Flint author fundraises to expand local publishing in 2020

FLINT, Michigan—Gothic Funk Press, a Flint-based independent publisher, is raising $4,000 to grow a literary community in Flint and across the state.


“I see Gothic Funk Press as being mindful and proud of its Flint identity, and that means creating opportunities for local writers,” said Connor Coyne, author and founder of GFP.


“Basically, what kicked off this whole process was that I received a query — a request to publish — from a poet I deeply admire. I thought her work would be a great fit for the press and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to sign on with her, which is part of what kicked this fundraising effort into high gear,” Coyne said.


According to Coyne, the money raised would help change that by introducing more authors from Flint on both a local and national level, presenting more opportunities to have their works read and shared.


“We'll be marketing our titles to lovers of literature in mid-Michigan and worldwide. We hope to focus the interest of a wide array of readers upon Flint, which will then raise the profile of our literary communities and encourage more local writers to get their work out there and to get published,” said Coyne. It’s necessary that these local authors are supported and published regardless of expected profit because authorship is hard work, regardless of commercial success, said Coyne.


The campaign, which ends Dec. 15, has raised $1,475 of the $4,000 goal. With just $2,000 the GFP would be able to publish two full-length books.


In order to do this, Coyne acknowledges in the future GFP will have to be funded mostly by grants. He considers 2020 to be a test run, with the $4000 serving as a kickstarter. Having more published works and a comprehensive community outreach schedule, Coyne said, would give GFP greater credibility with potential grantors, allowing him to develop the groundwork for even more ambitious grant-writing, fundraising, and programming. Coyne predicts forming partnerships with organizations like Fractured Atlas, a fiduciary that specializes in supporting artistic projects.


“I would love to have a curated reading series where we bring in writers from Flint and from around Michigan, offer them a stipend, an opportunity to share and sell their work, and above all to meet and encourage local writers.”


GFP was originally created in 2010 as a means for Coyne to publish his own work. Since Coyne’s move from Chicago to Flint in 2011 however, the press has grown to become an independent publishing presence through its community engagement. GFP’s staff, made up of designers, editors and proofreaders from every corner of the Midwest, have published works like “Mark’s Hat,” an anthology of experimental writing written almost entirely by Flint locals, and “Paramanu Pentaquark,” a journal focused on presenting international artists and mixed media perspectives.


GFP has played a large role in the creation of local literary programs like the Flint Festival of Writers, the Flint Area Scavenger Hunt, and numerous outreach activities like the Flint Public Library Teen Writers Workshop. FFOW has also featured some of the city’s most celebrated authors like Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Christopher Paul Curtis, and LaTashia Perry. It wasn’t rare to get queries from writers Coyne admired asking to be published by his organization.


Related story: Got some bookish ideas? Take them to the Flint Literary Festival


Coyne’s involvement with GFP as both its founder and a writer has allowed him to see the expansiveness and dynamicity of Flint’s literary scene. He has witnessed many literary-focused organizations like Ubuntu Press and “Qua,” a college literary arts journal, take on the tasks a publisher usually would. Flint has no shortage of talented and ambitious writers, Coyne said. What’s missing, however, is a larger overall sense of local camaraderie.


“The biggest problem with Flint's literary scene is that it is fragmented,” said Coyne. “Poets are involved with open-mic nights. Students at the universities are involved with their literary journals. A lot of self-published authors are pursuing their work on their own. People are either working in isolation or are siloed away in small groups.”


Ultimately, Coyne wants to see the local literary scene flourish. He believes Flint “has a deep, deep pool of literary talent,” and he’s looking to offer a helping hand to his city’s budding artists.


“When people are buying each other's work, reading each other's work, meeting in person, and talking about what they care about, that's when you are exposed to new ideas and take up the challenge of the most difficult and necessary work.”


For more information or to donate to Gothic Funk Press’ 2020 publishing campaign, visit their GoFundMe.

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Read more articles by Santiago Ochoa.

Santiago Ochoa is a freelance reporter and communications student at UM-Flint. He is the project editor for On The Ground community reporting series and currently serves as The Michigan Times' Editor-in-Chief. Santiago has worked with publications and organizations like The New York Times, the Interamerican Press Association and Flint Beat. You can reach him @santi8a98 on Twitter and Instagram and email him at [email protected]