So, as you are well aware, New Rivers Press publishes books. We aim to allow new and emerging authors with unique voices to share their messages with the world. However, that is not our only goal. Since 2001, New Rivers Press has been based out of Minnesota State University Moorhead (a relatively short portion of its 48 years of operation). In 2003, New Rivers Press launched its Certificate in Publishing program, whereby students from MSUM could acquire hands-on experience of all aspects of small-press operations including copyediting, typography, marketing, and business. That program endures to this day and numerous MSUM students participate in the program each year, including several New Rivers Press interns.
But what exactly does one have to do in order to acquire this Certificate in Publishing? What sort of things will the program teach you?
There is a very handy mint-green printout available on the 2nd floor of Weld Hall explaining all the required courses for completion of the Certificate (located with the other degree-requirement documents.) The program is 12 credits total, and has two core classes worth 3 credits each. The remaining 6 credits are made up of a fairly generous array of electives.
The two core classes are Introduction to Publishing and the Practicum in Publishing. In the past, the Introduction has been offered as a night class in the Spring and the Practicum as a night class in the Fall. They are generally taught by New River’s Press’ managing editor, this academic year by Nayt Rundquist, and previously, by Suzzanne Kelley. Nayt has expressed interest in changing the courses from night classes to more traditional two-days-per-week daytime classes.
I personally have completed the Intro course and heartily recommend it not only to anyone interested in entering the business of publishing, but also anyone interested in writing professionally or getting their own work (novels, poetry, non-fiction, what-have-you) published. It offered me a valuable inside-view of the publishing world that will aid me greatly in my future as a writer and possibly a publishing professional. Subjects covered ranged from the purpose of ISBN numbers; an introduction to the intricacies of professional book typography; what makes an attractive book cover; how to market a book and how to garner donations; to, of course, where to start when you want to get a book published.
The Introduction class also includes the highly-student-rated end-of-semester Publishing Field Trip, in which students bus down to Minneapolis/St. Paul to take part in a day of literary exploration. Among other things, students visit New Rivers Press’ book printer and supplier, as well as The Loft Literary Center. The year I went, we also visited Capstone Publishing, a children’s book publisher. It was while visiting their office that I really cemented my goal to work professionally in the publishing world.
The Practicum in Publishing picks up from there and expands on student’s growing knowledge of the publishing industry. They are given the hands-on experience of preparing a book for publication by interacting directly with NRP manuscripts. Though I wasn’t enrolled in the class, I was given the opportunity to engage in this aspect. The students are broken up into groups and each given a manuscript to edit and proofread. They correspond directly with the authors in order to fully realize their vision.
This year we are returning to allowing MSUM design students to create attention-grabbing covers for our books and also to interact with the books’ layout and typography. Our interns are also directly involved in the aspects of publishing beyond the actual creation of the book, participating in the marketing and business aspects of the press.
In addition to the two publishing courses, students are encouraged to fill out the rest of their requirements with such English/Communications classes as Creative Writing; Copy Editing; Children’s Book Publishing; Writing for the Web; and Special Topic courses which change each year.
In addition to coursework, an internship with New Rivers Press may also be applied to the Certificate in Publishing’s requirements (as long as its not already counting towards, say, an Honors Apprenticeship.)
For more detailed information about the Certificate in Publishing’s requirements, including a course/elective list, you can visit it’s page in the MSUM academic catalog.