(Steve Halle, Holmes Troelstrup, Beth Staples, Meg Reid, Kate McMullen) The Publishing Laboratory at UNC Wilmington and the Publications Unit at Illinois State University have years of experience teaching the editing, design, production, and marketing of literary books and magazines. Panelists, including faculty, students, and alumni, detail the apprenticeship experience, best practices in applied learning, and the value of mentorship in the culture of literary publishing through creating professional materials for Ecotone, Lookout Books, SRPR, Obsidian, and FC2.

Published Date: September 20, 2017


Speaker 1 (00:00:00):

Welcome to the A W P Podcast series. This event was recorded at the 2017 A W P conference in Washington dc. The recording features Steve Holly Holmes, trot struck, Beth Staples, Meg Reed, and Kate McMullen. You are now here. Steve Holly provide introduction.

Speaker 2 (00:00:32):

Morning everyone. Thank you. The few the brave for coming out to our first session on Friday morning. This is award-winning professional publications with pre-professional staff mentorship and applied learning and literary publishing. We're bringing together two unique organizations, the Publishing Laboratory from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and the publications unit from Illinois State University. And we're going to talk about our applied learning techniques that we use with students to produce professional literary publications. We have a variety of stakeholders on the panel. We have professional staff from both organizations, also current and former students who are all going to talk about how the publications unit and Pub Lab Publishing Lab have shaped their learning and their careers. So I'm going to start by giving a little bit of a overview of where this panel started at. Then I'm going to say everyone's bios. Then the publications unit is going to present. Then the pub lab will present, and then we're going to have plenty of time for questions. So I hope you brought a lot of questions or else I know we have questions for each other.

Speaker 2 (00:01:44):

Well, first of all, this panel, I'm sure many others at A W P was born out of discontent with another panel that I attended on internships. And it was right after I started at the publications unit and I was really hoping to learn more about how to educate interns. And the gist of the panel was more or less, we have interns and so should you, and it didn't offer very much by way of techniques for working with interns. And so that's what we're really hoping to offer on this panel today. So our panelists are Steve Holly, that's me. I'm the director of the publications unit at Illinois State University, Holmes Trolls Tripp, who's the assistant director of the publications unit at I S U. She's published a book of poetry within Mutiny and it was selected as one of the wardrobe's best dressed by Sundress Publications.

Speaker 2 (00:02:35):

And Holmes teaches Intro to Professional Publishing and edits the Chatbook Press Press 2 54. And then also Tessie Ward is here who is a Sutherland fellow in poetry at I S U and she's a second year master's student about to complete her degree. And then from the Pub lab, Emily Louise Smith, who is suffering from laryngitis and will not be on the panel. She's the co-founder and publisher of books and it's Sister Magazine, eOne. She teaches publishing arts and directs the publishing laboratory at U N C W. Her writing appears in Boulevard Best New Poets, the Southern Review and Literary Publishing in the 21st century. And then BET Staples is on the panel, the assistant director of the Pub Lab and she'll be filling in for Emily Louise Smith or I don't know.

Speaker 2 (00:03:24):

Yes, that works. Okay. Meg Reed is also on the panel. She's an editor and nonfiction writer. Her essays have appeared in Chatauqua and Matter Journal and online for Diagram, the Oxford American Fringe and the Rumpus. She's the deputy director of Hub City Press in Spartansburg, South Carolina. And Kate a McMullen who is a third year fiction candidate in the U N C W M F A program. She's the 2015 winner of the Colbert Chatbook Award for the Girls of Indigo Flats and other stories. And Kate interns with Lookout Books, CWS Literary Imprint, and she serves as social media editor and works in book design. All right, so it's my job then to give an overview of the publications unit and its students. So the publications unit is part of the English department at I S U, and that's one of the things that makes it unique. It is not a university press, so it has a specific focus for its publications. We have literary and scholarly publications.

Speaker 2 (00:05:00):

It was founded in 1991. The services that we offer for publications include editorial, production, marketing and distribution services. Our staffing includes two permanent staff, both of whom are here today, a 12 month director and then a nine month assistant director during the academic year, fall and spring, we have two graduate assistants who are Sutherland fellows, typically Sutherland Fellows in Creative Writing. And these are MA students in creative writing. Typically one prose and one poetry is assigned each year. Sometimes there's only one assigned. And then there's another graduate student that is selected to take the place of a Sutherland fellow. And so the Sutherland Fellowship is four creative writing master's students. It includes a year's assignment at the publications unit and then also a year of teaching introduction to creative writing. So it's a really innovative and unique program, especially for the MA level since our program has a in creative writing but not an M F A.

Speaker 2 (00:05:59):

And then we also at any given time have three to four undergraduate interns and we have interns year round. And these are publishing studies students. So our department has a publishing study sequence to its English studies major, and part of the sequence is for students to get two semesters of practical credit for their work. And the publications unit is one of many sites that students can choose to get that practical credit. And undergraduate interns apply and are hired into the publications unit for two semesters. So it's a professional interview. It can include practical exercises in layout and proofreading before they're hired on.

