A Splendid Enterprise & a Search for a Letterpress Printer

Publisher note from Suzzanne Kelley
*If you are a letterpress printer, please see my purple note at the end of this message.

Since 2016, the NDSU Intro to Publishing students, working with NDSU Press, have had the chance to learn how to operate turn-of-the-20th-century letterpresses. We begin with a Saturday at Hunter Times, a museum located in West Fargo at Bonanzaville. Having learned about Chandler & Price letterpresses and safety measures, students take a turn at  letterpress printing. Allan Burke–an expert in all matters about letterpress history and operations–provides a tour, and then in small-group format, students begin the process of letterpress printing the chapbook covers for the current winner of our Poetry of Plains and Prairies Award.

 

 

Hunter Times location_Students at work with a Chandler & Price letterpress

Students at Hunter Times, learning to operate the Chandler & Price letterpress, one page at a time. Left to right: Raechel Heuer, Sydney Olstad, Ken Smith.

Later in the semester, on a Friday afternoon, we load up a caravan of cars and head for The Braddock News Letterpress Museum, located on the vast grounds of the South Central Threshing Association. The drive is about two-and-a-half hours from campus, and for some of my students, it is the farthest west they’ve ever been.

On Friday night, our host, Allan Burke, gives the students yet another tour. The Braddock News Letterpress Museum is home to multiple pieces of equipment dating from the late 1800s to the 1950s. Here, the students have hands-on access to Chandler & Price letterpresses, a 1940s stitcher, and a trimmer, dating also from the turn of the 20th century.

 

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Fall 2019 Intro to Publishing students at the Braddock News Letterpress Museum, working on the chapbook publication, Harvest Widows, by Nick Bertelson. Students pictured from left to right are Laura Ellen Brandjord, Kalley Miller, Ryan Nix, Nataly Routledge, Zachary Vietz, and Alexis Melby.

Following our museum tour, we dine sumptuously courtesy of the Threshers Association Iron Men and board officers, some of whom do the welcoming, cooking, serving, and cleaning. Initial printing begins after supper.

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Publishing student Samantha Soukup dishes up some homemade stew at Miss Kitty’s, the food hub (and pitstop) for our publishing team while on site at The Braddock News Letterpress Museum.

The students learn about moveable type, and we generally put that knowledge to work when we print our covers. For printing the interior, however, we do resort to some modernization. It would take too long to set type for the forty interior pages, so we order up raised-magnesium printing plates instead. Each plate prints two pages on one side of a sheet of paper. When the papers dry, we can flip them over to print two more pages.

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Sample plates for printing pages from Harvest Widows, by Nick Bertelson. (Photo by Tim Jensen Studios.)

 

Land of Sunlit Ice_ink drying at Braddock

Maggie Krull, setting sheets out to dry. In the background, Angela Beaton and volunteer Jerome Schwartzenberger, retired publisher of the Napoleon [ND] Homestead, make sure everything is right.

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Braddock_Photo by Ken Smith

Our team finishes up the final copies of Land of Sunlit Ice, by North Dakota Poet Laureate Larry Woiwode, the first chapbook project of our series. From left to right: Sydney Olstad, Amanda Biles, Jerome Schwartzenberger, Raechel Heuer, Clarence Hertz, Suzzanne Kelley, Angela Beaton, Allan Burke, Maggie Krull, and Ken Smith.

We start this enterprise as amateurs, and we finish as proficient Devils Printers…the official name for our interns with experience under their belts and ink under their fingernails.

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In this, the year of the pandemic, our options for continuation of this splendid enterprise have become limited for the production of our newest addition to the chapbook series, A Muddy Kind of Love, by Carolyn Dahl. We must cut out our trip to Braddock. We’ll still meet face-to-face in small groups (optional, not required) at Hunter Times to print our covers for the newest addition to our chapbook series. Our current plan (subject to revision) is to hire a professional letterpress printer to print and assemble the interior. If you or someone you know fits the bill, please contact Suzzanne Kelley post haste for details. Contact information is available at our website.

 

 

 

 

When an Author Hits Gold

Publisher note from Suzzanne Kelley

Sometimes a first-time author strikes gold. Such is the way with Rebecca Bender, whose book, Still (NDSU Press, 2019), has been raking in the awards and whose essays and poems are now seeing publication in national newsletters and magazines. Much to her (and our) delight, her work is even cited in other works of scholarship, such as historian David Moon’s The American Steppes: The Unexpected Russian Roots of Great Plains Agriculture, 1870s-1930s (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Rebecca Bender in ND Sunflower Field in November by Lincoln Bernhard

Rebecca recently won the Gold Medal in the category of Religion & Philosophy from the Midwest Independent Publishers Association’s Midwest Book Awards. Prizewinners compete in a twelve-state region, so her recognition is phenomenal. Still also won First Place in the internationally-competitive Independent Press Award for Judaism.

Rebecca will be the first to tell you that she did not win these awards on her own. She shares authorship with her late father, Kenneth M. Bender (1916-2006). During the last two years of his life, he hand-wrote page after page of his vivid memories. Rebecca typed up his notes with the agreed-upon compensation at the end of each of their working sessions: a shared chocolate milkshake. His and her memories, her exhaustive research and attention to detail reveal a splendid little-known history of Jewish families on the northern plains.

FINAL Penultimate Cover

I will be the first to tell you that Rebecca’s recognition is the result of hard work. I first met her as she and a community of celebrants from across the United States met in the town of Ashley, ND. Rebecca’s efforts had resulted in the successful nomination of the Ashley Jewish Cemetery to the National Register of Historic Places. Rebecca shared the fruits of her research that day in a wonderful story (that included a skit, a song, and a sit-down dinner). I expressed my hope that she would work on a larger project; I am grateful that she was already thinking along those lines.

