PubWest, the non-profit organization founded in 1977 to educate and assist small- and medium-sized publishers based in the Western U.S., has grown to include members in 31 states. Long known for its annual fall conference, which offers dozens of education panels, PubWest has recently added the Pub501 summer sessions to its member services. Kent Watson, executive director of PubWest, talked to PW about the new program.

With the technologies of publishing changing at a steady clip, Pub501 is a timely idea. Please describe the program and what you hope to achieve by it.

The idea for Pub501 came from the ongoing need to help publishing professionals. The first one was held in Denver on June 19 and 20, and we had 22 students enrolled, all of them with one to five years of publishing experience. The two-day session was a success, and helped the students learn practical new skills and return to the office better at their jobs.

Who is on the faculty of Pub501, and what were your criteria for selecting them for the individual sessions?

The selection of the “professors” came from key people that are part of PubWest and run their publishing companies successfully. Haley Berry, for instance, is a project editor at Velo Press in Boulder who knows a lot about content management and print buying. Stephen Koenig is vice-president of eCommerce at HarperCollins Christian Publishing and lives in Colorado. One of our book manufacturing experts is Dave Raymond, currently the regional sales manager at Thomson-Shore. For book design, we have Rebecca Finkel, who has her own studio, F + P Graphic Design, and is a lecturer at the University of Denver Publishing Institute. There are a few more on the faculty, all of equal excellence.

How did you design the educational component of Pub501?

The entire program was designed to provide greater learning in all of the publishing disciplines, and it’s very comprehensive. The sessions include acquisitions, production and design, sales and marketing, and finance and administration. This encompasses contracts, royalties, foreign rights, copyediting, metadata, printing, trade shows and conferences, HR and staffing issues, copyrights, designs, layouts, and much more.

If Pub501 is a hit, do you see expanding the program?

We want to roll it out to many parts of the country in the coming years. The PubWest board of directors will be working hard to determine the next cities to hold the sessions. We plan to announce the locations for the 2015 summer programming in January.