivals, book festivals, other events and book launches.

O’Dolan said additional funding comes from winning slam poetry competitions. O’Dolan has won several local competitions as well as the Florida State competition.

These activities give her enough funding to continue with new projects, but don’t make much money.

“It is definitely for the joy of proving that poetry is cool,” she said.

O’Dolan said she was originally influenced by other poets, primarily women—such as Klystle Mullin and Kinnie Star—who discussed their experiences with abuse.

She thinks the topic of abuse should be addressed a lot more.

“I just feel like poetry is an outlet to tell our stories. And the women I know that get up on stage and talk about that from their heart inspires me,” she said.

“I feel like a lot of female poets are missing out on publishing opportunities, and I wanted to provide an outlet for them, and for an audience to talk about it.” Although publishing and writing are her passions, O’Dolan’s dream is to open a women’s shelter.

“There are three times more animal shelters than there are women’s shelters in Canada,” she said.

“It’s a service that the world needs. And it seems like something I’d be good at, since it takes all of my talents and puts it into one.”

This year, O’Dolan said, she hopes to go on tour with some of the authors she publishes.

“It’s still up in the air, but usually the way it goes down is that we do a tour of slam events from Toronto to wherever else. Last year we went to Florida, Vancouver and Halifax,” she said.

O’Dolan said that as a student entrepreneur, the most important thing is to keep striving for your goals.

“As cheesy as that is, it’s true.”

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