We are pleased to have Mandy Clarke participate in a Q&A with us about her experience at the 2012 Association of American University Presses (AAUP) conference. She and Raina Polivka were recipients of professional development grants from the Pat Hoefling Memorial Fund.
What was the highlight of AAUP for you?
The highlight of the meeting for me was speaking on the regional publishing workshop panel. With a fixed number of attendees, the small space allowed for discussion and analysis that was not possible in the larger, shorter sessions. I spoke on the Building a Big Book portion of this panel, giving a presentation specifically about the quick turnaround to publish This Is INDIANA (within two weeks of the end of March Madness) and the challenges and opportunities this presented. There were many talented and knowledgeable panelists in this session, which was best summarized by Steve Yates of the University Press of Mississippi. “All happy, successful publishers are different; all unhappy, failing publishers are exactly alike. It’s time to stop trying to be some other press whose big books you admire. It’s time to become the focused, niche publishers whose breakout ‘big books’ arise organically from an already perceived and readily engaged market, and are scaled from the beginning to succeed within your publishing program, not someone else’s. Your big book only needs to be ‘big’ to you and in some ways to the author to succeed.” Very perceptive advice.
What are some of the most valuable things you learned at AAUP? What new ideas from AAUP will you incorporate into your job?
The workshop I attended on electronic marketing was remarkable. We will begin implementing a lot of the suggestions given in our next catalog, particularly regarding book trailers which the involved presses are managing to do on a zero budget by means of author resources. Trailers are created 4-5 months pre-publication, when acquisitions editors encourage authors to contact their universities, student interns, qualified friends, etc. to create trailers free of charge, and then brand the trailers with a before and after clip. The book trailers are then used on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as with QR codes in advertisements and in catalogs. They can also be employed by sales reps and bookstores hosting events. As a result of these ideas, IU Press now has a trailer for B.J. Hollars’s Sightings (spring 2013) and we are looking forward to the outcome. Another idea from the University of Georgia Press is to send its electronic marketing manager to conferences to interview and shoot footage of authors. This is the perfect opportunity to promote new series as a whole (in our case, the Break Away Books series would be first in line). It’s also an easy way to work with multiple authors in the same field at once, branding the series, and becoming a tool for both acquisitions and marketing purposes.
For those who haven't been to an AAUP meeting, give some reasons why you should go.
The most important reason to attend AAUP is pretty clear-cut in my opinion—the connections and the camaraderie. Attendees are a group of intelligent and confident individuals, more than willing and excited to share contacts and resources, particularly in the field of publicity.