Westchester Words: Education, Ed-Tech, and Publishing

We’ve Been on Your Side of the Desk

May 18, 2021 Westchester Publishing Services Season 1 Episode 15
Westchester Words: Education, Ed-Tech, and Publishing
We’ve Been on Your Side of the Desk
Show Notes Transcript

Tyler M. Carey, Chief Revenue Officer, Terry Colosimo, Director of Operations and Susan Baker, Director of Editorial Services at Westchester Publishing Services discuss how their experience working for publishers helps them and their teams resolve workflow challenges for our clients.

Nicole Tomassi:

Welcome to Westchester Words Education, EdTech , and Publishing. I'm Nicole Tomassi, and in this episode, the three guests who are joining me will be talking about how their experience working on the publisher's side of the desk is top of mind in their respective roles here at Westchester. Susan Baker is the Director of Editorial Services and since joining Westchester Publishing Services in 2002, she has built and led an editorial team whose knowledge covers a vast array of subject areas. Susan has hands-on experience in all aspects of the editorial and production process from manuscripts to print, with her team currently supporting more than three dozen clients, including approximately 25 university presses and academic publishers. Terry Colosimo has been with Westchester also since 2002, starting off in the composition department, leading the Quark team. During the course of the next decade, she continued to grow from strength to strength becoming director of operations in 2015. Terry has been instrumental in developing and implementing the protocols that ensure a collaborative workflow process between our US-based and India based production teams. Tyler M. Carey has been with Westchester Publishing Services for seven years, leading our sales and marketing initiatives as chief revenue officer. He's been a driving force in the growth of the employee-owned company, which currently provides a full suite of editorial production and content development solutions for more than 250 publishers around the world, including many who needed innovative solutions during the pandemic, as they tried to manage the challenges posed with having remote workforces, changing buying and reading habits of consumers and fluctuating publication schedules, Susan, Terry , and Tyler. Welcome to Westchester Words.

Susan Baker:

Hi Nicole.

Terry Colosimo:

Hi!

Tyler Carey:

Thank you for having us.

Nicole Tomassi:

Glad to have you all here. So Susan, let me start with you. Can you share with our listeners about your experiences in publishing prior to joining Westchester?

Susan Baker:

Yes, I'd be happy to do that. I worked for Greenwood Publishing in Westport, Connecticut, and at the time that I started, they were publishing 80 new titles a year. And I started as an assistant production editor. By the time I left, I was vice-president of production and I was overseeing 800 new titles a year. So the thing about it is as the company grew, I had a very unique , uh, opportunity to be involved in just about every aspect of production. As many of you probably know small companies mean you wear a lot of hats.

Nicole Tomassi:

Okay, great. And that's gotta be quite the story, you know, going basically, you know, growing tenfold , um, as well as, you know, growing your career. So I definitely want to dive into that in a little bit. So Terry, let me bring you in similarly to Susan, you had prior knowledge of Westchester , um, through the time when you were working at Greenwood, as they were a publisher who had used several vendors, including Westchester, what can you tell us about what your role was at that time and how that helped you learn about the publisher vendor dynamic?

Terry Colosimo:

Well, like Susan, I worked at Greenwood and I started as a production assistant. In that role, I was taught proofreading and looking at marketing copy. And then my primary responsibility was in the manufacturing department as a print buyer. So I worked with various vendors, whether it was a paper supplier printers, and of course, typesetters that role in additional printings evolved into then developing and working closely with Susan on their print on demand program. We did rely on our vendors, they were proactive in giving us solutions. And the one thing I found that is critical is they really helped us understand that partnerships are key and communication is key in helping us further grow, whatever we needed to do in terms of growing our company and our business.

Nicole Tomassi:

Let me follow up on that with you, Terry. Um , so your experience working at Greenwood, how did that inform the procedures that you implemented into production processes when you came over to Westchester?

Terry Colosimo:

Well, for one thing, you never forget how you interact with a vendor. So , um, the experience I had both good and bad, it would allow me to formalize what I would want, for example, how I would want our CSRs to engage with, with our clients, what type of questions, what are the procedures that they would need to follow up on based on how I would have wanted to be , um, how I would've wanted my projects , um, handled within their organization, same is true with the processes that I would set up in India. If I know what, as a publisher, I would be checking, I would want to ensure that we're filling in the needs of where the publisher is not doing. What are the things that we need to stay on top of so that they don't need to focus on that piece. So it very much , um, contributed to how you set up a workflow because, you know, from experience what you would want your vendor to provide.

Nicole Tomassi:

So what I'm hearing is that you're basically putting yourself in your customer's shoes and thinking the way that the client would be thinking.

Terry Colosimo:

Exactly, exactly. And also allowing, again, I use the expression wearing so many hats. You're still keeping at the forefront, what you need to do in terms of your role as a , um , manager or at the service, vendors. So knowing that you can sit and have a dialogue and say, okay, I sat here and I did the same tasks you're doing, but here is what we can bring to the table that you may not have thought about. So it's, it's a balance of, of both knowing the experience and building upon that and having that type of dialogue with the account.

