Look Out for Lookout Press, a new literary publisher in our state

North Carolina has a new publishing house!

It’s true, and we’re happy to announce it here.  We’ve just heard that UNC Wilmington, Ecotone, the Creative Writing Program’s literary magazine, and the Publishing Laboratory at the University, have joined forces to help create and foster Lookout Books, under the direction of Emily Smith and Ben George.

This new house is an imprint of the Creative Writing Program at UNCW, and as such is a classroom for students, a resource for readers, and an exciting new outlet for writers.  Their name, a nod to Cape Lookout and to their local landscape, also speaks to their philosophy of good writing.  Their works are on the lookout; they light the way; they lead us somewhere new.

Here’s how the folks at Lookout describe their mission:

“Lookout is more than a name—it’s our publishing philosophy. When Ben George, editor of Ecotone, and Emily Louise Smith, director of The Publishing Laboratory, teamed up to found Lookout Books as the literary imprint of the Department of Creative Writing at UNC Wilmington, they pledged to seek out emerging and historically underrepresented voices, as well as works by established writers overlooked by commercial houses.”

Their slogan is “a haven for books that matter,” and the proof is in the pudding, already.  Their first book, Binocular Vision, by Edith Pearlman, is receiving a great deal of acclaim: A Publishers’ Weekly starred review, a Booklist starred review, and the cover of the New York Times Book Review!  Their plan, at least initially, is to publish from the authors and works first introduced by Ecotone, and their goal is to publish two to three titles a year, rotating between poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.  Their next, a short story collection by Steve Almond, is in the works for Fall 2011.  Lookout’s titles will be distributed by John F. Blair, Publisher, of Winston-Salem.

courtesy of www.nps.gov

Perhaps most interesting, from a publisher’s point of view, is how Lookout Books will be run.  Unlike most (all?) other publishers, there is a 50/50 profit share between publisher and author, with profit to the Press to be reinvested in future projects.

It you’d like to learn more about these other ventures, each exciting in their own way, we also encourage you to visit UNCW’s sites for Ecotone and for the Publishing Laboratory.

We keep hearing, in the age of the ebook, that everything is changing under our feet, that we must find new ways to publish, that we must think in new ways about publishing, writing, and reading.  Lookout Press is doing just that.  They’re identifying passionate writers and connecting them with readers, both in and outside of the academy, and perhaps, helping to create new readers along the way.  They’re taking a big leap of faith in a time when such leaps are crucial for survival.

So we raise a glass to congratulate  Lookout Books and Edith Pearlman; we celebrate the beginning of this new endeavor, and we wish them all the best as they make the venture into a new and exciting experiment in literary publishing.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Roxanna Robinson’s review of Binocular Vision in the NYTBR, “the volume is an excellent introduction to a writer who should not need one. Maybe from now on everyone will know of Edith Pearlman.”

What an impressive first contribution to our literary landscape!  May you keep lighting the way for many many years, Lookout.