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New Rivers Press publishes several series of books.
Press collaborates with MFA program faculty, students
New Rivers Press also teaches MSUM undergraduate and graduate students the business of publishing, offering the opportunity to earn a Certificate in Publishing at the bachelor’s or master’s level and to work as interns to gain practical experience. The activities of the press and its related curriculum dovetail nicely with the school’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program and are also integrated into accounting, art and graphic design, English, marketing, mass communications, promotions, and Web site development classes at MSUM. The book release schedule is matched with the academic calendar.
Each year, graduate and undergraduate students interested in learning about the business of publishing enroll in Practicum in Publishing, part of the university’s Certificate in Publishing offering. Al Davis, professor of English and New Rivers Press senior editor, oversees screening manuscripts for the Many Voices Project contest, while Suzzanne Kelley, managing editor, assists student teams as they edit manuscripts. The experience is unique among universities and literary presses and prepares students for additional internships or careers in the publishing industry.
During the semester, student editors and authors work together to improve manuscripts, as necessary, through both structural and substantive edits, using tracked changes in Microsoft Office Word. The changes are purely recommendations for the author. Students initiate and complete special projects for the Press, including writing and submitting study guides for New Rivers Press titles, writing and designing a newsletter, contacting authors for sales, developing signage, writing articles for external publications, providing books from the warehouse to the distributor, implementing book sales, writing content for Web pages, and soliciting literary blogs to review and link to New Rivers Press book titles.
Collaborative design benefits Press, students
Every August, Professor Allen Sheets, Art Director at New Rivers Press, selects several senior art and design students who can meet hard deadlines, communicate clearly, and produce work that isn’t “following whatever trend is happening,” he said, to design New Rivers Press book releases. Some draw cover art, but most adjust and augment their own photos using Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop.
In December, New Rivers Press Director Wayne Gudmundson, Davis, and Kelley select a cover from three proposed designs. By January, work on interiors begins. When the design is finalized, galleys go out in April or May, but improvements may continue over the summer. Printing begins in the fall.
New Rivers Press manages costs by hiring such student designers. While many designers in the market only get to create covers, New Rivers Press designers engage in full book design, which the students can include in their portfolios and resumes upon graduation.
The New Rivers Press design program garnered national attention in 2009 when three of its student designers were selected to receive the American Inhouse Design Award for Excellence, which is sponsored by Graphic Design USA. Ali Eickhoff, Angi Lennington, and Stephanie Thomas each designed one of the Press’ 2008 titles, including the cover and interior pages. Their innovative and eye‐catching designs were selected by Graphic Design USA out of more than 4,000 entries nationwide. Eickhoff designed Bend with the Knees and Other Love Advice from My Father, a collection of short stories by Benjamin Drevlow; Lennington designed Hollow Out, a collection of poetry by Kelsea Habecker; and Thomas designed Slippery Men, a collection of essays by Penelope Schwartz Robinson.
In 2010, MSUM students Lindsay Stokes and Megan McCleary were selected to receive the American Inhouse Design Award for Excellence for the cover and interior designs they produced for the Press' 2009 titles. Stokes won an award for her work on the novella Whiskey Heart by Rachel L. Coyne and McCleary won an award for Interference and Other Stories by Richard Hoffman.
Inner workings of New Rivers Press documented in video
For more information about New Rivers Press at Minnesota State University Moorhead, click the following images to watch Parts 1 and 2 of our informational video at YouTube.
About New Rivers Press - Part 1
About New Rivers Press - Part 2
From humble beginnings
So Many Rooms Has a House But One Roof, a poetry collection by Margaret Randall, was the first title published by New Rivers Press, printed by Truesdale in November 1968 using an old Chandler & Price letterpress in a Massachusetts barn. The Press moved to Minnesota in 1978 to live among the thriving literary small press community in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Since 2001, the Press has been publishing from MSUM.
