Why go with the CCPI?

Champlain College alum Ginger Vieira – writer, blogger, author, and more – chose to use the CCPI to publish her first book Your Diabetes Science Experiment. Read on to hear her take on the benefits of working with the Publishing Initiative.

IP: What made you decide to work with the CCPI instead of another type of publishing service?

Vieira: In today's publishing market, even getting in contact with a publisher can take forever! Then getting on their waiting list of products to be published can also take forever. I wrote this book because I had learned important information about how the human body impacts a person with Type 1 diabetes, and I had developed a unique system for looking at your own blood sugars with that knowledge to help you better control your own diabetes. I didn't want to wait another year until the book was the shelves. With the CCPI, I knew I could get the book published within 6 months of finishing the first draft.

When it comes to marketing, I of course lose the benefit of being marketed by a well-established publisher, but I already had a significant following on Facebook, Twitter and my YouTube channel, so I knew I'd be able to reach the people this book was for. In traditional publishing, you also really can't even guarantee that they will put much more than 30 days of their energy into marketing your book, at the cost of a large percentage of the profits. The money they have for marketing goes towards the big names, the popular books, even the books from people like Snooki. In self-publishing through the CCPI, I'm able to control so many more aspects of the books production, marketing, and in the end, receive a greater percentage of the sales.

IP:  What kinds of skills/perspectives did the undergraduates have that surprised you? What was it like working with them on your book?

Vieira: The two young women who were in charge of editing the text were fantastically professional, and they didn't waste any time. I was continually grateful for their level of maturity and overall awareness that this was not just a class project, but something that was incredibly important to me, and potentially important to lives of people living with diabetes. I was especially impressed by their ability to catch certain sentences or areas of the book that didn't contain the same voice or tone as the rest of the book. To be able to catch that showed me that they were really focused on the overall message of the book. They were not simply reading the text and looking for typos. 

The young man who did the graphic design for the book had the biggest task, and he was awesome. Professional? Absolutely. Diligent? Absolutely. He was so easy to work with, and wasn't so flexible with adjusting his own designs. It was very clear to me that he saw his role in a professional light, not an assignment a teacher gave me. If I could hire him for every graphic design need I have, I absolutely would. He was a pleasure to work with, and what he designed for me far exceeded what I hoped for.

IP: How do you think being a part of the CCPI would have changed your education experience? Do you think programs like this would succeed in other schools?

Vieira: I distinctly remember when Tim Brookes told me he was going to create this program. I thought it sounded immensely huge, and how could he possibly make that happen in just a few months? But he did it. And it's incredible. I know the CCPI is booked up solid with projects, so I can only imagine there must be a need for this. Students can absolutely handle the challenge of creating real work, for the real world. It is invaluable to be part of something so legitimate when you're a student in college.


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A Publishing Education: Champlain College Publishing Initiative

Champlain College Publishing Initiative Undergrads Take Over the Industry

There's nothing Independent Publisher likes more than innovation, and the Champlain College Publishing Initiative (CCPI) certainly does that. In 2009, Professional Writing Professor Tim Brookes began a program in which undergraduates can co-author, edit, design, and market print and new media books. More than 250 students and plenty of clients have been involved in the past three years and have found the experience incredibly rewarding.

Program Director Tim Brookes has been around the publishing block, working with big NYC houses, radio stations like NPR, and even serializing a manuscript via an email mailing list (I imagine Dickens giving the latter the thumbs up). By 2006, Brookes was looking to change the game, both for writers and for his students at Champlain College.

“It became clear that I needed to address what is going to happen to my writing students once they graduated,” Brookes said. “The notion that success equals getting published was changing because publishing was changing so rapidly. Around this time I was in a meeting with a bunch of experts in the communications field, and they told me that unless you are part of the change, you are in essence part of the problem.”

With several friends urging him to start his own publishing company, Brookes took a slightly different approach. He saw his responsibility to his students as a call to create the country’s first program in which undergraduates can be involved in real-world publishing projects.

“Champlain is a very interesting college because it always has one foot in the real world, often classes we teach don’t have existing textbooks,” Brookes explained. “I identified a series of areas where we really needed a textbook or anthology, and because no one was publishing them we did it ourselves. Students learned valuable skills within arena of traditional publishing and brought a whole new perspective in new media publishing.”

