TCU Daily Skiff Friday, April 23, 2004
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Press excels after years in city
TCU’s press allows for publication of some unique regional and Fort Worth history.

By Sarah Greene

Down the hill at the corner of Sandage Avenue and Bowie Street, a little brick building is nestled in the shadows.

The building has no sculptures or Internet cafes, only a sign that reads: TCU Press.

The TCU Press is the smallest in the nation in terms of staff, said Judy Alter, director of the press.

The press has a two-part mission: to increase the existing body of academic works and to bring prestige to the university, Alter said.

With a staff of two permanent employees, Alter and editor Susan Petty, plus Jim Lee, a volunteer acquisitions editor and Matt Kornegay, an intern from TCU, the press manages to publish six to 10 books a year.

It began in 1966 and operated on an informal basis until 1982. Alter has been director since 1987, and under her leadership the press has focused on the history and literature of the American West, Alter said.

It publishes a lot of regional and Fort Worth history, Alter said.

“It’s a real contribution the university can make to its community,” Alter said.

The press not only contributes to the surrounding area, it provides an alternative to the typical college environment.

“There is an audience that will go to a book signing that will not set foot in a football game,” Alter said.

The press also helps students interested in the world of publishing by employing an intern, usually a TCU student, whenever possible. Kornegay, a senior English major, said interning with Alter and Petty has helped him gain real-world experience with university presses and the publishing industry.

Kornegay was able to follow one manuscript from beginning to end, editing, arranging photos and writing the catalogue copy for the boot jacket, Alter said.

The press publishes the Texas Tradition Series, which are outstanding works by Texan writers that deserve to stay in print, Alter said.

“Big time publishers in New York let works fall out of print when they stop making money, so we keep them in print so a big hunk of Texas literature is not lost,” Alter said.
The press also publishes the Chaparral Series, which includes works of historical fiction based on Texas history for young adults, Petty said.

One book in the Chaparral Series, “Muddy Banks,” has sold over 20,000 copies, Alter said.

Books produced by the press have won awards from prestigious organizations such as the Western Writers of America, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Texas Institute of Letters, Alter said.

The Texas Literary Hall of Fame inaugural event, sponsored by the Friends of the Fort Worth Public Library, will honor two of the press’s authors and another will act as the master of ceremonies, Alter said.

When the press receives a manuscript, Alter and Petty do not just sit around and discuss whether or not they like the book. They send it off to an expert in the field of its subject. If they get a good review back, then they present it to the board, Alter said.

The Texas A&M University Press Consortium, which acts as a sales representative and a great marketing tool, distributes the works, Alter said.

Petty said in the future she would like to see the press produce more books.

Alter said she would like to see a larger staff and an endowment, but not too much expansion.

“It’s better to be a major press in Texas than to be a small press in the nation,” Alter said.
 
 
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