Handmade Chapbooks / Publishing Workshop


FALL 2018

Instructor/Editor: Steve Halle
Office: Williams Hall Annex 106
Email: (best contact method)
Twitter: @PubUnit_ISU, @sevencorners, @coimpress
Office Hours: M–F by appointment (electronic meeting via Skype available)
Lab Hours: M–F 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Phone: 309-438-7481
Location: Publications Unit Classroom, Williams Hall Annex 103
Time: T 5:30–8:20 p.m.

Welcome to PRESS 254. In this class, you will serve as editorial and production assistants for PRESS 254. Along with the members of your project team, you will be responsible for hands-on learning in the areas of text preparation, manuscript editorial, layout design, typesetting, printing, binding, professional writing, and marketing work related to producing two handmade chapbooks of new writing by creative writers from the local community. You will also be engaging in discussions about the history, theory, and practice of publishing, as well as discovering online resources related to the fields of editing, publishing, and freelance work.


-Develop fundamental skills in the craft of publishing through hands-on experience
-Consider these important questions: What is publishing? What roles exist in the field of publishing? How does technology shape the past, present, and future of publishing? What are sites of publishing or publishing-related work?
-Learn about the thriving small presses, micropresses, and the independent nonprofit literary publishing community
-Participate in discussions based on readings and/or pertaining to issues in the field
-Learn and develop a critical vocabulary specific to professional publishing
-Develop project management skills and organization techniques related to publishing studies
-Learn how to prepare text for layout, design book interiors, complete production of a chapbook manuscript with cutting-edge tools like Adobe InDesign
-Develop an understanding of professional communication and writing standards
-Proofread your teams’ project and prepare a cover letter and style sheet for your work
-Learn and implement techniques for handmade chapbook binding
-Determine costs for printing your project
-Familiarize yourself with The Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition)
-Learn about professional development resources that keep publishing professionals up to date on the field
-Research, plan, and implement marketing and publicity initiatives for your group’s project using social media, print, and direct marketing initiatives
-Set up and facilitate a public book launch and reading for the authors’ chapbooks
-Create a cumulative portfolio that documents your process and learning


Ginna, Peter, ed. What Editors Do: The Art, Craft & Business of Book Editing. U of Chicago P, 2017.
Kurowski, Travis, Wayne Miller, and Kevin Prufer, eds. Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century. Milkweed Editions, 2017.
Lupton, Ellen. Indie Publishing. Princeton Architectural Press, 2008. Print.
Saller, Carol Fisher. The Subversive Copyeditor, 2nd Edition. U of Chicago P, 2016.
The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. Web. (This is available online free to all ISU students.)

Other digital readings will be linked directly from this site’s “Course Calendar” page.


Storage capacity (Cloud Storage, USB, and/or university share)
Computer access
Writing implement (pen, red pen, and pencil)
Notebook/pad (legal pad with graph paper recommended)

OPTIONAL ITEMS (not required, but encouraged)

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. Print. (The CMS is an invaluable resource. I highly recommend a print copy for new users.)
I also have a list of recommended readings that I can furnish if you are interested in extending your study.


-excellence in all you do (you choose to be here, choose to give your best effort)
-trust in and respect for yourself and each other
-being in class (physically, mentally, and spiritually)
-being prepared (reading texts to the point where you can discuss them  critique them, raise insightful questions about them, and/or apply the knowledge within; making deadlines; being on time)
-habitual practice and effort
-specificity and attention to detail
-curiosity and inquisitiveness
-critical inquiry and analysis
-play, fun, risk-taking, mess-making, experimenting
-keeping an open mind
-plasticity and self-advocacy (bending the class to get what you need)


You will be required to complete and be able to discuss all assigned readings, which I believe are valuable primers for the practice and theory of contemporary publishing. I suggest coming up with discussion questions based on each reading assignment, including the reading you will have to do for the collaborative project. I would also encourage you to actively seek additional relevant materials to bring to class discussion. If preparation or discussion seems to be lagging, I will assign weekly reading response papers or reading quizzes. As the course progresses through the semester, it will be more applied learning and workshop focused and less lecture-discussion oriented, but we will always set aside time to discuss questions you have from the readings.

The collaborative project work begins immediately. A typical class meeting each week will include an overview of an essential publishing skill that each project team is working on, and then implementation of that skill in your work toward producing the chapbooks. Because of the nature of collaborative work and my interest in making sure each student gets adequate experience in doing every task, you will create a final portfolio of all the individual work that you do in relation to the project. The final chapbook that we produce, however, will likely be a composite of work from the entire project team, including the Editor. When elements of design are in play for chapbooks and marketing items, members of each cohort will pitch ideas and sketches to me, and the most elegant or well-conceived design option will be selected for use.

Deadlines matter in publishing. Your group’s project is complete if and only if chapbooks are printed and stitched in time for the book launch reading at the end of the semester.

The individual portfolio will be an archive of your work within your project team’s process in creating the final chapbook. It will include an in-depth reflective essay (or digital equivalent) that documents your process in relation to the collaborative work. The details of the portfolio will be published toward the end of the term before Thanksgiving break.

