Last Thursday afternoon, Lucas Church and Andrew Winters, Editor and Acquisitions Assistant at UNC Press, respectively, were kind enough to join us for an introduction to careers in academic publishing. Since I know many folks weren’t able to make it because of teaching or seminar conflicts, I wanted to give a brief overview of the information we covered, as well as some resources as to how you can get more information.
First, Lucas and Andrew gave a brief overview of the various branches of academic publishing. Both Lucas and Andrew work in Acquisitions, which is the department responsible for identifying books the Press wants to publish and managing the review process. If you’re interested in turning your dissertation into a book manuscript, for example, this would be the department to which you submit your book proposal. Once a book has gone through the peer review process, it is then sent over to Manuscript/Editorial, which is responsible for copy editing the manuscripts and implementing house style. At UNC Press, trade books are copy edited in-house, and freelance copy editors are used for academic books. After the manuscript has been sent back to the author for approval, the book then moves into Production, which is the department that designs the interior of a book. After the page proofs have been returned to and approved by the author, the book can go to printing. At this point, the Marketing department’s process of identifying the appropriate audience and market for each book, reaching out to libraries, universities, bookstores, conferences, etc., is in full swing. Once the advance copies of the book have made their way back to the author, Publicity will begin organizing events at the aforementioned locations in order to increase awareness of the book and boost sales.
If you’re interested in getting into the field of academic publishing, here are some tips from Lucas and Andrew:
1) Do your best to sit down with someone in the field and have a chat or do an informational interview. Take advantage of the proximity of UNC Press and Duke Press! Lucas and Andrew, and most all of the folks at UNC Press, would be more than happy to talk with people.
2) Get some experience working in academic publishing! It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but any direct experience on your resume will help you in the interview process. You might get an internship at UNC or Duke Press. Shoot for a summer internship with financial support from the History Department or Grad School, or consider a volunteer basis for shorter periods. Duke Press also has periodic hourly employment opportunities for graduate students to get some hands-on experience, which I will endeavor to get more information about. Lucas suggested that experience working with Traces might also be a boon. If you have geographic flexibility for the summer, you might also consider apply to Yale Press’s paid summer internship program (applications due February 18, 2019).
3) Think about where you would want to work in a press. Lucas suggested that jobs in Acquisitions and Marketing are the ones with the most direct connection to the books’ content and material.
4) Peruse university press job postings on the Association of University Press’s (AUP) job website.
Finally, Andrew, who recently completed his MA in History at NCCU, underscored how transferrable historians’ skills are to a career in academic publishing. As an Acquisitions Assistant, Andrew is routinely called on to identify main arguments of book proposals, to synthesize the main intervention of a book already in the publication process for promotional material, to serve as a liaison between authors and editors, and to facilitate the review process, to name a few. Having interned at UNC Press myself, I can also attest to the breadth of editors’ knowledge about their respective lists. Their ability to see lacunae in an academic field and acquire the books that are going to make a significant intervention is what makes a good editor.
If you have any questions about this information session, or would be interested in me scheduling an additional info session for March, please let me know! If you’re interested in contacting Lucas Church, his email is email@example.com. His assistant, Andrew Winters, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.