Student-run publishing house Red Rook Press prepares to print student work 

Madeline Robinson, Contributing Writer

At a Sept. 6 informational meeting — crowded to the point of there being standing room only students interested in publishing were introduced to The University of Alabama’s first-ever student-ruan publishing house: Red Rook Press 

The crowd was a surprise to the assistant director of creative writing and the press’ faculty advisor and assistant director of creative writing Paul Albano, who had expected the number in attendance to be much lower. The initial interest shown at the informational meeting was successful, recruiting 37 people to work in one of the four departments that make up the press.  

We wanted to create something that was targeted towards a book publication and all the parts of the apparatus that go into that. One of the things we discovered is there’s a tremendous interest in publishing on our campus. It actually caught us off guard, we were not prepared for the breadth of that interest,” Albano said. “We were pleasantly surprised by how significantly we had underestimated the student interest.” 

Albano said one of the goals of the press is to help give students interested in pursuing work in the publishing industry the experience needed to move forward with their careers. The publishing house has made providing the opportunity for experience one of their priorities. 

“Part of what we were trying to do with the project was break the experience trap we see in the publishing industry. Even to get an internship at one of the big presses you need experience,” Albano said. “We really wanted to allow anyone to join any of our departments in whatever capacity they wanted without needing prior experience under the logic that we could sort of teach them and then practice any skill that they need.”  

Students like Anna Kate Baxter, who is a junior majoring in English major, have taken advantage of the opportunity to help prepare for their careers in publishing.  

“I want to be an editor when I graduate and work in the publishing industry, so I saw this as an opportunity to not only learn about editing but positions and the whole production of a book and see that play out in real life for authors my age at Alabama,” Baxter said. 

The September meeting was the culmination of a summer’s worth of work to get the infrastructure for the publishing house in place. After the idea was introduced to Albano by David Deutsch, the chair of the English Department, Albano began looking at other universities’ publishing houses, finding inspiration in presses like Wilde Press at Emerson College.  

“It was something that we worked on and off over the summer to get our infrastructure in place so we could launch it in September. There were lots and lots of emails. Emailing the good folks at Etax so we could get our website, talking to the people at the procurement office about how we can accept money to the books for sale and it was lots and lots of reaching out to instructors, asking if they knew any students who might be interested in publishing,” Albano said. 

Red Rook Press is split into four branches content editing, acquisitions, design, and marketing and outreach each of them providing students with the ability to work on all facets of the publishing process. 

“Content editors will work on shaping the actual manuscripts. We have acquisitions, which will be responsible for identifying and selecting the work that we publish. We have a design department, which will do the actual layout of the books. Then you have our promotion, marketing and outreach team, which will be responsible for galvanizing interest in the press, helping writers submit their work to us, helping us market and sell the books. Essentially helping us find the foothold in this literary publishing world,” Albano said. 

One member of the marketing team is freshman Maya Mungo, a freshman majoring in marketing, major who was most excited about being able to help others get their work published while gaining experience. 

“I wanted to get in on the ground floor. At the end of it, I want to say that I successfully helped someone get word out on their work. Like the chance to say, ‘Yeah, they managed to sell this many copies of their book and I was a part of that process’ is appealing to me. Seeing the chance to do marketing for it and pushing it out to people, running accounts and everything … seeing that there was that opportunity was really what got me,” Mungo said. 

The publishing house plans to print two students’ book-length projects by April, one a poetry composition and the other a piece of prose. The submission window opened on Oct. 1 and submissions will be accepted through Dec. 10. Students may submit their work through Submittable a free submission portal which requires an account where the specifications for submission length can be found.  

In January, everyone who submits work will be contacted and the acquisitions team will decide which two books will be published. Writers will be contacted about their author agreement and work will begin on editing the project. While copy and line editors are working with the author, the design team will work on the cover and artwork. 

“It’ll be a four-to-five-week process for that, so we’re thinking early to mid-April we’ll have our release party,” Albano said. 

Those working at Red Rook Press ensure that any student submissions are welcome and that submissions need not be perfect. 

“Don’t be afraid of doing something weird. We love the idea of printing sci-fi or fantasy, it does not have to be educational and school-related. Submit what you have. Anybody who is an undergrad, right here, now [can submit work],” Mungo said. 

More information about the publishing house, submission process and submission guidelines can be found at on Red Rook’s website. The Red Rook Press staff can be contacted via their Instagram (@redrookpress) or TikTok (@redrookpress) accounts with any further questions.