Book Publishing Personnel: DPCG, PUED and PMAN, Oh My!

5 May

Today is a time of great anticipation as we are putting the final touches on everything for our two-day site visit from the publishing consultant that kicks off at nine tomorrow morning. There is, however, some other personnel-related news to report as Grace Arsiaga—originally hired at as a desktop publisher/computer graphics specialist (DPCG)—has been recategorized as a project manager (PMAN) to oversee both book development and production. (Given that, we’re probably not going to fill our vacant publishing editor (PUED) position any time soon, if ever.) This wasn’t just a title change for Grace, however, as it also entails revamping the overall workflow in the office.

In the past, we’ve carried both a full-time editor and a full-time graphics specialist to do the majority of front-line production work in addition to managing their respective interns. On the one hand, it was great having two production specialists in the office to oversee that workflow. On the other hand, however, the more I’ve been looking at the setup of other small publishers, the less sense this made. If you look at, say, a State House Press or TCU Press (or any of a number of others), you’ll see a lot of four-person operations where you have a publisher, managing editor (or production manager), a business person, and a marketing person. It was nice to have two production folks but, given our lack of a marketing person, I think we just weren’t utilizing our full-time slots as effectively as possible. Plus, over the last six months we’ve started to build up a pool of good freelancers—especially on the editorial side—so it’s just not as critical to have a full-time editor as it was this time a year or even two years ago.

Of course, going from two production people to one project manager to oversee what those two positions used to do is quite a radical departure from how we’ve worked over the past couple of years. We are, though, very lucky to have Grace Arsiaga and to be able to better utilize her skills as a project manager as opposed to a graphics specialist. Don’t get me wrong: Grace is great at the job that she’s been doing. But the problem is that she’s been doing primarily page layout on book after book for the last year and a half. In the greater scheme of things graphics-wise, this is not the most exciting work to do, especially when you consider that it was the graphics interns who were doing individual illustrations, book cover designs, and marketing pieces.

All the time Grace was verging on having her right hand fall off from running a mouse for eight hours straight formatting books, she was also managing increasingly complex graphics projects with the help of an ever-changing sets of interns. There were the 300 illustrations for the the hand tools books. There were 200+ illustrations for another project. In both of these cases Grace did none of the actual illustrations but, instead, organized and assigned all the work, met with the authors for updates and corrections, and did quality control on the end products. So, given her people- and project-management skills, it was smarter put those to good use instead of leaving in the page-layout trenches.

I’m always a big worrier, especially when it comes to change, but I think if anyone is up to the task of radically changing job duties and responsibilities, it’s Grace. She started out over here as a graphics intern in the fall of 2005, then became our work study, and upon graduation became our full-time graphics specialist in December 2006. She’s one of the best examples of an employee we’ve had over here: hard working, easy to get along with, eager for challenges, and always up to learn even more to do something new.

(Now, if only that described me as well!)

Mark

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