CWIP’s Publishing Fair – An Exhibitor’s Perspective: An Interview with Northwestern University Press’ Marketing Manager Greta Bennion

By Mary Cecilia Nolan on Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Network with Chicago’s Publishing Professionals at CWIP’s Publishing Fair.

CWIP’s Publishing Fair provides exhibitors a way to gain exposure and connect with their target audience in person. May 17 is right around the corner, but don’t worry, there’s still time to register as an exhibitor for this year’s fair.

For more information on how to register as either an exhibitor or an attendee, click here. In addition, from now until May 5, you have a chance to win one FREE admission to the Publishing Fair by subscribing to the CWIP blog. Click here for more details.

Northwestern University Press’ Marketing Manager, Greta Bennion, was happy to discuss with me the benefits of being an exhibitor at CWIP’s Publishing Fair, NU Press’ relationship with CWIP, background information on the Press, and her role there.

Please describe your role at Northwestern University Press.

Greta: As Marketing Manager, I ensure that marketing-related tasks are handled and carried out for the approximately 70 books a year that we publish. Some of these tasks are more administrative in nature, such as sending out galleys/review copies, award submissions, and making reservations/shipping collateral for conferences where we exhibit books; but my job also consists of a lot of creative-focused work, such as harvesting/editing blurbs and designing advertisements and other marketing collateral.

A big bulk of my job is also managing author relations and following up on daily email correspondence. In my experience, it’s always important to develop good relationships with your authors and start building these foundations early on.

I’m working with so many authors on various items related to their book at any given time. You have to remember that they’ve put hours of work into these books and want to do everything they can to see them succeed and get them out into the world. As cheesy as it sounds, for some authors these are the first books they’ve ever written, so they are their blood, sweat, and tears, literally.

I often feel that I’m playing sort of a customer service role within our department, and serve as a friendly face/helping hand to them as they go through the process. I am often in touch with our authors in the early stages, sometimes before their books are even transmitted, but the ball really gets rolling for us about two months out from the time we release their books, and usually during the subsequent six months after the pub date.

I am also often in touch with our backlist authors about various requests as they come up. So, my work is never really done, in that sense! But it is truly enjoyable for me. And authors with whom we develop great relationships with will want to publish with us again, and spread the good word about us, so it’s really cyclical and beneficial for us.

Tell me about Northwestern University Press and its mission.

Greta: We are a mostly scholarly press, publishing in a variety of specialized subject areas such as continental philosophy, lit crit, Slavic studies, and performance studies, while also publishing several series within these fields, such as our flagship SPEP (Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) and SRLT (Studies in Russian Literature and Theory) series, which we’re quite well-known for in the scholarly publishing world.

We publish a lot of trade as well, including fiction and poetry under our award-winning TriQuarterly Books and Curbstone imprints, as well as playscripts and literary/translated fiction. We’re also proud to be promoting a couple new series, Second to None: Chicago Stories, featuring books written by journalists, novelists, essayists, community activists, and other recognizable Chicagoans about stories related to Chicago, as well as Critical Insurgencies, a new series in partnership with the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, focusing on critical ethnic studies in a variety of capacities.

Our mission is to publish works of enduring scholarly and cultural value, extending the university’s mission to a community of readers throughout the world.

How did NU Press become involved with CWIP and, more specifically, the Publishing Fair?

Greta: We received an email from the organizer a couple years ago about participating in the CWIP Publishing Fair, and since then, we’ve made it a priority to exhibit. Last year, I attended on behalf of the Press for the first time, and we had a full table with marketing collateral as well as some of our award-winning/best-selling regional books.

As an exhibitor, what did you get out of the fair in the past? What do you hope to get out of it this year? What are some advantages for exhibitors to exhibit at the publishing fair?

Greta: I think it was a great success for us, in the sense that I was able to connect and network with several other professionals in the field and simply get our name out there to the local publishing community.

I think people tend to overlook University presses within the publishing world, and so many writers/publishing professionals in the Chicago area don’t even know that we exist. Moreover, I think there a lot of people that don’t even know what a University Press is, and what we actually do! You wouldn’t believe how many times folks ask me, “So, do you guys just publish textbooks?” assuming that we do because we are part of a University. Or, they assume that we only publish books written by professors.