Speaker 2 (00:06:42):

And so some of the affiliated literary publications that we work with, and you can check out Obsidian and S R P R at book fair Table 2 44 T after the panel today. So we have Obsidian Literature and Arts in the African diaspora, which transitioned to I S U from North Carolina State University in 2015. It's edited by a creative writing faculty member, Dole Harris. And it's had over 40 years of continuous publication. It publishes fiction, poetry, drama, and also has an online presence to publish media writing from writers in the African diaspora as well as scholarship about African diaspora writing. And the new issue for obsidian is Speculating Futures, black Imagination in the Arts, which just came out and is premiering at a W P. We also work with SS R P R, spoon River Poetry Review, which has an affiliation to I S U that predates the founding of the publications unit.

Speaker 2 (00:07:36):

It publishes two issues a year, poetry, also a he Illinois feature poet section, and then also publishes a lengthy review essay where three to four books of contemporary poetry are reviewed. We also work with Fiction Collective two, we do book Interior Designs for Fiction Collective two, it has a long history with I S U as well. The press was fully located at I S U in the nineties and then began to multiply its affiliations and it's now an imprint of the University of Alabama press. And its editorial work is handled through them and book design and production is still at I S U. Then we also have two imprints that we work with Downstate Legacies, which is a imprint that publishes Midwestern writers. It's very new. We've had one book out so far and another one coming out this spring. And then we also have in it publishes fiction poetry and creative nonfiction. And we also have Press 2 54, which is a chatbook press and workshop that we use as a teaching press for English 2 54, which is our Intro to professional publishing class. And that publishes four books a year across the two sections of that course that Holmes and I instruct.

Speaker 2 (00:08:48):

And so we have several different affiliation types with these publications. So the number one is a service affiliation. So we work with organizations that have a historical or faculty driven and or programmatic connection to the department of English. And so we sort of work by extending the masthead in the areas that I talked about, editorial book design and production, marketing and distribution, and serve multiple roles for the publications. We also have freelance affiliations. So the publications unit in these roles perform specific tasks for outside organizations often for pay. And the relationships include both one-off and ongoing projects. And then the newest form is an imprint, and these are organizations that the publications unit itself houses and then manages the organization entirely where Holmes and I are acting as editors and production directors.

Speaker 3 (00:09:47):

So the students that we have working at the unit, as Steve mentioned, come primarily from two different areas. We have undergraduate interns who are majoring in publishing studies and typically we have some experience with them because they've taken the introduction to professional publishing course with Steve or myself. And then we have the graduate level Sutherland Fellows. So they're studying creative writing at the master's level. So the difference between those is that the undergraduate interns have applied for the internship, they've gone through a two-part interview before we've hired them, and the graduate assistants are assigned to the publications unit. So that means that students are coming to the unit with a pretty wide variety of skills and interests. We might have master's students that come to the publications unit that don't have any experience with any of the technology that we work on and varied interests in publishing and production tasks.

Speaker 3 (00:10:47):

But the internship is set up to accommodate for that wide variety of skills and interest. So we have it set up as it's two semesters. The first semester is spent a little bit more time, and the second semester the students are, we're hoping that they'll take a little bit more ownership of the projects. They have a little bit more independence in the tasks that they're completing because it's scaffolded in such a way. We have Tessie Ward here who completed a year at the publications unit. She's the master's level Sutherland fellow in poetry at Illinois State University right now. So do you want to have anything to say maybe about coming into the publications unit without maybe knowing what it was about or the work that you would be doing?

Speaker 4 (00:11:38):


Speaker 5 (00:11:40):

Yeah, I think the thing that was most interesting about coming in is me and the other fellow who came in with me had completely different skills. She had worked on a journal before I had had experienced in graphic design. She did not. So between the two of us kind of trying to gauge what we wanted to grow better and what we wanted to learn more, it was great to come in and say, this is what I have, this is what I want to learn, this is what I need to learn. And kind of talking with Steven Holmes, it made the whole year very, very wonderful to kind of take a skill and pick it and just watch it grow with you. Awesome.

Speaker 3 (00:12:24):

That's a winning endorsement if I've ever heard one. So the way that we have their time actually set up at the publications unit, the students all have a 10 hour schedule. So they work 10 hours per week at sometimes very different schedules. So we have one component every week. It's a weekly round table meeting, and the students can expect to work to devote probably about three hours, so about 30% of their time preparing for the round table meeting and about two hours in the meeting. So what they do in preparation, we have directed readings for them that focus on a lot of different topics related to publishing, independent publishing, independent presses. And those weekly readings are different for the first semester of the internship or assistantship and different again in the second semester. So we get together at these round table meetings and we get to discuss those readings.

