Behind the scenes at Current Publishing

Hello from Chiswick in West London, where the sun has finally come out and it’s all systems go in the Current Publishing office.

My name’s Carly – I’m the Editorial Assistant for Current Archaeology and Current World Archaeology, and as it’s the Day of Archaeology today I thought I’d take you behind the scenes to see how the magazines are put together.

Friday is treats day at Current Publishing, and today the morning got off to a very promising start with advertising maestro Mike earning literal brownie points by bringing in some baked goodies for us to share. We’re always excited when cake arrives in the office, and with one team birthday yesterday and two more imminent, there’s a lot of it about.

Right now we’re slap-bang in the middle of the press cycle. Our sister magazine Military History Monthly was sent to the printers yesterday, so today the full might of the design team has switched over to CWA, which is the next to go (in July).

Designer Justine is currently working her magic on the culture section, making our museum and book reviews look fabulous, while Art Editor Mark is experimenting with options for the next cover. At the moment we have 10 separate designs stuck up on the wall, which certainly brightens things up a bit!

CWA Editor Caitlin is putting the finishing touches to the last couple of features that are going into the next issue (#54), giving them a last polish before they are signed off as ‘ready to lay out’, while CA Editor Matt is out in the field, visiting an excavation at Oakington in Cambridgeshire where some seriously spectacular Anglo-Saxon burials are being uncovered. We covered the site in CA 261, and it’s fantastic to see that there are more stories to reveal. Watch this space for more information in CA 270!

Meanwhile, our boss Rob is tinkering with the ‘Flatplan’, doing clever things to the system we use to plan the layout of each issue, track the progress of articles and generally organise our lives, and our intern Roseanna is lending a hand with the news section, hunting for breaking stories all over the world. We’re always grateful for another pair of hands in the office, and it’s such fun sharing what media archaeology is all about with people who are as passionate about the past as we are.

This is the great thing about working at Current Publishing – we’re a small team but everyone has a unique and important role to play, and every day is different. Although I work for both magazines, because of where we’re at in the schedule I’ve been mostly focussing on CWA today. It’s great fun jumping between UK and international stories.

This morning I finished a two-page article about a site in Peru and wrote a fact box about Phrygians for a feature on Turkey, while this afternoon I’ve been sourcing pictures and turning around a breaking news story about World Heritage Sites for the CWA website.

Much like digging, you never know quite what each day is going to bring – but that’s what makes it so exciting.

Find out more – you can find Current Archaeology on Facebook here, or follow us on Twitter at @currentarchaeo.

Current World Archaeology’s Facebook page is here, and we tweet as @worldarchaeo. 

still alive

This is one of those days that feels wonderful in retrospect, and while it’s not over yet I can see things starting to fall into place. I’m a freelance archaeologist who makes a living from writing, broadcasting, taking photos and such like, and I still get the occasional chance to do a bit of research or fieldwork (I suppose technically I’m not freelance anymore, as I work for my own company Digging Deeper, which we set up last year).

For some time now, my biggest single contract has been editing the Council for British Archaeology’s magazine British Archaeology. The job definitely has its moments, but overall it’s one I love doing, and I’m very proud of what the magazine has become – I really think there is nothing else quite like it, and it’s good. But it does take a bit of work, and as people close to me know to their cost, the couple of weeks leading up to printing are, shall I say, tense. In the case of the next issue, that has been the couple of weeks leading up to now.

I’ve come to realise that unless you’ve experienced real deadlines, you cannot understand what they mean. When a printer is expecting a magazine by a certain time on a certain day, that is a deadline. If you miss it, you risk messing up something on which thousands of people are depending (for which they have paid good money), and which involves a chain of businesses (van drivers, printers – there’s more than one involved in this job – a mailing house, a designer, a retail distributor and so on), all of whom are working to the same timetable. And most of all, of course, in this case it means risking letting down the charity that funds it all, the CBA.

So that means that on every page of the 68 page magazine, every word, every punctuation mark, every image, every line and box, from editorial (which I wrote this afternoon) and adverts (one of which was substituted this afternoon), to book reviews (13 reviewers in this issue, only one of whom is really late… I’ll be writing mine imminently) and the major features (seven in this issue, including an exclusive I’m very excited about, though who knows whether anyone will share my enthusiasm?), has to be in the right place, doing the right thing, and looking right, at the right time. And it means that news stories, which are some of the last things I research and write so they are topical and exclusive, have to be right, even if that means allowing everyone involved to have their say, and changing a one-paragraph story 18 times (it happened, in British Archaeology over the past three days).

And the most important thing of all, is that when someone buys the magazine in their newsagent and, perhaps, flicks though it on the train as they go home from work, they should have no idea how much blood was spilt to produce it. All they should see is the excitement of archaeology, the great stories, the beauty of old things – and, inevitably now, a bit about the difficulties archaeologists are having keeping the past alive.

So today I have, almost, finished British Archaeology number 120 (in the shops on August 12!). Right now, that is as intense a day of archaeology as I ever get. Phew!


Busy day!

It’s been a busy day so far. The meeting with AAI&S has now finished, and was very successful. Look out for a press release about the merger. We’ve also been making some exciting plans for next year’s Conference (which will be in Oxford 18 – 20 April).

I’ve organised an inspection panel for a organisation that’s applied to become Registered with us, and we’re continuing to write up the benchmarking reports for those of our current Registered Organisations who need to reregister this year (they do so every two years, to make sure they’re still operating as we expect them to). I’m also getting some last minute nomination forms in from people eager to be on the Buildings Archaeology Group’s committee, and rounded up what training courses our groups have done this year for Alex, who’s writing the Annual Report at the moment. I’m currently typing up the last edits on the text of The Archaeologist for our designer, as that will go to press next month. This issue is the conference round-up. A copy of the new ‘Londinium’ map has just arrived on my desk for review (in the following edition I suspect). It’s very good, Kirsten’s just showed me the iphone app. I like the one-finger excavation technique!

