U-M Department of English
U-M English Home

News & Events

RSS Feed


Solarium Symposium on the Business of Writing


Given the dramatic recent upheavals in publishing—from the swift rise of electronic readers to the ever more sales-driven approach of the big New York houses—it’s imperative that writers understand what those changes mean for authors, editors, and others in their industry.

The Helen Zell Writers’ Program also wants to give our students, as well as students in other writing-heavy disciplines, the information and guidance required to best position themselves for writing careers outside academia.

The Solarium Symposium on the Business of Writing is intended to be a forum for the ongoing conversation about the publishing opportunities afforded by new technologies. Rather than resisting change, we aim to wrestle with the possibilities offered by new literature delivery methods, and to nurture creativity, both artistic and entrepreneurial, in the myriad forms in which it appears in the book world’s ecosystem.



10a Welcome

Jeremy Peters of Ghostly InternationalJeremy Peters of Ghostly International will give a presentation on the ways that technical advancements in the music industry have changed music publishing, and how the book industry might look to music for ways to navigate the changes in book technologies.


Lori Tucker-Sullivan, Executive Director of the Independent Booksellers Consortium, and Kodi Scheer, author of the first Kindle Single, will discuss the relationships between publishers, booksellers, and writers with Carla Gray, Marketing Director for the combined Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Moderated by former Simon & Schuster sales rep and current owner of independent bookshop Literati Bookstore, Hilary Gustafson.


Ann VanderMeer, founder and editor of Tor.com, and Matvei Yankelevich, founder and editor of Ugly Duckling Presse, will consider the ways that they've used both old and new technologies and ways of interacting with readers to create thriving presses.  Moderated by Fritz Swanson, writer, teacher, and pressman.


Barbara Epler, President of New Directions, will talk with Aaron McCollough of the University of Michigan Press about how New Directions has managed to survive as a small independent publisher of innovative prose and poetry.

3-4p Keynote

Tom BissellEssayist Tom Bissell's work in publishing has led him to write and speak about the changes in the book industry, and what they mean for readers and writers.  His most recent book, Extra Lives, a work of criticism about video games, looks at video games as an alternative narrative delivery medium (among their other qualities).



Jeremy Peters is the Director of Creative and Business Affairs for Ghostly Internationaland Ghostly Songs. Since joining Ghostly in 2003 he’s risen thru the ranks from intern to directing the operations of the group’s publishing, copyright administration, master licensing, original composition, and music supervision activities. Jeremy has worked on projects with brands such as Nike, Lincoln, Victoria’s Secret, FIJI Water, HUMMER, Motorola, Ford, Chevy, and Sprint/Nextel as well as numerous Television, Video Game, and Film projects.

Carla GrayCarla Gray began working as a bookseller after graduating from college. She continued with independent bookstores throughout New England for the next decade, until she joined the sales department at Houghton Mifflin in 1997. As Marketing Director for the combined Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Carla has spearheaded many successful book campaigns, including The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, and recent best-sellers including How Children Succeed by Paul Tough, The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin, and We the Animals by Justin Torres. Carla and her team incorporate new digital strategies and direct-to-consumer promotions in all of their campaigns, always looking ahead for new methods and approaches.

Hilary GustafsonHilary Gustafson is co-owner of Literati Bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor, MI. Literati Bookstore is a general independent bookstore with a focus in literary fiction, poetry, and the social sciences. Previously, Hilary worked at Simon & Schuster as a sales representative for 60 independent bookstores, assisting them with their inventory, marketing, and events. Hilary is a native of Ann Arbor and co-owns Literati with her husband Michael Gustafson. 

Kodi ScheerKodi Scheer teaches writing at the University of Michigan, where she earned her MFA. She was awarded the Dzanc Prize for Excellence in Literary Fiction and Community Service. As a recent fellow of the Sozopol Fiction Seminars, she traveled to Bulgaria to engage with an international community of writers, translators, and readers. Kodi’s story, “When a Camel Breaks Your Heart,” was the first Kindle Single exclusive. Other stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Chicago Tribune, The Iowa Review, The Florida Review, Quarterly West, and Bellevue Literary Review. Kodi also serves as writer-in-residence for the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Lori Tucker-SullivanLori Tucker-Sullivan is the Executive Director of the Independent Booksellers Consortium, Inc., a collaborative group of twenty-six top independent bookstores working together to improve their businesses. In addition, she is a freelance writer, whose poems, essays, stories, and reviews have appeared in various magazines and journals, including Now & Then: The Magazine of Appalachia, The Sun, About the Girl, The Cancer Poetry Project, annarbor.com, and others. She is the author of the blog A Widow’s Apprenticeship (www.widowsapprenticeship.blogspot.com). She holds an MFA from Spalding University with a focus in Creative Nonfiction.  She is a founding board member of the Ann Arbor Book Festival, and currently serves on the board of the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.