Speaker 3 (00:13:21):

They get to ask questions, learn about things that they might not have direct experience with as a part of their internship. So it's meant to kind of supplement the skills that we're teaching them and that they're going to leave with. Other things that we do during our round table meeting are we practice professional communication. So we start with something very simple at the beginning of the semester. I'm sure Tesia remembers just working on a professional introduction, how to introduce yourself in a professional situation in a clear and concise way. And we work through different levels of speaking professionally up to having them practice multi-part interview questions. So how would they talk about their experience at the publications unit? How would they concisely describe what the publications unit is to an interviewer and the work that they've done and the publications that they've worked on? So helping them build professional communication skills is something that we really value. And the other great thing about the Roundtable meetings is that it's a time for us to help build comradery. Since the students are all working different schedules, it's a time for us to get together. They can update us on the work that they're doing. We can clarify any issues that maybe hadn't been clarified before and we can have a little bit of fun.

Speaker 3 (00:14:47):

I mean, did you have fun at

Speaker 5 (00:14:48):

Roundtable? Yeah, round tables are good.

Speaker 3 (00:14:52):

No pressure answering that question in the right way. So we have to assign the students' projects, and as Steve mentioned, we have a number of different projects that we work on. So based on some skill assessments during orientation at the beginning of the semester, Steve and I make kind of a rough schedule of where we think the students might fit, what project they might be the best to work on or where their skills might be best applied. But we also give the students about a week in the beginning of the semester to review the publications, to review the kind of work that they might be doing so that they can then advocate for projects they'd really like to work on, or skills that they're really keen to expand where they might not have any experience or where they have a lot of experience and they think that it would be best applied. So about a week in, we have a full schedule, all of the project assignments, and the goal really is to give students a variety of different assignments over the course of the internship so that when they leave, they have a diverse portfolio of work, including working on book layout projects, journal layout projects, and tabloid or newsletter layout projects. So they have a lot of different experiences that they can draw on.

Speaker 3 (00:16:15):

Some of the broad categories of work that the students can expect to take part in include editorial work, production work, mailing filing and correspondence work, marketing work and project management and organization. And I think we have some of the specific tasks up there that the students might take part in. And these are places where we are working typically one-on-one with the students in order to help them develop these skills. So editorial tasks might include things like cleaning and text preparation, mechanical editing, copy editing, proofreading, comparing edits and applying styles to the text. Production tasks include things like updating a layout template, designing an interior layout, typesetting, and putting the text actually into layout, completing digital checks, working on preparing and submitting Library of Congress, cataloging and publishing data, mailing filing and correspondence tasks include things like opening and filing submissions, hard copy submissions that we receive at the unit, updating subscriptions and mailing lists, creating packets of hard copy submissions for readers, especially for Spooner poetry review. And of course the all hands on deck physical mailing of publications, which I'm sure Tessie can attest to is so much fun.

Speaker 3 (00:17:49):

Marketing tasks might include creating professional advertising documents, event planning, basic social media outreach, and then project management and organization is something that we are working on really all throughout the process, helping students learn how to professionally deal with and manage and maintain print documents that are going to be shared, of course, with other students shared with the editor. And it's important to keep those things organized, as we all know, and managing electronic documents and establishing and maintaining an electronic file organization system so that everyone has access to these files in a really easy way and attention to deadlines. So very important that it's kind of broad, but did you have anything to say about any of these specific tasks that you worked on

Speaker 5 (00:18:50):


Speaker 5 (00:18:55):

As Steve mentioned, one of the projects that we started last year was working with downstate Legacies. And I think overall watching the projects that I did in first semester, I worked with Spoon River Poetry Review, SS R P R, and I was taught a lot of skills and I had a nice guiding hand and I was encouraged to work on my own. And then in the second semester when we worked on Bill Morgan's book with Don't State Legacies, everything was brand new and it was new for me, it was new for Steve, it was new for Holmes, and it was nice because I kind of took the project on by myself and then that's when I started to consider what I wanted in a layout or what I wanted in front decisions. And those kinds of things were very tedious to me, but I realized a whole new level of things that I had yet to learn. So even though you learn one skill here, you kind of have to pick it up all over again on a new project.

Speaker 4 (00:19:54):

Awesome. You going to stand up or do you want this?

Speaker 2 (00:20:02):

So now that you know a little bit about the work that we do, I'll talk a little bit about the learning model that we apply. And so all the different tasks that we talk about, this is the general learning model that we use for all of them. So this model is happening over and over again throughout the two semesters, and the goal is to get all the way to step four with the students, but it doesn't always happen that way because ultimately Holmes and I are professionally responsible for the work that comes out of the unit. And so we have to be responsible to all the stakeholders, which includes editors and of course readers who are going to be experiencing these publications. So our learning model basically breaks down as we begin with discussion and contextualization of each step of the process, including an initial discussion of the project that a student's going to be assigned to.

