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Week of January 23, 2012

Staff Spotlight

University Press’ 
promotions coordinator 
explores comic writing

Shaun Manning, U-M Press promotions coordinator, has written creatively for many years, however, he recently found a new outlet.

“I read a lot; I read nonfiction, I read fiction, I read comics. So when I write, I have a sense of what form a story should take. One story came to me as a comic, so I wrote it and I finished two scripts for that,” says Manning, a Hillsdale College graduate. He continued to write comics for a website while he earned his master’s in creative writing at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

Photo by Austin Thomason, U-M Photo Services.

In his U-M role, Manning continues to write, but in a manner different from his comics. “I do marketing for political science and literary studies titles, primarily,” he says, which involves writing a variety of promotional materials.

U-M Press is part of MPublishing, the university’s primary division for academic publishing which operates as part of the University Library system. His marketing work to support U-M Press encompasses a range of activities. “A lot of what I do involves sending out review copies of new books, writing press releases and announcements, trying to get media coverage, helping to coordinate author events, and blogging about our authors who have received an award or outstanding review, or who are otherwise in the news,” Manning says.

In his role as promotions coordinator, Manning is responsible for discovering what readers prefer. “I go to academic conferences to sell books and promote our newest releases, but speaking with attendees also helps me to better understand what they’re interested in, which is very useful for marketing future releases,” he says.

Manning says his role is to make sure U-M Press authors receive the promotion they deserve, to get their research in front of professors, academic journals and mainstream publications. “It’s great when there is real discussion surrounding a book and its ideas, whether that’s in a classroom, in the popular media or between scholars.

“I’m also always looking for new ways to use our Twitter and Facebook presence, and I and the rest of the marketing team have been working in the last few months to build a bit more of a community there.”

Manning also continues to pursue his interest in creative writing. He recently placed as a semi-finalist in a comic writing competition led by Spider-Man creator Stan Lee, and is pursuing several comic platforms, including a new series called “Hell, Nebraska.”

Manning also works with a publisher on another new comic, exploring the idea of time travel by way of drugs. “In that book, I’m looking at this idea of the addictive power of nostalgia and how, if this drug did exist, society would completely fall apart because everyone would use it constantly to relive their finest moments instead of moving forward,” Manning says.

Manning also is working on a fiction project. “It’s about a boy whose mother has committed suicide and he’s joined his high school’s Christian group as a way to cope with that. It’s kind of an exploration of how religion affects his life,” he says. An excerpt of the novel was published in a literary review.

Eventually, Manning hopes to publish several of his written works. He also looks forward to continuing his work with the University Press. “I enjoy working with books — I’ve been fortunate enough to work in publishing in some capacity for most of my adult life, and I’m happy to do this for as long as they’ll have me,” Manning says.

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Shaun Manning, promotions coordinator, U-M Press, on his work with the U-M Press: “It’s great when there is real discussion surrounding a book and its ideas, whether that’s in a classroom, in the popular media or between scholars.”