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The Scarlet & Black

Press offers student publishing platform

Press offers student publishing platform

The Grinnell College Press offers students the unusual opportunity to have their work published independently as a finished book. Recent publications have included collections of art and writing, as well as collaborations between multiple students on poetry, illustration and literature. Press has the budget to produce four to five books per semester, with at least a hundred copies to be printed of each one.

Shabana Gupta ’22 published “Legacy of All That I Know”, a collection of her work in writing, photography and paintings, at the end of the spring 2019 semester. She considered publishing early in the year and sent in a ten-piece portfolio when the organization sent out content requests.

“They contacted me back and were like, hey, we’re trying to fill up an entire book, so we need more things from you,” she said. “I felt the need to stress a bit in order to actually go through and photograph all of my stuff.”

After Gupta sent in the rest of the pieces, she began working with Press to organize her work within the book.

“I decided that I wanted to have three separate sections, along the lines of ‘before’, ‘process’, and ‘current’ – in different terms, but that was the general setup.” Gupta remained involved in the design of the book throughout the publishing process, including choosing the cover image, one of her paintings.

Jeremy Sparagon ’20, editor-in-chief of Press, talked about bringing creators with a wide range of talents to work on published items.

“I’ve tried to get writers and artists involved and try and hire artists who collaborate with artists to illustrate their work.”

Sparagon emphasized that Press is fully prepared to receive disorganized or unfinished student work.

“[Students] don’t necessarily have to have a perfect idea of how to present their work in book form,” he said. “As long as it’s something that they want published, we work with them – we’ve seen lots of examples in the past, and can present them with possible options, so it’s OK if you have a bunch of work, it’s not really organized, and you just want to see it in a polished form. You can submit that.”

Zainab Thompson ’22 was the editor assigned to Gupta’s project. Thompson joined Press last year, interested in the organization and in gaining proficiency in Adobe InDesign, the software used by several Grinnell publications to lay out printed pages. “Legacy of All That I Know” was her first Press editing project.

So far, she says, her favorite part of working for Press has been “just learning [InDesign] and how much it can do … being a part of making someone’s work a reality, a tangible thing that you can touch, is really cool.”

Oona Miller ’21 published “How to Draw a God”, a collection of art and poetry, through Press in the fall of 2018.

“I didn’t even know if I had enough poems to submit something, but [Sparagon] was just, like, ‘Submit anything, and that’ll be fine. So I did that, and suddenly I got really into the idea.”

Miller ended up working on staff for Press as an editor, which allowed her even more control over the creation process of her book. To students considering publishing work through Press, she says, “Definitely go for it. Just submit something, and even if you’re not sure, the editors will work with you on it and make it the best that it can be.”

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