It all began with Neal’s mother, Vivian, who had always enjoyed writing. In 2004, Neal and his brothers decided to self-publish one of Vivian’s stories and give it to her as a gift. Little did they know they were sending Neal and Betsy Delmonico on a journey that would last over a decade. The retired college professors who had taught at Truman State University — Neal in the philosophy and religion department, and Betsy in the English and linguistics department — found a new passion for the publishing business that continues to this day.
After being introduced to the publishing process, Neal realized he could begin publishing his own research. Because his area of emphasis is Southern Asian religions and uses languages not commonly printed in the United States, he had often struggled to find American publishers who would produce the original scripts alongside his translations. Neal’s studies have been the inspiration for the press’s title, as well as its offshoots.
“Golden Antelope” pays homage to Vivian’s hometown of Golden, Colorado, and is also a character in an Indian epic that represents art and creativity.
“It seemed appropriate,” Neal said.
While Neal wrote various works to publish, he said Betsy is at the heart of the creative press. She prefers editing and helping others reach their goals to writing stories or articles herself.
Neal and Besty decided to publish works relating to South Asia and Neal’s studies under the imprint Blazing Sapphire, a title also based on Indian texts, saving the Golden Antelope brand for creative works. A few years later, their business grew after they were asked to publish the work of their friend and colleague, Arnie Preussner, a committed Truman English professor who continued teaching while undergoing cancer treatment. Beginning with Preussner’s work on Shakespeare, the Delmonicos created the third branch of their publishing company, Naciketas, for nonfiction works unrelated to South Asia. Neal explained that Naciketas is a character from an Indian story who is known for asking questions to the point of frustrating those around him; he compared him to Socrates from Western culture.
Since branching out, Golden Antelope Press and its imprints have published the works of six different Truman professors. One-quarter of all works the Delmonicos have published have been authored by people with Truman connections. They have even published work by Kirksville native Ruth Ann Musick, a folklorist who went to Truman when it was Northeast Missouri State Teachers College. Current faculty members who have published with Golden Antelope Press include Bob Mielke and Monica Barron. Still, a large portion of Golden Antelope authors are retirees who have finally found time to write the book they have always wanted to write. One of these authors is Linda Seidel, a former Truman professor. Her new book, “The Belinda Chronicles,” began as a series of Facebook posts and reimagines Seidel’s personal journey entries as moments in the life of the fictional Belinda.
While Golden Antelope has published many authors in later stages of life, they have also published younger authors who eventually moved on to contracts with bigger publishers. Because of the business partner they use to actually print the books, Golden Antelope books can be purchased internationally, and while physical copies are printed on-demand, readers can also buy e-book versions.
The small press is growing in prominence; last year, it received over 300 submissions from around the world. However, Betsy and Neal both acknowledged that they are not able to offer writers some of the advertising and marketing opportunities available when working with bigger presses. Small presses like Golden Antelope do not have the budget to put on the kind of events and campaigns that are often necessary to make a book stand out among the 300,000 new books published each year in the U.S. alone.
Knowing that Truman’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing attracts many aspiring writers who will traverse the publishing journey, Betsy and Neal gave some advice. First, Betsy said to remember that self-publishing can be a real option.
“It’s losing some of the stigma,” she said.
Since the Delmonicos run Golden Antelope as a home business, they can only handle so many projects at one time. They said they often suggest the self-publishing route to authors who have polished manuscripts but cannot be accepted by Golden Antelope at the time of submission.
Betsy’s second piece of advice was for people going through the editing process.
“If an editor says, ‘Change this to this,’ some change needs to happen there, but probably not the specific ‘this to this,’” Betsy explained.
She added that editors are good at seeing where changes need to be made, but that it is often the writer’s job to know exactly how to fix the problem.
The Delmonicos still live and work in Kirksville, and the press opens for submissions periodically. More information can be found on the Golden Antelope website.