Speaker 2 (00:20:49):

We look at publishing as being rooted in research. So research is a huge component, not just knowing the genre of the publication, but also the aspects of the publication working with interns and GA's to change the way that they are as readers during the research phase. The second step then is demonstration and modeling. And this is a one-on-one task typically where we're working with students one-on-one to demonstrate the specific task that they're going to be working on. Thirdly, we move on to direct observation of student performance. This is also one-on-one. So we're going to be creepily sitting behind students looking over their shoulder to make sure that they've taken on the information about how to perform a specific task, but also to be there so that if they have questions in the moment, if they miss out on a step, we can offer that subtle nudge right in the moment or be there to answer that question.

Speaker 2 (00:21:48):

And then if everything's going well, we transition into students working independently on a project. Staff of course are still involved, but we have indirect observation of performance. We offer feedback as best we can in the moment if things are going well or things are going not so well. And then also of course, doing quality control on the whole for that aspect of the project. And so one area that I feel like it's easiest to talk about is mechanical editing. So we do text preparation or mechanical editing. It's pretty fundamental work for all the projects that we do. Each project has a specific protocol that we use. And so we talk about the importance of mechanical editing to start with. For us mechanical editing means taking the raw manuscript that editors or authors have submitted and doing some checks to the raw manuscript and doing some formatting and preparation to standardize it because I don't know about you, but everybody uses word processing programs in different ways and there's certain things that we want to get rid of or standardize throughout manuscripts.

Speaker 2 (00:22:53):

And so this process, we've developed protocols for all the different publications in order to standardize them in a way that they'll transition seamlessly from Microsoft Word into InDesign, which we use for our page layouts. And so we talk about, we have a similar discussion to this except a little bit more in depth where we talk about the importance of text preparation, standardizing the manuscript to eliminate errors in the transition from Microsoft word to InDesign. Then we move on to working our way through the publication specific protocol with the student talking about each step that we do because there's a lot of different things that switching out any tabs that might be in a document to true paragraph. And Dennis and Microsoft Word is a big one. I know all of you use tabs in your Microsoft Word documents. So that's one thing that we'll be looking for.

Speaker 2 (00:23:43):

And there's many others, and we'll talk the reasons why each of those things is important when going through the protocol that we transition to watching the student work through the protocol to make sure that they've got it down again, we're available for questions in the moment or to offer corrections in the moment. And then typically since they have a protocol checklist for text preparation, students can transition fairly easily to working independently on that. And as long as they're being consistent with working the protocol and being sure to check their work at the end, usually we can turn over text preparation worked to them fairly quickly. So that's a little overview of our applied learning model and just one area that we use, again, we use it time and time again, so when we get into page layouts and book design and type setting, the same model will apply again. And even for things like mailing and marketing, if you can believe that.

Speaker 3 (00:24:44):

So of course one of the important things to provide for a learning experience for the students is feedback. So we offer feedback in a couple of different ways to the students throughout the process. We offer informal in the moment reviews. So especially during the observation of a task, we will try to correct any errors that we see at that time and address it so that we can continue to move forward with the project instead of waiting always until the end of a task or the end of a project and saying, well next time try to fix this. So we try to fix errors in the moment. We also offer end of task feedback. So at the end of a task, we might have a discussion about it or in some way address strengths or areas of improvement in how that task was completed. In some of the tasks, we can give written feedback.

Speaker 3 (00:25:45):

So for me, anytime I'm collating edits as a student has proofread a document, I've also proofread it and I'm collating those edits together. That's a really easy time for me to keep a written running list of places where I see maybe repeated errors or issues that might need to be addressed, and that might be in the actual proofreading and actual errors that are being found or how the document is being handled, how marks are made on the page or in Acrobat. So I can offer a full and pretty thorough list of direct feedback and discuss that with the students at the time. And it's also something that they can then reference in the future. The next time they're working on proofreading or copy editing, they can draw on that list. The most formal evaluative feedback that we offer are student evaluations twice a semester. So by end of their time at the publications unit, they have four formal evaluations always at the mid and the end of the semester.

Speaker 3 (00:26:52):

And here we fill out an electronic form, it always addresses the same questions, and once we fill that out, we have a meeting with the student so they have an opportunity to come in complete kind of a self-evaluation of where they think they stand, how they maybe see themselves in the context of the work that their peers are doing, where they would like to see improvements or what they'd like to focus on as the internship moves forward. And we address issues like productivity, professional growth, collaboration, and we do try to help them kind of contextualize where they are with maybe what our expectations are or where they stand among their peers. So we try to give them as many opportunities to course correct if that's needed or to help them build their confidence. And in that second semester, really applaud them for taking more of a leadership role among the other interns or graduate assistants experience about the evaluative system or the feedback

Speaker 5 (00:28:07):

As nice as it is to run down the hall and say, Hey, I don't know how to do this help on a small layout task or a tab in dent or whatever it may be. And to get the feedback of you're doing this correctly or you're not. I really enjoyed the formal evaluations once a semester. The self-reflection really allowed me to do a lot of that magnet cognitive work that we don't often do when we're working. So it was nice to sit and explain everything that I was doing to Holmes and to myself or to Steve and to myself, but then to take that information and to see it in the bigger picture and realize what I wanted to work on next. So they were very hopeful. Awesome.

