Tuesday, March 15, 2005

publisher looking for college student writers

This came to me via email, looks legit and worthy even:
My name is Seth Spores; I am one of the three editors and co-founders of College Tree Publishing. We contacted hundreds of university and college conservative and liberal groups, political science departments, and university news papers and requested essay submissions from people in the 17 to 25 year old age group on political and social issues. The end result was What We Think: Young Voters Speak Out, which was put out nationally in late October. The book was meant to be a running forum for political expression of America's youngest voting demographic, and in that regard has been a success. Since the book was published in October, the book has already received national press on CNN, MSNBC, an hour long special on CSPAN-Book TV and has been nominated for the Franklin Award.

We are a non-partisan company possessing a Republican, Democrat and Libertarian leaning editor, trying to give fair and equal voice to all ideologies present among college age youth. We are currently accepting submissions for our next two books, What We Think 2 and What We Think About God and looking to increase the number of well written pieces. Our goal is to receive 10,000 submissions from now through summer, and to publish the top 200 to 300 in late third quarter.

I am contacting many blogs and other forms of media not necessarily connected to Universities, in hopes of reaching a wider base of essayists. We would like to know if you would run a short story on your blog, stating that we are requesting submissions for national publication. All authors are given full credit for their work, a short bio is dedicated to them in the back of the books, and we've been arranging book signings and talks across the country for authors in our current edition so these young authors get the credit and visibility they deserve. Let me stress finally that individuals submitting need not be in college to qualify for publication.

Please feel free to contact us with questions or requests for more information,
Seth Charles Guy Spores
Editor and Co-Founder of College Tree Publishing
509-483-4079 (Office)
[update: check the comments on this post before submitting anything]


Liz said...

pffft. ageism.

Seth Spores said...

yes :p ageism...

But it is generally harder for people in this age group to be heard politically or to get published any where. The topics these young writers write on are usually not on ageism issues, but they are often from a unique perspective (as a result of their age) found lacking in other forums.

17 to 25 is simply the general age range we are looking for. When compiling our first book we requested essays from those in the 18 to 24 year old range, but we ended up publishing people who were as young as 17 and as old as 27.

Publication in the "What We Think" series is an excellent way for this politically under-represented age group to be heard. It also looks great on graduate school applications and a resume.

Liz said...

I may live to regret this...

I was talking with a friend about this College Tree Publishing thing, which in initially annoyed me because I was being excluded based on age. Maybe old people DO still have something relevant to say. Maybe I'D appreciate a publishing credit on my grad school application. So, I was just generally whining about these exclusionary, short-sighted ageists to my friend, a Columbia University graduate, who looked at the blog. These are his remarks:

i was tempted to post something on your prof's site about this but thought better of it...

this project is so exploitative and disingenuous.

an especially cynical take on those who's who books, but with essays.

"i'm published."

meanwhile only the contributors, and their moms and dads, and their relatives, and so on, will buy a copy...certainly NO ONE of that age group will buy a BOOK of this stuff. [i can see the spoke diagram now...100
contributors, surrounded by 5.2 relatives and 2.3 friends each, who tell two friends, and so on, and so on...]

if it was a edited website, then yes, a sincere effort to get this age
group heard in a somewhat organized way. add edited response mechanisms,
and maybe it inspires more thought and solicits even more contributions and maybe tells the story of a generation. find a business model...there
is no shortage of enlightened companies or other organizations who are desperate to connect with this age group and who would quietly underwrite
such an effort without interference and with much understatement.

maybe even as podcasts.

but in book form...it's an exclusionary and closed and dead-end discussion by its very nature...and secondary to a profit motive written on the back of free content. i would expect this from my former colleagues at {major/huge universally recognized media outlet, name deleted by liz], the whole cynical lot of them [they would bundle it with a linkin park cd and green day ringtones, free for subscribers to *deleted by liz again* magazine], not from these guys...unless they're just another bunch who want to become "the man." i'm distrustful of anyone this age who would think of publishing anything on paper; something nefarious is at work here. :)


two days later, I receive this follow up note from the same guy:

those college tree publishing dudes are still in the back of my mind, so I rooted around and found this "submission agreement" on their site:

All submissions, correspondence, and memoranda, and all ideas, concepts, and proposals contained therein and delivered to College Tree Publishing by sender shall belong to and shall be the property of College Tree Publishing. Sender relinquishes all right to compensation therefore, and agrees that all such materials may be used for any purpose by College Tree Publishing and within the sole and absolute discretion of College Tree Publishing, its officers, employees and assigns. Selected authors [emphasis added] will be given proper attribution in the book.

i mean, really.