While we do publish many books written by professors, we are so much more than that! So anytime we can take advantage of these sorts of opportunities and spread the knowledge about what we do, the better.

Starting at the local level certainly helps! It is a no-brainer for us to exhibit at the CWIP Publishing Fair. And CWIP is just a wonderful organization to support and connect with.

What are some networking tips you would recommend for fair attendees who are interested in NU Press?

Greta:

  • Sign up for NU Press’ newsletter/mailing list. We have mailing lists that are organized by subject area, depending on your area of interest, for when new books come out.
  • Follow up via email, LinkedIn, social media, and etc. You can always feel free to send us an email. We are pretty low-key here, and several of our staff have done informational interviews and even occasional shadow days for anyone who is interested in learning more about how a UP works. We are also very active on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, so please follow us on any of these sites!
  • Contact our Internship Program Coordinator, Maggie Grossman, with questions. We have a robust internship program here, which is divided into two general areas: Acquisitions/Sales & Marketing (which we call the “book ends” internship) and Editorial/ Design/Production. We accept applications on a rolling basis, and follow the NU quarter system, so we accept new interns each quarter depending on availability within each department. Read more about our internships, here.
  • Check out NU Press’ Awards and Honors page for new releases, awards, and events. Our “News and Events” feed on the front page is also updated periodically, but your best bet is to follow us on social media for the latest updates.

What kind of feedback have you received from attendees in the past?

Greta: I’ve received mostly very positive feedback from folks who are already familiar with our Press and what we do, and are interested in learning more about us and/or interested in submitting a manuscript or a proposal. This has been really encouraging. Some folks have just been very curious about us and asked a lot of questions, which is great, too!

Any other thoughts on the Publishing Fair? Is there anything else you would like to share about NU Press?

Greta: We very much look forward to being apart of it again this year. We did recently hire two new Acquisitions Editors: Trevor Perri, who acquires in the areas of film studies, German studies, Jewish studies, literary criticism, philosophy, and Slavic studies; and Jill Petty, who acquires in the areas of Chicago regional, creative nonfiction, drama, fiction, literature in translation, and social movements/social justice. We’re really excited to have them on board and bring in new projects in some areas that we are starting to venture into.

We also recently partnered with Northwestern University’s Buffett Institute/Global Humanities Initiative to establish the Global Humanities Translation Prize, awarded annually to a previously unpublished translation that strikes a balance between scholarly rigor, aesthetic grace, and general readability, and also represents a literary voice from a marginalized or underrepresented community. This is another exciting avenue through which we are making new works of scholarship available to the world.

If you have any questions for Greta, feel free to contact her at: g-bennion@northwestern.edu.


Don’t miss Chicago Women in Publishing’s biggest event of the year! If you have any questions about the Publishing Fair, be sure to contact Meghann here for more information.

Who: Anyone interested in Chicago’s publishing scene, both as attendees or exhibitors.
When: Wednesday, May 17, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Congress Lounge at Roosevelt University (second floor): 430 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, 60605.

Attendees: Register Online Here

Exhibitors: Register Online Here
Reasonably priced tables are limited on a first-come basis and include two free attendees to work your table. You’ll also be featured in CWIP’s e-newsletter and online.

This year’s exhibitors include, but are not limited to:

 


Subscribe to CWIP’s blog for a chance to win one FREE admission to the Publishing Fair and one CWIP notebook!

To Subscribe and Enter:

  • Visit cwip.org
  • Subscribe in the box to the lower right of the web page
  • Select “Confirm Follow” in the confirmation email you will receive
  • You’ve entered into the raffle!
  • A winner will be chosen from all subscribers on Saturday 5/6

Rules: Contest ends 5/5 at Midnight CT. One entry per person. Winner will be chosen from ALL subscribers (including existing subscribers). Members may gift their free entry to a friend, but CWIP must be notified of recipient 1 week before the event. Prizes must be collected at the event and will not be shipped.

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