Not many people can say they published a book by the time they graduate from college, but four Goshen College seniors will soon be able to.Rikki Entrekin, Abby Hertzler, Mary Roth and Nathan Vader, all senior English writing majors, each have a book coming out through Pinchpenny Press.
The press, which publishes chapbooks written by students, faculty or others with connections to the college, is overseen by an editorial board made up of English department professors and students. Once the board approves a book proposal, the board members work with the author on editing and polishing the manuscript.
The four students’ books are written in different genres and cover a variety of topics.
Entrekin’s book, “The Purple Victorian,” is a novel about a house where people from various places and time periods come when they need protection from evil. Each section of the book focuses on a different character’s story, “with a plot to bring them together,” Entrekin said.
“The Pen and the Pieces of Myself,” Hertzler’s book, is “a memoir in a nebulous sort of way,” she said. “Although it’s a true story, I told it using a few narrative variations—several chapters that are addressed to my younger self, say, or a chapter that is a fictionalized rendition of a real moment.” The book centers on “the redemptive power of writing” in her life.
Roth describes her book, “Getting There,” as “a collection of poems about finding a narrative of home.” The book is divided into three sections that contain poems related to time she spent in Goshen, Oregon and Nicaragua, respectively. “It’s my attempt to answer big questions about place and identity and how they’re intertwined,” she said.
Vader’s book, “Bad,” is “a collection of narrative poems and short stories … [about] challenges of modern life,” he said. “My characters look for love and friendship in a world of processed foods and electronic devices.”
The authors enjoyed many aspects of writing and publishing their books.
“The most enjoyable part of writing … is when you are able to create order out of chaos,” Vader said. “You have this idea in your head for an amazing piece, but the reality is that the thing is a mess. Your work is in figuring out how to get what you see … on the page to match the brilliance of your imagination.”
Entrekin also valued the revision process. “The story has come a long way, and revision is so much fun when you’re trying to make a story the best it can be,” he said.
Roth appreciated working with members of the Pinchpenny board. “I really love joining in the collaborative force that makes these projects possible,” she said.
For Hertzler, having the opportunity to experience so many parts of book publishing was enjoyable. “The publication process itself was incredibly interesting for me,” she said. “Especially since these are self-published books, so we authors had to undertake different facets of production that a big-time publisher would just delegate.”
All of the writers also found that the writing and publishing processes came with challenges and frustrations, but that the final product made any stress they experienced worthwhile.
According to Vader, “The most challenging part [was] the nitty-gritty details of laying out and editing a 50-page book. In the Pinchpenny process, you have to do most of the work on your own, so that can be pretty daunting. I have a newfound appreciation for editors, even though I am an editor for The Record!”
“The writing process was stressful,” Entrekin said. “I wasn’t expecting all the editing and revision I had to do. It’s all worth it now, since a book is the final product.”
Roth agreed: “After spending so much time with a project—crafting poems and shaping the arc of a collection—the reward of holding a tangible artifact at the end of it all feels incredible.”
The authors would recommend that others submit their work to Pinchpenny in the future, if they are willing to commit time and effort to getting their work ready for publication.
“Anyone who loves writing should go for this incredible shot to get published,” Hertzler said. “It’s a wonderful feeling, seeing your name in print.”
The four authors will be holding a joint release party for their books next Wednesday, March 20, at 6 p.m. in Newcomer 19. All are invited to enjoy refreshments, hear readings from each of the authors and purchase copies of the books.