Week 8: Westview Press

August 14th, 2013

Tyler VanderGaast ’15, Waln Fellow in Publishing

Already my last week at Westview, (and the last week of summer!)  and it was filled to the brim with finishing up projects and learning as much as I could up to my last day.

I had the opportunity this week to sit down with our marketing department again and learn about how Westview’s website operates and how it gets updated. Highlighted  and promoted books are rotated each season to reflect the newest editions and printings. Books are divided up into subject category headings and from those, we can track how many free and exam copies are ordered directly from the site. Westview provides (limited) free copies to professors that are potentially interested in adopting our textbooks. However, as it goes with the internet, there are always people that try to get around the system to grab free books. We are able to monitor through our website who orders exam copies, how often, and how many. Luckily, this allows us to block the users that have fake accounts  and abuse the system.

Also through the Westview website, we are able to periodically update the information about new books as they come in. New books appear on the website about 6 months before publication, and as that date comes closer, more accurate and official information becomes available about that textbook. It was my job this week to go through the website, looking at our upcoming books, and fill in the missing Table of Contents and chapter information.

At the end of this week I had my closing interview with our publisher, Cathleen. We talked about what I’ve been working on for the past few weeks and I was able to ask some questions about her own experience in publishing as well. We talked about what my experience with textbooks as a student had been like and how some of the current trends in the textbook world would continue to affect publishing.

I have to say, everyone that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at Westview this summer has been unbelievably kind and willing to sit down and talk with me about the publishing world. I’ve heard stories about post-graduation, what it’s like working in different departments and companies, and I’ve gotten some great advice about making post-graduation decisions.

Working in publishing is extremely competitive, and it can often be advantageous to attend a program after your undergrad years like DPI (the Denver Publishing Institute); however, it was uplifting to hear that often, when companies are looking into hiring, an internship can be as valuable or even more valuable than an extra certificate. An internship (especially when it comes with a recommendation from that company) is proof that the student has worked in the field, gotten their hands dirty, and been able to learn what it is like to have a career in publishing. During this internship in particular, the main goal has always been for me to learn and absorb as much as possible from the atmosphere, company, and people I work with. It has been an absolutely amazing and constructive opportunity for me. I’ve heard myself telling people that they should try internships too, because it’s like getting a test run in a job you might want, in a city you might want to live in. What’s better than that?

Heading into my junior year, it’s hard to say where I’ll be in three years, but I know that I’d love to work in a place like Westview, with the people that I’ve been able to shadow and learn from. Thank you so much to everyone that I had the opportunity to meet at Westview and thank you to the Cornell Fellows program and the generous donors that allowed me to have this opportunity and have such a memorable summer!

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Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs



Mount Evans, Clear Creek, Colorado



Week 7: Westview Press

August 12th, 2013

Tyler VanderGaast ’15, Waln Fellow in Publishing

This past week was an open-ended mix of finishing up projects and finalizing details for events in the upcoming weeks.

Monday and Tuesday I spent most of my day organizing all of the supplies that will be needed for our conference at the end of the month in Chicago, the American Political Science Association conference. Again several of our employees will be representing Westview at a booth, talking about our books and networking with the professors and speakers and attendees. The supplies and books need to be shipped out a couple of weeks in advance so that everything is ready for them when they arrive.

Another new project that I’ve taken under my belt is looking into what happens with Learning Management Systems in publishing. It was odd to learn that although I’d never heard that term before, I’d already had experience with them, since Cornell uses Moodle! Westview is very interested in how LMSs work with colleges and how they are using them in conjunction with their class structure. My job this week was to look into the most used LMSs and research how and why they are being used, and how professors can use them in their teaching strategies. Most importantly, Westview wants to know how they can incorporate some of the tools that Learning Management Systems provide into their titles to better help the academic community. Along with Moodle, I’ve also been working on researching Blackboard, a similar service, and how it has been used effectively.

On Wednesday, I had the exciting opportunity as a Westview intern to attend several presentations put on for the Denver Publishing Institute that was visiting our company. The Denver Publishing Institute is a nationally known program for those that want to enter the competitive field of publishing.

“The Denver Publishing Institute is the ideal launching pad for your career in book publishing. During four weeks, it will introduce you to the exciting and ever-changing world of book publishing. The course will provide a solid educational foundation and an excellent network for your subsequent job search.”

