Newcomers’ Guide to the AUPresses Annual Meeting

Strategize for Success

Welcome to the vibrant platform of the AUPresses annual meeting! You will be exposed to a multitude of panels, plenaries, workshops, and collaboration sessions to help you understand more about what is at stake in the university press community. Because there is more offered than any one person can take in on their own, here are some strategies to maximize your meeting impact before, during, and after the annual meeting.

Before the Meeting

Congratulations on being tapped to attend the meeting. An internal discussion between you and your director or supervisor before you register is crucial to understanding what they expect you to focus on during the meeting and what opportunities they particularly want you to avail yourself of. Don't worry if you registered early, or if someone else registered for you—you will have received a confirmation email with a link and registration code. This allows you to review and update your registration options, including what will be displayed on your badge.

As early as possible, make a tentative schedule of the sessions you plan to attend. Try to include at least one or two sessions that address issues other than those in your home department or particular position. Try to think about larger issues and trends across the UP community. The more exposure to other parts of the publishing process you have, the more informed your work and contributions will be. If others on your staff will be attending the meeting, share your tentative schedule and make sure there is not too much overlap, so that you have the benefit of the most sessions and most information you can bring home as a unit.

For additional tips, check out this post from Scholarly Kitchen on preparing for conferences.

During the Meeting

As seasoned travelers and networkers, these few suggestions may seem completely obvious. Bring professional attire for all meeting events, and casual clothes (especially if you intend to do the early-morning run on Wednesday!) for any sightseeing or down time activities you have planned. Bring at least fifty business cards to hand out as you meet new people. A great trick is to use the lanyard with your badge as a storage spot for business cards. This way, when you meet someone, there is no fumbling in a purse or briefcase. You quickly have a card extended, and you can keep all the cards you collect in there as well for easy reference when you get home. Just make sure you are always extending your OWN card.

To get a sense of the diversity of our constituency as well as our similarities, make sure to attend all the open receptions, plenaries, and group meals to benefit from those top-level presentations about the industry at large. It is not uncommon to feel intimidated by a crowd, but University Press professionals are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet! A great tip is to avoid only interacting with people you already know or people from your own press. Breakfast can be a great time to sit at table where you don’t know anyone and introduce yourself.

The AUPresses community has a vibrant social media presence. The conference hashtag is #AUPresses19, and following the feeds in live time allow you to participate in or survey other panels than the one you are attending. Tweets function much like notes, so that you can go back and review what struck you as poignant during presentations. A helpful guide to Twitter strategies is available via the Chronicle of Higher Education

Mentoring Program

The Meeting Mentorship Program is now in its sixth year. Supported by the Professional Development Committee, this program matches volunteers who wish to be mentored with a mentor prior to the meeting. This will allow newcomers to have an inside guide to the workings of the event. Mentors will: 1) be in touch before the meeting to discuss the mentee’s career goals and meeting goals, and set up a time to talk in person early in the event; 2) help attendees navigate the conference program and make suggestions about important panels for their particular career goals; 3) use the scheduled events for newcomers as opportunities to check in with their mentees and introduce them to additional colleagues, as well as give feedback about the larger mentorship program’s launch and future stewardship; and 4) as appropriate and desired by both parties, be in touch with mentees post-meeting to assess their experience and discuss how to maintain momentum in achieving their goals.

Even if you haven’t enrolled in the mentorship program, there are resources, like the Networking Lounge, that you can take advantage of during the meeting.

Additional Meeting Resources

Networking Lounge
Throughout the entirety of the meeting, there will be a Networking Lounge sponsored by Jack Farrell & Associates. The lounge will be located in the Monet Room on Level 4 where you can find coffee and snacks, and a place to recharge. It will be open June 11, 12, and 13. Stop in between panels to check in with each other and see how things are going.

Speed Networking
Tuesday, June 11 4:00-5:00 PM 
Participate and learn a few new things about your fellow attendees!

Newcomers’ Reception
Tuesday, June 11, 5:00–6:00 PM 
All new visitors to the meeting should try to attend this reception as it is hosted specifically for you! This year, we will use the Newcomers’ Reception to introduce mentors and mentees if they haven’t yet found each other during the pre-meeting period. Representatives from the AUPresses Professional Development Committee will also be on hand to greet.

Thursday, June 13 12:00–1:30 PM
Tables will be reserved so that mentors, mentees, and other participants in the Meeting Mentorship Program can connect with each other.

Sessions of Interest for Professional Development

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 1:45-3:00 PM
Making the Invisible Visible: Creating New Career Paths for Experienced People of Color
Chair: Stephanie Williams, Director, Ohio University Press
Panelists: Gisela Concepción Fosado, Editor, Duke University Press; Parneshia Jones, Sales and Community Outreach Manager and Poetry Editor, Northwestern University Press; Lanell White, Sales and Marketing Director, University of Michigan Press

The well-publicized push for greater inclusivity in U.S. publishing personnel focuses largely on the entry level. While there are several laudable projects designed to minimize the economic and social disparity between people who do and do not enter publishing through apprenticeship, there are no similar projects organized to support professionals in and into management and executive positions. How do experienced people of color engage academic publishing organizations and be “seen” by them as viable candidates for managerial positions that contribute to today’s scholarship? How do people of color calibrate their skills and experience to obtain the next higher job? This session reports on what has worked for some, and points to what might work for others, and discusses pain points on the way up.