You are required to meet with the instructor once during the semester, although you are free to schedule additional meetings as you see fit (within reason). One-on-one meetings provide specific and customized feedback and interaction related more closely to your work and interests and a chance to meet without either of us having to perform the role of teacher or student in the classroom space. It is also important to meet and talk about publishing-related topics outside the classroom that can help to center your goal setting with regard to pursuing internships and determinign career trajectories. Each meeting should be approx. 20-30 minutes, and you, the student, determine the agenda for the meeting.

We can meet in my office (Williams Hall Annex 106) during office hours (see above), at a local coffee shop, or via Skype (if you are comfortable with that).

Failure to meet with me during the semester will cause you to lose a significant portion of your final individual participation grade for the course (10%)

You, the students, are the engines that drive this class, and as an instructor, I learn a great deal from you all. Be prepared and open to offering your voice in all phases of this class: as a designer, writer, editor, critic, peer, friend, creative force of nature, etc. The substance of our discussions and workshops determines the content of the class. Take ownership of your education by participating in every class.


Note: Assessment and grades are two different, although related, concepts. Whereas assessment is the overarching field that includes all the different work we do, students and instructor, to evaluate different performances during a course, grades refer only to the fivefold letter system used here at Illinois State University.

The most substantive and valuable performance measure you are likely to receive in this course is feedback from your instructor and your peers.

Individual Portfolios (40%): You must keep a record of all the tasks and phases of the process for creating these chapbooks, both in hard copy and digital formats, including how you plan tasks and log completed work. All deadlines must be met on time and at a sufficient standard to pass the course.

Collaborative Project and Participation (50%): This portion of your final grade includes compiling project team work for all phases of project, completing your project team’s chapbook on time, and working to set up the launch reading. This also includes participation in discussions, as assessment of your professional potential and professional growth during the semester, and meeting individual deadlines.

Instructor Meeting (10%): You are required to meet with me once during the semester. I recommend scheduling the meeting in September, October, or November before Thanksgiving break. The instructor cannot guarantee meeting availability during the last two weeks of classes or during finals week.

A—Excellent (100-91%)
B —Good (90-81%)
C —Satisfactory (80-71%)
D— Poor, But Passing (70-61%)
F —Failing (60% or below )—Assigned to students who are (1) enrolled in a course all semester but fail to earn a passing grade, or who (2) stop attending class without officially withdrawing.

The instructor reserves the right to assign the final grade.


It detracts from the spirit of a collaborative publishing workshop if you miss class. One missed class (no contact, no show (NCNS)) will result in a lowered final grade, usually by one letter grade (10%) per missed class. Illnesses and emergencies are considered excused absences only if an email is sent or further documentation provided as necessary. You should not come to class if you have been diagnosed with a contagious illness. Please communicate extended absences due to illness or emergency at your earliest convenience. The instructor reserves the right to determine what constitutes an excused absence.

During each class, you will be asked to toggle between different activities including, but not limited to, class discussion, small-group discussion, project invention, research, drafting, workshops, lectures, revision and other writing and reading assignments.  Make sure you are able to focus on the task at hand for the full amount of time allotted by the instructor.

Academics often focus on objects, texts, opinions, and events that may evoke strong opinions and emotions in scholars at all levels.  You might find some of the texts and topics we study to be controversial.  Though I will try not to purposely offend anyone, there may indeed be moments in this class where you are shocked, offended, or have your worldview challenged.

There will be differences of opinion between you and the text, your classmates, your group mates, and within the class as a whole.  Please be prepared for such disagreements and remember:

-someone will eventually disagree with you, so please treat those you disagree with as you would like to be treated were the roles reversed
-that you are arguing positions, not people, so try not to take this personally
-one of the ultimate goals of academic activity is to account for a multitude of perspectives
-no opinion or worldview is really worth having if you are afraid to hold it to scrutiny, so try to enjoy the opportunity to examine your beliefs

You can (and should) feel free to believe whatever you want.  You are required, however, to make every available effort to back up, justify, and support any claim you make with specific information.  In academics, we tend to take seriously those positions that are well thought out but easily dismiss rash opinions that are unsupported.

Lastly, in this class I fully encourage and support critical thinking, experimentation, risk taking, and transgression of traditional thinking about publishing, but it is important to both learn and maintain professionalism even when trying new things. I expect you to use common sense and discretion in regard to this matter.

If at any point during the semester you feel that another student’s work goes too far or offends you, it is important to me that you feel comfortable and safe enough to express your views in the moment. When doing this, please use “I” statements to express your views and emotions.

Any student needing to arrange a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability and/or medical/mental health condition should contact Student Access and Accommodation Services at 350 Fell Hall, (309) 438-5853, or visit the website at

Life at college can get complicated. If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, lost, anxious, depressed or are struggling with personal issues, do not hesitate to call or visit Student Counseling Services (SCS). These services are free and completely confidential. SCS is located at 320 Student Services Building, 309-438-3655.

Please feel free to contact me by phone, email, or during office hours/by appointment as you see fit. It is important to me to be approachable. Be mindful, however, this class is not the sum total of my life (and it shouldn’t be yours, either). I am also a partner, Publications Unit director, publisher, editor, poet, friend, etc. and need to spend time in those roles. If you wish to contact me, please have a specific query or purpose for doing so.

**This document is in progress, and I reserve the right to alter the content as needs arise.  If any changes are made, you will be notified.**


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