Lead Publisher, Wolters Kluwer Health
Please tell us a bit about yourself (e.g. hometown, current locale, course of study).
I was born in Philadelphia and never left. My major at Temple University was journalism with a public relations concentration. I never did get a job in journalism or public relations, but could still write a press release.
Describe some of your current responsibilities and what type of organization you belong to.
I am a Lead Publisher at Wolters Kluwer, responsible for 16 medical journals. I work with societies, editors, and editorial offices, as well as WK colleagues in marketing, production, website development, rights, legal, finance, and sales. I have overall p&l responsibilities for my titles and am involved in all aspects of publishing, from making sure submissions and acceptances are at an appropriate level, to online and print publication, distribution, and marketing. I provide advice and guidance to editors on changes in the publishing environment, publication ethics, interpreting bibliometric statistics, and general best practices for publishing a journal.
What was your first scholarly publishing role? How did you get that job? What path led to your current position?
My first job was at a tiny medical book publisher called Charles Press. There was the owner (a very accomplished physician), his daughter, one other employee, and me. I got it the old-fashioned way by answering a classified ad in the newspaper. I don’t recall if I even had an official title. But it was a great first job. I was involved in everything: copy editing, proofreading, indexing, working with typesetters and book printers, and marketing. I typed invoices (on an actual typewriter), packed books, and carried a mail sack to the post office. I gravitated toward the print production side, discovering I was very interested in the mechanical aspects of book publishing. After a short stop as a journal production editor and ad traffic coordinator at what was then J.B. Lippincott, I became the production manager for journals and later books at Current Science. For a few years, two friends and I had a small press on the side, publishing three trade paperbacks. The various experiences led me to the position of manager of the books program at the American College of Physicians. After six years there, I applied for a publisher position at Wolters Kluwer, and have remained for the last 20 years.
If there was a pivotal moment or key person in your career development, please describe it briefly.
The pivotal moments and people were the times I was hired to do something I had not specifically done before. The people who looked at my previous experience and decided to give me a chance. Lawrence Meltzer at Charles Press, Michael Bokulich at Current Science, Kathy Case at the American College of Physicians, and Carole Pippin at Wolters Kluwer. I should also mention Joan Blumberg who ran the Masters in Publication Management Program at Drexel University, where I was an adjunct professor teaching a class on publication budgeting from 1994-2014.
What tools, websites, and organizations do you find most valuable for your career development?
SSP, of course, is the primary organization. The Scholarly Kitchen is always valuable. But I am interested in the entire business of publishing, not just scholarly. Newspapers like the New York Times are a great source of information on the industry.
What are some of the surprises/obstacles that you’ve encountered during your career?
The biggest surprise is after 20 years as a journal publisher, and 35 in medical publishing, something new can pop up I have to figure out how to deal with. Nothing is really an obstacle; it is about figuring out the best way to handle any situation.
What do you wish you knew more about?
AI in publishing and subjects like blockchain. No matter how many times I read or hear about these things, I still cannot understand how they may affect what I do.
What advice would you give to people interested in a career in scholarly communications?
Scholarly publishing is a great career with lots of opportunities. The first job, or an early job, may not be the best fit. I was awful at the copy editing aspects of being a production editor but was able to switch to another position in the company, which gave me the knowledge I needed when I got to Current Science. Look around at what is out there. Ask for advice. I have been a mentor through programs at SSP and Wolters Kluwer, but am always happy to speak with anyone interested in the business. Most of us are. Find someone with experience who can act as an advisor or mentor.