Speaker 3 (00:28:58):

And so throughout this whole process, there's a couple of different goals of course that we have and that we're hoping to deliver to the students. The primary goal of course, being developing confidence or mastery or the ability to replicate a publishing task in another situation, of course, demonstrable proficiency with some of the technologies that we use over and over and over again, and then they might be expect to use in their careers later on demonstrable professional growth. And we are also hoping that in that second semester they can show and exhibit and develop leadership skills and some independence in replicating these tasks. The secondary goal is to help them cultivate or at least think about their own professional behaviors, their own developing non-student behaviors, because while there's students at the undergraduate or the master's level and we are on a college campus, it's still a professional environment and we're creating professional publications. So we do work towards and hope to help them develop kind of non-student behaviors that they can then continue to work on throughout their careers.

Speaker 2 (00:30:29):

Alright, now that this was sort of the fun part for me of putting together the presentation is to think so much of our day is just plow forward and get the work done and make sure that students are learning something. That getting to reflect a little bit on the challenges to the process was a very compelling part of putting this together. So the number one challenge I think that we face year in and year out is matching production schedules for the various publications with the semester schedule, everything happens in publishing, deadlines often become very fluid, especially when we're working with other colleagues who also have teaching and research loads and things like that as well as being editors. But we also have students to answer to and we want to make sure that there's work for them to do that the work is consistent from semester to semester that they can't actually have the print object for their portfolio when they finish up.

Speaker 2 (00:31:23):

So that is the top challenge. I would say. It's also really complex to manage time for staff and that's thinking in advance about things that you don't know yet, which I guess is true of any kind of learning environment where we have a lot of variables with the students coming in, having zero publishing experience to students with publishing studies background who have fairly significant amount of experience coming in. And we have to be prepared to do the amount of education it takes to produce a professional publication regardless of the experience of the student assigned to work on those publications. And then also just sort of dispelling that mythos that interns are time savers. That is just simply not the case. It takes a lot more investment, I think, to work with interns, especially if it's their first internship to educate them. And I think that that is a myth that pervades literary publishing is that, well, we'll just get an intern to work on this, but to do justice to the internship and to really be an educator for an intern or graduate assistant requires a lot of time investment.

Speaker 2 (00:32:30):

And so you also have to manage how much the workload can be for professional staff in order to make sure that that time for education is available. And that's a constant battle for us, maintaining high standards and a reputation for excellence while also working with professional staff who we expect to have time for mistake making, experimentation, risk taking and things like that within the publication. And also being able to have that in a controlled environment where we can be pretty sure of what the risks that they might take, the mistakes they might make, and being able to catch that so we're not doing harm to the work that we're producing and having just two professional staff to be the sort of catchalls for errors that might be introduced. So working hard to catch errors in the moment is something that we have to be fairly proficient at and more than just knowing our own setbacks and things that are catching points for us as publishing professionals and then also managing relationships.

Speaker 2 (00:33:33):

We sort of sit in between the students that we're tasked to educate and then the editors that we're tasked to serve in these various ways. And that can often be interesting. It can be interesting to sit at that fulcrum point between editors and students who have different expectations. Things that we've had to do with that respect is sometimes I have to have all my professional communication with certain editors, not mention that students work on the publications at all, which is kind of a weird thing to do, but it just works better if I just say I'm doing all the work and they know students are working on it. But I never say that a specific thing is done by a student. There's also a possibility that a student would be in a particular editor's class and things of that nature.

Speaker 2 (00:34:19):

So those are just some of the challenges that we face and there are others as well, but I don't want to make it seem like we're complete experts up here. So we do face a lot of difficulties. And I want to say in closing that these are not trade secrets. I know that we've breezed through a presentation talking about a learning model, but we do have lots of instruments, evaluation forms and things like that for a number of different areas, and we're always available to consult. So some of the contact information is up on the screen. So I'll leave that up for just a few seconds so you can take that down and perhaps put it back up later so we can transition over to the F lab.

Speaker 6 (00:35:05):

I'll say good morning while he's getting that set up. Hi everyone, I'm Beth Staples. I'm the assistant director of the publishing laboratory at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and I'm pinch hitting this morning for Emily Louis Smith who has laryngitis in the front row. So she starts waving her hands madly. I'm screwing something up, but I'm working from her notes and I'm going to try to do her proud. She should be up here because she's the visionary behind a lot of the press, the magazine that I'm going to talk about and the lab and its curriculum. So I just want to make sure she's getting the credit she deserves in the front row. So I'm going to talk a little bit about the publishing laboratory first and then talk about Ecotone, our literary magazine and lookout books, our imprint. We've got some action shots, so you can just sort of follow.

