How NDSU Press Acquires Manuscripts

from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher / Editor in Chief

At NDSU Press, we accept manuscript submissions year-round. There are no fees to submit manuscripts for publication consideration, and we seek works in nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. This past year, from January 1 through December 31, 2020 , we received more than one hundred manuscripts and about a dozen manuscript proposals for publication consideration.

Searching through this lot for the best manuscripts requires a considerable amount of reading and due deliberation. While I am on a constant search for the best scholarly and literary works, I must also be conscientious about balance in filling out our catalog for each year. We cannot publish only poetry or only fiction, and we choose not to publish only scholarly works. We can select only six to ten works for publication annually.

As we are completely self-funded—reliant upon sales and donations for all our operations—I must also be aware of what kinds of books will situate well in the market and how the balance of our creative and scholarly works can produce a return on investment.

Paying close attention to scholarly research and literary contributions, all within the parameters of the mission of the press, is more than a guess-and-by-golly proposition. The process requires being mindful of where we have gaps in knowledge and what kinds of works can reach an interested audience, and we must be aware of current pricing trends in printing and distribution. The process also recognizes that while our production schedule mirrors those of big publishers like Random House, we are not publishing on the same commercial scale. Our mission is generally focused upon scholarly, intellectual, and creative works of regional interest. Like a puzzle piece, each acquisition must contribute to the whole picture, balanced in content and profitable.

A crucial element to getting things right in our acquisitions process is to follow the professional standards of peer review for university presses. The best practices for peer review, as proposed by the Association of University Presses, may be found here.

Our process for manuscript acquisitions—in accord with best practices—has four stages, each building upon the other for making the final selections.

  • In-house review, wherein I make a first determination about whether a manuscript meets our mission for publication and has a potential market or audience.
  • Blind peer review, wherein two experts in the field—unknown to each other and to the author—make an assessment about manuscripts that have passed muster for stage 1. At this stage, I rely upon professionals knowledgeable about the scholarship and/or writing style in the manuscript. I have worked with reviewers who are located locally, within our state, regionally, nationally, and even internationally. Peer reviewers provide a summary overview of the work, noting strengths and weaknesses, gaps or omissions, and they make one of the following recommendations:
    • Accept (manuscript merits publication; some revisions may be requested)
    • Reject with invitation to re-submit (manuscript does not merit publication in its present form but has potential; requires substantial revision)
    • Reject (does not merit publication)
  • Consultation with the author, wherein—if the reviewers have recommended publication or resubmission—the author and I go over each of the reviewers’ observations and recommendations. The author and I map out a plan for addressing the recommendations, and we develop a timeline for the author to deliver the revised manuscript.
  • Certification by the Editorial Advisory Board, wherein I make a summary report, providing our board members with descriptions of the reviewers’ areas of expertise and experience, the reviewers’ comments, the author’s response, and a copy of the manuscript. The Editorial Advisory Board, comprised of faculty and lay-persons at large with a variety of backgrounds and expertise, scrutinize the submissions, ask questions related to content and catalog, and—if everything is in good order—affirms that we have followed all of the standard university press peer review procedures. The board’s certification determination reads as follows:

I certify that [manuscript title], having undergone the peer review process, has scholarly, intellectual, or creative merit for publication with NDSU Press. I further find that this work contributes to scholarly knowledge of region (that is, discovery of new knowledge) or to public consciousness of region (that is, dissemination of information, or interpretation of regional experience).

Following all of these steps keeps us on our toes, and by sheer number of submissions, I am not always able to render a quick response to writers. This is our process, though, and it is thus far working splendidly. In fact, in the next few days, I will be sending two nonfiction manuscripts to our Editorial Advisory Board to seek certification for that fourth step of the acquisitions process.

If you would like to become one of our blind peer reviewers and assist in this important process, I invite you to visit our online submissions portal at Submittable and add your area of interest to our Manuscript Reviewer Database.

Dr. Suzzanne Kelley is assistant professor of practice and editor in chief for NDSU Press. She directs the Certificate in Publishing program and manages all aspects of NDSU Press operations.  Suzzanne is a graduate of University of Texas–Austin, summa cum laude, with a BS in Applied Learning & Development. She holds an MA in History from the University of Central Oklahoma, where she was honored with the Edward Everette Dale Graduate Student Award. Suzzanne graduated from North Dakota State University with her PhD in History, and she has been working in publishing since 2002, first with scholarly journals and then in book publishing since 2005.  She is a member of the honor societies Pi Lambda Theta, Phi Alpha Theta, and Phi Kappa Phi, where she is the immediate past president. Suzzanne is at present serving a second term as president of the Midwest Independent Publishers Association.

