Dissident Press Series Is No More: Series Title Changed to Voices from the Underground

Got the word recently that Michigan State University Press had decided to nix my preferred series title for my four upcoming books on the underground press: Dissident Press Series. They said it sounded too European. I had to laugh when I heard that. I disagreed also. And I was disappointed partly because I had grown to love the name, partly because I’ve been promoting the series using that name, and partly because I had already reserved the domain names DissidentPressSeries.com and DissidentPressSeries.net for the website that I’m building to promote the series.

They said they were going with Voices from the Underground for the entire series title rather than just the name of the two anthologies. The subtitles originally were going to be Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press and More Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press. Those they changed to simply the first subtitle with Part 1 and Part 2 at the end. They said “More” in a title usually indicates that the contents are inferior.

Hmm, I don’t want that. And if I may say, if that is correct it would be misleading because the second anthology is hardly inferior. I just couldn’t fit all the stories into one book and keep the price affordable. You’ll see what I mean when you review the website, which will include the full tables of contents for all four books—two anthologies and two monographs. Every book is its own adventure.

But the website isn’t up yet so hang in there.

Meanwhile, I can’t complain about—in fact, I’m pleased with—MSUP’s choice of Voices from the Underground as the series title. Voices from the Underground was the title of the first edition of the series when it appeared in 1993 as one huge book of insider histories. That one book, over 600 pages laid out in an 8 ½ x 11, 2-column format, has now been updated, revised, and expanded with additional histories and important frontmatter forewords, and will appear as the four books.

Then, miracle of miracles, I did a domain search on TLCI Website Solutions and was amazed to discover that voicesfromtheunderground.com and voicesfromtheunderground.net were still free.

They aren’t anymore.

So down the line you’ll be able to learn more about the series by writing to info@voicesfromtheunderground.com or going to voicesfromtheunderground.com. In the meantime, for more information, continue to contact me at info@azenphonypress.com.

More later.

Volume 1 Files Finally Received from Publisher

I spent the long Presidents’ Day weekend reviewing the frontmatter and initial stories from volume 1 of the Dissident Press Series, Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press. After so many months of sending files to Michigan State University Press, finally receiving files back from them, for both the stories and the images, made it all feel real.

I’m pleased so far with their work. Files showed electronic coding, of course. That’s how book pages are prepared in this electronic age.

Most of the other editing was light, mostly for the mundane purpose of bringing my style into conformity with theirs and being consistent. Uppercasing or lowercasing: “Leftist” or “leftist”; “Communist” or “communist”?  When should I spell out numbers one to ten? When should I use numerals? Context matters, and I have my own preferences as a long-time editor. But after editing some 1,500 pages from the four volumes I couldn’t remember which way I went for what context every single time. Long ago, I resolved that I would just do my best and go with their style. They made lots of those types of changes. Thanks, MSU Press.

Beyond that, they showed deep respect for the writing of my contributors and for my own editing as the series editor. As MSUP’s in-house project editor for the series wrote, “Our aim was to correct or query any apparent errors or omissions and to impose a book-level style in purely mechanical matters (for example, in the decision of how to render mentions of decades—between, say, seventies, nineteen seventies, and 1970s), while allowing variation in matters that could be considered more than mechanical (such as the decision of whether to capitalize the racial nominations black/Black and white/White).”

Also, the title, Dissident Press Series, is now official. For those reasons I am grateful, for the respect they showed our work and because I do not have to send the files back to my contributors just to have them say, “It’s still okay.”

The only disappointment I’m feeling is that volume 1 won’t be out until the end of this year. Our initial tentative publication date was May 2010. The other part of the plan, to release a new volume every six months until all four are out, is still intact.

On the bright side, the whole process has taught me patience.

I’ll be writing more about volume 1 in coming weeks, especially as we get closer to publication date. In the meantime, if you’re interested in being part of my mailing list, please write to me at info@azenphonypress.com.