Marketing in Humanities and Social Sciences Academic Publishing: a perspective from the London office of Harvard University Press

Tech in Publishing

Francesca Zunino Harper is a linguist, translator, and publishing professional. She worked in the British and international academia researching on comparative literatures,  translation, and women’s and environmental humanities for several years. She now works in the Humanities and Social Sciences area of publishing. You can follow her @ZuninoFrancesca.

At the moment, the academic, university and educational publishing sphere is undergoing great debates and transformations regarding its formats, channels, access, and future. Nevertheless, and in spite of the Humanities and Social Sciences having less funding and fewer tools available, there is an intensifying demand by general readers for stimulating non-fiction HSS monographs written by experts and published by highly reliable presses. Not just teachers and students but also the general public, journalists, activists, professionals are increasingly engaged with understanding the world’s past and present critical events and fostering informed, meaningful discussion.

So how can a global university press increase the dissemination of the HSS research it publishes? How can academic marketing ensure the research’s impact reaches an extremely wide readership? I put these questions to the marketing specialist at Harvard University Press London Office, Alice Ticehurst (Promotions Manager).

1) Alice, what are your main responsibilities?

From the London office we cover sales, publicity, marketing, and editorial for UK, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. My main responsibilities are handling print and digital advertising, managing and running social media accounts, and managing the exhibits programme.

2) What have you been particularly focusing on since you joined HUP?

I’ve been lucky enough to work on various different aspects of marketing since joining HUP five years ago, but I’d say the main thing I’ve focused on has been developing our social media presence and strategy. Alongside my colleague in HUP’s main office in Cambridge, MA, I set up HUP’s Instagram account in September 2016, and that has been really interesting to work on and see our followers grow. Bookshops, authors, and media outlets are increasingly engaging with us more and more on social media, which has been brilliant.

3) What is HUP doing in a new way in terms of marketing?

We have experimented over the last 2 years with new ways of digital marketing: from increased efforts on social media, to more email campaigns to scholars and librarians in our territories. One campaign that was very successful in particular was an email campaign to classics scholars and librarians for the digital Loeb Classical Library. After the email campaign was deployed, we saw a big increase in people requesting trials and signing up for subscriptions for their institutions.  We hadn’t done much email marketing from the London office, so the whole campaign was a new way of marketing for us. It allowed us to reach a wide range of people in our territories, and allowed people to click through to the website to request a trial or subscribe to the programme. As the digital Loeb Classical Library is all online, it made sense to focus our marketing efforts digitally as well.

4) Can you tell us about an example of HUP’s projects that can be innovative in terms of academic marketing?

This year we are attending New Scientist Live for the second year in a row. Last year was the first time we had a stand, and we sold a huge number of books at the event. New Scientist Live was a different kind of exhibit to the usual academic conferences we attend, but we were delighted with the wide range of people who stopped by our stand and bought books. It wasn’t just science books that sold well either, we had people who were very interested in our economics, politics, and education books, too. NSL is open to the public and so it allowed us to reach a huge number of people who maybe wouldn’t typically hear about HUP and the books we publish. We are constantly expanding the science books we publish, so it’s exciting to be part of this event and to have our growing editorial strength in science books to showcase there.

5) What do you think is different working in marketing at an academic press, compared to a trade publisher?

I haven’t worked at a trade publisher, aside from a few work experience placements, but I think the main difference is probably budget for marketing spend like advertising. We have to be selective and creative with how we use our budget.

6) Finally, can you give us three tips for marketing professionals working in academic publishing?

My advice would be:

  • Stay up to date with marketing trends in the industry and see what your competitors are doing.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up with your ideas for new ways of marketing your books.
  • Experiment with different ways of marketing to find out what works for you (set up social media accounts, advertise in a new publication, try out a new email campaign).







Related Articles

Sign up to our Newsletter


* indicates required

BookMachine Ltd. will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp’s privacy practices.