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Investing in Community: Our NEA Story




If you open a BOA book, there’s a good chance you’ll find a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) “Art Works” logo on the copyright page. When you do, it means that the book you’re holding was published with the support of an NEA grant.

For nearly twenty years, the NEA has supported a portion of the books we publish. These grants provide partial funds for the production, publication, and promotion of new BOA titles. In 2017, a grant of $20,000 from the NEA will allow BOA to undertake the publication of eight new titles (a project that’s total cost will top $200,000). First and foremost, these grants help us achieve our mission to foster readership and appreciation of contemporary literature. By providing grant funds that go directly to new BOA titles, the NEA supports the intrinsic value of poetry and fiction. But the lofty ideals of literature can overshadow the day-to-day work of book production, and the amount of collaboration involved in the process. At a time when funding for the arts is under fire, it’s worth stepping back and looking at the ways these funds not only help support literature, but also sustain an ecosystem of suppliers, vendors, and distributors that book publishers rely on.

Here’s a snapshot of the people that BOA’s funding from the NEA supports:

Writers – All of our books begin here—a writer and an idea. BOA authors live and work in towns and cities across the country. NEA support helps us to compensate authors for their work through honorariums, royalties, and licensing fees.

Production – Our beautiful book covers are designed by two Rochester-based graphic artists. These designers work closely with BOA staff and authors to realize covers that complement each title. Each book also carries a piece of artwork on the cover, thus each year a dozen visual artists are paid licensing fees for use of their work. For the inside pages, we rely on our longtime typesetter who lays out each manuscript into a beautiful final format and also does a line-by-line copyedit of each book.

Publication – Finished files from our designers and typesetter are sent to the people who put the work on paper. BOA uses book printers in Detroit, MI, Lillington, NC, and Ann Arbor, MI, to print new titles.

Promotion & Marketing – Another set of printers helps us get the word out about upcoming titles. Galley editions for reviewers are printed in Minneapolis, MN; catalogs and other marketing materials are printed by partners in Oakland, CA, and Rochester, NY.

Distribution – Getting books into the hands of readers means having a well-coordinated, multi-faceted distribution system. Consortium Book Sales & Distribution handles the storage and shipping of BOA books to bookstores and online retailers. Consortium houses BOA books in warehouses across the country to provide prompt delivery to all stores and buyers. For sales through BOA’s website, we rely on the United States Postal Service and FedEx.

Local Administrative Support – The administrative aspects of publishing include a network of local companies that help BOA operate here in Rochester. These services include rented office space, IT support, webhosting and design services, and accounting support.

As a nonprofit press, BOA is lucky to have a solid base of supporters who understand the value of poetry and fiction—including the NEA. We all agree that there is value in great literature. We are proud to produce award-winning books that people want to buy, read, and cherish. These books contribute to a thriving literary scene that is constantly evolving, expanding, and exploring different perspectives of the worlds we inhabit.

Beyond the obvious community of BOA writers and readers is a web of vendors, suppliers, and shippers that make book production and distribution possible. In this way, the NEA logo stamped onto BOA copyright pages represents an investment in a system of many parts, including the writers, artists, designers, printers, distributors, and other service providers that make BOA’s work possible. It’s an investment in the future of art and literature, and the thriving communities in which we all hope to live.

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