Nicole Tomassi:

That's an excellent point. Thank you for adding that in. So Tyler, can you tell us how your publishing path led to Westchester?

Tyler Carey:

Uh , sure. Um, so my background initially was in a web design during college to help pay the bills.I rapidly found I was far better at selling websites than designing them though. Um, that said it was a good exposure to tagging content and kind of some of the bare bones that go into , uh , typesetting. Uh , from there, I went to Wolters Kluwer about 20 years ago. Um, where I had a number of different sales roles, ultimately culminating in a role where I worked on our securities titles as kind of the client interface between the larger clients and the production team. We had acquired a series of securities titles that had , um, production problems , um, when they were transitioned over to our team. Um, and so my role was to work with the clients, identify what had gone wrong with , uh, some of the publications and then to , uh , work with our production team to report any of those issues from when they had been kind of sold to us and not transitioned very smoothly over to our team. Ironically , uh, Westchester actually was one of my typesetters when I was there, I just didn't know it at the time. Uh, but years later , I ended up working with many of the people who had supported those publications. Um, that was a time also when Kluwer was starting to move a lot of typesetting services to offshore operations. Um, so those were the early days of using companies in India and other countries for typesetting, project management and other tasks, some publications. So, you know, that's something certainly I've been on that side of the desk as well as on this side selling and providing those services. Uh, from there, I went to work for a custom publisher for many years , uh, and joined Westchester about seven years ago. So I kind of have a , a background in a bunch of different areas of publishing , um, that kind of helps me relate to customers. Um, having had to handle those problems or work with vendors on those issues before.

Nicole Tomassi:

It sounds like all three, you have the , the wearing many hats. I I'm wondering if I should just title this episode, we wear many hats. Um, so let me circle back to you, Susan, and ask how you think your experience working at a publisher helps in how you guide the editorial team so that they can better understand how to serve our clients needs.

Susan Baker:

Yeah. I was just thinking about when I was first recruited to , to come to Westchester. My initial thought was, well, I have a lot of experience. How hard could it be? As a lot of people, I think who have moved to the other side of desk have discovered it's a difficult transition because it's more, when you work at a publisher, you're working with the authors of that publisher. What we have to do is be in between the publisher and the author in many cases. And I really didn't know there were so many different ways that publishers approach , the various tasks that I was familiar with. So I really had to adapt my general knowledge to each client's workflow and house rules. Uh , very fortunately this Westchester had been in existence as a typesetting company, and as Terry mentioned, we worked with them. Um, I realized right away that the customer service staff was an excellent resource in terms of helping me get set up, to manage work with a number of different publishers. Also, fortunately one of my earlier publishing responsibilities was to onboard some smaller clients that we had purchased along the way. And from each of those, I learned something new. While Greenwood originally specialized in academic publishing, some of the new work was trade legal, medical self-help business, you name it. And so I had to learn what was really different about all of these different publishers approach to the work and what sort of talent you needed to recruit to handle a wide array of subject matter and fields. So when I came here, I did have that background that I could use to , uh , recruit and train the staff here, to work both as sort of a customer service representative, which is very important in dealing with both our clients and our authors, as well as , um, the very solid project management , um , staff. I believe that basically all of that background has come to bear in how we have set up to work here at Westchester.

Nicole Tomassi:

You bring up a really interesting point, you know, in that you have to, you went from knowing one particular workflow or one way of working to having to learn many. And Terry , I, it makes me wonder if you experienced a similar situation when you came over to Westchester and learning different publishers workflow requirements, you know, from the production side of the table, if you will.

Terry Colosimo:

Absolutely. Um, what you do find out is your way is not the only way. So even though you come with this vast amount of experience or understanding of how a publisher works, it's not that there is only one size fits all. What I find interesting in , in Susan's experience versus mine is I knew nothing about Quark. I knew nothing about , um, the fine details in terms of typesetting. But what I did know is how to , um, set up processes. Susan had to learn through , um, actually hands-on work, Susan, I believe you actually did some customer service work here as well , um, to get, and that really was a good, it was good hands-on experience. Um, what I found is in putting processes together, I learned from the staff what I needed to do and how to do that. But in terms of coming in with a vast all-around of knowledge, I did not have that, but at the end of the day, it did seem that what I did bring was what was needed at that time.

Nicole Tomassi:

Wow. Thank you for elaborating on that Tyler sort of similar question for you taking your experiences at publishers, how do you find that that helps you from an editorial and standpoint to like establish a rapport with, you know , someone who maybe is hesitant about changing from their existing processes or an engaging Westchester as, as a new vendor?

