With Bigger Than Bravery: Black Resilience and Reclamation in a Time of Pandemic hurdling toward its November 15, 2022 pub date, the Lookout team has been working behind the scenes on creative promotions. It’s bittersweet to reach this milestone without Bigger Than Bravery’s editor, Valerie Boyd, here to help us usher her final book into reviewers’ and early readers’ hands, but we’re infusing every galley that leaves our offices with her incomparable spirit.
For Lookout, promotional kits are meant not only to generate excitement but to contextualize and enlarge the conversation around our books. They include, of course, early reading copies and details about the book, but we always add extras to remind recipients how deeply we invest in each project we acquire. Over the past two semesters, publishing students in UNCW’s MFA and BFA programs have worked with book practicum instructor and publisher Emily Smith, as well as editor KaToya Ellis Fleming, to curate Bigger Than Bravery promotions with all the dedication and care that Valerie Boyd brought to her curation of the anthology itself.
The Commemorative Pin
As we grieved and processed Valerie Boyd’s unexpected passing, we thought about items that might meaningfully honor her legacy. We wanted this commemorative piece of the kit to be solemn yet bold, representative of Valerie and her work on Bigger Than Bravery, as well as her life’s work as a mentor and friend to so many writers and editors of color. The enamel pin calls to mind memorial pins often worn to remember a loved one. Borrowing from the book’s subtitle, we selected the phrase “Black Resilience. Black Reclamation.” When finished pins arrived, we placed all two hundred of them by hand on a custom card-stock backing. Each is anchored by two small black hearts.
Lookout staffer and letterpress artist Ollie Loorz designed and typeset an excerpt from Valerie Boyd’s introduction to Bigger Than Bravery:
“I offer you a glimpse into your own bravery, your own greatness, your own transcendent freedom.”
Emily Smith’s book publishing practicum then took a field trip to Port City Letterpress here in Wilmington, where Ollie gave us a demonstration and let us each take a turn at the wheel of the studio’s Chandler & Price platen press. What a beautiful day, watching Valerie Boyd’s words kiss the paper again and again—in that bold magenta ink!
The final step before packaging our kits was to personalize the boring white mailers—what’s a Lookout media kit without creativity in every element? We designed a mylar stencil featuring the book’s title and headed to the courtyard to emblazon envelopes with pumpkin orange spray paint before the North Carolina sun got too high. A little trial and error later, we had 100 ready for stuffing.
We’re sending a final batch of kits this week as we prepare for the upcoming book launch in November during Writers’ Week at UNCW. We can’t wait for this book to reach readers’ hands!
If you aren’t on Lookout’s media list and would like to be added, please reach out to Publisher Emily Smith. Stay tuned for preorder announcements—including an opportunity to take home your own pin and letterpress broadside.
Thank you to Lookout staffer Morissa Young for her contributions to this article.