Tag Archives: Business

Meet the Press: Melissa Hammer, Senior Acquisitions Editor


meet_the_press_graphic_march2018Name: Melissa Hammer
Position: Senior Acquisitions Editor
Hometown: Wheaton, IL
Alma mater(s); major(s), minor(s): Bradley University; B.A. in English and Spanish, Professional Writing minor
Social media handles: @melbuhtoast on Twitter and Instagram


Tell us a little bit about your position at the press.

My job at the press is to seek out and contract new books to publish, specifically in the areas of military history, diplomatic history, Asian studies, political science, and public health. Once projects are under contract, I work with authors as they develop their manuscripts prior to submission and answer any questions they have about the publishing process.

What’s one of your favorite UPK titles and why?

Who Killed Betty Gail Brown by Robert G. Lawson – it was a story I was unfamiliar with since I am not from the area, but I love a good true crime murder mystery!

If someone was visiting Kentucky for the first time and you were their tour guide, where would you take them? Any specific restaurants, landmarks, etc.?

If visiting Lexington specifically, the perfect day would start with donuts and coffee from North Lime Donuts, followed by a morning walk at McConnell Springs Park. Then a stop at the Pepper Distillery District for lunch at Goodfellas and a beer from Ethereal, and maybe ice cream from Crank & Boom. In the afternoon, we would either visit the Arboretum for more walking, or – if it is raining – catch a movie at the Kentucky Theater and then dinner at OBC Kitchen. For a weekend excursion away from Lexington, I’d suggest renting a cabin at Cumberland Falls State Park – it’s BEAUTIFUL!

What’s your favorite word?


Do you have a favorite font? If so, what is it? 

I’ve weirdly always loved the simplicity of Garamondgaramond

Did you always know you wanted to work in publishing? When you were a kid, did you want to do something different as an adult?

When I was a kid I first wanted to be a waitress, then a dolphin trainer/marine biologist, and then I knew I wanted to work with books. It wasn’t until I started doing internships in publishing in college that I knew I wanted to work in book publishing.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? What’s a random factoid about yourself?

I have had the pleasure of visiting almost every state in the US – I only have 10 left!

If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would you choose?

I honestly have no idea. Perhaps Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter?

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. I liked it a lot, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you haven’t read Outlander, or if you don’t enjoy book that are over 700 pages long!

Any hidden talents?

It is more of a hidden talent now than it was in my early life, but I play the violin.

If someone asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you say? Do you have a personal motto?

One of my favorite quotes is also my personal motto – and a piece of advice I would give anyone. It is “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.” —e.e. cummings


Meet the Press

We’ve been working a long time to cultivate our mysterious persona (since 1943!), but sometimes being mysterious isn’t all that great. People we meet often have questions about who we are and what we do.


Most folks are familiar with the “Big Five” publishers, and they do great work. But there are more than 120 university presses in America (not to mention Europe, Australia, China, Canada, and the UK) publishing ~12,000 books a year!

The main difference between our press and a publisher like one of the Big Five is that our books must all be peer-reviewed before they can be published. University press books are sent to scholars and peer-reviewers across the globe to be vetted before they are approved for publication. Even books like The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book were reviewed by experts in the field. This process ensures that our published books remain of the highest quality and helps us maintain a clear and focused mission.

University presses, as a whole, are instrumental to the expansion of knowledge and scholarship. From scholarly monographs and journals, to partnerships with universities, libraries, historical societies, and others, university presses ensure the continued development of research, ideas, and understanding. Below are a few more reasons why university presses matter. For more information, visit www.aupresses.org.

  • University Presses make available to the broader public the full range and value of research generated by university faculty.
  • University Press books and journals present the basic research and analysis that is drawn upon by policymakers, opinion leaders, and authors of works for the general public.
  • University Presses help to preserve the distinctiveness of local cultures through publication of works on the states and regions where they are based.
  • University Presses encourage cultural expression by publishing works of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction and books on contemporary art and photography.
  • University Presses, through the peer review process, test the validity and soundness of scholarship and thus maintain high standards for academic publication.
  • University Presses add to the richness of undergraduate and graduate education by publishing most of the non-textbook and supplementary material used by instructors.
  • University Presses extend the reach and influence of their parent institutions, making evident their commitment to knowledge and ideas.
  • University Presses help connect the university to the surrounding community by publishing books of local interest and hosting events for local authors.
  • University Presses provide advice and opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in publishing.

from “The Value of University Presses,” compiled by the
Association of University Presses (AUPresses)

We want to demystify the machinations of our university press and reach out to our community and friends, old and new. In the weeks ahead, we’ll introduce our staff, feature our process, and of course, highlight our books along the way. We couldn’t do what we love without the support of our readers and fans, so don’t be shy! We’re always delighted to answer any questions anyone might have about UPK, who we are, and what we do.

