Whiting Residency 2012

Through the generous funding of the Mrs. Giles F. Whiting Foundation, five staff from AAUP member presses had the opportunity to visit and learn from others as part of the 2012 Whiting Residency program. The group of 2012 Whiting grantees represent a diversity of roles: editorial, production, business management, and IT.

The visit to Johns Hopkins University Press was especially timely for Suzanne Guiod, new Editor-in-Chief at Syracuse University Press, which recently merged with the university library and will shortly launch its first two open access journals. "My time with the staff of Project MUSE was therefore extremely helpful and enlightening," writes Guiod, "allowing me to ask questions of colleagues who are seasoned e-publishing professionals about management and dissemination ... and the electronic publishing landscape in general." This included discussing workflow, procedures, and best practices with the journals team; talking publishing with the library's scholarly communications staff; and also reviewing the basics of the editing process, from list building to peer review to editorial boards, and more.

Bill Bishel, Acquisitions Editor at the University of Texas Press, visited the University of Chicago Press to learn about their ebook program, both in publishing and marketing. While Texas is a smaller press than Chicago, Bishel reports that "what I learned was valuable and will have a direct impact on how we develop our own ebook program." Lessons included the need to incorporate several departments into the ebook process, with specialization aiding larger programs; the necessity for most presses to work with outside vendors for elements of the ebook process, like hosting and distributing; and dual messages from the editorial and design departments: that while the possibility of producing an ebook must be considered from a project's inception (editorial), complexity in a text cannot, on its own, be an excuse to produce one (design). And sage words from marketing as well: when you are marketing ebooks, you're also marketing your press as a whole. "As that market continues to grow," writes Bishel, "I believe we will be well positioned to pursue opportunities as they present themselves.

Production Editor Sue Mitchell made the journey from Alaska to Ohio to visit the production department of the Kent State University Press. Since Alaska's geography means that no one on staff has had the chance to work at other presses, the residency was a rare opportunity to confirm that everything is running well and up to speed. Of course, Mitchell was also able to contribute her own knowledge, reviewing a layout for Kent State and discussing Alaska's usual production process. Notable differences included turnaround time: Kent State's a more flexible year whereas Alaska's is a speedier six or seven months; varying levels of editorial board approval required for Kent State's projects (trade v. scholarly); and the student intern program at Kent State, a program Alaska may emulate soon. "I returned from my residency invigorated and with a list of ideas," reports Mitchell, "it was an opportunity I never would have had without Whiting."

Charlotte Wright, Managing Editor at the University of Iowa Press, spent three days at the University of Georgia Press. While there, Wright interviewed staff from each department, answering specific questions and also discussing generals and particulars of the press. Wright also had the opportunity to practice coding and cleanup on two manuscripts—one prose and one poetry.

Lisa Davis's visit to the University of Alabama Press gave her an opportunity to preview the Firebrand system they will be implementing soon to replace FileMaker Pro: "seeing the system and what it can do for us gets me excited ... this will save man hours that can be spent working on other things." The University of Tennessee Press Business Manager was also impressed by the system's additional workflow and reporting tools. She also had the chance to pick up tips on how to streamline the press's royalties process.

Regan Colestock
Communications Coordinator, AAUP