Lines extended across the Bill Bordy Theater and out onto Tremont Street as nearly 150 students waited to have books signed by two authors who had just read passages of their work and participated in a Q&A. But these were not world-famous Pulitzer Prize-winning authors that the crowd was queueing to meet.
These were two current Emerson students: Sarah Cummings ’17 and David Carliner ’17.
Cummings and Carliner celebrated the publication of their debut books through Wilde Press and Emerson’s Undergraduate Students for Publishing (otherwise known as Pub Club) at their book launch on April 19. The club also released the ninth issue of its magazine, Generic, which features genre fiction written by students.
The proceeds from Cummings’ and Carliner’s book sales will be donated to the True Colors Fund, a nonprofit that aims to end LGBT+ homelessness in New York, and Active Minds, a nonprofit focused on mental health education.
Cummings’ book, These Thoughts That Hold Us, is a compilation of short stories that dissect complicated feelings of loss, grief, and dread. She says she was happy with how the book launch went.
“I was definitely nervous beforehand, but also really excited,” she said. “We had a super-responsive audience and the energy was really great. I had a lot of fun.”
Cummings, who hopes to expand her collection of short stories into a novel this summer, commented on the construction of the characters in her favorite piece in the book, titled “Lucy,” in the Q&A at the launch.
“It was the first one where I felt like my characters really grew themselves,” she said. “I went in with one idea and came out with something different.”
Carliner’s book, Gay by May, is another compilation of short stories, but his are comedic personal essays and lists about his sexuality and love life.
“I’ve gone to one launch every year, since my senior year of high school,” Carliner said, “and now I am sitting where they sat, and that just felt amazing. It was so good to see so many people I care about come out and laugh.”
Carliner said the stories he tells in his book reflect the honesty he projects in his everyday life.
“There are a lot of things I could be embarrassed by, but I choose to instead make them funny stories,” he said. “If I out every skeleton in my closet, there’s nothing anyone can use against me because I am always controlling the narrative.”
While both students tackled different subject matter in their books, they each received roaring rounds of applause and cheers of support from their peers.
Carl Lavigne ’17, co-president of PubClub with Kaitlyn Coddington ’16, explained the process each book went through to be published. The club solicits manuscripts at the beginning of the semester, and the executive board selects the top four for the club to vote on.
“We consider the strength of the manuscript, the author, and the amount of edits needed compared to the limited amount of time we have,” Lavigne said.
The two manuscripts with the most votes are passed on to the editing, copyediting, design, and marketing teams to assemble and promote the final product before the launch. PubClub has its books printed at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge.
“They print the books on a magical machine called the Espresso Book Machine,” Lavigne said. “Once we have the books, we get to throw our launch party, rejoice, and see how all the hard work we've done has come together.”