Tag Archives: academic publishing

From the Desk of Larin McLaughlin: The Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship Program

In this guest post, UW Press editor in chief and Principal Investigator Larin McLaughlin writes about how the Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship Program (application deadline: March 15, 2016) came to be:

In the past six months, two children’s books have incited controversy with their rosy depictions of enslaved African Americans making desserts for their owners. On the heels of the well-tweeted #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, which brought national attention to the lack of diversity in children’s book publishing, objections to the books flew across social media platforms. On my own Facebook feed, scholar and cultural critic Rebecca Wanzo nailed a key question that pervades these controversies: “who was in the room?” Publishing houses produce all-too-frequent situations where critical decisions are made without the benefit of diverse perspectives, and who is in the room certainly matters.

In the case of A Birthday Cake for George Washington, author Ramin Ganeshram describes how her concerns about racial representation went unheeded in the collaboration between author, illustrator, and publisher. Overall, those best positioned to bring critical and diverse perspectives to publishing decisions are still significantly underrepresented in the industry: recent surveys such as the 2015 Publishers Weekly Salary Survey and the Diversity Baseline Survey demonstrate important differences in demographics between publishing professionals in the U.S. and the U.S. population more generally. Continue reading

$682,000 Mellon grant to help academic publishers increase workforce diversity

SEATTLE, WA—A four-year, $682,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded to the University of Washington will help four university presses and the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) create a pipeline program to diversify academic publishing by offering apprenticeships in acquisitions departments.

The collaborative project involves the University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, Duke University Press, the University of Georgia Press, and the AAUP. The University Press Diversity Fellowship Program will create cohorts of four fellows per year for three years. The program will recruit fellows who have significant personal experience and engagement with diverse communities and a demonstrated ability to bring the understandings gleaned from such engagement to the daily work of academic publishing.

“The University Press Diversity Fellowship Program builds on the University of Washington’s longstanding commitment to inclusion and social justice,” said Gerald Baldasty, UW interim provost and executive vice president. “The program aligns with UW president Ana Mari Cauce’s mission to support and sustain diversity at the university and the communities it serves through her Race and Equity Initiative.”

Fellows will have the opportunity to connect with one another and engage with industry colleagues at two AAUP annual meetings. “AAUP congratulates the University of Washington Press, along with the other AAUP member presses participating in the Diversity Fellowship Program,” said Peter Berkery, AAUP executive director. “Because diversity is a core AAUP value, we are eager to welcome Diversity Fellows to our future annual meetings. I know other member presses will be interested in this program, and I look forward to helping our community build on its success.”

The University Press Diversity Fellowship Program is the first cross-press initiative of its kind in the United States to address the marked lack of diversity that characterizes the publishing industry. Although university presses have long fostered and supported diversity-related fields such as Native and Indigenous studies; African American studies; women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; and Asian American studies, the fellowship program represents a significant investment in creating career development opportunities and a supportive environment for diversity publishing.

Principal investigator and UW Press editor in chief Larin McLaughlin said, “From editorial strategy and list development priorities to growing revenue from emerging markets to the finer points of culturally sensitive copyediting and cover design, enhancing diversity within the workforce of university press publishing has the potential to improve the relevance and efficacy of publishers for an increasingly diverse audience of scholars, students, authors, and readers.”

Another desired outcome of the fellowship program is to develop best-practice strategies and tactics for fostering diversity at all levels of the profession. Further, this collaboration will focus attention on the centrality of diversity in all its forms to the future of global academic discourse and, it is hoped, will inspire related efforts to prioritize diversity more broadly in the publishing industry.

“One of the prime joys of our job as editors in the university press world is that we publish books that truly make a difference to academic and broader communities,” said Mick Gusinde-Duffy, editor in chief of the University of Georgia Press. “We’re taking positive steps toward a more diverse cohort of publishing professionals that takes transformative publishing to a whole new level.”

Gita Manaktala, editorial director of the MIT Press, commented, “We expect to learn a lot from our three fellows and hope that each will find lasting and rewarding opportunities in university press publishing. If so, the major beneficiary of this program will be the university press community itself, along with the wider communities of scholars, students, and general readers we serve.”

The program will offer each fellow opportunities for one-on-one mentoring as well as monthly cross-press video conferences led by staff at partner presses, covering a range of topics designed to supplement the hands-on training.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this much-needed diversity fellowship program,” said Courtney Berger, senior editor and editorial department manager of Duke University Press. “This fellowship will help Duke University Press to foster a more diverse staff that better reflects the wide-ranging perspectives and backgrounds that inform the Press’s publications, our authors, and our readership.”

Outreach and recruitment by the program’s selection committee will begin this month, with the first cohort of Diversity Fellows starting their apprenticeships in June 2016.

