Stryvling Press: An Interview with Catherine Albano
By Rachel Hessin
What is Stryvling Press?
Stryvling Press is a student-run imprint of the University of Stirling. Every year, the current MLitt Publishing students release an anthology that has been written entirely by the current MLitt Creative Writing students. Their main mission is to gain real-world publishing experience while showcasing the talent of their writers!
Can you tell us a bit about this year’s anthology?
Our anthology is titled Solas, and it will be coming out 3 June 2022. “Solas” is Scottish Gaelic for “light,” and when said out loud sounds like the word solace, meaning comfort, which really sums up what this year’s collection is about. Obviously, all of our writers have been very affected by COVID-19 and the grief that just seems like it’s everywhere in the world, tying us all together. A lot of the poems and stories are about that grief, and how you survive when you are grieving, what comfort you can find and how to move on – and sometimes, how to fight back.
Our cover this year, which our designers Ella and Jane created, is a forest scene, because the traditional gift for a five-year anniversary is wood. There are patches of snow and ferns starting to spring up while light cuts through the branches and melts the snow. It’s really a scene of the transition from winter into spring, from grief to light.
What was involved as project lead?
It has been very rewarding, but a lot of work. My job as Project Manager is to oversee everything, and make sure that every aspect of the publication gets finished to a high standard and in a timely manner. We started by creating a big spreadsheet with every task we could think of, and then we divided tasks up into who was in charge of what and the timeframe they would have for that task. I’ve really been able to put my hands in just about every part of this publication. I got to create the budget – which with my accounting background, was fun for me. I got to help editorial with the final proofread, and help design with some of our promotional materials. Everyone on my team is so talented and it was so exciting for me to get to spearhead all of this work.
Making the final decision when the crowd is split is a bit scary, but it’s also a really good feeling when you see that judgement call pay off. Another challenge is that due to the nature of the press, almost everyone working with the publication was a novice, and that made it difficult when you had questions about what was done in previous years. But luckily, last year’s students left us a lot of notes to help us on our project. And now, if someone in the future asks me what a “widow” is in typesetting, I can answer that question!
How has this year’s anthology differed from previous years?
We definitely try to take what was learned in previous years and use it to grow. We have the benefit of seeing which sizes work better for the budget, and we’re not starting from scratch with social media followers. A big difference in Solas is that, while we aren’t the first anthology published since COVID-19, we are probably the first publication with the long-covid mindset.
Also, we’re really leaning into the winter transitioning into spring theme, so the way we are structuring our anthology is definitely different than we’ve ever done it before. Also, Solas is going to be the longest publication that we’ve published. It’s going to be really great, and we can’t wait for everyone to be able to buy a copy either in print or digitally!
What advice would you give to publishing hopefuls, like yourselves?
I think the best advice would be to know that there are so many different areas of publishing, and it’s good to really think about which ones might be right for you. For example, Stryvling has: project management (that’s what I do, along with my Assistant Project Manager, Marlee Perez), marketing (Sabrina Lipowski, Rachel Hessin, Alexandra Piper and Lauren Byars), production (Jennifer McDowall and Lena Schmidt), design (Ella Gallego and Jane Armstrong) and editorial (Siobhan Hamilton and Ayesha Mendonca). Someone wanting to go into publishing also needs to consider if they want to work in a big publisher or a small publisher, in trade or academic, in adult or children’s… there really are a lot of choices. Follow the publishers that you are interested in on social media. It’s good to stay informed, and bigger publishers often post job openings there!
You can find @stryvlingpress on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!