Speaker 6 (00:35:50):

I didn't know I was going to be in a lot of 'em, so there's a lot of me happening. But Emily's first note here is that she's often asked how she built a small press overnight because I think it might seem that way from the outside, but she always laughs because the publishing laboratory was an operation for four years before Ecotone existed. And then Ecotone was an operation for another four years before Lookout Books existed. So I'm just going to go through that history just a little bit. The Publishing laboratory was founded in 2001 to give students insider knowledge of the publishing industry. So the idea was to peel back the curtain, let them see what the acquisition process looked like, the editing process, the design process, the production process, and the marketing process. So how a book goes from being a manuscript to going out into the world, all of those stages. We are a Mac laboratory. I don't know, we're not switching yet, maybe I don't think. Yeah, you can see the students at the computers. We have 16 Mac computers, and then we have some binder equipment. So the top left-hand corner, we have a perfect binder where students can actually make books in the lab and also a guillotine trimmer, so a trimmer with a giant blade that we've never lost the hand, not even a finger. So we're very careful with the equipment, but students in some of our classes actually make books using that equipment.

Speaker 6 (00:37:09):

The existence of the lab led to our first books under what was an imprint called the Publishing Lab Imprint, and those are mostly local books by local writers or people with some affiliation to the university. We have one book called Show and Tell, which are, it's going to be at the bottom of the pile. Here it is. Our faculty uses it in their creative writing classes, the Intro to Creative Writing classes. So this is one of the first books that was made in the lab, and it's an essay from everyone who works in our department. And so everyone who goes through creative writing uses it. We don't actually produce this, of course, in the lab, but it was initially created the design in the lab. I think this is now the sixth edition of it in 2005. Thank you. A w P made a site visit and said it would be great if we could have a literary journal that the best M F A programs in the country had a literary journal.

Speaker 6 (00:38:04):

So that was a good incentive to start one. And David, who's currently our department chair, founded Ecotone then in 2005, and we had a lot of editorial success early on Republications in the O Henry Best American series, the Push Cart prize, et cetera. So we were doing pretty well with Ecotone editorially. And then in 2009, Emily co-founded Lookout Books, and the idea was we had this strong editorial background with Ecotone, and we had these capabilities to teach students, design, marketing, production, all these things that we could marry those two things in a literary press. And what Emily and other faculty discovered was that when students had real literary projects to work on that they learned faster. It was just more exciting place to be overall. Ecotone is connected to Lookout Books, but each of them have their own missions. We find writers to publish through Lookout for Lookout through ecotone.

Speaker 6 (00:39:07):

Let's see. So the first book was published in 2011. It was Binocular Vision. I'll like Kate, I'm going to let my assistant hold the books up. Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman, which is a new and selected story collection. And it had an incredible amount of success. It won the National Book Critic Circle Award. It was a finalist for the National Book Award story prize, and it was on the cover of the New York Times book review, which I think had never happened before with a debut debut book from our press. So it sort of shot us into the national spotlight pretty quickly, which was exciting. The next book we did was a story collection by Steve Almond, which won the Patterson Prize. So our books started winning awards, which was not only exciting for the faculty, but of course exciting for the students who got to work on the books and helped students, of course, as they were leaving the program get better jobs.

Speaker 6 (00:40:02):

So the books that they have on the resumes that are getting national attention, that was helpful as they entered the publishing marketplace. So we have a suite of traditional classes in the publishing arts that became part of the curriculum. We have a B, f A for undergrads, a certificate in publishing. It's a suite of five courses, and it starts with an intro to publishing course, a sort of overview of the book industry. The next course they take is an editing for publication course, which is kind of like a grammar bootcamp course. We have a course called Book building, which we offer at the undergraduate and the graduate level where students basically learn page layout, graphic design, typography, and they actually get to make a book of their own work on those machines. We have special topics in publishing, and we've offered copy editing, developmental editing, issues of diversity in publishing, all sorts of rotating topics.

Speaker 6 (00:40:59):

And then the final course for undergrads is a capstone course where they actually make a book of all the graduating students work that year. So they apply all of the things that they've learned in their foundational courses in a practicum course where they make a book. And then at the graduate level, I mentioned we have book building course. We also have a course called the Business of Being a Writer, where students get to learn how to write a book proposal, how to work with an agent, how to find an agent. And then we have two practicum courses for the graduate students, one associated with Ecotone and one associated with Lookout books. So those, I'll talk a little bit more about that in a second. But they're overseen by faculty members. There are three of us that are full-time publishing faculty, so Kate and Meg are going to talk more also about what it's like to be in those courses.

