Sunday, October 04, 2009

Getting ready for MLA in Philadelphia

Booklab now offers pre-conference planning, and we're in the early stages of figuring out exactly what that means. The short answer is that many faculty make book deals at conferences, so they become high-value activities in publishing. We're putting together a strategy to start thinking about conferences a year or even two years ahead of time in order to have a wonderful experience there that includes establishing key publishing contacts.

But beyond book publishing, a flourishing scholarly career includes membership and participation in the appropriate professional organizations. Although I'm a life member of the American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies, I've only gone to some of the conferences, and I'm guilty of having reduced the annual Modern Language Association conference to an afterthought (or worse, a job-hunting event). Now it all moves front and center as I resolve to (a) become an active, contributing annual participant in these two professional organizations; and (b) encourage and guide the authors who work with Booklab to do the same for their respective groups.

This means Philadelphia for the MLA in December, and I will also blog about it. Advance duties include learning what publishers will be represented there; guiding my authors to think ahead about prospectuses, sample chapters, and appointments with editors; making my own appointments at the event in order to meet even more university press people; and finally, grasping conference culture as its own professional milieu and discovering new and exciting ways to participate in conferences actively, rather than in my old guise of the slightly edgy lurker.

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