Writers’ House Seeks to Launch Self-publication lab With Kickstarter Campaign

It’s hard to print a book from a normal printer.

Johnna Schmidt, the director of The Jimenéz-Porter Writers’ House, said she knows this is true, but she has a plan to make it easier, and a Kickstarter campaign can help make it happen.

The Writers’ House self-publication lab is one of six projects the Alumni Association selected to currently showcase with Launch UMD, a Kickstarter group where supporters can donate money directly to campus projects online.

The lab, Schmidt said, will primarily help students with their culminating projects in the program. Students in the Writers’ House, a two-year living-learning program, compile all of their written work into a final project called a chapbook, a short compilation that they write, format and print.

“Every single year the students have a really hard time printing and formatting their books,” Schmidt said. “There’s always this last minute scramble. It’s a lot harder to format a book than anyone would think it would be, and this is going to ease the formatting process, with all the software that we’re going to bring in, and it’s also going to ease the printing.”

The new lab will include a copier-scanner-printer and two new computer workstations, equipped with programs such as, InDesign, Final Draft, Scrivener as well as photo- and video-editing software, Schmidt said. The software will allow students to publish print material, as well as e-books and other types of media.

Previously, students often used a single computer in the office to try to format their work and printed their material elsewhere, Josh Logue, a senior journalism major and recent Writers’ House graduate, said.

The self-publication lab would change that.

“We had some of those resources, technically, at a certain point in the year, but we didn’t have a place to work on this kind of project except for one or two weeks toward the end of the year,” Logue said. “Now, they can realize ideas they have whenever they want to, because these resources will always be available.”

The lab will be available for student groups – such as Stylus, TerpPoets and slam poetry teams – as well as to alumni of the program and current students, Schmidt said. The self-publication lab will be built in the basement of Queen Anne’s Hall, the new home of the Writers’ House.

“We had this idea, as we were moving into Queen Anne’s, that we’d like to make an enhancement to Writers’ House programming,” Schmidt said. “I was really surprised, but the self-publication lab was far and away the one that students said they would be more interested in having as a resource available to them in the Writers’ House, which makes a lot of sense because I think it’s going to be used in all kinds of ways that I can’t even imagine.”

As of Friday, the fundraising effort has reached 63 percent of its final goal of $3,000. The Kickstarter campaign will close October 23.

Not only is this campaign a great opportunity for current students, but it’s also a way to reconnect the network of alumni and supporters of the Writers’ House, said Meg Eden, a 2012 Writers’ House graduate and current MFA student at Maryland.

“I think the Writers’ House is such a great program, and it’s also underrepresented,” Eden said. “The Kickstarter campaign can sort of show people what’s going on at the Writers’ House, and show them that students are producing work that needs to be printed and needs to be shared. It supports the people in the program and also raises awareness for what the program is about.”

Alex Busch, a government and politics and French major and a member of the Writers’ House, said he looks forward to using the lab and connecting with other self-publishers.

“I think it would be great,” said. “I want to publish things myself, and I think this would be great practice for that.”

To donate, please visit launch.umd.edu.

writersblocheadshots02Joe Zimmermann is a junior English and journalism major and can be reached at jzjoezim@gmail.com.

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