The next stop on our whirlwind national tour of publishing hubs are the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Disclaimer: I have never been there. But based on what research and hearsay have told me, the Twin Cities area is one of the best metropolitan centers in the region. In fact, The Economist‘s Ryan Avent recently postulated that climate and economic conditions are driving more and more people west, and that the future is likely to see Minneapolis become the new New York.
Whether Avent is right or not, I think it’s no exaggeration to call Minneapolis the publishing capital of the Midwest. The city is home to indie publishing powerhouses such as Coffee House Press, Milkweed Editions, Graywolf, and a slew of media companies, distributors (including Consortium, one of the Perseus Distribution companies), and book stores. If you are looking for a different kind of publishing challenge, the Twin Cities are also rife with magazines and literary journals. To learn more about the publishing life and literary landscape of the Twin Cities from Minnesotans themselves, definitely check out the MN Publishing Tweet Up, a professional and social group devoted to celebrating and promoting a love of the written word amongst Twin Cities dwellers.
In general, the publishers based here are much smaller than their corporate New York counterparts–which doesn’t make many Minneapolis publishers any less well-known or well-respected than the Big Six. For instance, Graywolf Press, perhaps best-known for its poetry publications, routinely wins national and international literary awards; in 2009, President Barack Obama chose Graywolf poet Elizabeth Alexander to read at his inauguration. On the larger end, Quayside Publishing Group covers a range of nonfiction subjects, as does F+W Media, which has been innovating in ways to connect and communicate with enthusiasts and hobbyists of all kinds for years.
Ranked among the most literate cities in the country, Minneapolis also boasts a vibrant and eclectic arts scene outside of the book business itself. The large number of liberal arts colleges and universities makes for a youth-friendly atmosphere. Across the cities you can find a range of galleries and art shows, readings, coffee house concerts, and open mic nights.
As for the work atmosphere, Anna Waggener, administrative and development assistant at Coffee House Press, attests that the Minneapolis publishing industry is a close-knit and supportive community. However, Anna also notes that the atmosphere and opportunities attract a lot of talent, so it’s still very important for job-seekers to stress any experience they may have. As in New York, internships go over well here.
Yes, the winters can be brutal, but I’ve heard that the summers are some of the prettiest anywhere in the country. As Anna testifies, “the cities and lakes come ecstatically alive and it’s a real joy to be here.” An endorsement like that might be all you need to skip New York entirely and head west.
If you need more reasons to consider a career in Minneapolis, check out the City Pages list of 50 Reasons Minnesota is the best state in America (with some digs at New York).
Do you work in publishing in the Twin Cities? How do you find the industry there? If you’ve worked in publishing elsewhere, particularly in New York, how does it compare?