March: Small Press Month is Upon Us

BY MADDIE SCHMIDT madelyn.schmidt@go.mnstate.edu

March is Small Press Month! What is Small Press Month, you ask? Small Press Month is a way to celebrate publishers and authors around the world. It aims to highlight small publishing houses themselves, as well as the various writers they represent.

What is unique about small presses?

Small presses often work with a diverse, unique array of writers, working to publish those literary voices that big publishers won’t. People who work at small publishing houses are passionate and driven about the work they do. They care about literature, and they care about featuring bold, exceptional writers. 

These independent publishers are essential for writers; writers don’t have to compete against every other wanna-be author and rely on big publishing houses anymore. Indie presses provide so many more avenues to get your book published. Plus, small presses can take risks with what they publish, trying new things and letting creativity shape their decisions. 

How was Small Press Month started?

Small Press Month was invented by two companies in 1996: New York City-based Small Press Center and California-based Publishers Marketing Association. Their intention in creating this celebratory event was to highlight small presses around the world and advocate for their work in the face of the traditional big publishing houses. They wanted to encourage small publishers to keep doing what they’re doing, fighting for their unique work to be read. According to daysoftheyear.com, “It takes courage and strength of spirit to stand up and publish in the face of the large publishers.”

How can you celebrate Small Press Month?

Local libraries and bookstores often create displays of small press books during Small Press Month. Check out or buy these books to support indie presses and their authors. You can also visit bookstores of small presses, like the Milkweed Editions bookstore located in Minneapolis, MN. You could attend this event at Dream Haven Books and Comics (Minneapolis) on March 19 to learn about how a small press runs. 

Or, right from the comfort of your home or favorite coffee shop, you can check out websites of small presses and order their books online to support them. I would suggest Graywolf Press, Coffee House Press, New Rivers Press, or Grove Atlantic, just to name a few.

Small Press Distribution, New Rivers Press’s very own book distributor, is also a great way to find and acquire small press books.

Additionally, you should follow New Rivers Press on social media (@newriverspress) to see our interns’ favorite small presses and small press books, which will be featured throughout March.

Some of my favorite small press books

  • Into the Sun by Deni Ellis Béchard, published by Milkweed Editions
  • Deep Calls to Deep by Jane Medved, published by New Rivers Press
  • The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan, published by Tyrant Books
  • History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund, published by Grove Atlantic
  • Nighttime on the Other Side of Everything by Sarah Kobrinsky, published by New Rivers Press

*references used to write this blog post: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/small-press-month/, https://www.tckpublishing.com/complete-guide-to-small-press-publishing-for-writers/, other links included in body text

My Favorite Book Series as a Child

BY KATELYN MARTINSON

I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm and never passed up a chance to read as a child. I can remember the excitement I felt each time I was able to visit the library and get lost in new worlds. Choosing my five favorite book series that I loved when I was younger was NOT easy and took much time and consideration. That being said, here is my list of books (in no particular order). Hopefully some of your favorites made the list!

1. Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park: Junie B. Jones is a series mixed with humor and sass that tags along with the main character at the start of kindergarten. Throughout the series, Junie B. must face the highs and lows of not only kindergarten and elementary school, but also events like not being an only child anymore. Told from Junie’s perspective, it’s a classic that doesn’t disappoint.

2. Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne: In this exciting series, siblings Jack (8) and Annie (7) discover a treehouse near their home. This isn’t just any old treehouse though. It’s a treehouse that teleports the siblings to different places and historical periods. For each adventure, they are sent around the globe and face challenges that keep readers on their toes.

3. Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo by Nancy E. Krulik: In this series, Katie is an ordinary third grader who wishes on a star to be anyone else. Well, she finds out that wishes really do come true. When the magic wind blows, she switches bodies with someone else and must find a way to switch things back.

4. Dear Dumb Diary by Jim Benton: This series follows the main character Jamie Kelly who begins writing in a diary after finding her grandmother’s. With humor and wit on every page, readers get to follow Jamie on her journey through middle school and all the eventful moments that follow.

5. Dear America by Multiple Authors: Dear America is a series written in the form of diary entries from young women living during major events or time periods in American history. These events and time periods include colonialism all the way to World War II. This collection of historical fiction hooks you from the beginning and lets you feel as if you’re experiencing the moments yourself.

The Staff Speaks: Our Favorite (Non-NRP) Books!

BY GABBIE BRANDT

It might seem hard to believe, but the NRP staff and interns don’t only read New Rivers Press books! This week I asked around the office about everyone’s favorite books of all time. If you’re a reader, you know how hard this question is, so I do want to thank everyone for not yelling at me when I asked them. (Well, okay, they yelled a little bit.)

