“Previously, the students worked on it with not much more than the instruction from the previous years,” explains Andrew Chesham, the program assistant for The Writers’ Studio (TWS). So Chesham took his experience from the Master of Publishing program, Catchfire Press, and his co-op term with The Peak to develop the Book Production course for TWS.
“The course was intended to help the students better understand how books are made through coursework and hands-on, to have them understand the steps in small press publishing for when they are published in the future or if they decide to self publish,” says Chesham.
The course began in May and lasted throughout the summer, covering different stages of production as they related to the existing cycle for emerge: production, design, writing, editing, formatting, marketing and sales.
Kait Fowlie, a student in the course, says that they had visits from printers when they were studying print production, and spoke to designers when they were contracting a layout designer. “We learned production, obscure parts of books, ebook publishing,” says Fowlie. “Andrew [Chesham]’s excitement was infectious and you ended up thinking ‘This is the coolest thing ever—how did I not know about this?’”
Sixteen of the 36 TWS students enrolled in the course and were divided into different departments, focusing on editorial, production and sales/marketing. Fowlie was on the marketing team, which was in charge of the launch. Realizing their budgetary constraints, the team organized a fundraiser in September, which was “above and beyond the call of duty,” says student Deborah Patton, who was part of the copy editing team.
Also helping out was JJ Lee, fashion columnist and author of The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit as guest editor; TWS alumni Leanne Dunic as managing editor; and Chesham as publisher. Fowlie, who has been published before, says JJ Lee was “so wonderful and encouraging,” adding that he was also “smart and quirky.”
Chesham explained that Lee’s experience was beneficial to demonstrate variety among editors—especially those who don’t already know you and your style. “Many students are nervous about being published for the first time, and we try to subdue some of those fears,” said Chesham.
The emerge anthology includes one piece from each of the 36 students in The Writers’ Studio. There is no annual theme, no set genre, and a self-selection process by the students, although some of the pieces are excerpts of larger works.
The emerge 2013 launch takes place Thursday, Oct. 17, at Harbour Centre. Beginning at 6:00 p.m. there will be short readings by each of the students published in the anthology. “We will be giving thanks and love, being creative, and showing off,” says Fowlie. Chesham calls it a sort of “graduation for TWS students . . . to show what they’ve been doing for the past six to eight months and share it with their family and friends.”
This story first appeared in The Peak, SFU's student newspaper, on October 15, 2013.