On being a community publisher: Our year in sixty seconds

With things settling gradually into some new normal—and publishing experiencing continued growth despite the challenges of the pandemic and supply-chain crisis—the staff at West Virginia University Press are pleased to take sixty seconds to look back on a year of genuine celebration and unparalleled achievements. We’re proud of our authors’ many successes in 2021, from national recognition (the PEN/Faulkner Award, the year’s “100 Notable Books” in the New York Times) to regional accomplishments (the Weatherford Award, the Blair Mountain Centennial commemoration) to frequent appearances, by our scholars of teaching and learning, in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.Read More »

WVU Press welcomes Charlotte Velloso

This month Charlotte Velloso joins West Virginia University Press in the new role of office manager and operations associate, an expanded version of Floann Downey’s longtime office manager position. We wish Floann all the best in retirement, and are excited to welcome Charlotte to our growing team—now, for the first time, with a full-time staff of five!

A Morgantown native, Charlotte is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal and WVU’s MA program in public history. She worked with WVU Press as a graduate assistant for two years, developing skills in project management, intellectual property, and professional communication that she’ll apply in her new job. Please join us in both welcoming Charlotte and in congratulating Floann on her superlative career with West Virginia University. And thank you for your support as we continue to grow!

Read West Virginia’s spring books today with NetGalley and Edelweiss

With wintry days of reading on the horizon, West Virginia University Press is pleased to make it easy to get complimentary access to two of our highly anticipated spring books. Use your free NetGalley account to read Shaun Slifer’s So Much to Be Angry About: Appalachian Movement Press and Radical DIY Publishing and Jim Lewis’s novel Ghosts of New York. Like what you’ve read? Then consider reviewing it on a site like Goodreads—authors will appreciate the positive word-of-mouth, and so will we.

And if you’re a bookseller, librarian, or reviewer with access to the Edelweiss platform, you can also read Larry D. Thacker’s Working It Off in Labor County and Charles B. Keeney’s The Road to Blair Mountain. We add general-interest titles to Edelweiss on a regular basis, so check back for forthcoming books by Renée K. Nicholson, Geoff Hilsabeck, and more. And happy reading!

Celebrate the National Book Awards with West Virginia: A message from our director

Dear friends,

My colleagues and I are excited to share the news that West Virginia University Press’s book The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is one of five finalists for the National Book Award in fiction. Author Deesha Philyaw will be part of the finalists’ reading hosted by the New School on November 10, and the awards ceremony itself—referred to by former emcee Mika Brzezinski and others as “the Oscars without money”—will be held on November 18. Both events will be livestreamed, and I hope you’ll consider joining the remote festivities.

I don’t think it overstates things to say that this is the biggest development in our press’s history, and the wider world has taken notice. As a headline from the Washington Post puts it, the “finalists are a strikingly fresh group,” and Vox goes further, noting that “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies comes from West Virginia University Press, meaning we get the unusual sight of a small university press book in the fiction finals.” I was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with Publishers Weekly about publishing a finalist, and about how Deesha’s book—a widely praised work by one of the region’s most highly regarded Black writers—fits into our broader publishing program at WVU. News of our book’s inclusion in the awards cohort is also reported by the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere—all signs, I think, of WVU Press’s wide-reaching public engagement on behalf of our university and state.

I’m deeply grateful to Deesha, to the press’s board and small staff, and to all of you for your support as we continue to grow.

Thanks and all best wishes,

Derek

Summer signings: Early announcements of some forthcoming books

Twice a year we share our seasonal catalog announcing titles to be published in the next six months. But WVU Press’s acquisitions editors are always at work (even in a pandemic!) signing books where publication is even further out. In this space we’re pleased to share early news of some highly anticipated projects that have come under contract this summer, with publication expected in the next year or two. Working on a book of your own? Please feel encouraged to contact one of our acquisitions editors.

Eminent historian Joe Trotter has signed a contract for a collection of his essays on Black workers and the Appalachian coal industry. Look for it in fall 2021.

