Inside the ASCSA Publications Office

The Publications Office staff outside the Princeton office

“We take a manuscript from its initial submission all the way through to the production of a bound book or journal,” said Carol Stein, Director of ASCSA Publications, laying out stacks of excavation monographs, journal issues, and small volumes from the Publications Office’s many shelves.

The ASCSA Publications Office, based in Princeton, New Jersey, publishes Hesperia, the academic journal of the American School, and several monograph series, which present the final reports of archaeological fieldwork conducted by the School or under its auspices. The office also produces Hesperia Supplements, Gennadeion Monographs, and a variety of picture books and guidebooks.

This means publications range from articles on Thucydides’ literary themes to 1,120-page volumes on Early Iron Age cemeteries in the Agora.

Taking a text from submission to print is a labor-intensive process. “The first thing we do after we receive a manuscript for publication is prepare it for copyediting,” said Stein. “Then the artwork is inventoried and assessed for suitability. Archaeological publications are generally quite laden with images—a single monograph may have 1,500 separate pieces of art!”

Recent publications

Each book project is assigned to a project editor. Project editors manage each stage of the production process, communicating with freelancers and authors. Manuscripts are copyedited and typeset before proofs go out to the author and an outside proofreader. Their corrections to these proofs come back (hopefully at the same time) and are then collated onto a master set by the project editor; there is also a separate indexing process. When everything is finished, a PDF of the book is sent to the printer. Six to eight weeks later a finished book comes back. The Princeton office is filled with these publications, which date back to early 20th century.

Stein came to the Publications Office in 2002 from the University of Michigan Press, where she was had been working full-time while simultaneously trying to finish her dissertation in archaeology at Boston University: “I started doing freelance editorial work to earn money as a graduate student. Part-time editorial work turned into full-time editorial work, and then a career in publishing.” Like most members of the Publications staff, Stein has a long association with the School, having been an Associate Member in 1992–93.

Director of Publications, Carol Stein

Sarah George Figueira started as Production Manager in 1981. She and her husband Thomas both attended the School, and when he started teaching at Rutgers University, she tried to find a full-time teaching job in the area as well. When that did not work out, and the ASCSA moved to digital publishing at that very moment, she took the job. “Being in this office allowed me to stay in the field and also to raise our growing family; I have felt no reason to leave.”

Senior Project Editor Colin Whiting was also a student at the school before joining the Publications Office. “I went to Greece for a year as a Regular Member in 2013–14. After my experiences that year,” he recalled, “and with my love of editing and ancient history, publications at the American School was a perfect fit.”

Project Editor Destini Price participated in the ASCSA Summer Session in 2012, and excavated at the Agora in 2013 (where she met her husband). “I moved to Philadelphia in 2015 after finishing an MA in Comparative Literature at UT Austin. I thought the stars had aligned when I discovered a job opening at the ASCSA Publications Office,” said Price, “I felt fortunate to have a chance to reenter the world of Classics and archaeology.”

Hesperia editor Jennifer Sacher is the latest addition to the Publications team. She was first introduced to the American School as a student of Susan Rotroff and dug at the Agora in 2000 and 2001 (where she also met her husband.) She was a long-time freelancer for the Publications Office and comes to the ASCSA after 10 years at the INSTAP (Institute for Aegean Prehistory) Academic Press, where she spent the past five years serving as its Managing Editor.

Days in the Publications Office are busy. “There are seven books in production right now,” said Stein “and six were published over the past year. Several issues of Hesperia are being worked on at any given moment, and issue 86.3 was just sent to press. When we aren’t working on the active projects, we are administering the peer-review process for both articles and books, answering questions from authors who are preparing new manuscripts, and corresponding with customers, vendors, and distributors.”

Project Editor, Destini Price

“We each have multiple projects, and it is a juggling act to ensure they stay on schedule,” said Price. “Managing your time well is key. At the moment, I am working on the collation process for Agora XXXVI which is why my desk is nearly covered by stacks of proofs.”

The fast pace and many facets of the publication process lend themselves to this kind of juggling—editors move from overseeing copyediting to typesetting to proofreading as they jump from project to project.

“A dozen or more articles are in some stage of production at any given time,” said Sacher. “I am in contact with the authors and oversee our team of talented freelance copyeditors and proofreaders, as well as editing articles myself. At the same time we are taking in submissions for new articles and coordinating our double-blind peer review process. I could not do this without our amazing Production Manager, Sarah Figueira, who assesses all artwork and typesets every issue; she keeps the production process running smoothly.”

“Part of being in a small office is that everyone handles each stage of production,” explained Stein. “And with new technology, we have increased our monograph output significantly. The size of Hesperia has grown over the years as well. I think we have managed to maintain the high level of quality for which this office is known, and that is to the credit of an extremely hardworking and dedicated staff, past and present.”

Senior Project Editor, Colin Whiting

In the coming months, the Publications Office will continue its speedy output, publishing a Hesperia article on the “Combat Agate” from the Griffin Warrior Tomb at Pylos by Sharon R. Stocker and Jack L. Davis, the 7th edition of the Ancient Corinth Site Guide, and a monograph on Early Iron Age cemeteries in the Agora, among numerous other projects. 

The Publications staff maintains this dedication to the quality of the work they produce. “These big excavation publications are really the permanent records of the School and the School’s work, so it is great to play an integral part in creating that history,” said Whiting. “And these are not like most books—they are very complex and detailed reference works.”

Sacher concurred: “We willfully put much time, energy, and care into the production of these publications. They represent the latest knowledge on their subject matter, and other scholars will use these publications as they conduct their research and build their own studies. I believe our effort is not misplaced.”

Editor’s note: This interview was conducted in August 2017. Since then, Editorial Assistant Megan Mendonça has joined the Publications staff.