These presentations are usually reserved for those enrolled in DPI- however, as an intern, I was more than happy to volunteer to help the afternoon run smoothly (and sit in on the presentations as a result!). The presentations covered Manufacturing, Constellation (the company that works with Westview to make our digital copies) and e-Books, Production Editorial, and Design and Composition. My favorite presentation was Production Editorial because that department is where the edits on the manuscript happen. They are in charge of coordinating the schedule, tracking changes between the proofreader/copyeditor and the author, and they get to decide how and when these changes are made before sending the manuscript off to manufacturing.

Over 95 students came to tour our company that day, so it was definitely a bit more crowded than usual! It was nice to get a backstage pass to what it would be like to attend this program, as well as get a tour of what other departments at Perseus do.     

Something that I’ve taken away from this short introduction to postgraduate opportunities is that it is unbelievably important to know how to write, and to write well. Whether that means writing a compelling cover letter that could you land you a great job, or whether that means sending out a company email to your fellow colleagues- in today’s daily-changing world, effective communication is vital. In order to communicate in the best way, you need to be professional, succinct, and poised. It’s a balance of being able to get your point across and being able to capture their attention. I loved hearing this, heading into my junior year of college as both an English major and a tutor in the Writing Studio; what I’m learning and doing is preparing me in more ways than just for my next final.

Week 6: Westview Press

August 5th, 2013

Tyler VanderGaast ’15, Waln Fellow in Publishing

I’m so glad that it’s August! I love August because not only are you finishing up your summer, but you get to start looking forward to a new year. I am so excited to head back to Cornell and share about my internship and see what some of my classmates have been up to this summer.

During my sixth week at Westview, I worked on several new tasks. Our office is sending several people next week to the ASA (American Sociology Association) conference in New York City to network, market our new titles, and make Westview’s presence known to the scholars in that field. I helped Katie in marketing pack supplies to ship to the conference, and I also helped her put together some flyers and materials to pass out while she’s there. Westview does several conferences each year, differing in size and location. For example, the Middle East conference is fairly well attended (especially with recent cultural and political shifts worldwide), but it pales in comparison to the size of the history conference- you wouldn’t believe how many professors nationally that teach history. Conferences are a great chance not only for travel (all over the country!) but to get our name and titles out there.

One of the perks of being an intern at Westview is that oddly, we have access to a lot of books! Each of the imprints under the Perseus Books umbrella publishes a different type of book- from textbooks to guidebooks to cookbooks to joke books to comic books. (Interesting fact: the longest running best selling title at Perseus Books is called My Pregnancy.) With each new book that comes out, galley copies are ordered before the final printing. A galley is the first sort of sample, prototype book to come out- very simple binding, nothing fancy, and they may contain typos and undergo changes before the final edition. Lucky for me, I get full run of the free galley copy bookshelf- this has led to a lot of new book discoveries and has filled up a lot of the space on my desk!

 One Thursday, I sat down with Victoria to go over one of her end of the month procedures- and it turned out to be a lot more interesting than it sounded! Westview’s website is connected to Google Analytics, and every month, a report is pulled from that program. Google Analytics basically tracks all of the information about your website- specific site traffic, how many users come from search engines versus directly typing in the url, which times of day are most popular, and how long the average user stayed on each page. Comparing this report to previous months’ reports is incredibly helpful to see which pages are most popular, which pages might need updates or improvements, and how users are finding our name. Gathering data like this can help a company make appropriate changes and improve efficiency when it comes to online operations.

One of the other nice things about being here in the summer is the half day every Friday! In the afternoon, I’ve been able to see quite a bit of Boulder. Only having a bike with me, it’s a little intimidating trying to navigate the busy city; luckily Boulder has a fantastic trail system with bike paths everywhere. You can always recognize the bike paths because they look like very wide sidewalks running parallel to the road. Boulder is one of the greenest places I’ve ever been to- and I mean that in the literal sense! There is a ton of foliage and natural areas in the city. For instance, on my way to work every morning, I get to pass by these little guys! Wild prairie dogs are pretty common, even in the city. (Even better when they don’t run in front of my bike)

There are also natural protected pond areas near Westview. It really is a beautiful city, especially in the summer.

Until next week!

Week 5: Westview Press

July 28th, 2013

Tyler VanderGaast, Waln Fellow in Publishing

Following a 3 day weekend, this week went by a little quicker than most. After some switching around that was done in the company, I am now working under the marketing department and shadowing Victoria, the marketing coordinator. It’s interesting to be able to get a full view of all the different things that are involved in publishing at Westview.

