Michael McCullough – Duke University Press

What do you love about working at Duke University Press?

Working at Duke, working with the books we publish and the authors we partner with, allows me to be part of broad cultural conversations that I don’t think I would otherwise have access to. In addition, I work with an amazing group of talented people who are great at their jobs while also managing to excel at all sort of other things, too. I have worked here with professional dancers and musicians, museum curators, poets, and actors; my house is full of art created by coworkers and spouses of coworkers and brothers and friends of coworkers. 

What is your favourite book? Why?


My favorite DUP book is Passed On: African American Mourning Stories: A Memorial by Karla FC Holloway, a beautifully written and powerful book about the centrality of death in the African American experience. It helped that Holloway is truly one of the best author-partners I have ever had; she could teach a seminar on how authors can work with publishers to promote their books effectively.

Or maybe Barbie’s Queer Accessories by Erica Rand. That came out when I was a sales rep, and I was fascinated by it. I still remember going on and on to a very nice but very straight buyer about how Barbie had a last name, and how Barbie could only stand up in high heels, and how interesting it was that Barbie spent most of her time naked despite having a huge wardrobe, and how Barbie appealed to a queer audience despite being such a heteronormative icon. I think he placed a big order just to get me to stop talking.

What are you currently reading?

The Summer House by Alice Thomas Ellis.

What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given to you?

Don’t gossip in the elevator at professional meetings. Think about what you’re wearing and what sort of an impression you want to make. And always save your receipts. (Looking back, it makes sense that people gave me advice about gossip, fashion, and financial management).

What advice would you give someone starting out in publishing?

Take an Excel class and make sure you understand the financials. No matter where you end up, being able to run the numbers for yourself will serve you well.

Are you a hedgehog or a fox?


What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always said I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then I realized how much science and blood would be involved.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

A painting by Kent Monkman, the contemporary Canadian artist. http://www.pfoac.com/artists/KM_EN.htm

What is your favorite bookstore?

Powell’s in Portland, Oregon

What is your favorite movie about bookselling?

Crossing Delancey (1988)

Who is your fictional crush?

Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey. He’s attractive (“if not quite handsome, was very near it”), witty, and well-off. He’s nice to his sister. He is willing to stand up to his mean father, and he doesn’t get mad if you suggest maybe his mean father murdered his mother, even if it’s not true at all. I could go on and on.

Michael McCullough is Senior Manager for Books Sales and Marketing at Duke University Press.