A former securities litigator in Minnesota, Rebecca has always enjoyed history and hearing uplifting stories, taking pride in family and Jewish traditions, feeling gratefulness and appreciation for life in America, where she and her son are free to practice their religion and to work hard to achieve their goals.

You can read Rebecca’s most recent essay, published July 23, 2020, by the Jewish Book Council, here: Gold from the Prairie, by Rebecca E. Bender.

About Still

More than four hundred Russian and Romanian Jewish homesteaders settled on about eighty-five farms in McIntosh County, North Dakota, beginning in 1905. After clearing rocks and boulders, growing wheat and flax, raising cattle and chickens, and selling cream from their sod houses, most were successful enough to own their own land.

Still is a history of five generations, a family we meet first as they flee Odessa and last as they make their ways as American Jews…and as Dakota farmers, as students and storekeepers, as soldiers and lawyers, and even as a teen in an international competition who stands face-to-face with Netanyahu. Rebecca Bender and Kenneth Bender answer the question recently posed to Rebecca by a newspaper reporter: Are you still Jewish?

Still is available through online sites and at your favorite independent bookstore, as well as direct from North Dakota State University Press.

 

The Folk School on Willow Creek

Publisher note from Suzzanne Kelley

Welcome to the Folk School on Willow Creek, featuring University Distinguished Professor Tom Isern, singing and telling stories from the Salon on Willow Creek. Every Friday evening, 8:00 p.m. Central Time, Isern belts out ballads and tells the backstories of the lyrics, the authors, and the people of the plains who sang the songs. This Friday, July 25, he’ll feature “The Letter Edged in Black.” Do you know the significance of the edging? Tune in . . . you’ll find out. The Folk School lasts about 30 minutes, but you’ll wish it lasted longer. This week’s program is the 14th in the series.

Here is a link to Prairie Public’s Main Street, where host Doug Hamilton interviewed Isern just this week about the Folk School.

And here is a link to the Folk School page on Facebook.

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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

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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

 

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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

 

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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

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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

Apple in the Middle Wins National Recognition

Our first publication in the NDSU Press Contemporary Voices of Indigenous Peoples series, Apple in the Middle, by author Dawn Quigley, has won national recognition from the American Indian Library Association (AILA), an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA).

The inaugural AILA award, which will be announced in even years, identifies and honors the best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians. This new award joins other long-standing awards–such as the John Newberry Medal and the Randolph Caldecott Medal–under the umbrella of the ALA.

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Dawn Quigley, author of award-winning Apple in the Middle (NDSU Press 2018) / Photo by Brook Wood, http://www.tadpolephoto.com

Dawn Quigley, with her debut novel, is in fine company with three other authors–all four recognized as the first-ever American Indian Youth Literature Young Adult Book Honor winners:

  • Surviving the City, written by Tasha Spillett (Nehiyaw-Trinidadian), illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Métis Nation of British Columbia) (Highwater Press);
  • Reawakening Our Ancestors’ Lines: Revitalizing Inuit Traditional Tattooing, gathered and compiled by Angela Hovak Johnston (Inuk), with photography by Cora De Vos (Inuk) (Inhabit);
  • An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People, written by Debbie Reese (Nambé Owingeh) and Jean Mendoza, adapted from the adult book by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Beacon Press);
  • and Apple in the Middle, written by Dawn Quigley (Ojibwe, Turtle Mountain Band) (North Dakota State University Press)

The first place winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Award in the Young Adult category is Hearts Unbroken, written by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee) (Candlewick Press).

Dawn Quigley writes, “So honored that NDSU Press and Suzzanne Kelley said ‘Yes’ to my book, Apple in the Middle!! Miigwech to everyone at the press who worked on this…And the amazing cover art by Jamie Hohnadel Trosen!”

Within minutes of the announcement, our NDSU Press office began receiving phone calls with congratulations and book orders. We are SO PLEASED for Dawn and for this incredible attention to the North Dakota State University Press.

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Apple in the Middle, by Dawn Quigley / Cover illustration and design by Jamie Hohnadel Trosen / Interior design by Deb Tanner

Regional and national articles featuring an announcement about our newest NDSU Press award:

Publishers Weekly

Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Minneapolis Star Tribune

“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.

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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.

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Making Audible Noise

from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher at NDSU Press
Our tagline (courtesy of an article in North Dakota Living) is “NDSU Press gives region a voice.” WELL, we are taking that “voice” to a whole new level. In the works right now is our first Audible book!
 
Graduate student Amanda Watts, who in addition to working on a PhD in Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture, has been taking on credits for the Certificate in Publishing. Her project this semester is to learn all the ins and outs of publishing an audio book through the Audible platform.

As producer for the project, Amanda collaborates with author Thomas D. Isern to deliver his recent NDSU Press publication, Pacing Dakota, in the audio format. In the publishing business, audio books have been outpacing (so to speak) the rise in sales of any other book format, whether as e-books (whose sales numbers have peaked and are now in decline, waiting perhaps for the next newest technical design for e-readers) or traditional print form (which is on the rise but not at the rate of audio book sales).

Because of Amanda’s interest in this project, and Tom’s willingness to read, we are really excited to be adding a new format to our publication process. If all goes according to plan, the Audible version of Pacing Dakota will be available this summer.

In the meantime, Pacing Dakota (and all of our books) can be purchased directly from NDSU Press at our online store, at your favorite independent bookstore, and through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (Booksellers and librarians, contact us for wholesale/library discounts.)

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