From Draft to Novel: York’s In-House Publisher Tells All

Posted by Rebecca on April 26, 2016

A YU Perspective

Outline of a lion with the words Leaping Lion Books in the middle

As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, I’m a bibliophile. I love writing stories and reading them! Books are a source of wonder for me. In a few chapters, I can trek mountains or fall in love with a faery king. Through vividly detailed paragraphs, I can find hidden passageways in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or collect seashells on the sandy beaches of Mexico.

As an English major moving into Creative Writing, I’m fascinated with the art of creating stories, but also with how those stories turn into a physical product. I discovered great upper-year courses offered by the Professional Writing program that deal with that transformation. One that specifically sparked my interest was AP/WRIT 4721 6.00 — Book Publishing Practicum. As the title indicates, the course is a practicum where Professional Writing majors (and English as well, depending on enrolment numbers) work through the process of publishing a manuscript (editing, raising funds, promoting, etc). And get this: Leaping Lion Books is York’s very own in-house publisher that sponsors the course. How cool is that?

We talked to Mike O’Connor, the course director for the Book Publishing Practicum, about the press’s history. Here’s what he had to say:

1) How did Leaping Lion Books come about as a press? How did LL Books and the Book Publishing Practicum come together? 

Leaping Lion Books is an offshoot of the Book Publishing Practicum class. Geoffrey Huck in 2009 started it. LLB was set up to give students in the class hands-on experience with book publishing. I have been the course director for the practicum since 2010.

2) What goes into choosing a manuscript for the course? 

The process of finding and selecting a manuscript for the press is an ongoing one. Me and Dr. Huck are always on the lookout for new writers whose work might be a good fit with LLB. We contact writers we know; we review manuscripts that people send us; and we attend writers’ events like Word on the Street. We look for book-length manuscripts which are compelling in some way, would allow students to edit, design and promote the work, and for authors who are willing to work with students. In the past, we have found some great novels, mysteries, and film-related books.

Many of the books we have published come from the York community, either alumni or retired faculty.

Thanks for the insights Mike! You can also check out the Leaping Lion Books blog for a more in-depth look at the students behind the latest published novel. You’ll see a lot of different talents are required in publishing!

Book cover of All 4 The Money by Chris Eyles — four men standing in the dark.

And what is the latest novel, you may ask. That would be All 4 the Money by York alum Chris Eyles. The novel follows a group of four close-knit construction workers in Toronto as they lead a double life of crime to make ends meet. The four usually rob small stores located in quiet plazas and routinely escape punishment. The narrative takes a dark turn when the prospect of more money tempts them and they hatch a plan to steal a rare Shakespeare folio from the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. The heist not only involves robbery and arson but also puts their friendship at stake.

Who will prevail? Feel free to take a gander and find out! The work is available through Amazon and Kobo.

Will you be checking out the newest novel from Leaping Lion Books? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @yorkustudents!


Rebecca M. is a third-year English major. She no longer blogs regularly for the YU Blog but may post on occasion as a guest-blogger.

See other posts by Rebecca