learn / 2016

LARB/USC Publishing Institute and Workshop

LARB/USC Publishing Institute and Workshop

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Los Angeles Review of Books

The LARB/USC Publishing Workshop will give Angelenos unprecedented access to the world of publishing, from traditional books & magazines to e-publications, apps, games, multimedia and new platforms.


Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

USC is our main partner. Providing fellowships are Black Mountain Institute, Germanacos Foundation, PEN Center USA, Rosenthal Family Foundation, other partners from Institute for the Future of the Book, Electronic Frontier Foundation, USC Innovation Lab, USC Annenberg, UCLA, UCR, Otis Books, OR Books, Melville House, Tsehai Publishers, Heyday Press, Yale UP, Tia Chucha Press, Red Hen Press, Unnamed Press, Phoneme Press, Time/Life, Netflix, n+1, WW Norton, others.

Please describe your project proposal.

Too long the world of publishing has been inaccessible to the majority of people in the country. The LARB/USC Publishing Workshop will change that by raising funds to provide access to top-flight, innovative, hands-on experience & networking for people whatever their background or means. The Workshop is designed to diversify the pipeline, to recruit people & give them access to the tools & to the people they need to know to take their place in & help create the publishing industry of the future.

Which of the learn metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • College completion
  • Student education pipeline

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • Gateway Cities
  • Antelope Valley
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles
  • Los Angeles's reputation outside LA.

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to learn?

Los Angeles has never had a program like this, a program that can make the publishing world as accessible to LA residents as it has long been to people living in New York. The LARB/USC Publishing Workshop will not only benefit people who already live in Los Angeles, but will make LA a destination for people eager to be part of this rapidly evolving (and in Los Angeles rapidly growing) set of professions. Alongside many digital ventures (from programs like USC’s new Iovine and Young Academy, institutes and programs for digital culture at USC and UCLA, work at CalArts and the other innovative art schools, and within the growing high tech industry), LA Review of Books is doing its part to help establish Los Angeles as a hub for digital culture.

This intensive summer program will provide a kind of training that has never before been part of our city’s offerings and foster an industry that is vital to a thriving, intellectual civic life. Once the summer Publishing Workshop is established, we plan to offer weekend and evening sessions year-round to give people a chance to learn specific aspects of the industry and specific skills, from basic editing to coding to business practices. LA has long been a great place to learn writing, and a great place to learn all aspects of other culture industries: film, theater, music, art, dance. But until now there were no intensive programs in Southern California preparing people to enter the publishing world. Every year new publishers spring up in the city and the county, and we will help train the people for them and for publishing outlets in New York and across the country.

The program has two defining characteristics, beyond its diversity, that will help make it stand out and give its graduates a leg up: (1) it is dedicated to exploring, with the best professionals and thinkers, the future of publishing, as well as its current practices, priming our graduates to be in the forefront of a quickly evolving industry, and (2) it gives people practical training in; the participants leave the program having built and published a magazine or website, or having developed a detailed business plan or product design agenda. This combination of a diverse cohort, an innovative faculty, and hands-on experience will make the people who attend highly marketable, and our staff will work with to achieve a 100% placement rate.

Faculty and speakers include Tom Lutz (LARB), Davan Maharaj (LA Times), Cory Doctorow (EFF), Bob Stein (IFB), Henry Jenkins (USC), Jill Bialosky (Norton), Luis Rodriguez (Tia Chucha Press), Jeffrey Cole (USC), Dennis Johnson (Melville House), Joel Goldberg (Netflix), Mark Krotov (n+1), Colin Robinson (OR Books), Joshua Wolf Shenk (Black Mountain Inst, Moth Radio Hour), Mia Tramz (Time), Johanna Drucker (UCLA), Guy Bennett (Otis Books), Elias Wondimu (Tsehai Publ.), Steve Wasserman (Heyday, Yale UP), publicists, agents, & and many others.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Four basic metrics: (1) filling the 100 available seats in the program by year three, (2) raising the $375,000 to provide full fellowships for half those seats by year three, (3) accomplishing a 100% placement rate for people who go through the program, starting immediately in year one, and (4) monitoring the platforms, start-ups, and projects launched in our incubator as they become successful companies and employers in their own right. Our pilot versions of this program have been successful in placing people in publishing companies across the country and locally, so we already have a track record. And we already have 20 applicants in the pipeline before our first marketing push this year, so we know we can fill at leas half the seats and provide half of them with fellowships the first year.

In time, of course, we hope that LA will replace New York as the publishing capital of the country!

We will also measure our success by the number and breadth of applications we receive. People just graduating with an associate or bachelor degree, postgraduate students and PhDs looking for alternatives to academic careers, mid-career professionals looking to move into a new field or move up in their chosen profession, entrepreneurs looking to learn what they need to know to launch projects successfully, people who have known all their lives they wanted to pursue a publishing career and those who had never realized this path was open to them: we want to serve all.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Staff
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Network/relationship support