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.

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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.Read More »

“Because she loved to read”: Notes on a career in publishing from Meagan Szekely, WVU Press’s former graduate assistant

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 8.24.48 AM.pngMeagan Szekely is the marketing manager at Naval Institute Press. Previously, she worked as an editorial assistant at Johns Hopkins University Press and as a graduate assistant at West Virginia University Press. Meagan has a master’s degree in professional writing and editing from West Virginia University. She has worked on books about Appalachian culture, Florida manatees, World War II spies, and Victorian shoes. A native of Huntington, West Virginia, Szekely now lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and cat. She is passionate about books, Coca-Cola, and West Virginia.

From the very beginning of grad school, I lived by Jeffrey Eugenides’s words from The Marriage Plot: “She’d become an English major for the purest and dullest of reasons: because she loved to read.” To which my mother replied, “But what are you going to do with a degree in English?”Read More »

The persistence of books in an age of content: A conversation

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In recognition of West Virginia University’s long-form scholarship celebration, we’re turning the blog’s camera around for an interview with Derek Krissoff, director of West Virginia University Press, in conversation with Ryan Claycomb, interim director of the WVU Humanities Center. 

RC: Derek, at this transitional moment in the publishing industry, how would you characterize the work of university presses?

DK: I would say, without qualification, irony, or diffidence, that this is a golden age for books and for university presses. There are more books, more bookstores, more authors, more communities of readers, more publishers in general, and more university presses specifically than ever before.

Moreover, while presses are experimenting with new business models and new methods of disseminating information, our recent history has been characterized by continuity far more than disruption. At most university presses, eighty to ninety percent of sales continue to come from print, while the upstart open access model, heralded in some quarters as our inevitable future, involves something like one percent of new scholarly titles. The substance of university press books—from Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century to Safiya Umoja Noble’s Algorithms of Oppression—is more adventurous than ever. Their form, however, is essentially unchanged.Read More »

The AWP bookfair: A visual tour

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The bookfair at AWP.

Abby Freeland is the sales and marketing director at West Virginia University Press, where she also acquires fiction. She recently represented WVU Press at AWP’s annual conference, where she was an exhibitor at the bookfair.

Every year, writers from around the world gather at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference to talk—and maybe gossip, if only a little—about books, writers, writing, and everything in between.Read More »

A sales rep walks into an independent bookstore

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Booktimist has showcased perspectives from authors and editors, but there are many other professionals involved in making and disseminating books. Today we hear from Bob Barnett, the regional sales manager for the University of Texas Press. He sells titles to bookstores in the southern United States for a number of university presses, including WVU.

During the annual winter meeting of publishers and booksellers, American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher referred to the “indie resurgence.” New independent bookstores are opening (40 last year) and sales have improved, year to year, for the past five years. According to a new study associated with the Harvard Business School, the resurgence of indie bookselling has been influenced by three factors – community, curation, and convening. On a recent trip to Florida, I had the chance to visit Copperfish Books for the first time. Based on my visit, I think it illustrates the three C’s of indie bookstore success.Read More »

Some notes on book titles

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Andrew Berzanskis is an editor-at-large for the press. Here, he offers an inside look at the acquisitions process. Find him on Twitter: @aberzanskis

If you can’t remember the name of your book without seeing it in writing, the title is too long.

When you explain the pun in your proposed book title, you have already made two mistakes.

Your book’s audience will only be as broad as the most narrow word in the title. Read More »