Anne T. Lawrence has submitted her oral history of the Appalachian Mine Wars, based on interviews she conducted as a student in the early ‘70s. We’ll publish next year to mark the Blair Mountain Centennial, with a foreword by Catherine Venable Moore and an afterword by Cecil E. Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America. Catherine announces the book here.

Lou Martin at Chatham University has agreed to write a short history of Appalachian activism, from the Mine Wars to the teachers’ strike.Read More »

A publisher worth having in good times is twice as valuable in bad: A message from WVU Press

Update: Our warehouse in Chicago has now reopened!

In this period of extraordinary challenges—for publishing, bookselling, higher ed, and just about everything and everybody else—the staff at West Virginia University Press is committed to ensuring that the state’s largest publishing house continues to maintain a robust lineup of books and journals. Some key points:

  • We look forward to sharing our fall catalog next month. If your access to the print catalog is interrupted, let us know and we’ll make sure you get a digital copy. Booksellers and sales reps can always access information about our new and forthcoming titles on the Edelweiss platform.
  • Forthcoming titles will continue to be released on schedule, with the possibility of some modest hiccups related to the temporary closure of our warehouse at the University of Chicago Press’s Distribution Center. Our colleagues in Chicago have been great, and we don’t anticipate significant disruptions.
  • Many print books continue to be available directly from WVU Press during the warehouse closure (currently scheduled to last through April 7), but to help compensate for any delays we’ve made all of our ebooks half off on our website. Plus you’ll receive a free digital edition immediately when ordering any print book directly from WVU.
  • If you’re looking for print without delay, our books are widely available at online retailers. We suggest Bookshop.org, Indiebound.org, or independent bookstores that sell directly from their own websites. Our titles are also available and shipping now from Amazon.com and BN.com.
  • Our staff is working offsite, but we’re excited to continue acquiring new books. If you have something to pitch, please email the appropriate acquisitions editor.
  • While face-to-face book events are—like events of nearly all kinds—canceled, we’re teaming up with Taylor Books in Charleston to hold a virtual book launch for Kevin Gannon’s timely book Radical Hope on April 1.
  • We’re also donating 120 copies of Radical Hope to West Virginia University’s Teaching and Learning Commons, to be shared with teachers across our home institution.

Read More »

What we read over the holidays

WVU’s students returned to classes today, which means the quiet days and easy commutes through town have come to an official end. Suddenly those days of the holiday break—not necessarily easier than the regular routine, but full of possibility—seem far away. To bring us back to thoughts of relaxation and leisure, and to possibly inspire your next cozy-under-the-blankets winter read, WVU Press’s full-time staff have shared some of the books they were gifted with or read over the holiday break. We bring you nonfiction, poetry, and new novels (not to mention bookstore recommendations)—and “dishwasher” comes up in two ways. Happy new year and happy reading from everyone at WVU.

Sara G., Managing Editor

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017)

On a whim at the bookstore one night last year, I bought Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus. I’ve been intrigued by cephalopods, so intelligent and yet so alien, ever since I watched an episode of Nature featuring a deceptive cuttlefish. For several nights in a row, I interrupted my husband every few minutes to share whatever new fact I learned as I was reading. (Did you know that octopuses can regenerate their arms? Did you know they can see and taste with their skin?) My husband gifted me the perfect follow-up, and I’m looking forward to diving into this philosophical treatment of these creatures. Read More »

West Virginia University Press welcomes Sarah Munroe

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Sarah Munroe will join West Virginia University Press as marketing manager and acquisitions editor at the start of the new year, overseeing marketing and sales operations and acquiring a mix of literary and social justice titles. Sarah is currently at Temple University Press, and she has worked previously at the Pew Charitable Trusts and at WVU Press, where she was a graduate assistant while earning her master of fine arts degree. She received the Russ MacDonald Creative Writing Award from WVU’s Department of English. While at Temple, she has worked in literary studies, disability studies, gender and sexuality studies, and other fields.

We hope you’ll join us in welcoming Sarah back to Morgantown, and we invite you to get to know her in this blog post from the spring, in which she talks with Kat Saunders, another WVU Press alum, about graduate work at West Virginia University as preparation for a career in publishing.