University Presses Offer FICTION WRITERS A Publishing Alternative

Article excerpt

When major publishing houses slammed their doors on a new book project by Max Evans, the celebrated Western author went back to school.

At the University Press of Colorado, Mr. Evans found a warm reception for two Bluefeather Fellini novels.

"University presses are taking on the role of publishing high-quality fiction, even though in limited numbers because of limited finances," says Evans, best known for his novel "The Rounders."

Like many of its counterparts around the nation, University Press of Colorado is dabbling in fiction to help authors who find it difficult to break barriers at major publishing companies.

University presses traditionally have been a forum for scholarly works, typically publishing about 17 percent of the new books in the US every year, says Peter Grenquist, executive director of the Association of American University Presses.

The advantage university presses have over major publishing houses is that they can break even with a smaller investment and a smaller press run, usually 3,000 to 10,000 copies, press directors say.

"We exist to do the kinds of books the commercial houses can't. …