This week, I got the chance to speak with our inventory director, Shannon, to gain a little more insight on how they handle the distribution of our books. Specifically, we talked about what happens when a book goes out of print. A book at Westview most often goes out of print when the next edition comes out, but in other cases when the book is simply older and outdated and not selling well anymore. In those cases, the inventory director orders the rest of the stock of that book to be destroyed. Don’t worry, they don’t burn them! The stock of the out of print book gets bundled up and sent to a recycler that shreds them and uses the paper for other products. Out of print books need to be destroyed like this so that outdated copies are not available for anyone anywhere on the market. When new editions come out, the company wants to begin putting their efforts toward marketing the new book in particular, instead of the previous edition. Sales on that book stop immediately (although used copies always circulate the online book market) and sales on the new edition begin.

Tuesday and Wednesday, I worked on making up Pub Cards for our books coming out this season. Pub cards are short information sheets on each book that give the basic stats, sales points, and author information behind each book. They highlight the most important sections in the books and try to persuade professors to consider adoption.

I also spent some time proofing the press release for our upcoming Women’s Studies Conference. Westview is sending a few employees to New York to represent our company at this huge conference- basically a gathering in which speakers, the public, vendors, and companies can all come together to share and talk about Women’s Studies. Westview attends a few of these conferences every year to try to market several of our new textbooks.

This weekend, I got the chance to run a 5k in downtown Denver. And not just any old 5k- a zombie run! During the race, actors dressed as zombies jump out at you and try to scare you. It was a blast, and I am proud to say that I finished the race alive. I would love to come back to do it again next year.

 Until next week!

Week 4: Westview Press

July 23rd, 2013

Tyler VanderGaast ’15, Waln Fellow in Publishing

 This week began with finishing up some training with Brooke (our editorial assistant and Cornell alum) that we had started late last week.  I worked on M-listing and inputing the information for a new edition of a textbook into our database, Title Management; this is the official database that updates and feeds out every day to external websites like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, and other textbook sites to give them the correct information about our current and upcoming books. Another step in this process is to update our own records with the specifics from the signed author contracts, so that everyone within Westview can research the progress of the book at any time.

    During my time at Westview, I’ve had to rely on my multi-tasking skills quite often. While maintaining review programs and taking on new tasks for both marketing and editorial, (both extended and short term) it’s necessary to balance deadlines and the progress of each project to ensure that each is completed on time. They all require different levels of focus and work put in, but as a Cornellian, I am very aware of how I can best distribute my skills and time to make due dates.

Another skill I’ve been drawing from pretty often is my familiarity of Excel. I had no idea how often Excel was used in the professional world- but it really is the most ubiquitous and helpful of tools. It’s sort of the glue that holds this whole publishing process together- or makes it coherent anyway!

On Wednesday I attended a Digital Production introduction meeting to get a clearer backdrop of what happens in our digital department. This department is basically responsible for converting all of our new and old textbooks into e-books, which are then sold to vendors. Our team manages contracts with over 660 different vendors nationwide that purchase files of our textbooks to sell to students and consumers in digital format. It was super interesting to get a backstage look at how text files are converted to ebook files and what it’s like to work with some of the world’s most prominent vendors (google, amazon, barnes and noble, etc).

Thursday brought a Production presentation that I had the chance to sit in on- giving a brief overview (and when I say brief, I really mean 45 min long) of the entire production process, from when they receive files of each chapter of the book to when they send it off to the printers and the warehouse. People were able to give feedback on the presentation and it was fun to see the dynamic between the team, many of whom have been working for Westview for years.

The weekend was warm and beautiful, and I got the chance to visit the giant waterpark, WaterWorld, in Denver in my free time. As I am learning, there are many things that are larger and more crowded that aren’t in Iowa.

Despite the sunburn, I am ready to head back to another week at Westview. Until next week!

Week 3, Westview Press

July 15th, 2013

Tyler VanderGaast ’15, Waln Fellow in Publishing

 After a short first couple of weeks at Westview, it’s back to a full week at the office for week 3.

