Four Chambers Press magazine writes on after exceeding $5,000 crowdfunding goal

Four Chambers is displayed on the shelves of Songbird Coffee and Teahouse, located on North 3rd street. (Sarah Kolesar/DD)
Four Chambers Press’ second issue, published last year, on display at Songbird Coffee & Tea House. The literary magazine and small press recently ran a Kickstarter to fund future issues. (Sarah Kolesar/DD)

The staff of Four Chambers Press, the acclaimed, independent literary magazine and small press, are looking for help from the community to finance upcoming projects and to keep their local business afloat.

The magazine launched a Kickstarter campaign, titled “Keep the Heart of Literature Beating,” with a $5,000 fundraising goal. That goal was met within two weeks of the campaign’s launch by 74 backers, but the magazine is still looking for support.

The money will be used to cover publishing costs for the two manuscripts set to be released in September and October of this year. Extra funding would allow the publisher to include art in its third issue, which the staff was forced to cut due to a budget deficit, according to the Kickstarter campaign page.

Fundraising is a tactic editor-in-chief Jake Friedman didn’t think he would have to resort to when he founded Four Chambers Press in June 2013.

“Originally I thought that we were going to be able to get by just on the sales model,” Friedman said. “While a sales model can work in theory, there were certain fees that I didn’t anticipate.”

Friedman said he wanted to emphasize “how emotional it’s been for us to see all the support come from the community.”

“We were not expecting to get so close so quickly,” he said. “Within the first week we had already raised about $3,300-3,400.”

Four Chambers currently prints one issue a year in addition to special projects. Each issue is packed with short stories and artwork from contributors around the Valley and all over the world.

So far, Friedman estimates the total number of contributing artists and writers since Four Chambers Press began is around 150 — and that number is growing. The magazine received around 1,800 submissions for its third issue, 73 of which will be published.

The outpouring of support from the community is a testament to the magazine’s growing influence as a publishing platform for dozens of contributors. Four Chambers Press does not exist solely as a literary magazine; the staff holds events for the literary community in Phoenix, like a recent poetry reading from Shawnte Orion, and they commit to several special projects a year.

This year, they are wrapping up the special project “Welcome Home” (featuring works inspired by Welcome Diner and Welcome Chicken + Donuts, two go-to spots for locals). In the past, they also published a project in conjunction with the Phoenix Art Museum.

A print publication is much more difficult to fund than a digital one, but Four Chambers is committed to keeping its print edition despite these budget problems, said Rosemarie Dombrowski, a member of the editorial board and founder of her own ASU-based literary journal, “Write On, Downtown.”

“If you’re a journal that can remain in print … you’re kind of a rare commodity,” Dombrowski said. “People in the community who are literary and who are readers, they want something they can hold in their hand.”

Even so, Four Chambers is sold at a lower price than many of its counterparts around the country. Friedman said the publisher was looking at “every option,” but had discussed the possibility of raising prices.

“You’re usually spending say … $10-20 for something the size of what we’re producing,” Friedman said. Issues currently sell for between $10-12.

Issues can be ordered online from the Four Chambers Press website, and are also sold at local businesses downtown, including Songbird Coffee & Tea House, Changing Hands Bookstore, MADE art boutique and Stinkweeds.

Paul Mosier, a past contributor and volunteer, called the publisher vital to fostering a sense of literary community in Phoenix.

“Nobody gets paid,” Mosier said, referring to the entire organization of staff and volunteers that make up Four Chambers Press. “We’re a part of something that’s worth being a part of. It feels good. It’s like paying our dues.”

Dombrowski said Four Chambers Press would remain focused on benefiting downtown Phoenix, not just the other way around.

“If our community is going to support us, we need to support it as well.”

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Correction: August 27, 2015
The original version of this article misstated the number of submissions Four Chambers’ third issue received and will publish. The magazine received around 1,800, not 60 submissions, for its third issue, and 73 of which, not 20, will be published. The original numbers reflected the submissions and publications for the special “Welcome Home” issue.

The article has also been updated to clarify that Four Chambers is not a not-for-profit organization.