UPK Books Top Librarians’ Watch List

University Press of Kentucky’s forthcoming fall titles are already attracting attention from librarians. Library Journal, a leading trade magazine for librarians, has taken notice. In their next issue, as part of their coverage of the American Library Association Annual Conference, which concluded this past weekend, Senior Editor Margaret Heilbrun will announce two books to watch for the upcoming season. The University Press of Kentucky’s Cecelia and Fanny: The Remarkable Friendship between an Escaped Slave and her Former Mistress, by Brad Asher (available in October), joins Yale University Press’s Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock as her picks for the season. Cecelia and Fannyis the true story of an escaped slave and her former mistress who immerged from the Civil War to maintain a relationship despite their past. Using a cache of letters discovered in a Louisville archive, Asher documents their relationship and sheds new light on race relations in years following the war.

In addition, Library Journal just announced its Fall 2011 University Press Preview which gives an advanced look at the best forthcoming titles from all university presses. Cecelia and Fanny joined seven other University Press of Kentucky books on the list (only Harvard University Press had more selections).

By recognizing the work being done by the University Press of Kentucky, Library Journal has validated the press’s mission of producing book of the highest scholarly merit in a variety of fields, including military history, film history, civil rights, political science, and regional interest, among others.

Keep reading to discover our other feature titles:

Continue reading

Discovering ‘The Quiet Professional’

A post from UPK Marketing & Sales Director John Hussey:

I know it isn’t typical for us to blog about publishing, but I thought you might be interested in the ways UPK is becoming a better-known, better-available brand through our impressive new titles for Fall 2011.

As a publisher, it is our job to stay neutral to all of our accounts, whether they are as big as Amazon, or as small as a Kentucky gift shop. We pitch our books and hope that these stores decide to carry them so that you can discover them on the shelf. Barnes & Noble, the largest of the remaining bookstore chains, has always impressed me with their willingness to communicate with all publishers. The book buyers who decide what titles get stocked meet with me, and meet with the sales team from every other publisher hoping to make sales, including publishers such as Random House. They spend hours going through catalogs and reading bound galleys until they determine the best of the best of what is being published. I’ve always been fascinated that a small non-profit publisher in Kentucky can get the same attention as a major commercial publisher in New York City. It’s something you may not expect from a large chain bookseller.

This relationship paid off recently with our upcoming title, The Quiet Professional: Major Richard J. Meadows of the U.S. Army Special Forces. This book, which focuses on the key figure of the United States Army Special Forces, will be published on the 10 year anniversary of September 11th. With the recent success of the Navy Seals and their capture of Osama Bin Laden, Barnes & Noble wanted to give this book premium exposure. Even as a book from a small university press, my history buyer wanted to give this book a national market promotion and make sure that from New York to Kentucky, and from Florida to California, everyone can learn about this incredible soldier.

I’ve been doing this for some time, and the exposure The Quiet Professional is going to receive at Barnes & Noble is unprecedented. It also showed me that Barnes & Noble still represents what it ultimately means to be a bookseller, and that is something everyone should know about.

About the Book:

Coming September 2011


Major Richard J. “Dick” Meadows is renowned in military circles as a key figure in the development of the U.S. Army Special Operations. A highly decorated war veteran of the engagements in Korea and Vietnam, Meadows was instrumental in the founding of the U.S. Delta Force and hostage rescue force. Although he officially retired in 1977, Meadows could never leave the army behind, and he went undercover in the clandestine operations to free American hostages from Iran in 1980.

The Quiet Professional: Major Richard J. Meadows of the U.S. Army Special Forces is the only biography of this exemplary soldier’s life. Military historian Alan Hoe offers unique insight into Meadows, having served alongside him in 1960. The Quiet Professional is an insider’s account that gives a human face to U.S. military strategy during the cold war. Major Meadows often claimed that he never achieved anything significant; The Quiet Professional proves otherwise, showcasing one of the great military minds of twentieth-century America.

Major Alan Hoe (ret.) served in the British Army Special Forces and is the author of several books, including Terrorism: Threat and Response and David Stirling: The Authorized Biography of the Creator of the SAS. He lives in the United Kingdom.

“Dick Meadows’ iconic status begins with his exploits in MACV-SOG and on the Son Tay Raid in Vietnam. This book documents his singular status in the Special Operations community and is a welcome contribution to the literature of the history of Army Special Operations.”—Kenneth Finlayson, Ph.D., Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)