Director and Associate Professor, MPS Publishing, George Washington University
Summarize yourself and your professional experience in a few sentences.
Originally from California, I now reside in the Washington DC area. I have worked in Spanish-language, trade, and academic publishing, including RAND Corporation, Georgetown University Press, and George Mason University Press. My current role, as Director and Associate Professor, allows me to work with publishing professionals of all experience levels as well as aspiring professionals in the publishing field.
Please describe the main function of your organization and your current responsibilities.
The MPS in Publishing program at George Washington University prepares professionals for managerial and leadership positions in publishing, including coursework in editorial and acquisitions, production and design, copyright, rights and permissions, marketing, distribution, management and business. Faculty include nationally and internationally recognized leaders that help students to master the skills required for all sectors and fields in publishing, including scholarly, academic, trade, children’s, audio publishing, and more.
How did you get into scholarly communications, and what was your path to your current role?
I started my career in publishing with a large Mexican publisher, Fondo de Cultura Economica, a publisher of scholarly, trade, and children’s books in Spanish. Other work in scholarly publishing included marketing manager at Sage Publications, marketing manager at the RAND Corporation, and marketing and sales director at Georgetown University Press. At George Mason University Press, I launched a small university press and library publishing program, which was a thrilling opportunity. My current role is a dream job, working with professionals and students at all levels of experience to further their publishing career. We are also working to launch a new GW Journal of Ethics in Publishing, and—I hope—a new press at GW.
Please describe a key achievement in your scholarly communications career. How did you play a part in this?
I was a pioneer in the early days of digital and ebook development, which was thrilling back in the early 2000s. On the day the Kindle launched, I had 750 books available on the platform, and I was the first academic publisher on the iBookstore. An early article I wrote about the future of ebooks won an award and led to several international speaking opportunities. And a key achievement was launching a new press at George Mason University.
What tools, websites, and organizations do you find most valuable for your career development?
Being involved in the publishing community is critical. I have served on committees and boards for the Association of American Publishers, SSP, AUPresses, and the Library Publishing Coalition.
What are some of the surprises/obstacles that you’ve encountered during your career?
Publishing is constantly changing and evolving, which is exciting. This is not really a surprise, however. Obstacles? Watch out for the occasional merger, acquisition, or change of direction when new senior leadership takes over, all of which can be painful. ALWAYS have your resume prepared and your network/contacts in place.
What advice would you give to people interested in a career in scholarly communications?
For my personal career path, a key has been partnerships: professional partnerships, but these are most often also friendships. Networking, relationship building, and strategic partnerships are absolutely key. As mentioned above, getting involved is also key, and, I would add, giving back to the community in terms of mentorship, advice, and help.
Explore John’s website to learn more about his career in scholarly publishing.
Career Stage: Established (15+ years) | Industry Area: Education