“The University of Washington is extremely proud that our press is leading this transformative initiative,” said David L. Eaton, dean of the UW graduate school. “And we are truly grateful for Mellon’s vital partnership and support.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

Larin McLaughlin, Editor in Chief of University of Washington Press, at 206-221-4995 or lmclaugh [at] uw.edu.

Gita Manaktala, Editorial Director of The MIT Press, at manak [at] mit.edu.

Courtney Berger, Senior Editor & Editorial Department Manager of Duke University Press, at cberger [at] dukeupress.edu.

Mick Gusinde-Duffy, Assistant Director for Acquisitions and Editor-in-Chief of The University of Georgia Press, at mickg [at] uga.edu.

People of the Press: Lorri Hagman

Lorri Hagman, executive editor, acquisitions

Long before books become books at the Press, they have to be found.

That’s where Lorri Hagman comes in.

Much of her job involves patiently hunting for authors and their research, reading their manuscripts, going to conferences and generally keeping the academic pulse of fields as wide-ranging as history, art, anthropology, and literature.

As an acquiring editor, careful cultivation of relationships with both up-and-coming and established scholars pays off in the development of innovative, boundary-pushing book projects that are sometimes “way out in the future,” she says. She also works with authors who are in the midst of preparing manuscripts for submission to the Press, guiding them through the rigorous academic-review process, and helping them implement preliminary edits and other changes.

But with her future-focused mission, she faces an old tension found at all academic presses: finding books that will sell while also developing the best academic books on any given topic.

Hagman is no stranger to this challenge.

As a graduate student in the Institute for Comparative and Foreign Area Studies program, which would evolve into the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, and the Asian Languages and Literature Department, Hagman was studying traditional Chinese fiction when she got her first start in the field of academic publishing.

It was 1977, and she was also a student assistant at the Press. Soon, she was offered a position as a promotion assistant. Through the 1980s and early 1990s, Hagman worked for the marketing team part-time as the Press’ publicity manager. In 1994, she moved to the editorial side of the house.

“I had always been more interested in the editorial side, and while I was working half-time . . . had started doing freelance editing for other presses,” she says. These included Princeton University Press, the Princeton Art Museum, The Feminist Press, Oklahoma University Press, and the University of Idaho Press. She specialized in books on China. These required familiarity with Chinese, still a rare skill among U.S. book publishers and their editors.

When her children were young, working at the Press part-time and freelance editing helped her master copy editing and make some supplementary income, honing her skills in the process.

“This was in the days of green-pencil-on-paper copyediting,” she says. “I also did a few indexes on file cards in shoe boxes—Word hadn’t been invented yet—to see how it was done.”

In the 1980s, the Press didn’t have much turnover in its editorial staff—editors tended to stay on for long careers. But the Press’ director at the time, Don Ellegood, and Pat Soden, the marketing manager, thought Hagman would be a great fit for the editorial department. Hagman “was happy to migrate,” she says, and eventually increased to a full-time position.

Along the way, she’s seen the Press go through several major changes in location and personnel, as well as an increasingly trade-driven, profit-based model. With new pressures and competition, however, the role of an acquiring editor for an academic press remains pivotal, she says.

In “Monographs Adrift,” a 2010 essay reflecting on the changing academic-book marketplace, Hagman articulated some of the challenges involved in that delicate balancing act:

If monograph publication is to survive, academic tenure and promotion practices must be realigned with real-world business models, recognizing that publication isn’t free, or an end in itself. The academy—meaning academic authors themselves, along with department chairs, deans, and administrators who set policy—must either align publication practices with the marketplace or devise methods of routinely subsidizing publication in the way that other educational processes are supported. Publication should be reserved for content and formats that require distribution beyond a small circle of experts.

Ultimately, she says, “the long-range idea is that good books will bring in more good books.” Among these “good books” that she’s been most proud of recently are:

Claudia Brown’s Great Qing: Painting in China, 1644-1911, which is, she says, “the first comprehensive treatment of painting in China’s last dynasty.”

Michael Nylan and Griet Vankeerberghen’s Chang’an 26 BCE: An Augustan Age in China. Nylan and Vankeerberghen are the editors of the “first book-length study in a Western language of the ancient city of Chang’an, the capital of the Western Han dynasty (206 BCE-9 CE), which equaled Rome and Alexandria in achievements and influence.”

These are major contributions to China studies, she says.

But long before they went through the other parts of the Press, they were cultivated by her and the other acquisition editors. She reads them in hard copy or on her iPad, on the bus or plane, the latter on the way to conferences as part of her search for new authors. Hagman and her colleagues in the acquisitions department are, in many ways, the eyes and ears of the Press, thinking about what and who it’ll publish next.

Ultimately, she says, “my favorite parts of the job are reading the manuscripts and working with authors.”