 

Creating a Book Cover

Publicist note from Zachary Vietz

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes when designing a book cover? There is a lot of planning, design, and deliberation going on before a cover makes its debut appearance.

Let’s take a sneak peek.

The Creative Brief

Before anything concrete takes form, the book team first reads the title a few times, taking notes of emotions, imagery, symbols, colors, and other touchstone and descriptive aspects from the story. These notes are used to make a creative brief that is then sent along to our designer. The book team might be just Dr. Kelley and me, but as a teaching press, we have our fair share of book teams comprised of students in our publishing courses at NDSU.

Here you can see parts of a creative brief, the book team being NDSU Publishing students, made for our upcoming title Half the Terrible Things by Paul Legler:

Colors that came to mind are:

    • pale yellow gold
    • dark green, but not a healthy green
    • red/violence/blood
    • red of sandhill crane/red crest on face

Sensory imagery:

    • cypress trees
    • use of manure for insulation
    • oppressive swamp bugs
    • boils and wounds
    • man’s eyeball the size of a softball (from being beaten)
    • sand hill cranes
    • trains, train tracks, roads

From the Designer to the Team

Once we send the creative brief to the designers, we let them do their artistic thing. Depending on how many projects a designer has, we expect to see draft designs within a few weeks. The book team will first receive from the designer around three potential cover images to look over. The job of the book team at this point is to choose what they do and do not like about the cover images, how they may be improved, and other design aspects as appropriate. Keep in mind, these initial images are not the finished product, and the team’s feedback helps to shape the final cover image.

Here you can see some of the initial cover images sent to us by our very own award-winning designer Jamie Hohnadel Trosen:

The Final Product

After receiving our feedback, the designer goes to work and eventually comes to us with a finished product. This is the culmination of the book team reading over and distilling the main concepts and emotion from the title, and a skilled designer who can put our words and concepts into imagery.

It is quite the pairing of skills, and you can see the results below. We hope you like it.

HalfTerribleThings-Front

Half the Terrible Things by Paul Legler will be available in November 2020.

 

Zach
This article is contributed by Zachary Vietz, Graduate Assistant in Publishing. Zach specializes in publicity and marketing. He is now in the third semester of his Master’s in English program at North Dakota State University.  

Literary Aspirations on the Northern Plains

Publisher note from Suzzanne Kelley

In late September, NDSU Press will be visible in multiple sessions and responsibilities at the 55th Northern Great Plains History Conference for 2020. Too bad for all of us, our sessions will be virtual, but I still look forward to witnessing the splendid work from scholars across the United States and Canada. While the conference is by necessity going virtual, its home base will still be Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the sacred and ancestral lands of the Ojibwe and Dakota Nations.

Two of our NDSU Press authors and I will present papers in the session called Literary Aspirations on the Northern Plains, wherein…

Prairie scholars describe and reflect upon their literary aspirations and their place in the history of the northern plains. The first author examines the seventy-year history of publishing by the Institute for Regional Studies; the emergence of its publishing imprint, North Dakota State University Press; and its vision as the voice of the prairies and the plains. The second author reflects on his ambitions and audacity in roasting that great chestnut of regional history, the Nonpartisan League. The third author considers how best to invigorate the familiar genre of collected essays in the realm of regional literary nonfiction.

Here are the session participants:

Jeanne Ode

Jeanne K. Ode

 

 

 

Moderator: Jeanne K. Ode, Acting Press Director and Managing Editor of South Dakota History, South Dakota State Historical Society Press

Suzzanne4

Suzzanne Kelley

Paper 1: “Serving, not only the scholarly world, but the world in which the scholar lives”: North Dakota State University Press Celebrates 70 Years. Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher and Assistant Professor of Practice

 

shoptaugh

Terry L. Shoptaugh

Paper 2: Roasting a Chestnut: Historians Return to the Nonpartisan League. Terry L. Shoptaugh, Archivist and Professor of History (Ret’d.), Minnesota State University–Moorhead

 

Tom

Thomas D. Isern

Paper 3: Doing History in Grassy Places. Thomas D. Isern, University Distinguished Professor and Professor of History, North Dakota State University

 

grettler

David Grettler

 

 

Commentator: David Grettler, Professor of History, Northern Sate University, South Dakota

 

 

 

 

We invite YOU to attend the session and/or the whole conference, September 16-19, 2020. Follow along for updates here: 2020 Northern Great Plains History Conference.

NGPHC

5th Annual NDSU Press Party & 70th Anniversary

70 Logo for Website

Hear ye! Hear ye!

NDSU Press is pleased to announce our 5th Annual NDSU Press Party is about to commence! Free and open to the public, hors d’oeuvres and cash bar, music and readings, prose and poetry, cake—who could ask for more? Well, what the heck, since it’s our 70th anniversary, let’s throw in a 25 percent discount on book purchases and some door prizes, too!

