Today I’m chatting with Ioanna Mavrou, co-founder of the independent press, Book Ex Machina, and writer of flash fictions. I came across their beautiful publications recently and wanted to find out more about them. Their Matchbook Stories series are tiny, beautifully formed literary magazines featuring tiny, beautifully formed stories.
Can you tell us a bit about how Book Ex Machina came about and why you decided to publish Matchbook Stories?
Book Ex Machina is basically two people: Thodoris Tzalavras and me. We are lucky to have a lot of wonderful creative book people support us, but when it comes down to it, it’s just the two of us running everything, wearing our many different hats. We started out by publishing Thodoris’s first book, in 2010, Nicosia in Dark and White, (a photography book that went on to win first finalist of an award that lots of big big publishers were short-listed for), and in the process we discovered how much we loved making books.
We wanted to do a really high caliber photography book and there weren’t any publishers in Cyprus that do this so we decided to start our own. There was always the sense of doing cool projects—well made, with handcrafted elements, fun bookish things that maybe didn’t exist in the world before, and Matchbook Stories was kind of perfect for that. I love reading and writing flash fiction so I was playing around with different ideas on how to publish it in a new format. When people responded to it, we showed it to some of our favorite writers and took off from there!
What do you look for in the stories you include in your books?
The best way to find out what we like is to read the stories we published. We don’t always know what we’re looking for before it finds us. We are selective but read with open hearts. We love it when writers surprise us with their stories, doing so much in so few words. We want stories that we’ll love, stories that will take our breath away. No pressure or anything.
How can writers submit for a chance to be included in the next Matchbook Stories?
We don’t have a fixed dated for our next Matchbook Stories yet, but we do plan to open submissions again—the best way to find out when would be to subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media. We promise, we’re not spammy, we’ll only send you emails once in a while.
What plans do you have for future books?
We are working on a super cool bookish item right now—we are really excited about it and we’ll announce it in the next month or so. We also have another photo book that’s been in the works for a while, and a couple of nice literary projects, in addition to another Matchbook Stories, and who knows what else we’ll come up with along the way. For a tiny publishing house, that’s a lot!
Thanks for coming, Ioanna, and sharing your story of starting your own publishing house. Best of luck with all your projects.
You can follow Book Ex Machina on Twitter and sign up for the newsletter on their website. I for one shall be waiting to find out when submissions open as I’d love to have a story included in such a beautiful publication.