WPA Outcomes Statement book cover

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CLEMSON — Parlor Press, the scholarly publishing company founded and edited by Clemson University professor David Blakesley, has received this year’s Best Book award from the Council of Writing Program Administrators. Blakesley is the Campbell Chair in Technical Communication and professor of English. The book, “The WPA Outcomes Statement—A Decade Later,” discusses issues in assessment and accountability for academic writing programs.

Parlor Press previously received this award in 2014 and 2004. The Council of Writing Program Administrators is a national association of college and university faculty with professional responsibilities for directing writing programs.

In 2002, before coming to Clemson University, Blakesley founded Parlor Press as an independent and digital enterprise. The press now has 15 book series and more than 400 Parlor Press authors. It is also home to eight scholarly journals, including co-publication of the prestigious national journal Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC).

“I’ve always enjoyed connecting people and ideas,” Blakesley said. “Since the early 2000s, Parlor Press has essentially become a publishing collaborative that has built and sustained a network of editors, journals, authors, students, universities and other publishing entities. It is an ecology of scholarly publishing designed to bring high-quality research and creative work to a wider public in print and digital media.”

In 2014, Parlor Press became the official publisher for the Rhetoric Society of America. The first book from the new partnership, “Rhetoric Across Borders,” was published in August.

Blakesley initially founded the press to address concerns facing more traditional in-house, “brick and mortar” university presses, including the rising number of authors seeking publication and a tough library market for book sales. A minimal staff of dedicated scholars and specialists in their respective fields, along with Blakesley, make it a priority to engage with high-quality and varied research. Parlor Press also encourages students to participate. Clemson graduate students have been included as editors of manuscripts, and space is offered at academic conferences to foster networking with established scholars.

The press practices peer review, the same standard of academic rigor upheld by any university press. And competitively, only 10 percent out of about 500 submissions annually are considered for publication. Thanks to the digital aspect of the press, the majority of time spent by the editors can be concentrated in the peer-review process.

Blakesley credits continuing advances in technology with making his dream a reality.

“Technology has allowed people to do amazing things with pretty sophisticated tools, machinery and software that could never have been done before. That’s what made Parlor Press possible, and I took advantage of that,” he said.