This week brings a continuation of my earlier projects. I’ve started to realize that working at Westview is very similar to the block plan at Cornell. Not so much in the rigorous workload or having 4+ hours of homework per night or walking up hills all the time- more in the ebb and flow of the pace of working. Having started two review programs my first two weeks here (which I was very excited to handle entirely on my own) the process of maintaining those currently is minimal. The materials aren’t due back from the reviewers for another week or two, and in the meantime, I am filling up the spaces that need extra help around the office. It’s kind of like taking a 100-level block right before heading into a 300-level; I am anticipating having more than enough to do once the materials come in, but for now, I get to take a short break and detour through some of the other workings at Westview.

Examples of some of the catalogs I’ve been proofing.

One task that was assigned was for our publisher, Ms. Tetro. She is in the middle of working on a new edition of a textbook on a field in the arts. Two parts go into creating a new edition of a textbook- updates to the material to include current events and new material, and corrections to the previous work. This book had several misprints with its photos, and I needed to look for and scan the photos so that they could be logged and corrected in the new edition. It’s sort of exciting to be able to have an influence in what the next book will look like- what students across the country will see and study from in the coming terms.

On Tuesday I sat in on a launch meeting with several editors, the production team, and their interns. Usually these meetings are held right before a book is sent completely to production. It’s sort of the final step where the editors, the production team, and the publisher sit down and discuss the final details of the book. In this case, there were 4 books headed to production, with 13 people trying to be heard over a conference call to confirm all the details. Turnover and launch meetings are held about 5 to 6 months before a book completely comes out, which gives an estimate of how long it takes to produce a book- about 5 to 6 months. Sometimes, if a book has very little art or permissions involved, production can be pushed up and is often done to have samples to take to our conferences throughout the year.

Wednesday brought a meeting with Victoria, our sole marketing director. She gave me the timeline of what the marketing seasons look like with Westview and the different types of promotions that she runs throughout the year. From running physical postcard mailing to email blasts to professors to follow up phone calls to seasonal academic conferences, the marketing for Westview titles is a never ending process. Marketing also handles decisions such as cover choices for new books, as well as coordinating sales blurbs and catalogs that are released throughout the year. I was able to take a lot of notes and gain a better perspective of an area of Westview outside of the editorial department.

All of Westview’s current-season postcard mailings

This weekend I got the chance to visit Bear Creek Lake outside of Denver with friends- and even try my hand at paddleboarding! (I didn’t even fall in!)  Despite the sunburn, the weather was beautiful, the water was cold, and I had an excellent time enjoying the outdoors.

Until next week!

Week 2: Westview Press

July 5th, 2013

Tyler VanderGaast ’15, Waln Fellow in Publishing

I swear, it’s like time goes faster here in Colorado. After an amazing weekend spent bike riding, relaxing, and traveling through Denver, it’s back to Boulder on Monday. Speaking of which, this is the view on my bike ride to work every morning.

This week begins the start of another Review Program that I am handling entirely on my own. This means another proposal for a manuscript that I send to reviewers in the hopes of becoming a textbook. This just adds another layer to the many things I am working on simultaneously at Westview- the first review program from last week, handling correspondence with reviewers, my customer lists, advance mailings, and more training!

Training this week included learning the process of M-Listing, or how to log a book so it can become “real”- basically recording all the details of the contract, content, and information so that the book can be sent to production. M-Listing resides in the editorial department, starting with the editorial assistant and then to the editor for proofing. Eventually everything gets signed by the publisher and then it’s sent to the production department. M-Listing is crucial because not only is it part of the official record of the book, but it’s where the ISBN gets assigned, for the print and Ebook editions. Even if it is simply a 4th edition of a book, a new ISBN is assigned. Also involved in M-Listing a manuscript is recording the Rights, Units, Index, Royalties, Permissions, and Art Log. The Art Log is used to record how much art is used in the book- which isn’t usually very much since Westview mostly works with textbooks. However, if the book does use art (as in the cases of architecture books), the Art Log records where art or photographs or graphics are used, how often, and if permissions need to be secured to use it in the final printing. Sometimes the authors themselves have taken the photos, and the process can be simplified. After completion, the M-List is sent to production and the book is given a green light to be made.

Interesting fact that I learned: a book can take up to two years or more to get from proposal to manuscript to finished product. There are so many steps and different people involved in the process of completing a book that it can be hard to fully trace its steps.

