create / 2016

Get Lit with Red Hen Press: Bringing Fresh Voices to the LA Literary Scene

Get Lit with Red Hen Press: Bringing Fresh Voices to the LA Literary Scene

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Red Hen Press

Red Hen Press will advocate for literary diversity by publishing 26 works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, creating opportunities for unheard voices to establish their place in American literature.


Please describe your project proposal.

Red Hen Press will advocate for diversity in literature by publishing and publicizing 26 works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction by both established and emerging authors, providing opportunities for minority populations to establish their place in the American literary canon.

Which of the create metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Arts establishments
  • Manufacturing activity
  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Percentage of graduates from local higher education institutions that remain in LA County 5 years after graduating

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • Gateway Cities
  • Antelope Valley
  • County of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to create?

Red Hen Press will establish Los Angeles as a creative hub by cultivating a community of readers and writers who are actively engaged in the essential human practice known as literature. Dr. Kate Gale and Mark E. Cull co-founded the press in 1994 with a mission to discover and publish works of literary excellence, support diversity through publications and public events, and promote literacy in our local schools. In the twenty-two years since, the press has published more than 400 books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction by acclaimed and emerging writers. Red Hen has also established itself as a significant cultural presence in Southern California and beyond through its diverse programs: WITS, which provides free books to low-income students and places authors into underserved third through twelfth grade classrooms to conduct writing workshops; an annual series of over thirty reading events on the east and west coasts and internationally; the conferral of three literary awards to emerging writers; and publication of The Los Angeles Review, a nationally distributed literary journal that also confers four awards biannually.

With support from the LA2050 grant, Red Hen Press will enhance and expand the press’s engagement with the community through its successfully established programs. In 2017, Red Hen Press will publish 26 books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction by a diverse array of both established and emerging authors. Specifically, Red Hen Press will use LA2050 grant funding to:

  • Copyedit each manuscript to check for compliance with the Chicago Manual of Style and proofread each book after layout to eliminate formatting errors.
  • Design and lay out original covers and interiors for each book through the press’s in-house design team.
  • Fulfill larger print runs for books while decreasing prices to increase literary accessibility.
  • Publicize individual books via print and online channels by sending press releases, soliciting book reviews, and bringing Red Hen authors to conferences and bookfairs to interact directly with their readers.
  • Plan, publicize, and market our unique literary events to cultivate a dialogue between writers and readers, and to reach more diverse audiences in local schools, families, and senior centers.
  • Maintain our literary awards program that recognizes emerging writers and expands the field of contemporary literature.
  • Maximize the talent and commitment of our dedicated staff by compensating them at a rate competitive to that of positions in similar business sectors, thus keeping publishing jobs in Los Angeles.

With publications that are both culturally and stylistically unique, and events that are thought-provoking and affordable, Red Hen Press contributes to the diverse literary landscape of Southern California.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

The success of Red Hen Press’s publishing projects can be quantified by volume of sales and scope of distribution, both of which are monitored directly by the press’s Marketing Associate. However, it is important also to measure the success of Red Hen’s endeavors by assessing not just the number of books sold but also the quality of conversation generated by each new work and the notoriety of the press as a whole. Though these qualitative benchmarks are difficult to measure directly, success in these criteria is indicated by the volume of submissions to the press and by audience turnout at book fairs and literature conferences such as the AWP Conference, the LA Times Festival of Books, and others.

Success for Red Hen’s outreach and publicity efforts is defined by attendance numbers at literary events and percentage of capacity at each event. In 2017, Red Hen Press aims to host 30 literary reading events filled to 90% capacity each, and anticipates 1,300 attendees over the course of the year. This data will be collected from event reports written by press staff and survey questionnaires filled out by event attendees. Surveys also provide the press qualitative feedback about attendees’ perceptions of an event’s success. These measures allow us to continue to create and improve upon spaces where ideas can be shared among members of the literary community.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support