Founded as a feminist press, Alice James Books is committed to collaborating with literary artists of excellence who might otherwise go unheard by producing, promoting, and distributing their work which often engages the public on important social issues.
Alice James provides a platform from which to elevate these voices and is dedicated to helping its writers achieve purposeful engagement with a broad audience and community. We help writers tell their stories and connect with readers. We envision this work making continued contributions that help build and grow a more understanding, equitable, and just community through literature.
Alice James Books was founded in 1973 by seven people: Patricia Cumming, Marjorie Fletcher, Jean Pedrick, Lee Rudolph, Ron Schreiber, Betsy Sholl, and Cornelia Veenendaal in Boston, MA. When the press was founded, its goal was to give voice to women poets, whose work was greatly under-recognized.
Alice James’ story and life served as essential inspiration for the press founders’ work, because at that time women who weren’t “writing like a man” had a difficult time gaining respect for their craft and getting published.
AJB remains committed to its founders’ original mission while expanding upon its scope to include poets of all genders, backgrounds, and stages of their careers. In keeping with our leadership efforts to build equity and inclusivity in publishing and the literary arts, AJB seeks out poets whose writing possesses the range, depth, and ability to cultivate greater empathy in our world and to dynamically push against silence. The press sees the work it publishes as instrumental in driving conversations that help us overcome the barriers we face.
Alice James also stands out for its collaborative partnerships with authors, as well as the level of attention we give to the aesthetics of each book we publish. AJB believes in supporting writers throughout their careers, connecting them to a broad audience, and helping them tell stories that matter.
After two decades in the Boston area, Alice James moved its offices from Harvard Square to Farmington, ME in 1994 when it became affiliated with the University of Maine at Farmington and where the press currently educates up to 20 interns per year through individual writing apprenticeships. The AJB offices reside at the edge of campus on the tranquil banks of Rollo Pond, overlooking Abbott Park.
In 2014, the press revised its formative, cooperative structure to allow for the separation of the editorial and business boards of the press, creating the press’s first Board of Directors. The separation allows for greater focus on the individual goals of these two boards, while strengthening the financial health, vitality, and future of the press.
One of the most frequently asked questions about the press is, why Alice James? Alice James Books is named after the sister of the philosopher William James and novelist Henry James, Alice James, who lived a largely confined and isolated life. The youngest of five children, she never married and lived with her parents until their deaths. Although her four brothers were broadly educated in the US and abroad, Alice’s education was haphazard, reflecting her father’s belief that “The very virtue of a woman… disqualifies her for all didactic dignity. Learning and wisdom do not become her.” Keenly self-aware, she started a journal in 1889 as a way of recording her own understanding of herself. She entrusted it to her friend, Katherine Loring, shortly before her death in 1892 of breast cancer. Loring sent copies to her brother Henry and other family members. In 1943, it was published in incomplete form by a niece, who called it Alice James: Her Brothers — Her Journal. Not until 1964 was the journal published in its entirety. Alice James has since been known as a feminist icon, in recognition of her struggle for self-expression within the repressive Victorian notion of gender and femininity.
Excerpts from Alice James’ Journal
Leamington, May, 1889
I think that if I get into the habit of writing a bit about what happens, or rather doesn’t happen, I may lose a little of the sense of loneliness and desolation which abides with me.
My circumstances allowing nothing but the ejaculation of one-syllabled reflections, a written monologue by that most interesting being, myself, may have its yet to be discovered consolations. I shall, at least, have it all my own way, and it may bring relief as an outlet to that geyser of emotions, sensations, speculations and reflections which ferments perpetually within my poor old carcass for its sins; so here goes,—my first journal!
Image of Alice James: The photograph of Alice James featured on our website is by permission of Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Alice James Books has been a proud affiliate of the University of Maine at Farmington since 1994 and is committed to immersing students in a richly creative environment that fosters independence, professionalism, and the development of a diverse and inspired skill set. Through our educational opportunities, we’re raising literary arts professionals with knowledge and experience in the field.
You will find the Alice James house on the banks of Rollo Pond on UMF’s campus in Maine’s beautiful western mountains region. At AJB, you will also find the operations base for the campus literary journal, The Sandy River Review.
