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Writing today, visiting tomorrow

September 2nd, 2010

Today is Thursday, September 2, and faculty may write with me at the Mortara Center from 9:30-11:30. Please send a note to me for details about location and protocol (pretty simple, actually).

Also, tomorrow a small group of faculty will join me for booth visits at the American Political Science Association conference at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel in DC.  I met with a Yale editor yesterday pre-conference, and Friday I have meetings planned with MIT, Harvard, Chicago and Duke.  Our team will meet for coffee and strategy at 10 a.m. followed by two hours on the exhibit floor… they are welcomed to shadow me to the two morning meetings, or go off on their own.  Lunch is next where we’ll compare notes and plan the afternoon (some faculty may leave, others may arrive).

Here are several reasons why it makes sense to visit university press aisles of a major conference in your city even if it’s outside of your field:

  • For the price of a $10 exhibits pass you can visit all of the major university presses in one day, getting a feel for the respective cultures, publishing priorities, and even in a very tangible sense budget.
  • Editors are usually friendly and interested in meeting you at conferences, whereas they may be quite busy if you approach them during normal business hours.
  • Although key editors usually have meetings scheduled for most of the conference (and if you have a book to pitch I urge you to make appointments much earlier), some find themselves with quite a bit of downtime, and most are willing to discuss the books they love if you show genuine interest in the product and the process.
  • Your field doesn’t matter since the booth is usually similar at various conferences.  Books will change of course, but so much of a university press’s identity is still out and visible, there for you to learn about.
  • It’s a great way to snag a range of catalogs to scrutinize to understand even more about how a press offers its wares, what makes it different from its colleagues and competitors, and how it balances its priorities.

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