Student Post: Maintaining and Operating a Small Press

by Sally Beeson

Each Wednesday, I, along with eight other publishing students, meet in Mayfield Hall for class. This building, recently reopened, now houses the Publishing and MFA programs here at Rosemont and, with this new home, comes a new project. Each week when we congregate in Mayfield Hall, we embark on a journey to start Rosemont College’s very own small press.

If you were to enter the classroom where the Operating and Maintaining and Small Press class meets, you will be met with pictures of ravens, lions, and rising suns taped to the wall, a seemingly random list of adjectives on the board, as well as themes and possible titles for our first book. Our first publication will be an anthology of poetry, short stories, personal essays, excerpts, and flash fiction written by Rosemont faculty and MFA alumni. The book, titled “Another Breath” so as to symbolize the republication of these pieces, will launch at the MFA holiday party on December 11, 2014, meaning we’re on a strict time frame to get everything ready to send to the printer. It can get frustrating and overwhelming (especially since all of us are taking multiple courses), but one thing the Small Press class is teaching us is the whole messy process that occurs before we can print and sell our book, the frayed ends that will eventually tie together as a neat package. I hope to take you all through the process of what we’re learning and offer some insight into what goes on behind the scenes at a small press.

The first order of business is department roles. Who is going to edit? Who is going to design the layout? Each student leads one of the four teams-Editorial, Business, Production, and Marketing, but we all take part in multiple aspects of the process. In just the first few weeks of the semester, as a class we have already:

  • Read submissions and either accepted/rejected each piece
  • Drawn up a contract for the authors
  • Estimated words per page for the layout of the book
  • Come up with a mission statement for RC Press
  • Developed a logo for RC Press
  • Created a title for our first book
  • Created and posted to social media sites about the press

The cover for Another Breath has also been a topic of great discussion in class. It was decided pretty early on in the process that publishing alum Sarah Eldridge would take on this task. It has been a packed few weeks that already has us balanced on the brink of insanity and with the final push upon us, the weeks to come will be even busier. Errors are bound to happen in any new venture, and in this course, mistakes are not only inevitable, they are encouraged. Though we are frazzled, we’re all quickly learning that even though it is stressful and tiring work, it is also incredibly rewarding to one day look at this anthology with the knowledge that it is very much our own creation.

If you want to receive updates and learn more about Rosemont College Press, please take a little time to “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @RosemontCPress.

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