Minor Matters: Master Classes with Michelle Dunn Marsh

Posted on Apr 10, 2017

When asked to write about the sessions with Michelle Dunn Marsh, I got excited! (And very, very nervous.) Michelle is founder of Minor Matters Books (www.minormattersbooks.com), an independent publishing house based in Seattle, that produces beautiful visual books. The books she carried with her were a visual treat, but the sessions with Michelle were even more so. Her warm smile and the enthusiasm were infectious. In no time, she made us all very comfortable. She shared with us her experience and wisdom working in a magazine, Aperture, and the publishing house, Chronicle Books. In her 20 years of experience, she has commissioned many artists and photographers.

What I loved about her sessions was that she discussed many facets of working in the publishing industry. And how one can go about creating a network, how predictable the industry is, and what are the ways one can start their own company. Interestingly, one of the most significant factors in this industry is time—time to conceptualize a book, time required to spend on each detail of the publication process while balancing the deadline and time invested to create and maintain relationships.

Now that struck a chord with me. In the day and age of apps and 4G, one forgets to pick up the phone and call. There is nothing better than a quick call to clarify the doubts and misunderstandings. Having the experience of working in the publishing industry, I know that these things make sense and are indeed very important.

Michelle also emphasized on how important it is to just ask: for help, for opinions, for guidance, for more options—or anything at all. Drawing from her personal experience at college and at work, she pointed out the incidents when she found many answers just by enquiring.

In order to summarize what I have learnt from her classes, I wondered about how I could really do justice. The thought made me lose my sleep, increased my appetite and haunted me through the day. Then I remembered my last chat with Michelle—regarding the publishing industry in India, graphic novels, zines—and I had my eureka moment! Thus, I made a zine on it (for all the uninitiated, ‘zine’ is short for fanzine—an independent magazine for self or small circulation)—my first ever zine! Read on . . .

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Shreya Mukherjee
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