The largest press in the state of Louisiana is right here on LSU’s campus.
The LSU Press is known for Pulitzer Prizes and publishing books from around the world, including John Kennedy Toole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces.”
LSU Press Director Alisa Plant said the goal is to publish works of scholarly, intellectual and creative merit.
Plant said the Press publishes books for both scholars and general readers.
“We want to promote the achievements of the state and the region and to educate people about our history and our culture,” Plant said.
The Press publishes books on the history and culture of the South and Louisiana.
“We are, on one hand, LSU press,” Plant said, “but we also promote the brand of LSU to the world.”
One of the most recent books published by the Press was “Jim Crow’s Last Stand: Nonunanimous Criminal Jury Verdicts in Louisiana” by Thomas Aiello.
The book helped fuel the debate about Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury verdict law, Plant said.
“In the end,” Plant said, “it goes before the citizens of Louisiana, they change the law, and now that is illegal. Books we publish help change laws. That is something I am very proud of.”
The process through which books get published is lengthy.
First, authors send a proposal to the acquiring editors at the Press. If the proposal looks good, the acquiring editors ask to see an entire manuscript.
The manuscripts get sent to anonymous readers who evaluate them for quality and write a report.
The reviewed manuscripts get sent back to the authors, who tell the Press what changes they will make and send back a revised manuscript.
“Ideally, the reader will say the manuscript is ready for publication,” Plant said.
The projects then get submitted to the Press committee, made up of various LSU faculty members, and they approve the final product.
From the time the final manuscript arrives at the Press to when it is printed, the process can take up to a year.
The Press has won numerous awards, including four Pulitzer Prizes. The first was in 1981 for the “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole.
The other three were in 1986, 1997 and 2006 for various poetry.
The Press was founded in 1935 and will turn 85 years old next year. They publish about 70-80 books every year.
“We are producing peer-reviewed scholarship,” Plant said. “It is fact-based and unbiased. I think what we do has never been more important.”