The press works in close partnership with UMF’s esteemed Creative Writing and English faculty.
Internships at Alice James Books
Interns play an important role in the continued success of Alice James Books. The collaboration of interns, staff, volunteers, and board members makes the press a true accomplishment of team values and effort. Interns gain valuable experience in many aspects of business and publishing through understanding of the day-to-day operations and business practices at AJB, from knowledge of computer programs such as Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and internet applications to knowledge of editorial, marketing, sales, publicity, design, production, and fundraising practices. AJB staff members provide lots of one-on-one mentorship—support that is very rare in most publishing houses.
Internship positions are available mainly to UMF students during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Each is worth four college credits and requires that a student schedule time at Alice James Books for approximately twelve hours per week, depending on the semester length. B.F.A. UMF Creative Writing majors are required to do an internship, and many of them choose to fulfill this experiential learning requirement at AJB. Alice James Books also accepts internship applications from students outside of the University of Maine at Farmington on a very selective basis.
All students are welcome to apply and no prior experience in the publishing field is required; however, experience in writing, computers, or communications are qualifications we commonly like to see.
The Internship Experience
Responsibilities of every AJB intern include answering the telephone; general correspondence; taking book orders; and communicating with poets, vendors, other publishing professionals, and the general public. Additional intern projects generally include:
• Designing and creating prepublication galleys and other materials
• Handling inventory
• Preparing development materials for mailing
• Coordinating manuscript submissions
• Writing advertising copy and marketing materials for books
• Working to build digital media libraries
• Editing review quotes and other materials
• Devising book publicity campaigns, materials, and posts
• Updating the AJB website
• Special projects and research as needed
Why Alice James Books?
In the field of independent publishing, Alice James Books is widely recognized for excellence. Your training at AJB will not only enrich your college education but improve your future employment opportunities. AJB internships have helped UMF graduates find jobs in publishing, advertising, graphic arts, the nonprofit sector, and other fields. Experience gained here can benefit you for years to come.
The press encourages independence and creativity, pushing students to discover and explore their personal interests in our innovative environment. Alice James Books raises writers and future professionals with an incredible depth of knowledge and experience in the field. Our presence on campus inspires students to explore and understand the many applications of the arts.
How to Apply
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.To apply for an internships, students must send a letter of interest and their resume to Editorial Assistant, Alicia Hynes (firstname.lastname@example.org). Internships are extremely competitive, and students are encouraged to apply at least one semester prior to the proposed period.
For more information, please call Alice James Books at 207.778.7071 or email our Editorial Assistant, Alicia Hynes at alicejamesEA@alicejamesbooks.org.
DIRECTOR'S CHAIR FELLOWSHIP
Alice James Books invites UMF student poets to the Director’s Chair: a semester-long poetry writing fellowship providing access to dedicated writing space overlooking Rollo Pond, a $250 honorarium, and a 1-1 consultation on work produced during the residency by AJB’s Executive Editor.
How to Apply:
Send a short bio, including your name, major, summary of academic accomplishment, and a 3-5 poem writing sample to DCFellow@alicejamesbooks.org
When to Apply:
For fall 2019 fellowships, the application deadline is April 18. Applications are due by November 20 for fellowships beginning spring 2019.
Call AJB at 207-778-7071 or email DCFellow@alicejamesbooks.org
Alice James Books, an affiliate of UMF, is committed to immersing students in a richly creative environment that fosters independence, professionalism, and the development of a diverse and inspired skill set. Through our educational opportunities, we’re raising literary arts professionals with knowledge and experience in the field.
Each academic year, Alice Jame Books presents a series of free talks designed to educate career-oriented writers on fundamental professional practices. Each talk is led by Alyssa Neptune or Carey Salerno of Alice James Books, and takes place in our offices at 114 Prescott Street in Farmington, ME. Students, staff, faculty, and members of the Farmington community are welcome to attend.
Preparing and submitting work, book contracts, editor/author relationships, marketing and publicity, and more.
To register, please contact Alicia Hynes at alicejamesEA@alicejamesbooks.org. Participants of all scheduled modules will earn a certificate of completion from Alice James Books.