What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
The primary list here at Utah State University Press (an imprint of University Press of Colorado) is in rhetoric and composition, which is currently looking closely at political events and the impacts of decisions made at the state level and in education more broadly. I see an ongoing interest in rhetorical responses to the Trump administration’s constant attacks on people of color, women, LGBTQ+, and the media and how students are impacted in the classroom. Unfortunately, I think we’re likely to continue diving into the rhetoric of white supremacy, hatred, discrimination, and lies for some time.
We’re excited to have recently published Teaching Readers in Post-Truth America, by Ellen C. Carillo, who is a fabulous scholar, and a book I’m particularly keen on (read: jealous of) is Faking the News: What Rhetoric Can Teach Us About Donald J. Trump, which was edited by Ryan Skinnell (a USUP author).
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I’d like to never again see an edited collection whose authorship consists solely of white men or a work that fails to cite women or scholars of color, no matter the topic. With our ongoing conversations about equity and equality in scholarship, scholarly publishing, and higher education as microcosms that reflect larger issues at play in the U.S. and beyond, I am surprised by how often I receive proposals or manuscripts that haven’t included a single woman or person of color.
I hope to see editors confront these questions from the very beginning. If a call for proposals doesn’t result in a diversity of authors, let’s invite scholars doing this work. We must be proactive if we want to confront these ongoing and persistent problems that are inherent to fields and industries that continue to be dominated by white men.
Books like Defining, Locating, and Addressing Bullying in the Writing Program Administration Workplace,edited by Cristyn L. Elder and Bethany Davila, are honoring the stories and needs of marginalized communities in higher education, and that’s something we all need to support in our work.
What do you want to change about publishing?
Scholarly publishing is deeply enmeshed in open access questions, which remain a complex issue as we’re still negotiating what OA will mean for scholars. My biggest concern is creating a pathway to open access that doesn’t marginalize scholars whose institutions can’t financially support their publications (or who don’t receive their university’s support). As scholars, libraries, and publishers push for broad acceptance of open access, I anticipate faculty at the most prestigious institutions will publish work that’s widely accessible, but contingent faculty will continue to be displaced due to lack of resources. Our dynamic OA online series, Computers and Composition Digital Press, features scholars doing innovative multimodal work that I suspect we’d all like to see more of in the future, but long-term sustainability on a larger scale than one series would require a clearer plan for funding.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
I’ve been very fortunate to work in university presses for more than a decade, both in marketing (as a publicist, sales manager, and marketing and sales director) for a midsize press and now in acquisitions at a small press. I frequently talk at universities about academic publishing and am often asked the question “Why should I publish with a university press?” What we do here, as nonprofits dedicated to the broad usage and application of scholarship, is truly unique. We typically make decisions based on the quality of the scholarship, rarely on the number of units we’ll sell. University presses have done far more than we’re usually credited with in terms of digital publishing and creating efficiencies in our workflow that keep us nimble (print on demand, consortiums, distribution centers, etc.), and we view our authors as collaborators—the relationships we’re building with them are made to last and we are partners in what we do.
So I’d say what’s unique about us is that we’re well-positioned, despite obstacles, to keep doing what we do best: persist and publish.
Rachael Levay is an acquisitions editor at Utah State University Press, an imprint of University Press of Colorado. She was formerly the marketing and sales director at the University of Washington Press and has an MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.