The dream of becoming a published author is a frighteningly distant, seemingly impossible endeavor for many, no matter the reason. The path to publication can be a treacherous one, filled with internet articles with little to nothing of pertinence to say on the matter outside of an author’s singular experience.
“Getting published is not nearly as glamorous as most people think. Sure, there are the pure fun days of publishing your first novel, or holding that first book in your hands,” said TJC English professor and published author, Traci Borum. “But the other days involve the hard work of finding your way out of a problem chapter, or the tedium of editing, or the frustration of waiting and waiting and waiting that’s involved in the entire publishing process. If you want it badly enough, though, it’s all worth it.”
TJC students have an opportunity to fast track themselves to publication with the Bell Tower Arts Journal. Founded in 2006 and sponsored by the Tyler branch of English honor society Sigma Kappa Delta: Psi Gamma, the Bell Tower “seeks to offer greater access to the humanities for the TJC community, celebrate the artistic and literary achievements of TJC students,” according to the journal’s page on the TJC website.
“The Bell Tower Arts Journal is entirely student generated. Students design the cover and layout each year, and only student works are considered for publication. Students are even part of the selection process,” said Regan Minkel, English professor and head of the journal. “The Bell Tower is also a wonderful outlet for students, and it means so much to me. I love to be a part of it, and I’m always amazed at the talent! My favorite thing about the journal is that is it student focused and student generated,”
Interested students can send in submissions of either prose, poetry, fine art or photography through Nov. 12. Short fiction prose or essays should be in a Microsoft Word document with numbered pages, double-spaced text, 12-point font, and should be a maximum of three pages. Also, all outside sources used must be properly cited in MLA format.
Poetry can be either formal or free verse. Poems must be typed in a Microsoft Word document, single-spaced text, double spacing between stanzas, 12-point font, with numbered pages. According to the journal’s website, “Poetry still follows the conventions of Standard American English and must exhibit grammatical correctness. Sentences and phrases used in poetry are still punctuated correctly.”
For fine art and photography, images should be in a digital format with the highest quality fidelity possible and 300 dpi for black and white and CMYK for color. Students must also include the title, size of original work if necessary, and media used for each piece.
“My first publication was a poem published in the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor’s arts journal, similar to the Bell Tower. It was a wonderful experience for me, and I was able to use the publishing credit in my future query letters,” Borum said. “Finding courage can be tricky, especially if it’s in a field/area where students don’t have a lot of confidence. So, I would advise those students to become comfortable with writing (take a writing class, use writing prompts, practice writing every day). As students get used to the feel of pen on paper, or fingers on keyboard, they tend to gain the confidence they seek.”
More detailed submission guidelines and the submission portal can be found by searching,”The Bell Tower Arts Journal 2021,” on TJC’s main website. Students with questions can contact Minkel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 903-510-2210. Artists and readers can expect the next Bell Tower Arts Journal during next April’s 2022 ArtsFest.