So, there ya have it classmates. This is not to in any way disparage the project presented to us – or more accurately, presented to you who are younger than 24. But it’s also important to keep in mind that this is a money-making venture by three smart guys looking to make a name in publishing. It may be just a tad disingenuous to suggest that the purpose of this book/series is to give voice to an underrepresented/under published group of people. But what do I know? Maybe that is exactly what the publishers intend, with the happy side benefit of making some money to boot. Maybe these are just the cynical musings of a couple of old people, but at least one of them is very informed about the ways of the world in publishing and media.

dewar macleod said...

Thanks Liz (and friend). And, no, I don't think you should regret posting these comments.

I agree with your friend's first point that publishing in "print" is appealing more to one's vanity than to the real circulation of ideas. It seems more real, official, and respectable in print, but that is quickly disappearing.

As for the second point: I thank your friend for his due diligence. I had said that the project "appears" legit, but only after a cursory glance at the website. The submission agreement is the important place to look.

There are so many ways and places to get one's opinion and knowledge disseminated these days. This blog, even though only 2 and a half people read it, is one way. Start your own! I have been posting links to my friend Michelle Chen's writings frequently. She is a recent college grad trying to get started on a career, not always certain how to go about it, but she just writes, writes, writes. And she has found outlets for her voice and talents. I have no doubt, by virtue of her genius, but also because of her doggedness, that she will make her way quite successfully. We all can (cue the string section), if only we keep at it...

Rob Grabow said...

Dear Liz/Mary (and friend),

As one of books three editors, I have to say how personally frustrating your comments are -- though, I suppose sensical and understandable. First, I am a 23-year-old graduating college senior who has racked up $49,000 in student loans. I've also subsisted on frozen burritos, and slept the occasional night in my hand-me-down-SAAB aged to 325,000 miles in order to finance this project. That still wasn't enough. We borrowed $15,000 (tack that onto the above $49,000) for printing and distributing costs. In addition, along with a friend, I layed out the book. We did the cover, most of the proofing, and the majority of the publicity ourselves. This is a grass roots project, put together by a couple of passionate college kids, that has been fortunate enough to garner some national media, including CNN, MSNBC, and thrice of CSPAN Book TV. As far as money... We are getting a first check this week. It's for $1,547 and some change. That leaves us owing $13,452 and no monetary compensation for the work we put in, and no reimbursement for the money we have personally invested. We will be receiving larger checks over the next couple months from sales. However, if we are LUCKY book sales may pay off that loan by August -- or it may not. I might add that I turned down a job as a Investment Representative with Edward Jones to persue this, because I believe in it, because I am passionate about it!

Regarding the submission agreement. You're right. It does and should raise some eyebrows. Truthfully it is probably unnecessary and we will look to doing away with it. We have it up to protect ourselves from lawsuits or from some person who might say that we didn't have the right to use their work. Authors are free to have their work published elsewhere and not just when we don't use it -- but also when we do. If the submission agreement is what inhibits anyone from submitting, please shoot me an email, and I will waive it -- just give us permission to publish your work. We are sincere in our desire to give a "book" voice to young America. Following publications we also arrange signings for the contributing writers and do our best to their message as heeded as possible.

As you mentioned, we benefit from that as well, at least theoretically. But as I said we are still in the RED bigtime. That said, I know the synergetic relationship here makes it impossible for me to detail my passion for promoting the individual writers separate from any benefit to the book itself -- but in truth this book is about voice and that's why I'm in this.

What you said about books as a poor medium for efficiently and dialectically conveying voice is interesting. In a very practical sense, I agree. The potential for book media to reach a large audience, however, is impressive. This is especially true as you look at the other media coverage it inspires: Blog; Television; Radio; Newspaper; Magazines; In-person events; and so on. Then consider what happens if it becomes integrated into high school or university classrooms -- the potential to reach a wide audience in remarkable, albeit, as you said going the way of the Dodo.

Finally, regarding the age-limits. We had a 40-year-old published, contributing writer to our first book who had gone back to school at the College of Alameda to pursue a business degree. The age-criteria are not absolutely inforced -- more important is the idea. That said, we really are looking to represent 17- to 25-year-olds, our peers.

Taking a step back from what you said, I really do appreciate it and understand it, and in your position would probably agree. My motives are sincere -- if you or anyone ever needs to get ahold of me, if you ever have questions or concerns, or need anything else, here is my contact information:

Best regards!

Rob Grabow
Co-founder, College Tree Publishing
Co-editor, "What We Think: Young Voters Speak Out"
509 483 4079 (Main)
509 499 2679 (Cell)