Publishing Possibilities with Clemson University Press
When you go to Cooper Library, it is most likely to study, or maybe even check out a book. But did you know that there is a publishing press within the library, producing and distributing books and other forms of scholarly literature? Clemson University Press, founded in 2000, is right here on campus.
University presses are mission-based publishers affiliated with an academic institution whose purpose is to publish scholarship. Clemson University Press has long had a strong specialization in modernist literature, with scholars publishing works on authors such as T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf. It has since expanded to incorporate more works across fields of study. In 2014, Clemson University Press entered into a partnership with Liverpool University Press, allowing for more resources to publish and distribute scholarly works worldwide. Since John Morgenstern became the director in 2016, the press has grown significantly — going from publishing just a few books a year to now publishing over 20. The press even has recently established an imprint, Clemson Extension Publishing, dedicated to publishing scholarship in the specific areas of entomology, horticulture, agriculture, food science, nutrition, gardening, forestry, water and wildlife.
An integral part of Clemson University press and its successes is managing editor, Alison Mero. She shared that a key component of her day-to-day responsibilities is to keep manuscripts moving through the production process. Though her Ph.D. and area of expertise is in musicology, Mero came to Clemson University Press and has succeeded in her position because she understands the publishing process.
“Our mission isn’t just to publish scholarship, our mission is also to serve the institution,” Mero said. She shared a specific example of how a Clemson forestry professor needed a book printed for a course on winter tree identification and utilized the press to publish it.
Mero’s passion for publishing and her work is evident.
“I really, really enjoy it. I love making books, I love working with scholars, refining their arguments, polishing what they have to say, making their arguments stronger,” Mero said.
Students interested in the field of publishing have great opportunities to gain experience and learn from Clemson University Press. Mero and Morgenstern have taught courses in previous semesters on publishing, ranging from a general overview of the industry to more specific ins and outs. Though this course is not currently being offered this spring 2021 semester, Mero emphasized that the pair hopes to teach more publishing classes in the future.
In addition to the option of taking the publishing course, there is also the opportunity for hands-on work through completing a directed study with the press. With directed studies, students finish with a portfolio of items that they can feature on their resume. The directed studies option allows students to really focus on the aspects of publishing they are interested in, such as typesetting or editing, and work on projects in those areas. There is also the option for students who aren’t entirely sure which department they would like to pursue to work on multiple projects across departments.
When asked about her best advice for English majors hoping to work in publishing, Mero asserted the importance of working for a publisher or press.
“At the end of the day when you go to apply, the first thing that recruiter or hiring personnel is going to look at is whether or not you’ve had experience with a press.”
Mero emphasized the positive experience both she and the press have had working with students. If a student wants to learn about publishing, she and Morgenstern are more than happy to help.
“Clemson students have always been really gifted, hard workers. I like teaching students, and if you’ve got a student who wants to learn, it’s fantastic,” Mero said.
At least two former graduate students who worked at the press now have careers in publishing — one at a university press in Georgia and one who works at a trade publisher. The valuable, relevant experience gained by students working with the press can lead them to careers in the field.
Students interested in working for the press or participating in a directed studies course should reach out to Dr. Morgenstern, who is the instructor of record, or to Dr. Mero herself; their contact information is available on the Clemson University Press website.
Written by: Olivia Hanline