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AUPresses Blog Tour: UPM's First Author’s Initiative and Why It Matters

AUPresses Blog Tour: UPM's First Author’s Initiative and Why It Matters

By UPM Staff Date: November 16, 2023

HOW does your press #SpeakUP? UPM will discuss the aims of their new First Author’s Initiative and why it matters.

The UPM First Author’s Initiative, established through generous gifts from our authors, supports the publication of books by emerging scholars, nontraditional authors, and authors from a wide variety of backgrounds. The UPM First Author’s Initiative, funded through the University Press of Mississippi New Horizons Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi, supports the work of these authors so they can achieve success regardless of their academic status or access to resources. Funds may be used to offset a variety of costs that might otherwise be a burden to an author and the Press.

By supporting these authors, the University Press of Mississippi can reach a broader audience of readers and researchers around the world. UPM Director Craig Gill states, “The first book published by UPM came to us from an author teaching at Jackson State University, one of the three HBCUs affiliated with the Press. From the very beginning we have been publishing authors from all walks of life and all types of institutions. We don’t care where an author comes from, but we recognize that some authors have access to much greater resources than others. We hope the First Author’s Initiative will help us and our authors overcome these historic challenges.”

So far, two books have been funded by the UPM First Author’s Initiative. The multi-award winner, Mississippi Zion: The Struggle for Liberation in Attala County, 1865–1915, brings the voices and experiences of everyday people to the forefront and reveals a history dictated by people rather than eras. Author Evan Howard Ashford says, "As an emerging scholar, the UPM First Author's Initiative significantly helped to publish Mississippi Zion. I like to think that the many photographs contained in the book resulted from the funding allotted to the publication. I am grateful to the First Author's Initiative and all the benefits that it contributed to the book's success."

Carnival in Alabama: Marked Bodies and Invented Traditions in Mobile is a lively and exciting analysis of one of the United States' oldest Mardi Gras celebrations. “One of the main goals of this project has always been to introduce new stories and characters to this historical narrative, and I knew that it would take a lot of images to accomplish that,” says author Isabel Machado. “It was important to me that readers not only read about the people and places that are being introduced here. They also had to see them. Many of the images included in this book have never been published before, and it took years of research to compile them. It also took a lot of help. So, I am extremely grateful to the University Press of Mississippi not only for accommodating my request to add so many illustrations to Carnival in Alabama but also for making that possible through the UPM First Author’s Fund, which covered most of the permission and digitizing expenses.”

To learn more or make contributions to the UPM First Author’s Initiative through the University Press of Mississippi New Horizon Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi, visit our donation page.