Earlier today we released an exciting statement about the new Scottish government planning advice note. We are particularly pleased with the stipulation that archaeological work required through the planning process should conform to the relevant IfA Standards and guidance, and the emphasis that work should be done by ‘a professionally competent organisation or consultant’, with IfA is identified as having a Register of professionally accredited organisations.

The phone’s been busier than it has been all week, which is unusual for a Friday. I might need some more coffee….


Archaeological Publishing

I’m an archaeologist, and I’m also a publisher. Many of my colleagues in the Publications Office of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA, founded in 1881) in Princeton, New Jersey, were archaeologists first, and edit, proofread, typeset, and manage the creation and production of our quarterly journal, Hesperia, as well as a wide variety of books. We work in the field when we can, but our primary job is to publish the work of the School: excavation reports and monographs of the Athenian Agora, of Corinth, and of affiliated excavations, as well as the publication of the work of our friends in the Gennadius Library, the Malcolm H. Wiener Laboratory, and the Archives, plus the research of scholars working within the broad field of Greek archaeology of all periods. The ASCSA is charged by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism with primary responsibility for all American archaeological research, and seeks to support the investigation, preservation, and presentation of Greece’s cultural heritage. ASCSA’s publications satisfy the last part of our mission.

The week leading up to the Day of Archaeology has been an extraordinary one for us in Publications. We just received our advance copies of Histories of Peirene: A Corinthian Fountain in Three Millennia, by Betsey A. Robinson (Vanderbilt University). The creation of this interdisciplinary volume utilized, for the first time at the ASCSA, a dedicated project wiki, and favored the digital exchange of files and comments outside of email. Communication between project team members in several U.S. and in Greece was both constant and transparent making for quick turnaround. We used Google Sites for the wiki which was the project’s hub at host for files, Skype for voice/video communication, Adobe Creative Suite 5 for design. We also assigned digital object identifiers (DOIs) for the first time within an ASCSA book so that readers could view large, high-resolution plans online. Post-production, we’re using (also for the first time) Facebook and Twitter in conjunction with print media to promote and market the book, and are putting review copies into the hands of traditional reviewers like the Bryn Mawr Classical Review as well as into the in-boxes (and Dropboxes) of archaeologists in the blogosphere. Archaeological publication has to include ways of letting the world know new research has been published.

Other books in production for 2011 include volumes on Greek manuscripts, Bronze Age Tsoungiza, Sikyon, Athenian pottey, Byzantine graves and human remains at Isthmia, dedicatory monument inscriptions from the Athenian Agora, and a collection of articles on houses and households in ancient Crete. We split the editorial and proofreading duties between our full-time staff of editors and freelancers who have been trained in the ASCSA’s house style (modified Chicago style) as well as in archaeology and Classics.

Hesperia, the journal of the ASCSA, has recently undergone some changes to make it more contemporary, useful, and accessible to archaeologists and other scholars worldwide. On August 1st, the journal’s full run (80 volumes from 1932 until now), becomes available on JSTOR’s Current Scholarship Program. All issues of the journal have never been online in a single location before, so now readers can browse across all articles from the past 80 years.

With Hesperia appearing both in print and online, we wanted to be able to begin to take advantage of the Internet in allowing us to host digital editions of issues that contain full-color images, something that is prohibitively expensive to print. For issue 80.2 which will be released on August 1st, we’re including a free, LH IIA2 pottery catalogue from Tsoungiza both as a PDF file, but also as an HTML webpage for improved usability. For some archaeological publication of data, we need to think beyond what can be printed, and consider other ways of presenting archaeological data for the use of other scholars and researchers. We hope to host everything from color images to 3D reconstructions to entire data sets. The full-color article and online supplemental material are first-steps in that direction.

We are also venturing into open-access content for Hesperia, and have begun to post articles for free on our website. We expect this section to grow considerably over time.

Lest people think that archaeological publishing consists of musty-dusty tomes, we are currently embarking on a program of eBook creation, providing both print and digital editions of new titles to our readers, ultimately digging into our back-list to make older books available digitally, too, in a format that can be both searched and annotated and are not merely page-scans saved as PDFs.

Ultimately we hope to produce apps that will merge archaeological texts with multimedia, GPS functionality, data, and more, providing a reader full context. As all archaeologists know, context is key.

On July 29th, the Day of Archaeology, I will be meeting with editors and archaeologists both in person and via Skype as we plan a new way to manage our publishing projects with less paper, more speed, and better communication. We’ll also be reviewing the f&gs (folded & gathered sheets) for the print edition of Hesperia 80.2 prior to approving the issue for binding. I’ll assist our designer with typesetting our monograph on Greek manuscripts. I’ll be emailing several of our authors who are currently in the field in Greece and in Turkey about the status of their books and articles. I’ll look at a lot of digital images of pots. And I’ll probably take a break to go through the Publications archives to catalogue some correspondence from the 1930s and 1940s, finding delight in hand-written notes and typescript pages marked in pencil.

I was an archaeologist before I became a publisher. I excavated at Isthmia (Greece) and Poggio Civitate (Italy). I earned my MA in art history and archaeology at the University of Missouri – Columbia, and my BA in archaeology (double-major with writing) from the University of Evansville. I’m tickled that I am publishing an article by my undergraduate adviser this week. And I am honored to be publishing Agora “blue books”, Corinth “red books” as well as Hesperia (and Hesperia supplements), series that I used extensively during my student years. I love being a publisher, and I love publishing the work of my peers and of my heroes.