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Along the Fold: AWP-Bound!

Editor’s Note:

We’re so excited to be bringing our Millsaps Production Intern to her first AWP conference! Gaby plays such an integral role to our production—much of the hand-stitching and hand-binding you will see when you visit our booth (table 1224/1226) at the book fair and thumb through our catalog was done by Gaby. It’s been wonderful to delight in Gaby’s delight as she breathes life into our books, but it isn’t always easy! This is one of Gaby’s tales about a production experience from last year that was filled with learning curves...not just for her, but for us as a staff of editors geographically scattered across the country. Here’s Gaby’s story:

My first semester working at Gazing Grain Press was such a steep learning curve, because not only did I have to figure out how to put the books together, but I also had to learn how to handle production problems quickly. Now, I love reading all of the chapbooks that we publish, but sometimes making them can be filled with frustration. On the bright side, encountering some production challenges early on taught me how to calmly deal with problems that pop up.

One of the first chapbooks that I worked on was Drift. From the moment Drift was handed to me to be assembled, there was a big problem. The interior pages are supposed to be printed so that I can fold them together and they’ll be in numerical order. However, the pages I had were not in numerical order at all – and we had already printed several sets of them. This was one of my first days on the job and I cannot describe the level of panic that I felt as I looked through the giant stack of paper, praying that this was some kind of fluke and that there were some usable copies. There weren’t. So I had no choice, but to go to my editor Liz and break the news that everything we had printed was unusable. I had this pit of dread as I walked into her office; I was sure this would be a big problem. Of course Liz wasn’t freaked out at all, which helped calm me down. She had me copy and paste the pages in the correct order to send back to the design editor, so we could explain the corrections needed. To my surprise, this was a relatively quick fix. The next day I had another giant stack of interiors ready to be folded. My first “big” work problem was not so bad when I look back on it now.

But this would not be the last problem that I had with Drift. After all the drama with the interiors was resolved, I had sewn about 150 copies of the chapbook. One Thursday, Liz told me that she needed to tell me something and that she’d come to my office in a minute. I’d had a crazy, hectic week with tests and papers that had all been due, along with a crazy amount of homework, which meant that I was completely sleep deprived and ready for the weekend. I didn’t really expect bad news or anything. I assumed that it would about an order that needed to be shipped.

It wasn’t.

It turned out that the exteriors of Drift were printing out too pixelated. When you just glanced at the cover it was almost unnoticeable. But if you held the correct version next to the pixelated one, then it was like night and day. Liz, very apologetically, told me that all the books I had sewn so far needed to be unbound and sewn back together with the new cover. I remember feeling numb after hearing that. But I didn’t freak out. In fact, I think I laughed when I told my friends about what had happened. It was one of those things were you either laugh about it or you cry.

In the end, we were able to stay on schedule despite the setbacks. I finished the whole print run—resewing the 150 copies I had already sewn, and completing the final 50 for a total of 200 crisp, beautiful new chapbooks.

Gaby Scelfo is a Production Intern at Gazing Grain Press and a senior English major at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. Her internship is hosted through the English Department and the Center for Career Education at Millsaps College.

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