If you’re looking for a new read, I’m sure you’ll find one here! I’ve compiled everyone’s top picks along with a short description of each so you can find your next favorite.

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Olivia: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen This classic follows Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters through the early 19th Century English countryside as they search for love in all the wrong (and right) places. This romantic “novel of manners” is much more than a simple romance novel, however, as it is surprisingly funny and also commonly believed to be one of the best-written works of all time.

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Sam: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
I don’t think I could describe this book any better than the author himself, who wrote: “If you care for journeys there and back, out of the comfortable Western world, over the edge of the Wild, and home again, and can take an interest in a humble hero (blessed with a little wisdom and a little courage and considerable good luck), here is a record of such a journey and such a traveler.” Fun Fact: this book has never been out of print since its first edition in 1937.  

Nayt: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado      
This one is a collection of short contemporary fiction stories varying in genre—from horror to comedy to psychological realism, this work explores narratives that centralize womens’ experiences and the violence often directed at their bodies. One story is even a written form of a police procedural, where the author reimagines their own version of an episode of Law and Order: SVU.

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Carly: Five Presidents by Clint Hill Non-fiction lovers, this one’s for you! In this book, retired Secret Service Agent Clint Hill recalls his long career serving Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. Through Hill’s first-hand accounts, readers learn how the most powerful men in the world faced their difficult presidencies plagued with war, assassinations, impeachments, and more.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Katie and Alex: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
You have to believe this one’s good, since both Katie and Alex individually said it’s their favorite book. The Book Thief is a coming-of-age story set in Nazi Germany during World War II. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, the most compelling part of this novel is that it’s uniquely narrated by Death, who is developed into an interesting character himself.

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Maddie: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
As Maddie wrote on her weekly book column for MSUM’s newspaper The Advocate, this book “follows a Southern Baptist preacher and his wife and four daughters as they travel to the African Congo to become missionaries. The Price family endures things they never expected, and the result is sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but never expected.” Read more about this one on Maddie’s column here:  Madelyn’s Bibliophilia

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Gabbie: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell  This speculative fiction novel consists of six separate but somehow interconnected storylines that span thousands of years. Each story is split in half—the first halves are told in order, and the second halves in reverse order. Each story is in the same universe, but they vary in genre and tone. It might take you a while to get through, but I promise it’s worth it!

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Jaeda: Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg 
Beatniks, this one’s for you. Largely consisting of “Howl,” Ginsberg’s longest and most famous poem, this collection is a staple of the Beat Generation. Originally published in 1956, Howl was put on trial for obscenity, but was eventually found not guilty. Like most Beat writings, it’s kind of hard to explain, so you’re just going to have to read it and find out for yourself!

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Delaney: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
This “brick” of a fantasy novel (it’s around 800 pages) is refreshingly focused on the development of female characters and has been said to be the “feminist Game of Thrones.” Queen Sabran the Ninth and her queendom face magic, assassins, war, and of course, there are dragons. If you want to have a huge well-written novel consume all of your time and brainpower, look no further.

Spring 2020 Happenings at NRP

BY OLIVIA ROCKSTAD

Hello book lovers! We hope you are cozying up with a great read! New Rivers Press has exciting things in store for you. Check it out!

#1. We have 11 interns with us this semester—a record-breaking number! Look out for our #meettheinterntuesday on social media where we’ll introduce a new intern each week. The interns work on screening submissions, formatting e-books, posting social media promotions, and various other projects.

#2. New NRP podcasts are coming out soon! We have author interviews, poetry and prose readings from students and professors, and “intern picks” podcasts in the works. Keep an eye out—you won’t want to miss these!

#3. The New Rivers Press team is excited to visit San Antonio, Texas in March for AWP. The conference features over 2,000 presenters and 550 readings, panels, and craft lectures. The book fair hosts over 800 presses, journals, and literary organizations from around the world. AWP is now the largest literary conference in North America. Come pay us a visit and meet a few of our authors, including Sarah Kobrinsky, whose publication Nighttime On the Other Side of Everything, was recently released this fall. For more information on AWP, check out their website: https://www.awpwriter.org/awp_conference/overview

#4. Red Weather, our student-run literary magazine, received over 100 submissions! #yay! A big thank you to everyone who submitted. Red Weather publishes poetry, prose, and art from students and the community. We are now screening submissions and compiling the 2020 issue of Red Weather. Follow Red Weather on social media @redweathermn to stay updated! You can purchase past issues of Red Weather on our website as well. 

#5. Gary Peter, author of NRP publication Oranges, will be attending The Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans at the end of March. He will also participate in a short fiction panel. Check out the links below for more information. 

http://sasfest.org/speaker/peter-gary-eldon/