Speaker 6 (00:41:47):

But I want to take a few minutes and talk about, or Emily wanted me to talk about why we've been successful as a press and how it's tied to our teaching mission with the M F A program. And I think one of the first things is that there is foundational coursework, so no one's sort of thrown into working with the press or the magazine without some kind of foundational coursework. So that book building course is required for anyone who wants to take lookout. And for the students, the undergrad students who eventually make a book, they all take this course. So we begin with the principles of graphic design, an emphasis on how to create a book page, layout, topography, margins, all those little details that maybe you don't think about when you're reading a book. And then they progress toward increasingly complex assignments until they actually make a book.

Speaker 6 (00:42:36):

And then those editorial special topics courses that I mentioned, so the copy editing course, working as an editor or business of being a writer, et cetera, where we sort of give them foundations about how agents work, how book proposals work, a lot of that business end of things, how the publishing industry is structured, et cetera. Similarly to my friends over here, faculty oversight is important to everything. So this is not a student, these aren't student run publications. Faculty is working closely with the students at every step of the process. And I think you said something like, you're accountable to readers, you're accountable to editors, and anyone who encounters the book or the magazine, I think we all feel all the faculty feels really strongly about that. We want to give students the freedom to explore things and learn new things. But everything, there's oversight involved in everything.

Speaker 6 (00:43:31):

So the faculty is working really closely with students. And then I mentioned those two practicum courses, so they meet once a week for three hours, and I'll let the students talk a little bit about that. But a couple other important things that our projects aren't just, I didn't move the slideshow forward at all at any point, and I probably would supposed to do that. Okay, so those are more action shots in the public. Here's some of our books. Gosh, sorry guys. So there's, yeah, that's all of Lookout Books. Books. So Binocular Vision up in the corner. And then our most recent title. In the bottom, we show what we have learned by Claire Beams, which is a story collection is currently a finalist for the Penn Robert Bingham prize. Maybe you can go forward from there. There's ecotone covers. We're at tables 404 0 1 if you want to stop by. Yeah, ecotone covers. Let's see. Just catching up to myself. Yeah, go forward.

Speaker 6 (00:44:33):

Do you want to talk about that one? Maybe I'll let you That is, yeah, we can circle back to that one. Maybe I'll let Kate talk about that. Oh, website creation. Yeah, maybe. Okay, let's go back a slide. I'm sorry, Emily. I'm sorry, Emily. Okay. So a few other notes. Our projects aren't just simulation, so students are exposed to the full range of work for every magazine publication and book publication. So what you're seeing here in the back slide and testing Steve's patience, not all these are media kits for Clair Beam's book. So it's hard to get the attention of the media. Of course, they're getting copies of books, hundreds of copies of books in the mail. So in the Lookout Practicum under Emily's supervision, the students kind of brainstormed ideas for the kits. So the idea was if you're working at Oprah or you're working at Vogue or something and you get one of these kits, it would be memorable.

Speaker 6 (00:45:35):

You'd be more inclined to say something about the book. And it actually worked. The book appeared in Oprah's. It was 10 books you should read in November. So that was a huge success for the kits. The students had this idea there would be a little gift, it's a story collection. So they chose a gift that applied to the different stories. So there were three objects and there were some bath salts and air plant that the tea, and it's some tea, and those all made sense with the stories, but they were gifts. Of course, we were buttering up the media, but it was like Emily would talk with the students about marketing. The students came with ideas. But again, both that collaboration, oversight, giving the students a chance to sort of come up with ideas, but still overseeing how they're executed. So those are some images of that. And then the next slide is a picture of Matthew Neil Knoll's website. He's a novel that came out before our current story collection, and that was again, designed and worked on by a student, but with Emily's oversight. So all of the students were involved in all of those little pieces, not just until there's a book, but afterwards trying to get the word out into the world.

Speaker 6 (00:46:48):

So Emily, I have a note here from her goal, especially in the practicum, is to focus on shared discovery. So she tries to grant the students enough autonomy to ignite their sense of leadership and responsibility, even allowing them to make mistakes. I think we were all really nodding when you were going through your challenges. You know that they're going to make mistakes in some way you want them to, but at the same time, being responsible for the final outcome. So she's always guiding the students steps. Also, modeling, I think, is a huge part of what faculty do in those practicum classes. So you guys talked a lot about how do you develop, you're teaching the students to be professionals when they leave the room, and I think a lot of the way you do that is you show them how to be professionals. So we're doing a lot of modeling for the students, commitment, hard work, and you expect that level of commitment from the students. So in some ways treat them like employees as much as students. So sort of that balance. And then I love this quote from Emily, I'm teaching to carry into the world beyond our hallways and appreciation for intelligent editing and imaginative design and unflagging belief that books in larger sympathies. So again, it's that combination of teaching things and modeling those things for the students.

