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41st Annual Denver Publishing Institute Comes to DU

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Tamara Chapman

Senior Managing Editor

The 41st Denver Publishing Institute gets under way Sunday, July 10, bringing nearly 100 aspiring publishing professionals from all across the country to the University of Denver campus for four weeks of intensive training in all aspects of book production.

“We open their eyes to all the glorious hard work that goes into publishing a book and bringing it to the reader,” says the institute’s director, Jill Smith (MBA ’07). Smith, who joined the institute in 2003, has served as director since 2015.

This year’s institute features Laird Hunt, a professor in the University of Denver’s Department of English, a 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and author of the critically acclaimed “Neverhome” (Little Brown and Co., 2014). He’ll join noted publishing executive Karl Weber in a discussion chronicling the “Birth of a Book” at 7 p.m. Monday, July 11, at the Tattered Cover Book Store on Colfax

One of three intensive publishing programs in the country — and the only one outside New York — the DPI was the brainchild of the late Frederick Praeger, founder of Boulder-based Westview Press. He worked with Maurice Mitchell, DU’s chancellor at the time, to make the New York-centric world of North American publishing accessible to people outside the Big Apple.

Praeger and Mitchell recruited renowned publishing executive Elizabeth Geiser to direct the program, which she did until her 2007 retirement. Geiser developed a curriculum that, Smith told the University of Denver Magazine in 2015, has withstood the test of time while accommodating emerging developments in publishing practices.

During their time at the DPI, students learn from some of the publishing realm’s top executives and editors. They discover:

  • how an acquisition editor secures books for a house
  • how a development editor works with the writer to improve a manuscript
  • how a copy editor attends — on paper and on screen — to the many details of grammar, spelling and punctuation
  • how to write a reader’s report with, as Smith puts it, “the fundamental goal of recommending whether [a manuscript] should or should not be acquired by a particular publishing house.”

Students also explore the ins and outs of marketing everything from digital tomes to hardbound textbooks to trade paperbacks. They see how publishing houses interact with booksellers and how they brand themselves within a specialized marketplace.

The institute is taught by industry professionals who work at trade, university, textbook, and small independent publishers throughout the country as well as in New York.