Partners in craft: Three friends of West Virginia University Press

In the first installment of a new Booktimist series, we hear from three publishing professionals who help WVU Press’s small staff bring books to West Virginia and the world.

Jeremy Wang-Iverson with Muriel Rukeyser’s The Book of the Dead at the Brooklyn Book Festival.

Jeremy Wang-Iverson is president at Vesto PR and Books, based in Barcelona and New York.

I have helped with the publicity for WVU titles for two years now and look forward to promoting the books into 2019. It strikes me that WVU’s publishing program represents the best of university press and scholarly publishing; there are many authors and editors with interesting arguments, research, and ideas whose chief goal and ambition is having their book brought with care into the world. The limited size of WVU’s list means that this can be done for every book. As a publicist, I’m most interested in working with publishers who have been “present in the process,” as Cleveland State University’s Caryl Pagel says, and I’ve found that’s the case with the WVU team, which handles the smallest details slowly and correctly. WVU’s mix of academic titles, alongside regional and literary, is also very appealing, offering a catalog that has something for every reader. That Morgantown, just an hour outside of Pittsburgh, is a source of literary activity can only be positive; we should all encourage and support the cultural output that comes from places away from the coasts and big cities.

Eliot Parker is the author of four novels. A recipient of the West Virginia Literary Merit Award and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize in Thriller Writing, he currently teaches writing and literature at Mountwest Community and Technical College in Huntington, West Virginia. Above, he interviews WVU Press author Travis Stimeling on Chapters, his show on Armstrong Local Programming.

West Virginia University Press serves an important role in our region and throughout the country. The press brings unknown or previously hidden knowledge into the public realm in order to create a more literate society. At a time of consolidation and conglomeration within the publishing industry, WVU Press is contributing to the literary landscape by publishing diverse literary works by diverse writers that give voice to underrepresented or misunderstood cultures and regions. I appreciate the depth and breadth of cultural expressions that are represented in the work published by WVU Press across all literary genres. Their encouragement and support of authors, storytelling, and ideas helps better inform and educate readers.

Arlan Hess (right) with WVU Press author Laura Leigh Morris.

Arlan Hess owns City Books in Pittsburgh.

University presses and independent bookstores are natural allies. We share a mission to offer extraordinary books to selective readers—not to an algorithm. WVU Press offers a title list that appeals not just to Pittsburghers, but also to those traveling through the city who want to read more about Appalachia and the Rust Belt. In that way, WVU Press is the depository of our collective soul. Historically, City Books only carried used and collectible books, but since we’ve built relationships with a few independent and university presses, we now curate a collection that blends the old with the new, providing both contemporary ideas and context for the ongoing discussion between writers and readers. If possible, we get authors into the store or onto Shelf Life (our author interview show) to talk about their books in person. Everyone has a story to tell, and when we listen to each other, we build healthy communities. WVU Press preserves our civic well-being by giving voice to those stories.


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