Tyler Carey:

Well, I mean, I think my experiences on the publisher's side of the desk were nowhere near as , um , through as those, that Susan and Terry have shared , uh , you know, I was more on the sales and business development side, but uh , often finding myself in roles that were defined to kind of act as that liaison between sales and production and editorial , um, on product development. So, I mean, there's an element there where certainly having had to, you know, over my career work with over a thousand different publishers , uh, you know, being a custom publisher that I worked at had hundreds and hundreds of clients prior to the hundreds that I work with here at Westchester, you , you know, I think it , it became very apparent very early in my career that it was always incumbent upon the vendor to work very closely with the publisher to understand how the publisher wanted to do things. Um, there's a value to working with people , um, like Susan and Terry and their teams that have such experience on best practices, but also practices as they're handled at different publishers so that we can kind of tailor workflows as needed to address , uh , either a publisher's overall workflow or define something very specific for a individual publication. So , I mean, I think there's something there where, you know, that rather than saying, this is the Westchester way and here's how we're going to help you edit and type set your book. Um , I think there's a strong value in that shared knowledge , uh, that , uh, comes around , um , from working with so many different publishers and finding the right fit. So , uh , from a sales standpoint, I'm always happy to represent people that are able to help our clients solve problems rather than just say, well, you know, here's kind of a mousetrap and here's how it works, do you want it, you know, something where instead, I feel like we're much more collaborative rather than just offering some sort of PowerPoint slides of end to end production that , um , are supposed to be one size fits all, but never really are .

Nicole Tomassi:

That makes sense. Uh, so I have a final question for each of you, and we'll go in order, starting with Susan, then Terry and finishing up with Tyler. What do you think publishers should understand about working with a services vendor like Westchester that perhaps they haven't considered?

Speaker 2:

Well, I think Tyler gave me a nice softball to hit out of the park with that one, because what we do is we treat each client as unique and we create a team here that's dedicated to work with that client. We size it correctly in terms of the number of people they'll be working with. Um, so that there's continuity and seamless production, and we develop a workflow and we develop documentation all very specific to how that client likes to work. Obviously we have lots of generic , um, documentation and we have lots of, and , uh, we're very , um, able to help with problem solving for our clients. But I think in the end, what the clients and their authors experience with us is a very hands-on approach to their projects, to their needs, that in spite of being fairly large for the kind of company that we are here in the U S. So I think basically that's, that's what the takeaway should be. That we are really willing to work directly with clients to make the work smooth, seamless, and to make sure that the authors are happy and that the work is done on time. So that's, that's it.

Nicole Tomassi:

I think you knocked it out of the park. Terry, what could you add to that?

Terry Colosimo:

I'm also going to , um, elaborate a little bit on what Tyler said in terms of working with a client. It really is, like I said earlier, a partnership where in not so much saying here's what we can do, but more asking the question, what are your needs right now? And how can we come up with a solution to help you with that? I've found many times that in just having just a discussion with a client that going off on a tangent, you find that there was something that they really could utilize our services for. And as Susan said, we, we build a team and we , um, we ask the questions and we , we personalize that service in such a way that we can truly , um, be there to meet their expectations.

Nicole Tomassi:

Tyler, anything you want to add to that?

Speaker 3:

I , I just piggyback on that by just saying, I think , um, it really is very different conversations we're having now than we had seven years ago with our clients. I think to an extent, you know, we were kind of at times some clients kind of compartmentalize this as, oh, we're the typesetter, you know, that, you know, Westchester is the type center that we use. And I think when there's any vendor-client relationship, there can be a snapshot in time where, you know, that vendor best based on what they do for you common , uh , most regularly, you know, whereas vendors expand, they add services. I spoke with one of our vendors today and I had no idea that they had a certain service line that can actually be really helpful for us, for instance. Um, so I think that's the kind of thing where as , uh , the editorial group that Susan helms has grown as , um, all of the options that we offer via our offshore operations in India, that Terry oversees have grown.

Tyler Carey:

Um, and it's been incumbent upon me and, you know , my colleagues in the sales and marketing team to basically be working with our existing clients, just as much as new business to say, you know, here are some of the newer features to our client portal. Here are some of the newer services we've rolled out. Less show and tell and more kind of dialogue about what are the, where are the areas of your production workflow, where things are getting stuck, might not always be a problem we can solve, but a lot of these conversations we've had have opened up ways for us to support clients in ways we hadn't before. So , uh, you know, I think certainly , uh, that's something where the expertise that Susan and Terry have with working with all the clients that their team support has really helped us kind of innovate and come up with new ways of making life for our clients a lot easier.

Nicole Tomassi:

Well , that's certainly something that's been important all the time, but especially over the past year when things have changed so dramatically and the way that that books are literally published and delivered, you know, the mediums have changed so much in the last 15 months, so that innovative and flexible approach is so important. now. Uh , I want to thank all three of you for coming on to this episode of Westchester words, to talk about how your previous roles working at publishing companies has been an essential part of the work that you do every day for Westchester clients.

Terry Colosimo:

Thank you.

Susan Baker:

Thank you.

Tyler Carey:

Pleasure, Nicole.

Nicole Tomassi:

Thank you all. Thank you for listening to this episode of Westchester Words. You can follow Westchester words on your favorite streaming platform to be notified about new episodes when they become available and listen to previous episodes, you can also find all of the episodes plus additional bonus content that's been shared by some of our [email protected] In the meantime, please send us an email at westchesterwords at westchesteredsvcs.com. That's Westchester [email protected] Edservices.com to share your thoughts or comments about today's discussion and tell us what content you'd like Westchester to cover in future episodes. Join us next time when we'll be talking about another topic of importance to education at tech and publishing. Until then stay safe, be well and stay tuned.