Helping University Presses As An Author

I love working with University Presses.  As director of Project MUSE, I engage  with this community on a daily basis in helping to provide a sustainable distribution model to ensure their long-term success in the digital realm. I began my career at Columbia University Press in 1987 while studying for an MFA in poetry and worked with great people like Kate Wittenberg, Jennifer Crewe, Charles Hames and Leslie Bialler.NENP1Smith final_cover_071113

Presses are about the people. My colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University Press are talented and amazing.

The UPCC collections on Project MUSE reveal a diverse array of content being published by the UP community – works that embody the mission of an entity founded to disseminate knowledge and enrich our society.

Over this past year, I’ve been given an opportunity to help UPs in a different way—as an author.

I am a diehard Baltimore Ravens fan and attended the Super Bowl in New Orleans last February. In the aftermath of that football journey, I developed a proposal for a book that would tell the team’s remarkable story from the standpoint of a fan. I shopped it around and Alex Holzman of Temple University Press offered me a contract. The book, NEVER EASY, NEVER PRETTY: A FAN. A CITY. A CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON published last week.

During that time, I spoke with Greg Britton, editorial director of the Johns Hopkins University Press about the book — “A thinking fan’s memoir about a  championship season and what it meant for the city and its people.”  I knew from the beginning that it wasn’t a book for Hopkins but he advised me to speak with legendary JHUP history and regional studies senior editor Bob Brugger anyway.

JHUP had published a book written by Ted Patterson, FOOTBALL IN BALTIMORE: HISTORY AND MEMORABILIA in 1999 and Brugger’s vision involved a new edition that would include the two Ravens Super Bowl victories. I had used this book in writing a piece on Baltimore’s historic Catholic school rivalry between Loyola High School and Calvert Hall College. Patterson2E

Similar to H.L. Mencken’s experience during one of his early visits to the Baltimore Sun, Brugger instructed me to “get going” on the update.  In late September, the new edition of this classic will be out.

Suddenly in the evenings and early mornings of late winter into spring, I was feverishly writing two books on the Ravens Super Bowl season. I have developed an even deeper appreciation for the hard work being done within Presses to drastically shorten production cycles and bring books out.

There are three words that come to mind in describing the publishing experience with a University Press: quality, craft and dedication. At both JHUP and Temple, these core values reign. Hopefully, these two books will generate sales in challenging times for publishers.

I am deeply honored and humbled to be a University Press author.


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