[Dr. Swartwout's Home Page] - - [Journey Magazine's Home Page] - - [SEMO English Deptartment]

 LI 301: The Theory and Practice of Small Press Publishing


(Click on & Visit)

 For upper-level undergraduate and graduate students who wish to study the history,  ideas, and practicum of literary magazines and small press publishing, including  acquisition, advertising and processing submissions, copyediting, line editing, page and  cover design, book structure, marketing, grant and review writing, recordkeeping, and  print buying.

Dr. Susan Swartwout, Office: GB 318-O

phone 651-2641 or at the University Press 651-2044


office hours at the University Press, 810 Normal, Monday 1-3, Thursday 3-5


Course Description:  Students will learn the operational procedures for independent book and journal publishing, an introduction to InDesign software for print production, and forms of specialized writing used in the publishing industry.

Student Learning Objectives:

         Students will demonstrate the ability to locate and gather information used by publishers. Measurement (pass/fail): Satisfactory completion of a directory report and a marketing report.

         Students will demonstrate the ability to think critically about contemporary literature and its catalogue presentation. Measurement (pass/fail):  Satisfactory completion of a professional book review and a catalogue-forum analysis.

         Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively in both oral and written forms that are commonly used by publishers. Measurement (pass/fail):  Satisfactory oral presentations of 3 written reports (catalogue forums, a student-created press, and a mission statement).

         Students will be able to articulate the working components of a publishing house. Measurement (pass/fail):  Satisfactory completion of the Create-Your-Press project, with clear and appropriate descriptions of each operational component on the list.

         Students will exhibit the ability to perform basic editing, using the Chicago Manual of Style. Measurement (pass/fail):  Satisfactory completion of the editing portion of the final exam and satisfactory editing of the capstone chapbook project.

2 Required Texts:  The Chicago Manual of Style, and a book you will choose from your Adopted Press.

Adopted Press:  You will be assigned a specific small press to research. You will also need to read one current book from that press in order to write a review and develop an appropriate marketing plan for the book.

Projects:  The course consists of the following assignments, each of which is underlined on the syllabus

4 short reports (10% each):

                                          • directory report

                                          • catalog-forum analysis of a commercial and an independent press

                                          • mission statement analysis of your Adopted Press

                                          • report of your own created press, according to guidelines

Marketing report (10%): a strategy for the book you read from your Adopted Press

Book project (20%): a publication produced in chapbook style by each student.  The publication will have all the components of a book, and will be meticulously copyedited and proofread.

Midterm and final (10% each)

Discussion (10% of grade): Participation in discussion is important. We’ll develop a vocabulary of terms, identify audiences and mission statements, and discuss regulations and varied theories of publishing.


Late work is not accepted for credit. Deadlines are a crucial element in publishing and one of the important learning experiences of this course. Any plagiarized work will receive an F.

• Make-up quizzes are not given. This course should be treated like a job you don’t want to lose. If you must be absent, be courteous enough to call. If work is assigned, get it done on time. In emergencies, limited extensions of work may be granted in advance of the due date. And yes, I do give pop quizzes.

• Attend at least one of the two Visiting Writer Readings held during the semester (9/19 or 10/24)

Some lab time for the desktop publishing equipment, such as design software or scanner, will be outside of regular class hours.          

Week 1:            History of small press publishing in America

                            08/21  history of independent publishing ; administrative components of a press

                            08/23  directory and publications assignments (tools of the trade); catalogue and                                    forum analysis

Week 2:            Commercial and independent press issues comparison

                            08/28  read handout on  manuscript preparation

                            08/30  Directory and publications reports due  (oral and written)    

Week 3:            Acquisitions: acceptance process, author-editor relationship, contests,                                             contracts

                            09/04  submission of work, self-publishing, co-op publishing

                            09/06  the author-editor relationship

Week 4:           09/11  literary contests, awards, grants.

                            09/13  read Lloyd Rich contract-law packet #1

Week 5:           09/18   read law packet #2

                           09/19 VISITING AUTHOR WALTER BARGEN, 7 pm,

                            09/20  catalogue-forum analysis of commercial and independent presses due

Week 6:           Editing: proofreading/copyediting, press style, stylesheets, author’s                                       responsibilities

                            bring your Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) to class for the next few weeks

                            09/25 editing marks; creating a stylesheet

                            09/27 editing practicum

Week 7:           10/02 (more editing practice)

                           10/04 parts and styles of literary magazines

Week 8:           Editing a Literary Magazine

                        10/09 read handouts: Criteria for a good magazine, Design handout, and read (fun!)                                  “Starting a Literary Magazine, Part One" http://www.hazelandwren.com/2012/the-                                 writing-life-starting-a-literary-magazine-from-whole-beast-rag-part-1/

                        10/11 FALL BREAK

Week 9:           Editing Poetry

                            10/16 structural considerations and practicum

                            10/18 Adopt-a-press reports on mission statements, forum analysis due

Week 10:        Design: components, specifications, layout, cover

                           10/23 parts of a book; coherence between cover and page design; styles

                        10/24 VISITING AUTHOR JO MCDOUGALL, 7 pm

                           10/25 lab: InDesign software

Week 11 :       10/30 lab: InDesign software

                            11/01 Create your own press: reports due  (oral and written)

Week 12:        Production: printbuying and quotations, bluelines, release deadlines

                            11/06 quotation format; papers and inks

                            11/08 blueline and blackline expectations; galleys for reviewers 

Week 13:        Marketing: promotions, budget, projected sales, author tours, bookstores,                            awards, distributors and   sales reps, libraries, classroom sales, sales reports

                        11/13  marketing genres (poetry, prose, reference, essays, art, etc.)

                                    read “Publicity Basics” and Ross Marketing (handouts)

                        11/15  bring to class three different book marketing ads (or devices from a                                                              bookstore or press) that you find effective. Be prepared to discuss their qualities                                     (or failures)

Week 14:                  11/20 Bring your designed cover for your chapbook, on cardstock

                           11/22 Thanksgiving Break

Week 15:      11/27 Marketing campaign for Adopted-Press book due (presentation & hardcopy)

                                    11/29:  lab

Week 16:                  12/04:  lab

                                    12/06: Final publication due: chapbook

Finals week:  Final exam on Tues. Dec. 11 at NOON. Bring your CMS and a dictionary.


Expectations and policies

Statement on Non-Discrimination: Missouri's public universities are equal-opportunity educational institutions and do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, or sexual orientation for programs, activities, or employment, in accordance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Educational Amendments.

Statement on Academic Honesty: Missouri's public universities are committed to intellectual integrity in their academic pursuits. Academic dishonesty constitutes unacceptable behavior and includes unauthorized assistance in completing required course assignments or testing. Unauthorized assistance includes electronic transfer. Plagiarism, that is, submitting someone else's work or part there of, as your own, is considered to be cheating.

Breaches of intellectual integrity will result in disciplinary measures, based on the policies and procedures of the student's home institution. These may include:
1) a failing grade for a particular assignment;
2) a failing grade for the course;

3) suspension for various lengths of time from the university; and/or

4) permanent expulsion from the university.

Statement on Student Disabilities: Reasonable accommodations will be provided upon request for persons with disabilities in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 If you are a person with a disability, either learning related or physical, who requires an accommodation to participate in university programs, services, or activities please contact the disability services staff at your university of record.