Fritz SwansonFritz Swanson teaches fiction and non-fiction writing at the University of Michigan. His work has appeared in such places as The Believer, The Christian Science Monitor, McSweeney's, Print Magazine, Real Weird and Esopus. He runs the letterpress studio Manchester Press.

Ann VanderMeer of tor.comThe founder of the award-winning Buzzcity Press, Ann VanderMeer currently serves as an acquiring fiction editor for Tor.com, Cheeky Frawg Books, and weirdfictionreview.com. She was the editor-in-chief for Weird Tales for five years, during which time she was nominated three times for the Hugo Award, winning one. Along with nominations for the Shirley Jackson Award, she also has won a World Fantasy Award and a British Fantasy Award for co-editing The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories. Other projects have included Best American Fantasy, three Steampunk anthologies, and a humor book, The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals. Her latest anthologies includeSteampunk III: Steampunk Revolution, The Time Traveler’s Almanac, and an as-yet unnamed anthology of feminist speculative fiction.
         In 2011 Ann and Jeff started Cheeky Frawg, an ebook publishing company which is currently publishing the new semi-annual anthology series ODD? as well as many other titles, including many translated works.  She has also taught many writing workshops, including Clarion, Odyssey and Shared Worlds (teen writing camp) as well conducting creativity seminars for such varied audiences as the librarians of the state of Arizona and Blizzard Entertainment.  She has been profiled/interviewed for WIRED.Com, National NPR and The Weather Channel.  

Matvei YankelevichMatvei Yankelevich is one of the founding editors of Ugly Duckling Presse, where, between various book projects and administrative duties, he continues to curate UDP's Eastern European Poets Series and co-edit 6×6 magazine, and to share duties as Co-Executive Director with Anna Moschovakis. Matvei is the author of a poetry collection, Alpha Donut (United ArtistsBooks), the novella-in-fragments Boris by the Sea (Octopus Books), and the translator of Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Ardis/Overlook). His critical writing includes essays on Conceptual Poetry (LA Review of Books) and on Russian-American poetry (Octopus). He has taught at Columbia University School of the Arts, Colorado College, and is the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. In Fall 2013, he will be Visiting Writer at Long Island University's MFA Program.

Barbara Epler of New DirectionsBarbara Epler grew up in Evanston, Illinois, started working at New Directions after graduating from Harvard in 1984, and is now editor-in-chief, president and publisher.  She writes, “my two chief responsibilities are keeping New Directions in good shape overall and acquiring new authors, and I’ve been lucky to find W.G. Sebald and Roberto Bolaño, as well as other great writers like Laszlo Krasnahorkhai ,Cesar Aira, Victor Pelevin, Inger Christensen, Yoel Hoffmann, Yoko Tawada,  and Javier Marías.”  Independent since 1936, New Directions publishes about 40 new books a year and maintains more than 1,200 titles on its backlist: they publish a great deal of fiction and poetry in translation as well as a very strong list of American experimental poets.

Aaron McColloughAaron McCollough is the Editorial Director of Michigan Publishing (which includes the University of Michigan Press). His books include Underlight (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2012); No Grave Can Hold My Body Down (Ahsahta Press, 2011); Little Ease (Ahsahta Press, 2006); Double Venus (Salt Publishing, 2003); and Welkin (Ahsahta Press, 2002).

Tom Bissell was born in Escanaba, Michigan, in 1974. After graduating from Michigan State University, he worked briefly as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan and then as a book editor in New York City. His first book, Chasing the Sea, a travel narrative, was published in 2003. God Lives in St. Petersburg, a story collection, was published in 2005 and won the Rome Prize. The Father of All Things, a hybrid work of history and memoir about his father and the Vietnam War, was published in 2007 and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Kiriyama Prize. Extra Lives, a work of criticism about video games, was published in 2010. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Harper's, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The New Yorker, The New Republic, McSweeney's, Granta, The New York Times Magazine, and Tin House, and been anthologized in the Best American series seven times. He has lived in Michigan, Uzbekistan, New York, Saigon, Rome, Las Vegas, Estonia, and is currently based in Los Angeles.

Start Time: 9/27/2013  10:00 AM
Location: UMMA Helmut Stern Auditorium
Contact: mslevad@umich.edu
To view all upcoming events, please click here.

Dept. of English Language and Literature

home mission statement sitemap contact

U-M English on Facebook
U-M English on Facebook
U-M English on iTunes U
U-M English on YouTube

435 S. State Street, 3187 Angell Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1003
Phone: (734) 764-6330 Fax: (734) 763-3128