On Tuesday, Brooke and I had a meeting with Leanne, one of Westview’s senior editors, to give us an intro on what she does. She basically talked to us about how she runs her P&L reports (Profits and Losses). This may not seem interesting initially, but there is a lot more that goes into these reports than it seems.  P&Ls help editors determine whether it may be feasible to sign a new book or not. For instance, Leanne was working with a new author on a specialized manuscript proposal, calling for a new P&L to be drawn up. In the P&L program, Leanne can input data on type of book, the market for the book, page numbers, projected sales, royalties, and various fees that may need to be applied (keying for including reprints, permissions, etc). It was incredibly interesting to see how all of these factors affect the Gross Margin, Total Contribution, and end result. Leanne then uses the results to negotiate with the author the terms of signing this book; for example, if the royalties are lowered, it might work better for sales in the market. In this case, the market is the university system throughout the US, with particular classes and enrollment numbers constantly changing. If the type of book is altered (from a reader to a textbook), or if the page number drops, the Gross Margin rises.

The program allows each of the changes to immediately change the outcome- basically putting the factors of production into the editor’s hands. I can’t tell you how fascinating it was to see how editors influence what is being printed- simply by switching up the tiny details of the publishing process can make or break a proposal.  I couldn’t take notes fast enough- this may be the career path for me.

Another new task I was given this week was proofing the 2014 catalogs. I worked on the sociology catalog mailing that was put together by one of our editors, checking it for accuracy, mistakes, and generally giving my thoughts. Catalogs go out every season to professors and universities, but often they are just sent to major libraries. Catalogs feature short blurbs and pictures of our new books we are putting out each season. (and I suppose I should clarify- there are two seasons to every year in publishing, fall and spring. The spring season books are often put out for adoption the following year in colleges).

Because of the holiday, we had a fairly short week at Westview. But that just meant I got to visit the Denver Zoo with friends on the 4th! The weather was beautiful, and I had a blast.

Until next week!

Week 1: Westview Press–Boulder, Colo.

June 30th, 2013

Tyler VanderGaast ’15, Waln Fellow in Publishing

 Greetings! After an eventful day of 12 and a half hours in the car, mistaken turns and missed exits, it’s time to get this blog started. Today I started my first day at Westview Press, a publishing house that is affiliated with Perseus Books, located in Boulder, Colorado.

 I will say, this internship is quite far from home in Iowa for me, so getting settled in and figuring out transportation and housing was a challenge, but arriving in Boulder on Sunday was accompanied by a feeling of relief. It’s nice to finally be here after weeks of waiting. Here in this huge, encompassing, gorgeous city for 8 whole weeks- it’s almost like having the city to myself.

My first morning at Westview was a blur of tours, shaking hands, and trying to remember where everything is. During my internship, I will be working mostly under the guidance of Brooke and Victoria, in editorial and marketing respectively. Both were unbelievably kind, and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. I have my own cubicle and computer, where I will be working on most of my projects.

My project for the first few days involved working up some customer lists. Mainly this means going online to find out more information on lists of customer contacts (which, as Westview often publishes textbooks, usually means professors and PhD candidates).

After a fantastic department lunch where I got to know some of the rest of the lovely employees at Westview, I spent more time training with Brooke on Review Programs, which tie in to the customer lists from earlier. Review Programs help Westview and the authors in determining if a book will do well on a market, whether professors would consider them for the classroom, or if revision may be necessary. Review Programs takes a lot of organization- between coordinating review requests (or queries), deadline reminders, and completed reviews, this ongoing project will involves a significant amount of time and effort.

    For the remainder of the week, I spent my time training with Brooke and began my first Review Program. After compiling a list of suitable contacts, I send out the query emails and relevant documents for the review. I worked on mailing several advance copies of books to their authors, and requested for more advance copies to be sent to the contributors. Advance books are sent out at the request of the actual authors themselves, before the physical book gets finished and sent out. Towards the end of the week, I helped Brooke fill out some payment request forms for contributors. A lot of times with textbooks, several people put in different amounts of work to make a finished book, and so each contributor gets a portion of the royalties from that book. The contributors are paid out of what each author gets per edition.

    This first week at Westview flew by. I spent so much time working on new projects that I didn’t realize the weekend was so close until it was over. In some of my free time, I biked downtown to the Boulder Farmer’s Market, which is a huge street festival twice a week with tons of food vendors, booths, and performers.

And of course people watching! Boulder is much more crowded than my hometown and certainly anywhere in Iowa that I’ve been, but for the most part, it’s eclectic and inviting. One week down, seven more to go!

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