Since 1990, Andrew Malekoff has been the Editor of Social Work with Groups, a quarterly journal of community and clinical practice. As well as this, he is the Executive Director of the children’s mental health agency, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center. Andrew is a prolific writer: among his hundreds of published works is the widely acclaimed 'Group Work with Adolescents: Principles and Practice', now in its third edition. He has an excellent reputation in his field and is one of the winners of the prestigious 'Long Island Business News' Executive Circle Awards'. We asked Andrew to share his advice and experience with other Editors looking to build an active and engaged community around their journals.
A challenge that almost all journal editors face is building and sustaining a healthy readership that is attracted to quality, relevance and readability. One part of the equation to achieving this goal is good marketing to increase visibility. Along with the online resources provided by Taylor & Francis, a great way to get the word out is through both traditional and contemporary means; namely, at professional events and through social media. It is equally as important to develop good relationships with your authors and reviewers; word spreads quickly, so you want them to have a positive experience of working with your journal. In this post, I share my advice on how to utilize conferences, build a social media presence and create a positive impression among peers.
Conferences & events
The key to conferences is having resources that attendees can take away with them; this not only leaves them with a physical reminder of the journal, but they get insight into the quality of the work being published.
Developing a good relationship with the Taylor & Francis marketing team has been vital to successfully arranging for timely preparation and delivery of resources, such as:
- Hard copy resources, such as journal samples, business cards and flyers
- Links to open access articles for digital media
Using social media requires setting up an account with, for example, Facebook that is devoted to your journal. There is no cost to do this. If you’re not familiar with how to do this you can:
- Search for instructions the Internet and
- Ask a colleague who uses social media regularly for their guidance.
The prospect of this can be daunting to some editors, but it is an incredibly effective way of generating discussion around your publication. Of course, you must be prepared to take the leap!
Some of the ways I’ve engaged with the online community include:
- I have developed a Facebook page devoted to my journal Social Work with Groups that has more than 3000 international followers.
- I’ve also post on the on the International Association for Social Work with Groups (IASWG). Membership in IASWG includes a discount for the Journal, so social media is a great tool for promoting both the group work method, IASWG and the Journal. (If your journal is associated with a society, encourage them to actively promote the publication also.)
Although marketing is an essential part of community building in the 21st century, old fashioned relationships with authors and reviewers is a fundamental part of building your journal’s community.
Building a dedicated and loyal group of reviewers is essential to stewarding authors who show promise. The time it takes to build loyal authors is worth it, whether through initial conversations at professional conferences, whetting their appetite through social media or providing constant encouragement and helpful ideas through the hard work of writing and re-writing.
Empathy is a good place to start:
- Understanding what an author’s motivation for writing for publication gives editors an edge. Many writers, who are also educators, write to advance their careers; I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “publish or perish.” Although most educators are passionate about what they are writing about, there is the added pressure for them of trying to advance their careers.
- For practitioners who write, the motivation is different. For example, I subscribe to the concept “publish to preserve.” Here, the idea is to encourage aspiring writers to memorialize the great stories of their professional frontline practice.
Finally, I learned that the key to good writing, is rewriting. Once authors “get that” the process is less painful and the rewards that much richer.