I like puppies, long walks on the beach, and tech-savvy publishers
April 28, 2008 4:52 PM   Subscribe

Looking to find clients who need help with technology in the publishing industry (especially in academic reference and journals).

I've quit my job as a software engineer at a well-regarded web company to do independent technical consulting. I expect to offer everything from software evaluation to XML schema design to full-on programming.

I have excellent references from former clients (some of whom I'm likely to retain, thanks to my old employer), and some good contacts already. I'm writing for a publishing/technology blog and I'm planning on attending a few conferences:

1. SSP in Boston (no-brainer, I'm in MA)
2. ALA in Anaheim
3. O'Reilly TOC

I also read a number of publishing blogs that I found recommended in previous AskMe threads, mostly to do with trade publishing.

Are there networking opportunities that I'm missing? Since I'm working on my own, my free time is flexible, so I'd be interested in workshops or lectures in the New England area. I could also use a little more knowledge from the library side of things, in terms of how research tools are evaluated and used. Other kinds of advice also welcome, although I'm not new to the industry as a whole.

I know there are publishing people on AskMe so if you want any more information on who I am and what my skills and experience are, please send Mefi Mail -- I'd love to schmooze.
posted by nev to Work & Money (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would suggest compiling a mailing list of academic presses and sending out an info packet or making phone calls to the departments you think would take the call. It's expensive, but if you've got the money to fly across the country, you could probably plunk down a bit on a small sales kit and put it in the mail to 50-100 colleges with large enough presses to merit hiring an outside expert.
posted by parmanparman at 8:59 PM on April 28, 2008

Response by poster: I do have a list of presses and I was planning on contacting people electronically, but if that doesn't pan out then a marketing packet is probably a good next step. Thanks!
posted by nev at 7:13 AM on April 29, 2008

cold calling is probably not such a great idea. you're most likely going to end up talking to either a) the it department, which has its own contacts and way of doing things and isn't interested in hearing from anyone else or b) someone who does the publishing part and who has some vague ideas about what they'd like their software to do, but who has no authority to hire you or pay you... not that i'm bitter.

anyway, i'm memailing you now.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:59 AM on April 29, 2008

I work for a big publishing company (with a big office in Boston) and I can tell you that your services could be used by several different divisions (K-5, 6-12, trade, supplemental) and several departments within those divisions, but that it's more likely you could contract with a third-party developer who contracts with the publisher. If you are willing, I'd encourage you to open your scope beyond just academic journals. There are lots of electronic initiatives underway in the publishing world right now -- with tons of future maintenance. Bear in mind that a lot of library "research tools" are developed by big publishers (Oxford University Press and Reed Elsevier spring to mind), and those big publishers often partner with a development vendor for the actual programming of said tools. My email is in my profile if you want some more specific links or names.
posted by mattbucher at 12:00 PM on April 29, 2008

Response by poster: I realize I wasn't clear in my original post that my existing clients are publishers (mostly university presses), and the job that I'm leaving was with exactly one of those vendors, so I'm definitely familiar with the system. I'm hoping to slot in more at the vendor evaluation stage, or to work on smaller/long-tail projects that aren't economically feasible when contracting with the big developers.

I'm also not averse to trade or K-12, but I figured I'd start with what I know best first.
posted by nev at 12:28 PM on April 29, 2008

Best answer: Oh OK. I've worked in the University Press world for a while, too. I guess that since you are competing directly with your former employer for work now, you looking to make more personal connections.
More conferences? There's the AAUP this year in Montreal and the NECC this summer in San Antonio. Also, it might be worth your while to attend one of the postgraduate publishing institutes in Denver, NYU, or Columbia.
posted by mattbucher at 12:43 PM on April 29, 2008

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