Speaker 6 (00:48:03):

What do students do in the practicums? They read manuscripts for Lookout in Ecotone. They spend a lot of time reading submissions. We have a process that we call top editing. And what that means is no student is ever responsible for the complete developmental editing of a manuscript, but they will sometimes look over the shoulder of an editor or an editor will look, they will be allowed to put some comments on a story or an essay or a poem, and the editor will come back and look over them. So there's a collaborative editing relationship that sometimes happens for Ecotone students. And then especially with Lookout, Emily's often teaching them basic life and business skills. So the fact that publishing it isn't just about the arc, right? Of course that's important, but that there's budgeting that goes into it. Our students learn what profit and loss sheets look like, how advances work, how bids work when we send them out to the printer, determining the cost of how to run a promotion.

Speaker 6 (00:49:04):

So they sort of let in behind the scenes of all those kind of business decisions as well. And then I was really nodding when you were saying how do you sort of sync the semester schedule with a production schedule? Production schedules are of course so important. So teaching students about deadlines, how to create a production schedule, how to follow a production schedule, et cetera. And we believe students go on to publishing, that's really valuable. But if they go on even just to publish a book of their own work, that knowledge can be helpful. So they're getting to see that process should they see it from the side of the writer as well. Maybe I'll turn it over to you two to talk for a little bit. Sure, yeah. Okay. So I'm going to let Kate, Kate is currently an M F A student in the program, and she's publication assistant, so she works closely with Emily and all sorts of things. And then Meg is an alumni, so I'm just going to let them talk about their experience. Thank you, Beth.

Speaker 7 (00:50:01):

Yeah, so I'll just talk kind of briefly about my trajectory through the publishing program at U N C W. I had really been interested for a long time before I came to the M F A program in where books came from and had a little design experience, but had really kind of no outlet with which to use those ideas and interests. So the first thing I did when I got to U N C W is sign up for book building, which I think was exactly what I was looking for. A way to sort of put design interest and the idea about creating a book, especially at my own work, which was really exciting. And that class really gave me some understanding of how the skills I learned in that class could relate to publishing and got me interested in the idea of publishing as a career.

Speaker 7 (00:50:44):

So right after that, the next semester, my first year as an M F A student, I signed up for practicums in Ecotone and Lookout at the same time. It was a lot of work, but I really enjoyed doing it. It was worth it, I think, to take them both at the same time, especially because Ecotone authors end up always end up becoming a lookout, look out writers at some point maybe. So I only took the ton class once, but it was a really invaluable experience for me specifically as a writer, to see the sort of behind the scenes of how a journal works. It made me a lot more confident in submitting my work to own journals to other my own work, two other journals, having seen how to put together an issue from beginning to end. What does the run order look like? If we have a sort of long more academic piece, do we follow it with something kind of short and lyrical?

Speaker 7 (00:51:36):

Does poetry need to come after fiction or nonfiction or vice versa? What does the cover letter look like? All of that stuff was really useful to me as a writer specifically, and that was definitely really helpful. It also got me thinking about what an Ecotone piece looks like, which translates eventually into what does a lookout look like? So I also joined Lookout that same semester at the tail end of design and editorial work for Matt Knows Honey From The Lion. I worked mostly in marketing and publicity for the anticipation of that book's release in fall 2015, which speaking of production schedules and how to line up a production schedule with a class schedule, we always have this awkward thing in fall where our Class Lookout class meets on Monday and Labor Day is always on this awkward Monday where we miss a class. And that year, Matt's book came out the day after, so we didn't have class.

Speaker 7 (00:52:30):

Matt's book came out and then we came back and we're trying to do all of this cover work to make sure that we had done all the publicity we needed to do, which is a strange week because usually we have classes to sort of brief on what the week is going to look like. And we missed class that week. So I worked closely with Emily and other students in planning Matt's tour, and by the end of that semester, I think I definitely caught the bug and I wanted to see that tour through and helped build Buzz and staff events. So I kept taking the class. They recommend that we take it twice, and I think that that's definitely true. And then I just kind of kept doing it. I got really excited about it. So while we wrapped up the Honey from the Lion Tour, I was also working on the interior design with another student for We Show What We Have Learned, which is our most recent title.

Speaker 7 (00:53:14):

And I really fell in love with that collection and it kind of just kept going. And then I was really fortunate to be hired as Lookout Book's first publishing assistant. It's a new graduate assistantship that's a 20 hour a week position. And I work pretty closely with Emily and supporting the class in a lot of ways, which I think has been really helpful to the program. And I'm excited to sort of bring that position to life. It's been really fun. And I definitely a more in-depth look at the behind, behind the scenes of publishing, which has been great. Beth mentioned the kits that we put together for Claire last year, which I'll also talk a little bit about because I think it was one of the more exciting things that I've done with Lookout. We spent a lot of time brainstorming the creative, fun ideas that would grab a reader's attention, reading through stories and deciding which ones had strong enough images that we could create a sort of giveaway to connect a reader to the book.

Speaker 7 (