TTU Press: Book Publishing in the Hub City
By: Hannah Fields
Book publishing is often associated with New York City and recognizable names such as Penguin Random House. However, not all publishing houses are localized to big cities. In fact, Lubbock has its very own book publisher located on Main Street.
Established in 1971, Texas Tech University Press is one of 120 university presses across the United States and Canada. A member of the Association of American University Presses since 1987, TTU Press aims to advance the knowledge and preservation of research and scholarship through the publication of books and journals.
Unlike trade publishers, who publish books for a general audience, TTU Press focuses mainly on nonfiction titles but also includes several scholarly and open access journals, books for young adult readers, and annual winners of the Walt McDonald First-Book Competition in Poetry within their published works.
Their main emphasis, however, is scholarly monographs. These range from general interest to regional titles. This focus is meant to inform both the scholar and the general reader of Texana, Southwestern, cultural and natural histories, as well as the Great Plains. This unique focus allows them to take on these areas and make them their own.
Not only does TTU Press focus on Texas histories, as well as the American West, but it also focuses on military history, particularly Vietnam and Southeast Asian studies. These unique publishing scopes are due in part to the connections TTU Press has with Texas Tech University's Southwest Collection and Vietnam Center and Archive.
While TTU Press might be small, with only four full-time employees, that doesn't mean their output isn't effective. The press puts out up to 20 titles per year and currently has about 400 books in print. And, unlike commercial presses, TTU Press's small size allows the staff to focus more on the author and provide customized service.
This personable approach allows TTU Press to acquire manuscripts in a variety of ways, from both unsolicited to solicited sources, through fax or e-mail or in-person. Members of the press also attend several scholarly meetings a year—the Western Historical Association being their biggest—where they might find potential new authors.
It's at these meetings where members of the press attend lectures held by scholars. If the content presented sounds like it might be suitable for a book, TTU Press will approach the scholar afterward to discuss possibilities. Each university press is known for their specialization, which oftentimes leads scholars to approach them with ideas as well.
Once a manuscript has gone through its peer review, editorial and design processes and is ready to print, TTU Press considers printers depending on its needs. Simple titles with black and white interiors that are mainly text-based will be published in the Great Lakes Region as these printers meet the press's needs of a quick turnaround and smaller print run.
However, for more complicated books, such as photography or natural history with a color interior, TTU Press uses printers in South Korea or Canada. By going with these printers, the press can get quality work at a better price, but must plan for a turnaround time of almost two months due to shipping.
TTU Press has sales representatives across the country who work to get their finished products into the hands of both regional and national booksellers, with their major accounts being Barnes and Noble, Yankee Book Peddlers and Amazon. Representatives will approach booksellers twice a year when TTU Press releases its spring and fall book catalogues. The various accounts will then, in turn, decide if they want to place a pre-order on those books.
Not only does TTU Press publish books, but it also puts on various events throughout the year, especially during the fall.
Literary Lubbock 2017: A Night With Authors is the largest event held by TTU Press and is meant to spotlight their authors. The event features a reception, catered dinner and silent auction. The four chosen authors—Nancy Draves, Bob Horton, Ruben Molina, and Jane M. Neugebauer—will speak in-between courses and hold book signings after. Literary Lubbock will be held Oct. 27. Tickets can be purchased by calling 806-742-2540.
TTU Press is also serving as one of the partners for Lubbock's first book festival. Scheduled for Oct. 28, the Lubbock Book Festival will be held on the grounds of the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts (LHUCA). The event will be free and open to the public and will feature author panels, TTU authors, national bestselling authors, and more. Hank the Cowdog author John R. Erikson will also be in attendance, as will historian S. C. Gwynne.
Learn more about the Lubbock Book Festival.
TU Press is also open to the public during LHUCA's First Friday Art Trail.