Julie Fergus – University of Washington Press

What do you love about University Presses?

I love that working for a university press means that every day I am producing work that matters and is important to others. Particularly because I work in marketing, I find it gratifying to know that my efforts will help place the latest scholarship into the hands of the individuals who need it most.

What is your favourite book? Why?

My favorite book is Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. This was the first book I read that took a deep dive into exploring the theme of finding a balance between passion and reason—a life lesson that, to this day, I strive to live by.

What are you currently reading?

I just started reading Whisper Network for the book club I am in (which we have self-titled “Women, Wit, and Wine”).

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

Whether in your personal or professional life, making one decision does not have to impact your life forever. You can always pivot, change your mind, or try something new down the road. I’ve found that living by this philosophy makes it easier to take risks, and to avoid settling for something that isn’t living up to my current expectations. 

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in publishing?

Grab coffee with anyone you can—especially if they work in a different department. (Editor’s note: Julie answered our questions in the Before Times, pre-Covid.) I often find that I don’t know a lot about what colleagues from different departments do on a day-to-day basis, and I find it fascinating to pick their brains and learn more about how their work at one stage in the publishing process will eventually impact the work that I do when I’m marketing our books. Especially early on in your career, there’s no better way to be introduced to a new company AND industry than by doing everything you can to learn something new every day.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a veterinarian, which led to my double-major in undergrad in English and Biology.

Who was/is you mentor or inspiration?

I’ve been lucky to have many amazing mentors in my life—both from professional connections in jobs and through programs I participated in while earning my MBA degree. That being said, I will call specific attention to my first boss from Oxford University Press: Michelle Kelly. What was most impactful about working with Michelle was how much she cared about developing me, both professionally and personally. I’d like to think we grew together through our professional collaborations, and though we no longer work together I still consider her a valuable mentor and a dear friend! I hope to one day emulate the pivotal mentorship she offered me to future colleagues. 

Are you a hedgehog or a fox?

I’d like to believe I’m a fox, willing to think in nuanced ways and to create novel approaches to the challenges I encounter. And sometimes I do think creatively. But in my heart of hearts, I love structure and order and I think that makes me more of a hedgehog. Maybe I’m a fox with quills? Or a hedgehog with fur?

Julie Fergus is the Director of Marketing and Sales at the University of Washington Press