Our blog series on IUP retirees concludes today with a feature on sales manager Mary Beth Haas. Mary Beth and I have worked together in the same department for 11 years, and it will be very difficult to say goodbye. She has been a wonderful colleague and mentor, generously sharing her time and expertise with me. I admire how she handles every situation with style, grace, and humor (which you need a lot of in this business!). She's one of my favorite people in the world, and I'll miss her more that she'll ever know. We wish her the best of luck as she starts this new journey of her life in Colorado. I know one of the first things she'll do when she moves is find where all the Starbucks are, so I hope she thinks of us fondly as she's sipping her latte, enjoying the view of the mountains. :)
When did you start working for IUP?
I got a part-time position in 1978 and moved into a full-time job in 1980.
Tell us about your position(s) at the Press.
The part-time position was as an editorial assistant. I then became the first in-house sales representative in a newly created position two years later. I’ve worked in sales ever since as a sales rep, sales manager, and sales & marketing director. I ended up in the position I have now in 2003 when I came back to IU Press at the request of my friend and colleague, Marilyn Breiter, to help out in the sales department on a temporary basis after the previous sales manager, Pat Hoefling, had left. I committed to a six month time period and ended up being here for another 11 years.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
All the wonderful people I’ve met over the years. Colleagues at IUP and other publishing houses; bookstore owners and buyers; members of sales rep groups; book reviewers; and, of course, authors. Working in publishing is the most fantastic job I can think of, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to be a part of this business.
What has been the most important thing you’ve learned while working here?
Trust your instincts and push hard for what you believe is the right publishing plan for a book and its author.
What is your favorite memory of working here?
Working on a book we published in 1993—Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans, and the Secret Wars for Laos, 1942-1992 by Jane Hamilton-Merritt. It is a pathbreaking history of the Hmong and their abandonment by the US after the Vietnam War. I was very involved in the book’s publication and continued to work with the author over many years.
What piece of advice do you want to leave for everyone at IUP?
Keep in mind the past as you move into the future. Indiana University Press has had a stellar reputation and occupied a prestigious position among university presses. Remember the vision of Herman B Wells when he established the Press in 1950:
The Press will be an ultimate expression of the influence of the University in scientific and intellectual publishing. While thoroughly aware of its primary function—that of publishing the results of scholarly research—the Press will make every effort to balance its program with books in all fields of learning which will appeal to the intelligent general reader. The Press will endeavor to extend the University's teaching and research beyond the library, laboratory, and classroom, thus performing a function of a university peculiarly important in a democracy....While its interest will be wide, the Press is particularly concerned with the promotion of regional culture and literature in the Midwestern area.
What is the first thing you want to do as a retiree?
Read a book, preferably poolside or at the beach.