Wednesday, June 12 3:30-4:45 PM
Cross-Departmental and Cross-Functional Teams: Rethinking Traditional Roles and Hierarchies to Meet the Needs of Today’s Publishers
Co-Chairs: Heather Staines, Head of Partnerships, MIT Knowledge Futures Group; Chris Lapinksi, Design Coordinator, Princeton University Press
Panelists: Jillian Downey, Director of Publishing Production, University of Michigan Publishing; Terry Ehling, Director for Strategic Initiatives, The MIT Press; Wanda Espana, Advertising and Marketing Art Director, Princeton University Press; John McLeod, Director of the Office of Scholarly Publishing Service, University of North Carolina Press

As academic publishers take on increasingly ambitious projects, they face new challenges that are best handled across departments. These projects redefine traditional job titles, shift promotional paths, and enable exciting interdepartmental dynamics. Cross-functional teams are leading the way in this new era of workflow experimentation and creative collaboration, spanning books, journals, advertising, and beyond. Examples of this new synergy are emerging across the industry. The Creative Media Lab at Princeton University Press, for one, mobilizes talent from its advertising and design departments to create innovative new products, such as animation, book trailers, merchandise, and brand identifiers. When University of Michigan Publishing sought to ensure accessibility to its ebooks on their new Fulcrum platform, they expanded each of their department’s workflow expectations. Likewise, the University of North Carolina Press added a publishing services division by navigating existing departmental strengths while developing new areas of skill. When MIT Press committed to developing its own institutional ebook product and servicing smaller publishers via the PubPub platform, they too learned to harness their interdepartmental expertise. In addition to addressing the strategic advantages of cross-functional collaboration, this panel will also explore its intangible benefits, not least of which are personal and professional development, new perspectives, and unconventional thinking.

Thursday, June 13 9:00-10:15 AM
The Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship Program: Perspectives from the Third Year
Chair: Larin McLaughlin, Editor-in-Chief, University of Washington Press
Panelists: Lea Johnson, Assistant Editor, Getty Research Institute; Caitlin Tyler-Richards, Mellon University Press Diversity Fellow, University of Washington Press; Jenny Tan, Editorial Assistant, Princeton University Press; Nhora Lucia Serrano, Associate Director for Digital Learning & Research, Hamilton College

To close out the third year—and first phase—of the Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship, the 2018-2019 Fellows will discuss their experiences in the acquisitions departments of the University of Washington Press, Duke University Press, MIT Press, and the University of Georgia Press. The panel will cover a range of topics, from reflections on developing acquisition skills and early career building strategies, to thoughts about onboarding and better supporting marginalized staff. The session will also address the expansion of the fellowship program, and broader efforts to promote equity, justice and inclusion in the scholarly publishing industry.

Thursday, June 13 9:00-10:15 AM
Managing Multiple Job Titles
Chair: Elisabeth Maselli, Assistant Editor, Assistant to the Director, Rights and Permissions Manager, Rutgers University Press
Panelists: Allison Means, Marketing Director, University of Iowa Press; Liz Hamilton, Copyright Librarian, Northwestern University Libraries and Northwestern University Press; Carrie Hudak, Senior Production Editor/Paperbacks Manager, Princeton University Press

Do your colleagues introduce you as a ‘jack of all trades,’ or as ‘someone who wears many hats’? Are you a department of one? Does your business card have three different title lines? Many University Press publishers, from entry level to senior management, and from small to large presses, work in more than one capacity, a necessity in non-profit environments. Managing multiple titles is exciting, but it requires high attention to detail, creativity, an ability to prioritize, and awareness of and ability to use the resources around you. These are all skills that can be strengthened by sharing. To that goal, this panel discussion will allow participants to share tips and tricks for organizing and conquering competing workflows.

Thursday, June 13 2019 10:45-12:00 PM
Collaboration Lab: Professional Development/Transferable Skills
Chair: John Warren, Associate Professor and Director of the Masters of Professional Studies, George Washington University
Panelists: Adam Fuller, Senior Programmer Analyst, Johns Hopkins University Press; Gita Manaktala, Editorial Director, The MIT Press; Puja Telikicherla, Digital Publishing and Rights Manager, Georgetown University Press; Katelyn Leboff, Production Coordinator, Cornell University Press and Teaching Assistant, MPS in Publishing Program, George Washington University; Christian Pizarro Winting, Assistant Editor, Columbia University Press

This collaboration lab provides discussion, strategies to employ, and possible answers to the following questions: What are the key skills needed for successful careers in academic publishing in the next ten years? Has publishing shifted from a ‘trade’—apprenticeship, learned mostly on the job—to a ‘profession’—learning and applying a body of relevant skills and best-practices? What is the value of a masters in publishing, an MBA, or other graduate degree? How can diverse voices and perspectives best be integrated seamlessly into the fabric of academic publishing and what can individuals in the profession do to welcome these new voices? We will engage participants in some of these questions in an interactive format, and will actively seek input and comments from participants.

After the Meeting

Many presses find it useful for the participants to coauthor a document about what they learned, experienced, and were surprised by at the meeting. This can be an informal, blow-by-blow of session and plenary presentations. Whatever you decide to do, reporting back to your peers about the annual meeting is a great way to encourage year-long participation, collaboration, and organizational commitment.

Be sure to send thank you emails and emails of future goodwill to new folks that you met at the meeting. Mentors are not required but are encouraged to keep dialogue open after the meeting, if both participants find this useful.

And finally, set goals for how you can keep abreast of the AUPresses initiatives, committees, and networks. Would you like to serve on a committee? Would a travel grant be an opportunity to gain exposure to another press’s way of handling your job responsibilities? Have you joined the AUPresses Early Career Listserv for discussion and job notifications? What is your home institution doing to address concerns in the world of scholarly communication and publishing? All of these questions will help determine how you can best serve and be served by the AUPresses community, not just at annual meeting time, but throughout a fulfilling and challenging career.

Enjoy Detroit!

Originally drafted by Gianna Mosser
Director, Vanderbilt University Press
Former Chair, Professional Development Committee