View from the Exhibit Hall: A Publisher’s Guide to Dos and Don’ts at the AHA Annual Meeting
By Amy Lee
“Visit our booth!” You’ll find this exhortation in the very many ads in the back of your AHA annual meeting program. But really, visit our booth.
I don’t mean just the Cambridge booth, but all of the booths in the hall. Most are publishers, and of the more than 50 houses exhibiting at the annual meeting in 2016, over 30 are university presses. Which to choose? Publishing comes in all flavors—some publishing programs overlap; some excel in certain areas; and some are more inclined to take one disciplinary perspective than another. But we are all good!
A lot of preparation and expense goes into exhibitor attendance, and that’s because the value of the annual meeting for a publisher is manifold. The conference is of course important for us in terms of commissioning—ensuring that we continue publishing history titles that are relevant to the discipline today, include the most up-to-date research that is useful in the classroom and the library. It is our standout history meeting of the year, and several editors—who are often busy with back-to-back appointments—attend.
Due to its size and scope, the annual meeting is also where we have the opportunity to show the breadth of our history program which ranges from medieval to modern, American to Asian, economic to science. We publish well over 300 new books a year under the rubric of “history,” and bring out roughly 150 monographs, which had previously been available only in hardback, into paper. We have a strong journals list, including six new ones this year. The Exhibit Hall is the perfect venue for us, not only to display and sell our books and journals, but to learn from delegates about what you like and what hasn’t worked so well—particularly if the book is one you use for teaching. For Marketing—my department—it’s good to get this sort of feedback. We want to know what the landscape looks like to you, and what your challenges are when you are looking for a book for your students or for your own work. If we don’t have something suitable, you may have given us a book project to pursue. And maybe you’re the person to write it!
This year’s annual meeting is going to be chock-a-block with activities—sessions, parties, city tours, catching up with colleagues. In the interest of helping you make the most out of the Exhibit Hall experience, here are some suggested dos and don’ts:
- Make appointments to see editors early. Most busy editors will have their calendars full by early December.
- Have an appointment? Assume in most instances that an editor has scheduled 15 minutes for you. It also helps to prepare—where does your book fit in with the list or perhaps a series?
- Have your elevator pitch ready. If you do manage to catch an editor with whom you don’t have an appointment, they may only have three minutes free. Ask.
- If you aren’t able to get an appointment to see an editor, take a business card and send an e-mail after the conference. You can try during the conference, but don’t be surprised if your message goes unanswered. Every publisher has prospectus requirements on their website—Cambridge’s are fairly standard in academic publishing.
- Courtesy is cool. Introduce yourself to staff and let’s not forget about salutations. Whether you are interested in publishing with us and are keen to tell us about your work, or are unhappy about something at the booth, let’s engage in a conversation. We will see what we can do. If we are talking to someone else, or in the middle of writing up an order, we will be able to help you soon. Rather than hovering while waiting for an editor, consider briefly and politely interrupting to ask if you can make an appointment for later.
- Do look out for events to attend—most publishers advertise these at the booth. We often hold “meet the editor” sessions for our journals, and sometimes have drinks at the booth during exhibit hours. For example, this year we will be celebrating our Latin American History program, and the publication of the Cambridge World History reference set (stop by or check out the annual meeting app for details). If these are your areas, treat these events as networking opportunities. Have a glass of wine, wear your badge, and make a friend.
- Do attend a publishing session. A lot of great information can be gotten at this Q&A with publishers at the meeting.
- Don’t drop off copies of your CV or manuscript at every booth. They are easily lost, and it’s best that this information be sent electronically. See above on prospectus requirements.
- Don’t launch into a pitch without first asking if the person you’re speaking to is an editor in the area of your research, and if they have the time right now to speak.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions during your meetings with editors. Not only are we assessing if you’re the right author for us, but you should be thinking about whether we’re the right publisher for you.
Finally, take your time browsing. In addition to providing you with the tools to help you in your work, looking at books should be one of the great pleasures of the conference. See you in the Hilton Galleria Hall!
Amy Lee markets history books at Cambridge University Press. Thanks to Deborah Gershenowitz and Derek Krissoff on “Dos and Don’ts” suggestions.
This post first appeared on AHA Today.
Tags: AHA Today 2016 Annual Meeting
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