Monday, 15 September 2014

A call to all ambitious society publishers from Susan Hezlet

ALPSP Committees and Council are at the heart of what we do. They are a group of dedicated industry volunteers who advise, steer and guide the secretariat, providing strategic direction and practical support so we can connect, inform, develop and represent the scholarly publishing community.

Susan Hezlet, Publisher at the London Mathematical Society and outgoing member of the ALPSP Council, reflects on the pains and pleasures of volunteering in this guest post.

"About ten years ago I was asked to give a talk at an ALPSP seminar, it wasn't particularly good, but the next thing was a request 'would I join the Professional Development Committee?' This involved co-organising a seminar - I think it was with Felicity Davie and Karen Hillmansen. That was fun, I learnt a lot in the process and we were guided and kept to the task with the help of Lesley Ogg.

The next request was 'would I be Treasurer of ALPSP?' Five years and a lot of direct involvement in authorising payments, helping with the interviewing and appointment of a Chief Executive, being asked to attend meetings on open access policy development, trotting over to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to tell them how important scholarly publishing is - not that they still do regular meetings since Vince Cable moved in.

Then it was 'would I do a second term?' This was followed by me saying no, but it would be nice to do one more year on Council as an ordinary member. Three years later... and I'm finally finished.

Perhaps this doesn't sound like fun? However, it is perhaps the best free education you can get in publishing! I have had good times with my fellow publishers on the PDC and ALPSP Council, all of whom are way more senior and knowledgeable than me. All of the people who work for ALPSP are highly professional and generous in the extra time they devote to supporting the rest of us.

It was through ALPSP connections that I managed to find and persuade some excellent publishers and consultants to come and join our Publications Committee at the London Mathematical Society. I have learnt a great deal from them and over the years it has transformed the committee, from one where the Editors spent time on the use of the Oxford comma, to a business committee with a strategic plan (thanks Mark!)

As a small society publisher who spends most of her time being a pain in the arse for my larger publishing distributors, I would not have had the confidence to ask and occasionally insist on a decent service from them without the conversations and support of people involved with ALPSP.

On the second day of the 2014 conference, while I should have been listening to even more good advice from the great speakers we had at the event, I was tucked away with the first round of business proposals from no less than nine publishers. Without the networking and experience of dealing with senior publishers in ALPSP, I would not have known where to begin. It has been a fascinating read and one of these days I will write my memoirs...

Finally, I have made some good friends. In the long run, there is nothing more important.

So. This is a call to all ambitious Society Publishers who want to learn something beyond their own field of publishing; Volunteer!"

Huge thanks go to Susan for her time on PDC and Council. She can be contacted via the London Mathematical Society website.

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