March: Small Press Month is Upon Us


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, “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:,, other links included in body text

Free Comic Book Day and The Growing Legitimacy of Comic Books as Literature

“I just don’t have time for books anymore.”

If you’re a working adult, or even just a busy person of indeterminate age, you may have heard this sentiment among your peers. Maybe even you have slipped into that tenebrific bookless existence. I am here to offer a solution you may not have considered before: graphic novels.

This Saturday, May 5th, is Free Comic Book Day, an event created in 2002 in order to celebrate and increase the visibility of independent comic sellers across the United States. Various comic publishers release special 1-issue samples for comic shops to give away on Free Comic Book Day. Series such as The Avengers, Tank Girl, Riverdale and many others are represented on the list of this year’s free comic samples. If you’ve ever been interested in the world of comics, but had no idea where to start, Free Comic Book Day could be an excellent, low-risk opportunity for you to make your entrance. Locally, businesses such as Paradox Comics and Cards and Comic Junction are joining in on the festivities, but for a list of participating businesses in your area, or for more information on the event, you can visit the official Free Comic Book Day website.

Maus, the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize.

There is something of a stigma surrounding comics and graphic novels. Their ample use of images rings in people minds as akin to childish picture-books. Much like cartoons, comics and graphic novels suffer from the assumption that only children can, or should, enjoy them. While children certainly enjoy reading comic books, and an ample supply of the comics on the market are meant for children, there is also a thriving market of comic stories meant to be relevant to adults. When it comes to comic books for adults, the thought is that with fewer words per page, this makes graphic novel reading easier and thus less fulfilling than reading a full prose novel. Additionally, there exists and undesirable stereotype about the kind of adult who reads comic books: that of an obsessive, dysfunctional, child-like adult. Let’s banish all of these misconceptions from our minds. Just as there is traditional literature of every genre for every age, so too, are there impactful comics for everyone of any background.

Hugo-Award Winning Graphic Novel: Saga

Comic books (as well as their Eastern counterpart, called manga/manhwa) have been making strides recently both in widespread popularity and in credibility as a legitimate form of art and storytelling. In 1992, the historical memoir graphic novel Maus, became the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize. As a result, it is often read alongside other historical literature in classrooms around the country. The first volume of Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ Saga series, a provocative space opera with elements of fantasy, won a Hugo Award in 2013.

In 2009, five comic book artists had their artwork displayed at the Louvre in Paris as a part of a special exhibit titled “The Louvre invites the Comics“. Among the participating artists was Hirohiko Araki of Japan, the mangaka (comic book artist) who created the internationally acclaimed manga series Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.

Illustration by comic artist Hirohiko Araki, whose art has been featured in the Louvre.

As we can see, comics, manga, and graphic novels have continuously proven their legitimacy as a media for art and storytelling. They can offer a fulfilling reading experience for people of any age, often with a smaller time commitment. As a visual medium, graphic novels are distinctly poised to enrich the experience of stories in which world-building or character nuance is key. The novel’s artwork allows the author’s vision to be communicated in the truest way. There exist many comic book adaptations of already existing classic or acclaimed literature. Here is a list of 5 graphic novels based off your favorite stories to help get you break into the world of comics.


wrinkle-in-time-coverA Wrinkle In Time

Adapted by Hope Larson / Based on Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time
Grahic Novel – Monochrome / Sci-Fi, Adventure
Published by Margaret Ferguson Books

Many Americans remember A Wrinkle in Time as “that confusing sci-fi book” from their middle school English class days. You may have had the chance to revisit this story with the recently released live action adaptation. If you just can’t get enough, pick up a copy of Hope Larson’s A Wrinkle in Time and see how the medium of the graphic novel has transformed this familiar yet delightfully strange story.


Adapted by Kaoru Mori (writing & art) / Based on Jane Austin’s Emma
Manga – Black and White / Historical Fiction, Romance
Published by Yen Press

In Japan, comic books are called manga, and have developed their own iconic look and conventions for telling stories.  They are marked by their unique art style (sometimes also referred to as “anime style,” after their animated, and more widely known equivalent) their inventive use of paneling and emotive character expression.

While I have not personally read this adaptation of Emma, I have read Mori’s other work, A Bride’s Story, a collection of stories from the perspective of different women in the historical Middle East and Central Asia. Mori’s artistic attention to detail, especially in clothes and home decor is astounding and her nuance in character development make her perfectly suited to adapting this classic novel.

Note: read from left to right, as per the original layout in the Japanese language.


max-ride-coverMaximum Ride

Adapted by Narae Lee (story & art) / Based on James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series
Manga – Black and White / Urban Fantasy, Action
Published by Yen Press

For the thrill junkie, check out Narae Lee’s adaptation of James Patterson’s wildly popular Maximum Ride series. The story centers around a “flock” of children all genetically enhanced with wings and other abilities, as they evade the cruel and shadowy organization that made them that way. I personally think that the fast-paced nature of the story and the fantastic details of the plot lend themselves better to a graphic novel than a traditional book. For that reason, this manga series is, in my opinion, the best way to experience the Maximum Ride saga.


lastunicorn_tpb_cvrThe Last Unicorn

Adapted by Peter B. Gillis (story) Renae De Liz (art) & Peter Dillion (art)
Based on Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn
Graphic Novel / Color
Published by Idea & Design Works LLC

You may take on look at that word “unicorn” and conjure up notions of silly, girlish, fantasies swathed in pink. Nevertheless, you will find something a fair bit more nuanced and mature in The Last Unicorn, though no less pretty to look at. This story feels equal parts folk and fairytale, and the art style of the graphic novel adaptation does an excellent job evoking the unnerving yet alluring nature of both. The story revolves around the eponymous last unicorn as she leaves her forest to search for her kin, rumored to be missing by malicious means. She is joined by a clumsy magician and courageous bar maid as they forge into the territory of the ruthless King Haggard in order to discover the truth.



Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Adapted by Andy Seto (story & art)
Based on The Iron-Crane Pentology by Wang Dulu
Historical Fantasy, Wuxia (Martial Arts Action Adventure), Romance
Manhua / Color
Published by Comics One

You may not have known that director Ang Lee’s year-2000 award-winning martial arts epic was based upon a series of novels dubbed the Iron-Crane Pentology. Or that it was further adapted into a gorgeously illustrated manhua (Chinese graphic novel) series. Inspired in combination by the original novel series and the movie, this adaptation of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, offers an action-packed, drama-filled saga set in a fantastical interpretation of historical China surrounding the wielders of  the legendary sword, Green Destiny, and those who would seek to steal or destroy it.

Originally posted May 3, 2018
Written by Mikaila Norman

Literary Scavenger Hunt and Open Mic Night

New Rivers Press is partnering with MSUM Literary Magazine, Red Weather to host a Literary Scavenger Hunt and Open Mic Night for the students of MSUM.

Beginning at 2pm on Monday, November 6th Red Weather and New Rivers Press will be hosting a campus-wide scavenger hunt for free literary goodies! Students are encouraged to pick a literary item—their favorite book or a piece of their own original work—and hide it somewhere around campus to be found by other participants in the hunt. They may hide their special item wherever they please, but they must take a photo of the item in its place and post it on Instagram with the hashtag: #RWScavengerHunt. The item will then be up for grabs! Lucky hunters who find a literary treasure are then asked to re-post the item to their own Instagram announcing that it has been found. Finally, the finder is asked to replace the item with an item of their own in a spot of their choosing. (This is not mandatory but makes the hunt a little more interesting!)

Related imageThe hunt will end at 6 PM when the participants, as well as others on campus, are invited to join NRP and Red Weather in the Sun Garden Lounge located in the CMU! There will be spoken poetry, music and other performances by MSUM students, staff, and faculty!

Let us know if you think we should do other events like this, on the MSUM campus or in the Fargo-Moorhead area in the comments.

-Cameron S.


Whether you’re a student, or full-time member of the work force you deserve a little treat for making it through the month of September. Our treat to you is the announcement of our very first Instagram book giveaway!  Also a fun way to celebrate National Book Month, this will (hopefully) become an annual event that our followers can look forward to. We hope this will give us the chance to engage with you, our social media masses, and reach out to a wider literary audience. So, please hop on over to our Instagram, and get in on the free book action!

Here’s how you enter for the oh-so-coveted chance to win a free book of your choosing:

  • Make sure you are following our Instagram account: @newriverspress
  • Like the post announcing the book giveaway
  • Tag a friend in the comments (make sure they like the post and follow our page as well!)
  • Wait (impatiently) for the contest window to close (Deadline specified in the Instagram post)

We will enter your name, as well as your friends, into a blind drawing to decide the FIVE winners of the contest. We ask that there be only one entry per person. The winners will be announced one at a time via our Instagram account. In the posts following the announcement of the first winner, we will include a list of the remaining options for prizes.

The five books featured in the giveaway are titles from the last publishing season. The winners will have their pick of the following titles published at New Rivers Press:

Flucht by Michelle Matthees

It Turns Out Like This by Stephen Coyne

We Got Him by Elizabeth Searle

American Fiction Volume 15, and

Frozen Voices by Lynne Heinzmann


In the time following the announcement of the giveaway we will be releasing short summaries of each of the possible book prizes to let our participants get an idea of which book they would like to receive should they be drawn as a winner.

Happy National Book Month!

—Cameron S

Fall Launch Events


We have some early Halloween treats for you!


This October, we published five new books: It Turns Out Like This by Stephen Coyne, Flucht by Michelle Matthees, The Field by Tim Nolan, A Beautiful Hell by Carol Ratchenski, and American Fiction Volume 15. We have some upcoming events to celebrate their release.


Here’s a basic rundown:

  • Thursday October 27
    • Stephen Coyne, Michelle Matthees, Tim Nolan, and Carol Ratchenski will read excerpts from their new books. Refreshments will be served.
    • MSUM Comstock Memorial Union, 1104 7th Ave. S Moorhead, MN 56563
    • 4:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Friday October 28
    • Sip some hot coffee and listen to excerpts from our newest publications!
    • Babb’s Coffee House, 604 Main Ave. Fargo, ND 58103
    • 5:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday October 29
    • Halloween-themed reading and activities, including trivia and a book-related costume contest.
    • Moorhead Public Library, 118 5th St. S Moorhead, MN 56560
    • 1:30-5:30 p.m.


Each author formulated a drink for his or her book, and we will be releasing them via our Facebook page throughout the next week. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to like our Facebook page so you don’t miss out! While you’re there, click “attend” on our launch events. That way you’ll get a reminder and can easily find all of the details.


We hope to see you there!