Book Publicist Promotes New Wesleyan University Press Titles

Stephanie Elliott, Wesleyan University Press publicist, is an avid Wesleyan Adult Fitness Program participant. She is currently training to run a half-marathon Oct. 13 in Hartford to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Posted 08/07/07
Q: Stephanie, when did you start working at Wesleyan University Press?

A: December of 2003.

Q: What is the mission of WesPress?

A: To have a vigorous publishing program in the fields of poetry, dance criticism, ethnomusicology, scholarly science fiction, film studies, and Connecticut history. Our books are grounded in good scholarship, and have a variety of audiences, including scholars, undergraduates, and the interested general reader. Through garnering media coverage for our books and selling copies throughout the world, we are able to project the name and image of the University, enhancing its reputation as an academic institution of the highest quality.

Q: How do you describe your role within the Press?

A: As the publicist, I am the main liaison with the media, including book reviewers, reporters and radio producers. I also work to set up events for our authors. These are online at  My other responsibilities include upkeep of our Web site and submitting our books for a variety of national and international awards.

Q: Do you read all the books?

A: I don’t read all of our books from cover to cover, but do read at least a portion of each one to get a sense of the subject matter and who the intended audience is.

Q: How do you promote the books?

A: The main role I have in promoting new books is by trying to get review coverage. I keep a database of reviewers and reviewing publications. Using this database I create a mailing list of potential reviewers for each title we publish. The people on the list receive a review copy of the book or other promotional material. I also set up author events for some of our books. Events are particularly important for reaching poetry buyers.

Q: WesPress books have won several awards in the past. Are there any awards up and coming?

A: Yes. Alice Notley’s Grave of Light is now a finalist for the Quill Awards, in the poetry category. Reed Business Information, owner of Publishers Weekly, organizes the Quill Awards. The awards ceremony is broadcast on NBC. The winner will be announced in September. And Samuel Delany’s About Writing is a finalist for the Hugo Award, an important science fiction award that will be announced in late August.

Q: Is your work primarily done within your office?

A: I spend the bulk of my time in front of my computer, corresponding with the media and authors via e-mail, writing press releases, and preparing mailing lists. E-mail has superseded the telephone in many ways, but I still do find myself on the phone quite a bit, especially when working to set up events, where there are a lot of details involved.

Q: What are some of WesPress’s newest titles and where can people browse all the titles?

A: The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen, Jacob Weidenmann: Pioneer Landscape Architect, and Traces of Light: Absence and Presence in the Work of Loïe Fuller are three of our upcoming books. We also have a new book by Jean Valentine, Little Boat, coming out soon. Valentine won the National Book Award for her last book, Door in the Mountain, published by us in 2004. All of our books are online at

Q: What do you like the best about being a book publicist at a university?

A: I love books, and I love the variety of books that we publish. I really enjoy meeting new people, so it is great to work with our authors and the media. Even if I only ‘meet’ them by e-mail or over the phone, it is really fun to interact with so many people who have such a vast array of interests. I enjoy working at a university press because I feel that we publish books that really add something to the intellectual life of both the academic community and individual readers who might not be affiliated with a university, but who still have a passion for reading and learning.

Q: Who do you work with at WesPress, and where is your office located?

A: I really enjoy working with Suzanna Tamminen, director and editor-in-chief; Leslie Starr, assistant director and marketing manager; and Eric Levy, senior editor. Our authors are wonderful people to work with as well. I often find that their passion for their work really becomes a motivating factor for me. We are located across from the Physical Plant Cady Building at 215 Long Lane.

Q: You’re an advocate for the Wesleyan Adult Fitness program. What programs do you take and why?

A: The Adult Fitness program and the Freeman Athletic Center are both wonderful resources that all faculty and staff should consider taking advantage of. The programs offered by the Adult Fitness program are free and offered daily at lunch time during the academic year. There’s really something for everyone. I’ve taken Pilates, which is a wonderful, low-impact way to stretch and strengthen your muscles, as well as the power stretch, dance and walk/jog classes. There are ballroom dance classes, water aerobics, rowing, and Tai Chi, too. You can find out more at the Adult Fitness web site:

Q: You’re training for a 13.1 mile, half-marathon run as a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training. When is this race and how are you training?

A: The race is October 13th, in Hartford. I train by running three times a week and cross training on the alternate days. To cross train, I work out using a stationary bicycle or strength train by lifting weights. During the academic year, I take part in Pilates or one of the stretching classes as well.

Q: What does your team raise money for, and why are you personally doing this? How can someone make a donation?

A: You can donate to my cause through my personal Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Web site at

The money goes towards research for new treatments for blood cancers, a field that has actually made much headway in recent years. The survival rate for children with leukemia has greatly increased, due to research for new treatments. So the cause is very worthwhile in terms of the progress that has been made. In the past, I have had friends whose immediate family members have been impacted by both leukemia and lymphoma. I’ve been getting mailings from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training Program for years now. It is a program that asks athletes to participate in running, walking, and cycling events, as well as tri-athalons, as a way to raise money and awareness for the LLS. When I received their new brochure this past spring, I happened to be getting back into running in a more serious way, so I decided to give Team in Training a try. I’ve found that their program is very supportive and really keeps you motivated to keep training.

Q: Aside from running, what are your hobbies?

A: I enjoy canoeing, hiking and fishing, and I do read a lot. I’m a member of the Byron Society, which is a group dedicated to the study of the Romantic poet, Lord Byron. The writers of the Romantic era are among my favorites. I also enjoy nonfiction. Right now I’m reading God is Red by Vine Deloria, a Lakota anthropologist. It is a very enlightening book. I’ve read the bulk of it while working out on the stationary bicycle at Freeman Athletic Center!

Q: Where did you go to college and what did you major in? Where were you working pre-Wesleyan?

A: I went to the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, majoring in liberal studies. I also participated in a graphic design certificate program at the University of New Hampshire, which was quite extensive as far as certificate programs go. And I attended the publishing program sat Pace University in Manhattan. Before moving to Connecticut to work at Wesleyan, I spent almost three years working as the Northeast region publicity manager for Arcadia Publishing, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Arcadia publishes pictorial histories of towns and communities around the country.

Q: Where are you from originally? Do you have family in the area?

A: I was born in Fitchburg, Mass., but my family moved to Wells, Maine, when I was 3. I grew up in southern Maine, where my parents and my older brother still live. Locally, I live with my boyfriend of three years, Colin, and our three cats Java, Mama Kitty and Snitter.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor