2007 Whiting Week-in-Residence Program

Participants in this year's Whiting Week-in-Residence program often found themselves taking a "big picture" approach to professional development. The program, sponsored by the AAUP and the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, allows mid- and upper-level staff of member presses to spend one week observing another press's operations.

While the 2007 residents traveled to larger university presses seeking a greater understanding of marketing, rights management, acquisitions, and production, in many cases they were treated to a more complete picture of the publishing process—a view which might not be possible during the course of one's day-to-day responsibilities.

John P. Hussey, Sales Manager at University of Kentucky Press, visited Columbia University Press, where he worked with Marketing and Sales Director Brad Hebel. Hussey was interested in Columbia's practice of consulting the marketing department early in the acquisition process. He also took notes on Columbia's international sales initiatives and database structure, which led to ideas which he hopes can be implemented on a scale appropriate for Kentucky's operations. "I'm not embarrassed to say that we should think of Columbia as a fantastic model for us to follow and as an ultimate end goal," Hussey said. "Both in terms of productivity and inter-office relationships, Columbia exceeded any expectation I may have had."

University Press of Florida also had the chance to share its marketing expertise, as Sales and Marketing Director Dennis Lloyd played host to Iowa's Associate Marketing Manager, Allison Thomas. Thomas had the opportunity to sit in on marketing meetings, discuss business strategies, and speak with members of the design and production team to gain a greater understanding of the overall publishing process. "My main goal was to come away with a better understanding of the press as a whole entity and my role in it," she said, "and because I was able to talk to the managers of different departments and attend so many meetings, I took away a very solid look at the bigger picture." Thomas also enjoyed visiting her host press's warehouse. "This was especially interesting because I haven't been to our warehouse, the Chicago Distribution Center, yet," she said.

Susan Petrie, Publicist for SUNY Press, visited University of Minnesota Press to learn more about "how a well-established publicity program functions." Heather Skinner, Minnesota's publicist, provided Petrie with examples of promotional materials and marketing plans that may be employed for various campaigns. Petrie also paid a brief visit to the Minnesota Historical Society Press, where she gained further advice on publicity strategies. "This week in residency came at a very valuable time for both me and for SUNY Press as we prepare to transition to a new director," Petrie said. "I made an in-house presentation already to staff here, and there is a lot of enthusiasm to hone and improve our current systems."

Alan G. Thomas, Editorial Director (Humanities and Sciences), and Gretchen Linder, Foreign Rights Manager, at University of Chicago Press hosted University of British Columbia Press's Darcy Cullen. Cullen, an editor at UBC, reports that she was sent materials in advance of her residency, which "were not only informative but also served to make me feel welcome." Though she was able to observe many aspects of the editorial acquisition process, Cullen was most intrigued by the thinking that goes into acquiring foreign-language books for translation. Related to this, Cullen also gained a more informed perspective on rights and permissions, including those related to translated works, collections, and monographs.

A focus on rights management also benefited Mollika Basu, former Acquisitions/Permissions Assistant at Wayne State University Press. Basu traveled to Temple University Press, where she shadowed Rights and Contracts Manager Matt Kull. Kull showed Basu Temple's process for organizing and tracking rights and permissions, as well as the intense preparation necessary for a successful appearance at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Basu also learned about the costs and benefits of various e-publishing initiatives, and was able to meet with other members of the press to discuss overall workflow, database, and marketing issues.

Making the most of her week-in-residence, University of Washington Press's Ashley Saleeba witnessed the inner workings of two university presses, a book packager, a compositor, and a letterpress printing and design shop. Co-hosted by Deb Wong at Duke University Press and Rich Hendel of University of North Carolina Press, Saleeba, Washington's Senior Designer, spent two days at each university press while also making time to visit BW&A Books, Tseng Information Systems, and Horse and Buggy Press, all conveniently located in the Chapel Hill/Durham area. "My plan was to interview as many people as possible whose responsibilities mirrored or intersected my own," Saleeba said. She was interested to see that Duke's editorial and production teams were part of the same department, while the organization at UNC more closely mirrored her home press, with Production and Design separated into its own department. The two host presses, however, did show similarities that may inform the future of University of Washington Press. "I was surprised to learn that UNC, like Duke, reviews only one round of interior proofs," Saleeba said. "Because both Duke and UNC are confident in this workflow, we are now considering eliminating first text proofs from our workflow, particularly for monographs. A change of this magnitude could mean a significant savings in time and shipping costs."

The Week-in-Residence program is one of AAUP's most successful professional development initiatives. Sharing knowledge between member presses has provided for new perspectives on how to best achieve the goals of small and larger scholarly publishers, and observing colleagues in action proves an exceptional experience for the program's residents. Applications for the 2008 Whiting Week-in-Residence program will be available at online in March.

Shaun Manning
Communications Coordinator, AAUP