UA English Offers a Wealth of Student Publishing Opportunities 

Gaining experience as a beginner can be both overwhelming and stressful yet a crucial key to future success. Fortunately, University of Alabama students have many opportunities to find their place in the publishing process through a variety of UA English programs. Whether they want to share their own work or lift the voices of others by getting involved in the editorial process, students have many options available to gain know-how in the publishing world. These creative and scholarly outlets allow UA students the chance to get hands-on experience toward the work that goes into the publishing and editing process. 

Red Rook Press

Red Rook Press Logo

For those looking for opportunities in creative writing, Red Rook Press offers a student-led press. Red Rook plans to publish three book-length works each year and looks for work of any form and genre, from high fantasy to literary fiction, from sonnets to free verse. The inaugural works, When the Flowers Breathe by Attella Rose and The Blood, the Love, and the Uninterpretable by Abby Armstrong, were an astounding success for the first year team composed entirely of UA undergraduate students. To be eligible for publication, students must be enrolled at any college as a graduate or undergraduate student. Any and all academic backgrounds are welcome to submit.

Paul Albano, Associate Director of Undergraduate Creative Writing, serves as one of the faculty advisors and noted, “Red Rook Press gives our student-editors an insider’s view of the publishing industry. Through an exhaustive editing and design process, our student-editors are able to see firsthand the steps involved in transforming a manuscript into a book, including promoting the finished product to our developing readership. We’re also a student-driven press. Virtually all decisions—both big and small—are guided by our faculty advisers, but ultimately, they’re made collectively by our student-editors who generate every word, image, and design flourish we publish; develop every strategy we adopt; and kickstart every project we pursue. And the neat thing is that all of their decisions carry real-world consequences. Our books are sold on the RRP website, at the SupeStore, and at Ernest & Hadley, with all proceeds funneled back into the press—and the more we sell, the more books we can publish. For our authors, they experience the joys and tribulations of the editing process, practice how to market themselves as writers, and cultivate a readership base outside of family and friends. Perhaps what I’m most pleased with is the collaboration and sense of community. Red Rook draws students from a diverse array of majors and disciplines spread across campus, each with their own tastes, preferences, and insights. Together we’ve built a fun and ambitious literary press, and I’m excited to see where our students take us.”

The press is made up of multiple teams each with their own responsibilities. In year one, over 40 editors worked on the final product. The Acquisitions team locates potential books, reads blind submissions through Submittable, and selects the works to be published. The Content Editing team combs over the accepted manuscripts by line-editing and proofreading, ultimately holding conversations about the final draft of the work with the authors. The Design & Production team takes on the style choices like cover art, font, layout, and overall aesthetic of the final product. The Promotions, Marketing & Outreach team gets the word out to others via social media and other forms of advertising. They sell books and plan the release party each Spring. The Website Content and Design team develops projects, designs pages, edits the layout and look on screen. The newly formed Audio Production team will handle recording works and getting those out to listeners. 

Nic Lowery works on multiple teams within Red Rook and said, “I have been with Red Rook Press since its inception, and I have been in an interdepartmental role for most of my time at Red Rook. Because of the flexibility of the organization, I have been able to expose myself to many different angles of the publishing world. So, I have versatility and grit to keep me moving forward and the confidence to do almost anything in the publishing world.” 

Lowery added more on his time helping establish the press saying, “The growth in our inaugural year established Red Rook as a true small press, so any experience that a student has here can be a major talking point for a resume or a C.V. Most importantly, working for Red Rook students to master working relationships while maintaining productivity. Our first big challenge, aside from getting the press up and running, was how to convince readers to buy our books. Marketing and promotion is volatile and merciless, but incredibly crucial to the functioning of a successful organization. We needed to facilitate engagement with our audience by adapting to current trends, establishing a brand for the press, and convincing readers to believe in an organization with no publications at the time. We surpassed all expectations of success for our first two publications.”

