Staff Stories: An interview with Martyn Beeny
Anna Stokely is one of the more recent additions to the press: Publicist, book hoarder, and needlework enthusiast. For the Press’ 75th anniversary—and out of her own curiosity—she is interviewing her more experienced co-workers to put a face on one of the largest university presses in the country.
Martyn Beeny is the marketing manager at UNP, where he wreaks havoc from his red couch, chauffeurs his staff around, and puts on a fake English accent at all times.
AS: What’s your current job at UNP, and how long have you held it?
MB: I’m the marketing manager—have been for three years now. I answer questions, put out fires, talk to people. And, hopefully, I give the rest of the marketing department a platform from which to succeed in their jobs.
AS: Have you held other positions with the press?
MB: Driver. Just kidding, no, I haven’t.
AS: Describe your most memorable interaction at the press.
MB: Hmm… Revamping the office—we painted the wall red and added a couch in marketing. Oh, also: Standing outside of the Barnes and Noble corporate building, and, just, wondering what to do.
AS: Were you awestruck by New York City? I would’ve been.
MB: No, I’d been many times before, but B&N is just confusing. Things aren’t marked, people are coming in and out looking important, like they know what they’re doing—it’s like Platform 9 ¾, kind of hidden. It’s weird.
AS: What brought you to UNP?
MB: I used to work at South Dakota Historical Society Press, a small press that publishes six or seven books a year. UNP publishes around 150. I wanted to see how a bigger press works.
AS: Which book that you worked on has taught you the most?
MB: I don’t know if I have any one book. All of Potomac’s first season taught me a lot. Adding an imprint to an already large press, purchasing a company, dealing with representatives, different authors—all of it was quite the learning experience.
AS: Which forthcoming book are you most excited about?
MB: Wishart, Great Plains Indians. It’s a new series, a trade series, and it’s Bison, which is what UNP is all about.
AS: How do you mean that?
MB: Bison Books is Nebraska. To many people, our Bison imprint is what sets UNP apart from other university presses. We were the first—I believe—if not close to the first—university press to have a trade imprint. We started publishing more than just scholarly works. We set the bar for other UPs and increased our own visibility.
AS: What is the most memorable interaction you’ve had with a reader or author at an event?
MB: Every person who says, “Where are you from?”
AS: (laughing) Well, for the sake of those reading this interview on our blog later who can’t hear your accent, could you elaborate?
MB: St. Ives, England. Near Cambridge.
AS: Thanks. What advice do you have for people starting in career in publishing?
MB: Every author is unique. Every book is different. But they’re all books.