Anthony LipscombJuly 15, 2023 

Anna Valcour | Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Anthony Lipscomb, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies PhD’24, currently oversees adult theological education as Director of Christian Development at Bridgeway Christian Church in Roseville, CA. In 2020, Anthony received an internship to work for the Brandeis University Press. Following his internship, Anthony became the Brandeis University Press Coordinator from 2021 to 2023. Through the Connected PhD grant, he learned the multifaceted elements involved in publication that propelled him to his current position. In this interview, Anthony reflects on his Higher Education Administrative Internship, sponsored by the Connected PhD.

How did you learn about the Connected PhD project grants, and why did you choose to apply?

I remember the emails circulating for the first rounds but didn't really give it much thought. I learned about the opportunity later during a doctoral prospectus dissertation seminar. One day, while everyone was packing up and leaving, Professor ChaeRan Freeze made a last-minute announcement of this opportunity to work for the Brandeis Press that would be funded through the Connected PhD program. I happened to be sitting right next to her when she mentioned it, and I immediately perked up. I had already been thinking about academic publishing as a potential avenue and had previous freelance copy-editing and proofreading experience while working for a press and their academic imprints. So, I thought this was a logical step for me to explore and see what it’s all about. That’s where it started. I arranged a meeting with the press director, talked it through, submitted the application later that summer, and it all worked out! I mean, without Professor Freeze’s passing comment, I may not have worked with Brandeis University Press.

How did working for the Brandeis University Press as an intern enhance your skills in publishing? 

Working as a research assistant for faculty, both at Brandeis and my previous institutions, I've seen the authors’ side of bookmaking and getting scholarship out into the world. My job in those roles was to proofread the final manuscript, work on the index, and occasionally add text, which was nice. But that's a small window for what goes into putting a book out there. Being a part of the press as the intern really pulled back the veil to see what's behind the curtain. There’s so much more! When we hold a book in our hands, we see the author’s name and associate that book with that author, and maybe we also associate it with the press. The author’s hands are not the only ones that make a book a reality. There are so many people working behind the scenes that put a lot of time and skill into bringing that to fruition. The Connected PhD internship allowed me to really see the whole process – that lifecycle. It's a rigorous and patient endeavor. Often, you’re working for over a year on the final manuscript, and there are so many departments that contribute to the final product. For example, the editorial department makes sure that the author’s manuscript is in the right format, verifies content permissions, makes sure images are at a certain standard of resolution, and coordinates with the production team. Then the production team has a ginormous responsibility to make the manuscript look like a book. What I’ve learned here at the press and from my director, Sue Ramin, who has been in the business for 30 years now, is that authors write manuscripts, publishers make books. It’s a team effort. 

In terms of hard skills, my role evolved into project management. We’re a small team here at the press, so it’s an opportunity to explore many different departments, but it's also a lot of responsibility. At larger presses, like Oxford, Yale, or Cambridge, they have their own sales department, their own marketing department, their own production team. Since we are a very small team, we do a lot of everything. I'll do some social media for an hour, then review submissions, and after I’ll review royalties and contracts. That's the advantage of having a Connected PhD experience with a press like Brandeis. It provides you with the vocational advantage of being able to say that you've worn all these different hats. The opportunity at the Connected PhD really helped expand my horizons vocationally in university publishing. 

You mentioned wearing a lot of hats; do you have a favorite one? 

I don't know if there's a favorite, but there are many aspects of the job that I love. Most recently, we worked on The Academy and the Award: The Coming of Age of Oscar and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by Bruce Davis (2022). Because of that, I was in contact with actor Ed Begley Jr. and film critic Leonard Maltin. So, every now and then you get to correspond with some people you normally wouldn’t. I mean, I’m a NEJS PhD candidate and that’s an entirely different world! It’s a rare perk of the job. Other times, I find myself reveling in the minutiae of work. For example, when I receive a manuscript from an author, I go through the font, format – all the detail work that production needs to have completed. It makes their life happier, which makes our lives happier. That detailed work reminds me of the processes I use to submit articles to journals. It’s a comfort zone for me. I also like learning new technologies. Sometimes, I explore YouTube and find DIY videos on how to do something in Photoshop. That can be fun as well! I’m building skills along the way that I normally wouldn’t in a strictly academic endeavor. 

What advice do you have for current students as they propose projects and deepen their professional development? 

I’m not sure I have the best answer for this type of question because this kind of fell into my lap. I guess my advice would be to have a well thought out project and to be flexible. Talk to the Connected PhD team and get their advice on what they’re looking for. That way, you can mold your project to fit those parameters. They may help you mold it in a way that you didn’t initially expect with benefits that may surprise you. After the experience, pay attention to the professional networks that are a part of that experience. You can go in and learn the skills, processes, and operations, but if you see that as something viable and fulfilling, the next step is to know the network.