What we acquire: A conversation between WVU Press’s acquisitions editors

As the team at West Virginia University Press starts a new year, we wanted to share a quick sense of our acquisitions priorities for 2023 and beyond. The people who sign new books at WVU are Sarah Munroe (acquisitions editor and marketing manager) and Derek Krissoff (director). Here they talk a little about what they’re looking for. You can find contact info for both on the press’s website.

Derek: One of the things I like about working at a small press is the degree of back-and-forth, which includes our collaboration in acquisitions work. In fact some of our most successful titles in recent years have involved editorial contributions from both of us. How would you describe the distinctions in our areas and roles?

Sarah: A tricky question to start! It’s often fairly fluid between us, which I really enjoy and appreciate—we don’t have guarded territories and we talk about most projects together.

Generally I handle fiction and creative nonfiction (CNF) acquisitions, including our In Place series. You’ve given me a lot of freedom in those areas, particularly fiction (an initially alarming amount: “You’re really going to let me take a novel about a bigfoot PI?”), but when I like something or am unsure about a project, I’ll share it with you so we can discuss. Sometimes though, fiction or CNF submissions are emailed straight to you, and either because you have an established rapport with the author or because of workload, you’ve taken the lead on those.Read More »

Catalog tour: A preview of West Virginia’s spring season

Our new catalog is now on its way to mailboxes, and you can see it online here. Some highlights:

—West Virginia’s spring 2023 season includes highly anticipated life-writing by Davon Loeb and Kelley Shinn, plus short fiction (described by Danielle Evans as “impossibly strange and mercifully familiar”) by Courtney Sender.

—The latest book in our successful higher education series is about the timely topic of student mental health, and we usher in the new series Borderless with a collection of artistic and creative responses to COVID-19.

—New titles in Appalachian studies and studies of the Black Atlantic roll out alongside two new books with humanities perspectives on energy, climate, and environment.

Our small-yet-fierce cohort of spring authors comes from seven US states (plus Puerto Rico) and two continents. These are teachers, scholars, social workers, and activists—but also, of course, writers. We’re excited to share their books in the coming year, and we’re grateful for the support of our many readers.


Rethinking the catalog: Some notes on fall 2022

Over the past couple of tumultuous years, lots about publishing has changed and lots has stayed the same—and both tendencies are on display in West Virginia’s new seasonal catalog.

Several publishers have recently moved away from seasonal catalogs altogether, as the effort required to design, edit, print, and distribute them has come under new scrutiny. (Early in the pandemic, when so few people had access to the work mailboxes where catalogs tend to be sent, the investment seemed especially questionable.) But at West Virginia we’ve happily kept at it, believing there’s value in stopping, every six months, to share with our readers a tangible guide to forthcoming books.

We’re always adapting as things shift around us, though, and with the fall 2022 catalog we’ve made changes. It’s a shorter document, scaled back to align with (post)pandemic attention spans—and to function as a teaser (“learn more online!”) rather than a comprehensive reference work. We still like paper, but we want to use our print catalog to invite you to online spaces for conversation and, of course, for ordering books.

Some tidbits:

—The catalog has gotten thinner, but it’s the same height and width it’s always been. We’re attached to our distinctive 5.5 x 7.5 dimensions.

—The catalog cover was adapted by in-demand designer Rachel Willey from her cover for Tom Bredehoft’s forthcoming book Foote. You can see more of Rachel’s work on Instagram. Read More »

WVU Press welcomes Natalie Homer

Please join us in welcoming Natalie Homer as WVU Press’s new operations associate and office manager!

Natalie is the author of the poetry collection Under the Broom Tree (Autumn House Press). Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in the Cumberland River Review, Puerto del Sol, Ruminate, Four Way Review, Sou’wester, and others. She earned an MFA from West Virginia University (making her one of three WVU Press staffers with advanced degrees from the university’s English department).

Natalie started this month in the role previously held by Charlotte Velloso. Her contact information is now posted to the press’s website. We’re thrilled to have Natalie aboard, to be fully staffed, and to keep publishing great books!

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,