Q&A: Conor Broughan on RaisingUP Academic Publishing

It’s University Press Week 2020, and as part of the campaign, Book Culture interviewed CUP’s own Northeast Sales Representative Conor Broughan about his experience as a sales rep in academic publishing. Read the Q&A below to learn about his journey in AUP publishing and more!

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Book Culture: How did you get your start in University and Academic Publishing?

Conor Broughan: I started as the Exhibits Coordinator at Columbia University Press in 2006, taking our books to academic conferences across the country. I stayed in touch with my boss during a stint in grad school and was lucky enough to be welcomed back with open arms into the university press fold when this sales representative position became available.

Book Culture: What was one of your first projects you worked on? 

CB: As a book sales rep, the first project was to develop relationships with the booksellers out in the field (or the “real world” as it is sometimes called in the office), and with the marketing and sales staff at the publishers I represent. That was a lot of people to keep track of all at once! I often say that I’m an employee of my publishers and an advocate for my bookstores. My ongoing project is to keep that balance.

Book Culture: Recommendation for people considering a career in academic publishing? 

CB: When I first started in academic publishing, I was pretty intimidated by some of the titles that I needed to be able to talk about with academics in that particular field of study. To be honest, I was intimidated by the books in general. I’ve learned that I don’t need to be an expert in every field in order to make sure the right book finds the right reader. It’s vastly more important for me to know everything I can about the bookstores I work with–and their customers–than to know everything about any particular academic discipline. When you know a bookstore well, you can help them surprise their regular customers. Everyone loves that moment!

Book Culture: What are you currently reading? 


Book Culture: What are you working on now that you’re excited about?

CB: Like most jobs during the pandemic, everything that could change about this job has changed. Travel is a vital part of meeting with bookstores. Being stuck at home means getting creative with how we present titles to the world. I’ve created more targeted collections of new titles in the past five months than I had in the past five years combined. With bookstores working unbelievably hard with limited staff and resources to keep the doors open to browsers and fulfill web orders, any little bit we can do as reps to help stores find the right books has been a worthwhile use of my time.

Read the original interview at Bookculture.com.

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