Press Release

PROSE Awards Co-Chair Steven Heffner Discusses What's New for PROSE Awards This Year

Since 1976, AAP’s PROSE Awards has annually recognized the very best in professional and scholarly publishing by bringing attention to distinguished books, journals, and electronic content. As the November 9 deadline approaches for the current season, AAP’s communications department sat down with this year’s awards co-chair, Steven Heffner, of member company Wolters Kluwer.

Steven, tell us what’s new for the PROSE Awards this year.

We’ve made a number of exciting improvements. To start, we are designating and recognizing award finalists in advance of the award winners. This will add to the excitement and provide more marketing muscle for the nominations. We’ll name the finalists in January, a full month and a half before we announce the winners.

Also, we’ve streamlined and expanded some of the categories to better account for the scholarly output. For example, we’ve changed U.S. History to become North American history.

Why did the judges move to a model with finalists this year?

As many people know, we present the final “best-in-category” excellence awards during AAP’s Professional and Scholarly Publishing conference, which this year is February 6-8, 2019. By publicly recognizing the finalists, we believe more publishers will appropriately benefit from the important recognition they have earned.

It also helps our judges, who have historically found it very challenging to select just one winner and one honorable mention from so many deserving submissions. I should mention that a PROSE win of any level, rewards a publisher’s team, from acquisition to editorial to design. It’s great for all these people to be recognized along the way.

How do the winners benefit from PROSE Awards?

Aside from the inherent satisfaction of the public recognition and prestige, our winners receive PROSE Awards medallions (stickers) to use on the covers of their works, and are encouraged to note the award in marketing and promotional activities. We’ve heard over the years from a number of publishing houses that winning a PROSE Award has brought new readers, assisted librarians with acquisitions, and moved the sales needle.

As co-chair, you worked with some colleagues to promote the PROSE Awards at the Frankfurt book fair. What were some of the things you were highlighting there?

We had a lot of fun talking about PROSE at Frankfurt. With both trade publishers and university presses, we made a point to highlight the various categories to ensure they understand the numerous opportunities to enter and compete. Most of us who work in scholarly publishing find that about half of the works we publish are in an electronic media format. So breaking out of that format where a book wins is putting us in the right direction.

Also, there was a good deal of surprise and support for products in alternate formats. At Frankfurt we heard a lot of positive feedback about last year’s winner, Bloomsbury, because it won for an innovative electronic product. AAP is leading the pack in understanding the balance between traditional formats – which are indispensable – and new formats, products, websites and the like that are equally critical to the scholarly space.

What was the biggest surprise from last year’s PROSE Awards – your first as co-chair?

The biggest surprise about it for me was how fun it was to be at the PROSE Awards luncheon (that takes place during AAP’s Professional and Scholarly Publishing conference.) For what is otherwise a very serious group, it was a fun time to come together; it was great to see people who usually gather in small niche groups really recognize each other in a celebratory manner. Though all gathered at the luncheon want to win, I think they are very supportive of each other’s endeavors. It’s also enjoyable to focus on such a wide array of interdisciplinary work that not all of us see in our daily lives. How often do you see three books on butterflies, with each book very different from the next? (Pictured are Co-Chairs Nigel Fletcher-Jones, Director of The American University in Cairo Press and Steven Heffner, Vice President of Product Strategy at Wolters Kluwer Health)

Speaking of formats, do you encourage entries from journals?

Yes. In fact, one of the journals that submitted – CHEM from Cell Press – was an award of excellence winner last year. We’d love to see even more journals entered for a PROSE Award. Also, we’re really encouraging smaller publishers to enter. They are selective in what they publish, and frequently focused on mission, but because of that focus they often publish stellar works. I would like to see more of them this year. 

Any tips for publishers who haven’t submitted their entry yet?

Hurry! There are less than two weeks left to submit.

And if you’re on the fence as to whether to submit, don’t sell yourself short. The price and process of entering is not onerous, and it’s an opportunity to recognize your staff, your authors, and developmental editors.

Are you the next PROSE Awards winner? If you’re an AAP or AUP member, it’s not too late to find out. Click here to learn in your scholarly work qualifies, and be sure to enter before the Nov. 9 deadline.