Dewpoint Digital

Another great option for creative or critical publishing work is Dewpoint Digital. The online journal seeks submissions of poetry, prose, and critical works from anyone affiliated with the University of Alabama. Dr. Lauren Cardon, Associate Professor of English and faculty advisor for Dewpoint, said the online journal aims “to showcase exceptional creative prose, poetry, and critical essays from among the University of Alabama community––including faculty, staff, and students across disciplines among its select contributors.”

In recent years, Dewpoint’s editors have relaunched this publication as an online venue to grow their audience and improve accessibility. The move online has helped create more opportunities for the student editing team to shine a light on the variety of voices present on campus.

Editor Alaina Kelley commented, “Dewpoint provides a great opportunity for UA-affiliated individuals to publish their work. It is important to the Phi Xi Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta that we use our literacy magazine to showcase diverse voices. Our campus hosts a variety of individuals, and with each issue, we aim to reflect that fact. Our publication allows writers to gain experience in submitting their work and working with an editor. As the literary magazine is run by undergraduate students, those interested may find it less nerve wracking to work on this scale. Dewpoint also inspires confidence in our featured writers by allowing them to see their work posted on our website and promoted by our chapter. It provides experience with the editing and publishing world for both our editor and our featured writers,” Kelley stated. “The process of creating each issue is rewarding for our executive board. We have so much talent on our campus, and the opportunity to work with these writers and share their pieces brings us a great amount of joy. We are immensely thankful that we have the ability to support our peers and other UA-affiliated individuals through Dewpoint!”

Ripple Arts Review

Ripple Arts Review logo

Ripple Arts Review, a digital magazine for arts criticism and journalism in West Alabama, is another student-led publication that aims to publish critical work that contributes to the cultural dialogue of West Alabama and serve as a digital collective space for the local arts community. First launching in Spring 2023, Ripple Arts Review is an updated version of the web project Vanishing Sights (2010-2015).

Faculty advisor and Associate Professor of English Dr. Elizabeth Tavares noted, “I’ve done many reviews of Shakespeare’s work in my own scholarship. When dealing with live performances – these reviews are extremely important for archives. Through an artist-centered approach to writing and publishing, we get many valuable insights into subtleties of the performance from artists who know about the art and write about it critically. I want to value all of these different people and their talents. This really all began with my student Morgan Holder, an English & Dance double major who now works as Editor-in-Chief. It started with her writing a review of a production she attended. She took initiative and through an independent study last fall, she built a lot of it from developing the mission, helping in the editorial process, and working with staff. Vivian Johnson also works really hard on our digital media and online presence while serving as an associate editor.” 

As a teaching magazine centering on student writers developing as authors and critics, Ripple Arts Review employs a collaborative, double-open peer review process. Each submission is reviewed by two current section editors before moving on to a final review by the editor-in-chief and a faculty advisor. “Editors all peer edit online, then Morgan reviews, then I do,” Tavares added. The staff worked with e-tech to build the website for a formal launch in November of Fall 2023.


Wavelength logo

Wavelength provides first-year writing students an outlet to showcase their work while giving valuable examples to other students. First-year Writing Program students begin the essay writing process with many questions and as a free online resource, Wavelength provides a valuable jumping off point for many of those answers. 

Dr. Luke Niiler, Director of First-Year Writing, works with students and instructors in publishing their essays directly to the UA Wavelength website. “Young voices matter. These first-year students are coming into understanding themselves– the beginning of shaping a writer. Publishing an essay can do wonders for their confidence. It holds the power to point them in a new direction. They might pursue a new path and find value in their voice now that it’s been affirmed as all can meaningfully engage with the idea of the essay and research. The beauty of Wavelength is the diversity of voices it displays from our own classrooms. It is crowdsourced from within our own program and available for free to all students providing accessibility for all.”  

Students or instructors are encouraged to submit essays for publication. Niiler stated, “When an instructor comes across a strong essay, my hope is that they’ll email it to me for consideration. We can edit it together along with the student and publish it to the website to help other students get an idea of where to start and the questions they need to answer in their own drafts.” 

–Travis Turner