Tips for Publishers from AUPresses 2021: Forging on and Widening our Audience

by Laura


Taking place virtually June 7-14, 2021, another AUPresses Annual Meeting is in the books. As we settle back into our daily routines, it is important that we keep the discussions going. With the conference still fresh in our minds, now is the time to keep the conversations going so we can continue to forge on, building a stronger publishing platform and widening our audience.

To help keep the knowledge share flowing, below are a few quotes from the sessions I attended and my complete notes are also available for download as a PDF. Whether you are a University Press publisher or not, these notes include tips, tricks, and insights that you might find helpful as you navigate the publishing world.

Download Session Notes

Views Your Own: Navigating Twitter Landmines in 2020 and Beyond

  • Social media managers cannot operate in a silo. It’s important to navigate social media landmines as a team.
  • Consider your authors, editors, reviewers, parent institution, board of directors, leadership, internal staff, and readers. Each group may have a different perspective and opinion on the matter that you need to consider because once you post on social media, all these groups can see it.
  • Sometimes the best response is to not respond.

Stepping Up to Support Racial Justice Movements

  • When attempting to speak for a voice that is not your own, take what the author has written. Monitor them on social media and amplify or retweet what they are saying without rewriting what has been rewritten.
  • Check in with your authors and, in addition to seeking approval to use their content for your list/collection/book, get their feedback and opinion on what you are doing.

Small Presses and Big Campuses: Developing Strategies for Campus and Community

  • Build relevant and value-added relationships with the administrators, authors, funders, and researchers to ensure that your Press answers the needs of the community and society it serves.
  • Stay in touch with former editorial board members and backlist authors as they are supporters of your Press. Keep them on your mailing lists and invite them to events.
  • Make sure you are connected to as many people on campus as possible.

Imagining Our Way to a More Equitable Literature

  • This is the moment that we not only have to think about what we are publishing, but we have to reimagine our institutions to allow us to sell and share books with a larger readership.
  • Where we fail the most is not in who we hire or what we publish, but in thinking “that what was, will be;” thinking that things must always look backward to where we come from.
  • Now is the moment where we understand the value of the content, but the innovation is going to come in the selling of the book; figuring out how we want to get the book in readers hands.

Making Content Accessible

  • When materials are not accessible for students there are many processes and hoops they have to jump through to get accessible materials, and it takes time. Because of this, students may not receive access to accessible material until long after they need it.
  • We need to work to create an experience that is similar, if not identical, for disabled students, employees, and visitors.
  • When writing alt text, pretend you are describing the image to someone over the phone. It gets you in the habit of visually describing an image.

Library Budgets: What Does the Library Market Look Like in the COVID Era?

  • People that were hesitant or against digital before COVID have learned to like it. The acceleration of eBook adoption is not going to go away. Librarians need to see both print and eBooks available at the point of release.
  • Libraries are putting accessibility as a priority over open access. You can’t have an accessible PDF, so it has to be ePub to begin with. Formats are mattering more these days.
  • The collective collection is going to be the key to the future.

The Independent Bookstore as a Cultural Partner

  • The independent bookstore has become a hub for serious non-fiction; it is a place that can now identify itself more as a part of the community because of these serious works.
  • There is so much cross-pollination now it is hard to categorize a reader. It is almost impossible to make presumptions about readers, they will delight and surprise you all the time.
  • For a bookstore, carrying University Press and small indie press titles is a way to distinguish itself from the big trade retailers and it is a selling point.

Open Access for Books and Journals

  • OA initiatives are a way for presses to show that they are interested in serving their community and that when their costs are covered, they can reach new audiences in ways they couldn’t before.
  • OA has breathed new life into backlist titles and has generated print sales that might not have been seen otherwise.

Download Session Notes

Download your copy of my complete 2021 AUPresses Annual Meeting session notes today!