Observations from Next Step Grant Recipients
The Association of University Presses was pleased to award a number of grants to support attendance at its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, this summer. Generously funded by Ingram Content Group and covering full meeting registration fees, Next Step Grants were awarded to four mid-career individuals attending their first in-person Annual Meeting.
Grant recipients Laura Ansley, Daniel Bean, Traci Cothran, and Holly Mitchell offered the following brief descriptions of their experiences.
Laura Ansley, Managing Editor, American Historical Association
The 2022 AUPresses Annual Meeting was my first opportunity to attend a publishing conference at all, not just an AUPresses event. As an employee of a very small press, and as someone who works in association publishing, I found the meeting to be incredibly helpful and rewarding.
I greatly appreciated the many opportunities the conference provided specifically for small presses. I enjoyed the opportunity to network with other small press employees at the small presses breakfast, and the Collaboration Lab for small presses to discuss open access monographs was very helpful in thinking about the challenges and limitations small presses face in approaching open access conversations.
By far the session I found most interesting was “We Published That? Confronting Racism and White Supremacy in Deep Backlist Books.” The American Historical Association (AHA) is currently undertaking a project called “Racist Histories and the AHA,” which is researching the AHA’s role in the dissemination and legitimation of racist scholarship, including in our publications, since our founding in 1884. I especially appreciated how the panelists presented specific examples of how their presses have wrestled with racist scholarship, including individual books, ongoing series, and the digitization of older titles. This conversation has influenced my own thinking about the AHA’s responsibility to readers, our members, and the broader historical community.
I also must praise the “Taking the Next Steps to Create Accessible Content” session, which itself was incredibly accessible. Too often I have attended learning opportunities on accessibility that assume the audience knows a lot about the topic. This session was understandable and useful to everyone from novices to experts.
Finally, I enjoyed networking opportunities throughout the conference. From the early- and mid-career meetups to the small presses breakfast, I made wonderful connections with others working in similar career stages and roles. I hope to sustain these connections and to encounter some of these folks at future AUPresses events.
Daniel Bean, Head of Marketing-Online Education, Cambridge University Press
It was fascinating to attend the “Year in Marketing Innovation” Collaboration Lab with such a wide range of topics covered; it speaks to the welcoming and inclusive nature of this industry that so many university press marketing teams were happy to share their successes and tips with “rival” publishing houses. Also, the opening reception at the Library of Congress was a real “memory for life” moment for me, particularly as someone who has lived in the US for only a few years.
Traci Cothran, Sales and Marketing Manager, Wayne State University Press
I had a wonderful time at my first AUPresses meeting! After many years in trade publishing, I’m now at a university press, so establishing contacts in this part of the publishing world is vital, and the best place to do that is at an in-person conference. This one was delightful. The opening reception at the Library of Congress was definitely a highlight (the place itself, the hors d’oeuvres, the people!). I met a number of wonderful people from across the country at this event, and that friendliness continued throughout the conference. Of particular interest to me was the “A Year in Marketing Innovation” Collaboration Lab where marketing managers shared their successful campaigns. I loved this and learned a lot! I also really enjoyed the organized run on Sunday morning—what a different way to meet people, and without masks! Finally, the informal chats were great, too—I randomly picked a seat at a lunch table with Syracuse University Press staff, and since I grew up in that area, it was especially fun to meet this group.
Thanks again to the Association and to Ingram who provided my grant. Because my registration fee was covered, Wayne State University Press was able to send another staffer who is also new to academic press life!
Holly Mitchell, Project Editor, Oxford University Press
I found the spirit of the AUPresses Annual Meeting in DC to be highly collaborative. I joined the conference as an individual rather than as part of a cohort from my press, and my focus was on reaching out to a few contacts and many new people from other presses. The varied agenda made networking feel natural, as conversations were not attached to an ask or limited to coffee breaks, but revolved around sharing the same space, whether at the Library of Congress reception or the hotel convention center itself.
I found the panels educational; each laid out a blueprint of publishing practices across different business areas, scales, and specialties. I attended four panels—“We Published That?,” “Equity in Peer Review,” “Taking the Next Steps to Create Accessible Content,” and “Metadata Madness”—as well as a couple of dedicated networking sessions. Each was relevant to some aspect of my current role and to the direction in which I would like to grow professionally. Altogether, these experiences have helped me to understand more of the landscape of publishing and to ask better questions of my press.