Put Community at the Center of Your Publishing Process
Your members have numerous platforms and places to choose from when it comes to publishing their original content. So, if you want them to choose your association, what can you do? Here’s how the American Urological Association transformed its processes to provide a more meaningful author experience.
According to Jennifer Regala, director of publications and executive editor at the American Urological Association, this is an author’s world, and we’re just living in it.
“I’m glad to see this shift,” she said. “When I started in scholarly publishing, the focus wasn’t on the author. But now, authors have so many choices of where they can publish, so it’s a huge value-add for associations to become not just a good place to publish but also a community for [their] authors.”
Since engaged authors are more likely to become frequent contributors, improving their publishing experience is a no-brainer. To create a community of active contributors, organizations should ensure that their internal departments work together to spread the word about their publications, make it easy for authors to contact staff, and get in the habit of reaching out to authors to celebrate their successes.
Get the Word Out
At AUA, the marketing and communications teams work with the editorial department to elevate the association’s three peer-reviewed journals and author. AUA’s membership and recruitment campaigns also include information about the article submission process, making it easy for potential contributors to reach out.
“AUA staff are good at connecting the dots and passing people among our different spheres of influence,” Regala said. “The key is to be responsive and personable. Members are busy with their own work, so you want to make a space where they want to come and spend their free time to contribute.”
Streamline the Submission Process
Publication teams can create a positive experience for authors by making it easy to submit articles, ask questions, or make connections with staff. Revamping the article submission process can be a good starting point.
“Instead of having authors do the administrative work upfront, try to tweak the process so you collect that information later,” Regala said. “You also want to personalize the process. For example, if an author you haven’t heard from submits a piece, reach out, say hi, and let them know you’re available if they need anything.”
One way that AUA builds meaningful relationships with its authors is by having a publication booth at its annual meeting. This allows authors and prospective contributors to speak to staff and connect names to faces.
“People aren’t afraid to approach us, whether that’s in person or via email after the event,” Regala said. “Creating a space to grow those personal relationships has really helped. Over time, the authors we’ve developed relationships with stay engaged, often becoming peer reviewers or editorial board members.”
Just as authors should feel comfortable getting to know staff, publication teams should also prioritize connecting with their authors.
“Every community is different, and it’s the responsibility of the editorial or publication department to figure out what’s important to your group of contributors,” Regala said.
AUA pays attention to its authors’ activities in areas outside of the publication space. Last year, Regala attended AUA’s annual Urology Advocacy Summit to solicit articles for AUA’s news platform.
“We make connections all year between what we publish in the journals and our members’ advocacy work,” she said. “This year, we plan to do video content and reporting at the summit. It’s a good way to showcase what our authors are doing in other areas.”
Regala also recommends paying attention to when authors publish outside the association. When AUA authors are published in larger, more influential journals, staff reaches out to congratulate them and ask if they would write a summary for AUA’s news platform. And when AUA authors publish in competing journals, Regala sends a congratulatory email and asks what the association can do to encourage them to submit to AUA next time.
“It’s all about the human touch; it makes an impact on our authors when we reach out,” she said. “At the end of the day, we’re all looking for connections, and I think authors are looking for their association publications to become communities where they can create strong connections for years to come.”