Richmond publisher loves challenge of helping writers

by Judith Kahn

Brooks Roddan, a Richmond District resident, is the proprietor

of IFSF Publishing, a local independent publishing house.

The key to Roddan’s success is seeking out the extraordinary.

“The smaller the press the better, so small that the book a

small press publishes might have been made by one writer for one

reader,” he said. “It’s enough that a small press can publish,

independently, the work of talented, skilled men and women,

whose work deserves to be published. It’s all quite alchemical –

the transformation of material into an object.”


Writer and publisher Brooks Roddan in his Richmond District office.Photo by John Oppenheimer

Roddan views publishing as an art, which brings something  of beauty into the world

that had not existed before.

“The model of IFSF Publishing is collaborative – the publisher, author, designer and

printer are involved in all aspects: concepts, finances, designs and marketing.”

Over the years, Roddan has found that the deep involvement

of the author in the collaborative model usually motivates the author

to get out and promote the book with real intensity.

“The pleasure of publishing,” says Roddan, “is making something

real, tangible, an object that can be held in the hand and

read, and that perhaps will be around for other unknown and

presently unidentified readers to discover and enjoy in the future.”

Roddan said making money is not the primary objective of his

publishing house. “I do not do this for money; I have been a business person and

do not necessarily want to be  one again,” he said. Roddan has found that during

his collaborations with authors, they often become friends.

Roddan recently worked with Thomas Fuller, whose “marvelously

funny and prescient” book “Monsieur Ambivalence: A Post-Literate Fable,” came to

him unbidden and with whom he now has a deep and abiding friendship.

He is currently publishing Renate Stendhal’s book, awartime memoir titled

“Kiss Me Again, Paris.” Stendhal now lives in Point Reyes, but lived in Paris in the

’60s and ’70s when a great cultural shift was taking place.

Roddan is also publishing Dawn McGuire’s book

“American Dream with Exit Wound,” which will be released

in April. In the book McGuire examines the experience of U.S.

veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The author

is a neurologist, who grew up in the Appalachian region of

Kentucky and was educated at Princeton University, Union

Theological Seminary and Colombia College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“I work with patients who have served; their war wounds

are often invisible. They may come see me for an ‘unrelated’

problem, but they bear the war within: head trauma, personality

change, addiction, fear,” McGuire said.

Roddan welcomes the challenge of editing a complex book.

“Her book is both tough stuff and healing balm,” he said.

Roddan grew up in Palos Verdes, California. He had a

checkered college career, finally graduating from Cal State

Hayward with a bachelor’s degree in English. His family valued

books and reading. Television was not a big part of his household. His mother was a

writer, a journalist for the Christian Science Monitor, who

covered the opening of the United Nations in San Francisco

just after World War II. He moved to the City in 2009 and

started Roddan Public Relations and Advertising in 1989.

After his mother died in 1999, Roddan wanted to do something

in her honor. At that time, he knew many writers and artists in

Los Angeles who deserved to have their work published, so he

took a small amount of money he inherited from his mother and

started IFSF Publishing in 1999. Since he had an agency, with onstaff

graphic people and relationships with printers, he could get

his books printed cost-effectively. Roddan said he has always

loved San Francisco. He had an uncle and grandmother who

lived here and had good memories of the City.

He went to Southern California and started a family but always wanted to return

to San Francisco. He enjoys the fact that in the City he is not dependent on a car

and can easily navigate by walking or taking a bus.

Reading has always been part of Roddan’s lifestyle. He always

has a novel or nonfiction book at hand. He says he admires writers

because he knows how difficult writing is, and adds it is much

easier to publish than write. Roddan has had seven books

or chapbooks published. “The Light of the Light” (Blue Earth

Press, 1984); “The Second Dream” (Momentum Press,

1985); and “Days by Themselves” (Blue Earth Press, 2007) are among them.

Roddan looks forward to remaining a small press and meeting

more talented people as he continues to publish books from

a variety of genres, including fiction, memoirs, art, photography

and poetry.

For more information or to purchase books published by

IFSF Publishing, go to the website at

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