When: Thursday, March 5, 2020, from 7 PM – 9 PM
Where: Harry D. McGovern Alumni Center, 1241 University Dr N, Fargo, ND

This year’s featured titles and authors:

  • Stringing Rosaries: The History, the Unforgivable, and the Healing of Northern Plains American Indian Boarding School Survivors, by Denise K. Lajimodiere
  • Sons of the Wild Jackass: The Nonpartisan League in North Dakota, by Terry L. Shoptaugh
  • Girl on a Float, by Brian Bedard
  • Harvest Widows, by Nick Bertelson
  • The Mammals of North Dakota, Second Edition, by Robert Seabloom
  • Pacing Dakota, Audio Version, by Thomas Isern and produced by Amanda Watts

NDSU Press aims to stimulate and coordinate interdisciplinary scholarship throughout the Red River Valley, state of North Dakota and the plains of North America. The press publishes peer-reviewed scholarship shaped by national or international events and comparative studies. NDSU Press operates under the umbrella of the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies.

This project is supported in part by generous donors to the NDSU Press Fund; the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; and a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

NDCA Be Legendary logo PNG           NDSU.Press_1

5th Annual NDSU Press Party & 70th Birthday

70 Logo for Website

Hear ye! Hear ye!

NDSU Press is pleased to announce our 5th Annual NDSU Press Party is about to commence! Free and open to the public, hors d’oeuvres and cash bar, music and readings, prose and poetry, cake—who could ask for more? Well, what the heck, since it’s our 70th birthday, let’s throw in a 25 percent discount on book purchases and some door prizes, too!

When: Thursday, March 5, 2020, from 7 PM – 9 PM
Where: Harry D. McGovern Alumni Center, 1241 University Dr N, Fargo, ND

This year’s featured titles and authors:

  • Stringing Rosaries: The History, the Unforgivable, and the Healing of Northern Plains American Indian Boarding School Survivors, by Denise K. Lajimodiere
  • Sons of the Wild Jackass: The Nonpartisan League in North Dakota, by Terry L. Shoptaugh
  • Girl on a Float, by Brian Bedard
  • Harvest Widows, by Nick Bertelson
  • The Mammals of North Dakota, Second Edition, by Robert Seabloom
  • Pacing Dakota, Audio Version, by Thomas Isern and produced by Amanda Watts

NDSU Press aims to stimulate and coordinate interdisciplinary scholarship throughout the Red River Valley, state of North Dakota and the plains of North America. The press publishes peer-reviewed scholarship shaped by national or international events and comparative studies. NDSU Press operates under the umbrella of the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies.

This project is supported in part by generous donors to the NDSU Press Fund; the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; and a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

NDCA Be Legendary logo PNG           NDSU.Press_1

“Bestsellers Born in Social Media”

from Suzzanne Kelley, PhD; Publisher at NDSU Press

While peeling apples and baking pie Saturday, I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, Beyond the Book, hosted by Copyright Clearance Center. Their hot topic, “Bestsellers Born in Social Media” (September 1), focuses on an interview with an agent, talking about how publishers must encourage their authors to have some sort of social media platform. Better yet, authors should have a solid social media platform before even submitting their manuscripts. Yes!

Some authors are daunted by the prospect. After all, much of their authorial life requires working solo, and now we’re asking them to go public. My takeaway from the podcast, however, is that being an author IS being public. Editors make editorial and business evaluations. (Ahhh, but that we could only stick to the editorial!) Paraphrasing commentary from the podcast, publishing is at heart “a business of the gut,” but in order to be successful, it must also be a business. As such, publishers must consider the marketing prospects for any manuscript.

If you are a writer, and you have hopes of adding “published author” to your resume, start working on your social media platform now. Common practice invites authors to begin with a website. As you add content to your web presence, that content can easily be transported to your other social media domains. Starting with a website is not the easiest platform, although free website hosts like WordPress do make the process a good starting place. My preference, my comfort zone, is with  easy-to-use social media like Facebook, but I also highly recommend creating an author page on Goodreads.

It doesn’t matter where you begin, only that you start. Here is a list of the platforms I’ve found most productive and easiest to use, with hopes in the near future to add podcasting in the mix.