The Publishing Initiative has grown with every passing semester. To date, hundreds of students from seven different disciplines – Professional Writing, Graphic Design, IT, PR, Communications, Broadcasting and Streaming Media, Marketing – have been a part of the CCPI.

“One of the great things about this particular college is that both students and faculty recognized that the CCPI had a huge amount of potential,” Brookes enthused. “Students realized that they could graduate and walk into a job interview, put four books down on the table and say this is what I do with typography, design, etc. There aren’t many people under the age of 25 that can do that. I wanted to avoid creating the typical New York house ‘editorial assistant’ who runs the coffee machine. People will respect experience that these students have.”

This respect is already evident. Students from the CCPI were invited to the Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE) annual publishing conference to run workshops for different aspects of publishing, including the use of Wordpress, blogging, and website design. That’s right: 18-22 year-olds are telling long-time pros how they can use these operations into a larger publishing strategy. Not many co-eds can claim that.

Individual students have also been extremely successful in their endeavors. Several Graphic Design students are landing competitive, full-time jobs; copy editors are skipping the entry-level rigmarole; and everyone involved in the CCPI gets real-world experience in their field. As a team, the CCPI has created textbooks that are now in their third year of classroom use, academic pieces written by faculty from several different universities, and even some general readership books.

“We have 16 projects at the moment, and many of them are books and websites,” Brookes said of the CCPI’s current workload. “We are approached on regular basis by people who are realizing this is a time to take means of production into their own hands, and they are publishing things that would not have previously fit definition of publishable. Just because a book won’t sell a million copies doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile or that it can’t make money. In order to do well, writers simply need to learn a new set of skills, technologies, and strategies.”

Next fall, Brookes says that students will be working on mobile/tablet apps (such as one based on an eBook translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy that will link to topical music, art, history, and more). “Never do the same thing twice,” Brookes said. “Experimenting is big part of the Publishing Initiative. Our mission is to play an active part in the great experiment that is contemporary publishing.” Three cheers for that.

To learn more about the Champlain College Publishing Initiative, visit their website and follow Tim Brookes’ CCPI blog. You can also check out a selection of their published projects here.Keep on reading to hear from one of CCPI’s own, Jillian Towne.

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IP: How did you get involved with the CCPI?

Towne: Tim Brookes needed a student assistant to the writing program, and as a student who was work-study eligible and very interested in editing and publishing, I applied straight away. CCPI was still in its formative stages then, so I've had the pleasure of seeing it grow from an idea to a full-grown publisher.

IP: What kinds of projects have you worked on through the CPPI?

Towne: I've worked on many different projects, but my main focus has been print. While other students have worked on book trailers, web design, and other multi-media projects, I've been focused on more traditional print books, which has been incredibly interesting and rewarding for me. I've always been in love with books and it has been great to see the ways in which books are changing and adapting to fit new markets and new kinds of publishing. I've curated an anthology, edited a book about diabetes, ghostwrote/edited a memoir of a Sudanese refugee, edited a book about student entrepreneurs, and did some preliminary editing on a book about aging that is still in the editing process. I've also done some interviews, blog posts, research, and various other publishing tasks along the way.

IP: What did you take away from the program?

Towne: CCPI is hands down the best experience I had at Champlain. I learned so many skills that were never offered to me in the classroom. Blogging, print on demand, Library of Congress numbers, paperweights, how to work with a designer, ghostwriting, transcribing--all of these things are best learned in a hands-on way. I've been a part of so many different aspects of the publishing process, and have my name in or on four published books! Not many people can say that having just graduated from their undergraduate years of college. Most importantly working with CCPI has given me the confidence necessary to make something of myself in the writing, editing, and publishing world.

Towne, 22, graduated from Champlain College with a BS in Professional Writing. She will soon be moving to Nashua, NH to work at The Nature of Things, a private, green pre-school, elementary school, and summer camp dedicated to an innovative approach to education that engages students, enhances learning, and enriches imaginations. Towne worked for CCPI for three years and continues her passions for writing on her blog, www.zestandhoney.com.


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Jillian Bergsma is a writer and contributing editor for Independent Publisher. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English. She welcomes any questions or comments on her articles at jbergsma (at) bookpublishing.com.