The university provides space and covers some overhead expenses, but editorial decisions are made independently. Unlike typical university presses, New Rivers Press is not expected to publish academic monographs and faculty publications. Staff, book production and marketing expenses are borne by the Press, which leverages the short run digital printing services of BookMobile with typical print runs of 800 to 1,000 copies. Distribution to libraries and booksellers is handled by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, the premier distributor for literary small presses in the United States.
New Rivers Press is actively partnering with other arts organizations to publish books. The Press worked with the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, ND, to publish a gallery catalog and reappraisal of the sculptor Duane Hanson. The Press also worked with the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing to publish Slippery Men by Penelope Schwartz Robinson, the winner of the Stonecoast Book Prize. Forthcoming, New Rivers Press will publish the winner of Fairfield University’s Fairfield MFA Book Prize. The Press is actively seeking such partnerships.
Donations vital for New Rivers Press
Philanthropy remains a vital source of income for many small presses, especially literary presses, who can’t survive on their book sales alone. In Minnesota, literary presses rely heavily on the McKnight Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, The Bush Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board, in addition to a host of local companies, which give charitably to the arts. Even New Rivers Press, which depends on MSUM to cover some overhead and facilities costs, is unable to bring in enough money through book sales to feed the editorial process. “Without fundraising, we couldn’t make it a go," said Gudmundson, who has been director since the Press moved to MSUM in 2001.
Since 1982, New Rivers Press has been a not-for-profit press, which means donations to the press are tax deductible. Prior to its move to MSUM, the Press had considerable debt, but thanks to a $40,000 grant from the McKnight Foundation, MSUM and the Press were able to retire the debt and begin anew, while still honoring existing book contracts and remaining true to the original mission of publishing new and emerging literary writers. “The McKnight Foundation saw that MSUM would be a good home for New Rivers Press,” Gudmundson said, “but we go back for yearly support.”
Historically, the McKnight Foundation and the Jerome Foundation have been significant contributors to New Rivers Press. However, like many other nonprofit organizations, the Press in recent years has experienced a downturn in support.
There are many ways you can contribute to New Rivers Press. You can donate to support general operations, so that we can continue to publish good books, or you can help support the teaching component of the press, so that students can continue to learn the business of publishing. You can also support a particular book or series.
Contribution Levels New Rivers Press offers the following contribution levels and benefits.
New Rivers Press was founded in 1968 by C. W. "Bill" Truesdale and has published more than 340 titles. In 2001, after Truesdale's death, Alan Davis and Wayne Gudmundson were instrumental in reviving and relocating it to MSUM, where its dual mission is to publish literary work of every character, with an emphasis on new and emerging writers, and to provide learning opportunities, including a Certificate in Publishing, for students in partnership with MSUM. The press honors Truesdale's progressive spirit by publishing work with a strong sense of place that speaks to our troubled times with satyagraha (the truthforce), empathy, and aesthetic courage.
The Animals Beyond Us, poems
"His poems are finely observed, precisely felt, and they bring magic to the domestic life, the real magic of language that has power to transform a world." ~John Dufresne, author
"I love Mason's instructive intensity and will, her grace and ability to translate desire into something scary yet gorgeous." ~David Dodd Lee, author
Downriver People, fiction
Bea Exner Liu
"Americans should read, and ponder, this humane memoir of an American life in a China now massively, but not unrecognizably, transformed." ~Robert A. Knapp
Girl Held in Home, fiction
"...Elizabeth Searle uses her signature zany brilliance to turn suburbia, adultery, parenting, politics, and even terrorism into something new and insightful." ~Ann Hood, author
Hotel Utopia, poems
"[This] is a book of angles. These poems come from one bend in the mind, then another, from one tilt in the heart, then another. Whether the content is personal, mystical, or political, the voice is deliciously agile." ~Tim Seibles, author
The Muse of Ocean Parkway and Other Stories, short story collection
"Not since The Magic Barrel have I read a short story collection that delivers such lacerating wit and tempered realism." ~C. Michael Curtis, editor