  1. Facebook
  2. WordPress
  3. Twitter
  4. Goodreads
  5. Instagram
  6. Pinterest

The best way to start, of course, is to start! Here are some examples of easy social media posting commentary:

  • Testing out a few lines of poetry? Say so. Maybe even include a phrase or a line.
  • Writing from your favorite nook? Say so. Maybe include a picture of your space, possibly with you in it!
  • Visiting the archives and finding some fabulous document supporting your argument? Say so. And include a cell phone pic (if allowed . . . mind the archival site rules).
  • Out for an evening stroll and spying a beautiful sunset? Say so. And include a cell phone pic.
  • Enjoying a dinner out with friends? Say so. And include a cell phone pic.
  • Working on obtaining blurbs for your new book? Say so.
  • Corresponding with your publisher? Say so. You can include a pic of our logo or a link to our website http://www.ndsupress.org. 🙂
  • Feeling angst about posting on Twitter? Say so. Blame it on your publisher.
  • Having an author photo made? Say so. And include the pic.
  • For more ideas & to build up your following, follow other social media users . . . like us, at NDSU Press.

It’s All in the Numbers

from Suzzanne Kelley, PhD; Publisher at NDSU Press

Did you ever wonder where ISBNs come from and what they are all about?

Publishers must purchase a unique ISBN–International Standard Book Number–for every book they publish. If a single title, such as our Boy Wanted, by Ryan Christianson, for example, is also published as a digital version, then both the print and the digital versions have their own unique ISBN. Interestingly, the LCCN–Library of Congress Number–is unique to the title, no matter how many forms the title takes on: print hardcopy, print paperback, digital, or audio. So, Boy Wanted has two ISBNs and one LCCN. Likewise for Pacing Dakota, by Thomas D. Isern, which is published as a print version and soon to be released as an audio version.

9781946163066_29-95_ean BARCODE ISERN

ISBN barcode for hardcover print version of Pacing Dakota, by Thomas D. Isern

Bowker Identifier Services is the only US agency where ISBNs may be purchased. Bowker notes that the ISBN serves multiple purposes:

  • identifies a book’s specific format, edition, and publisher
  • links to essential information about your book
  • enables more efficient marketing and distribution of your title
  • is required by most retailers
  • is the global standard for book identification
  • improves the likelihood your book will be found and purchased

A single ISBN number costs $125 today. If you buy enough for multiple books, your per unit cost goes down significantly. At NDSU Press, we have twice purchased in blocks of one hundred ISBNs. Prior to 2007, ISBNs contained ten digits. Since 2007, a standard ISBN has thirteen digits.

The ISBN is a digital code, and once you learn how to read it, you’ll know more about your book purchase. So, what do the numbers in an ISBN stand for?

Let’s take the thirteen-digit Pacing Dakota ISBN once more: 978-1-946163-06-6. Notice that the ISBN is divided into five parts, each separated by a hyphen.

  • 978 : Prefix element; indicates that the book is published in the United States
  • 1 : Registration group identifier; A “0″ or “1” indicates the book is published for speakers of English.
  • 946163 : Registrant element; identifies the publisher; This particular number is unique to North Dakota State University Press.
  • 06 : Title identifier; In combination with registrant element, the title identifier indicates the singular unit of publication. This number is unique to a specific title in a specific format.
  • 6 : Check digit; The check digit ranges from 0 to 10 [X is used for 10] and is a way to check for any errors within the code. To explain the check digit further–which I won’t do here–requires converting the thirteen-digit code to a ten-digit code (there are online conversion services that do this for free) and then computing a series of multiplication actions. Let it suffice to say, the system works.

Here is a link to a fun Bowker video with more information about the purpose and benefits of ISBNs.

And in wrapping up this article on ISBNs, I’ll close with an image of our old-fashioned ISBN print-out page, where we’ve entered title names, matching them with their ISBN identities. We do this officially online nowadays, but for the sake of continuity in our history of record keeping, we continue to hand-write each entry.

2018-11-20 17.16.46

 

Paper Camera

note from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, NDSU Press
Today my students will be talking about various aspects of publishing gleaned from their reading of Paper Camera: A Half Century with New Rivers Press. This anthology is a project of (I hate to say former, because I am grateful that most of them are still in my life today) colleagues, authors, and students from my days at New Rivers. Here is the poem–written by Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen–that inspired the title of our book:
 
The Paper Camera
 
Someone should invent
a paper camera,
and we could all live
happily ever after
on a page where
the ink is pressed deep
into the words you
are reading now–
words that tell us
how sweet
it was to be alive
in the days of print
and how easy it was
to say sparrow
even in the middle
of winter.
————————-
21535431

Paper Camera is a history of New Rivers Press, told through the memories of its founder and the people who have worked with the press over the decades from 1968 to 2015.  The editors are Suzzanne Kelley and Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft, and the anthology authors include Alan Davis, Thom Tammaro, Deborah Keenan, David Haynes, Clint McCown, Charles Baxter, and many more, with a contribution of ten previously unpublished poems by Joyce Sutphen.