Nobody can quite prepare you for the volume of work organising a cover for an anthology is, combined with the task of then having to select readers for an event as grand as the York Literature Festival: Beyond the Walls launch. It was a big ask, and an even bigger weight of pressure, made greater by the continual praise of our module director, Dr. Kimberly Campanello, for the previous year’s hard work and success on the module. The reputation of our predecessors was upon us, and we weren’t about to be the team that couldn’t maintain it. But amidst all of that pressure, we pulled it off and in doing so learnt a little about the industry and gained some valuable skills for the future.
So, here’s how we did it:
The process of selecting the cover started on the rocks. The call for submissions showed us that even though there is a wide community of artists at York St John, to begin with not everyone was as excited about Beyond the Walls as we were. Initially, we didn’t receive very many submissions, but thanks to the hard work of the Promotions team, we eventually had a total of 27 artwork submissions, all of a high standard, meaning that our decision wasn’t an easy one. We were presented with a variety of styles and forms of art work for the cover, meaning that we had to decide what the overall vision we wanted for this year’s cover was going to be, in comparison to last year’s. Once we had decided, we compiled a list of our first choice down to our last to be reviewed by Kimberly and our Subject Director Dr. Naomi Booth who agreed our choice:
The winning design above was sent across to Jamie McGarry, who integrated it into Valley Press’s house style, producing this result:
When the final choice was made, our work was by no means over. Preparations for the event itself were well underway and with the main attraction out of the way we were then tasked with selecting five readers for the launch event. Which in itself was difficult because all of the work included in the anthology as selected by Editorial team 1 was of a very high standard. This was an important part of the process as we had to ensure that we selected a nice range of both forms and styles. Being involved in the event first-hand meant that we were able to see the event start to come together at the dress rehearsal, and hear some of the beautiful work from the anthology spoken aloud.
We thought we would also use this opportunity to briefly discuss the Publishing Production and Performance module and the valuable information we have learnt about the industry over the course of the semester. For anyone in first year joint or single honours creative writing, we would highly suggest selecting this module in your second year. Not only do you learn so much from guest speakers who vary from writers, to publishers and agents, but you also come away with a better understanding of running events, writing cover letters to publishers and the importance of literary movements. All of this helps to shape your own writing through a better understanding of the publishing industry.
This module forces you out of your comfort zone in the best sort of way.
The contact with independent publishers such as Valley Press, who we have been collaborating with to publish the anthology this year, was an enlightening experience and introduced us to the pressures that publishers face regularly to create high-quality events and products. It feels rewarding for all of on the module to have this opportunity and knowing that at the end of it all we were part of creating a successful launch and a beautiful anthology. What other module on the English literature or creative writing degrees would allow you to work first hand with a publisher and even visit their headquarters?
Editorial Team 2
Beyond the Walls 2018