I’m the youngest of five kids, and no matter how much we pestered her (or upset her), my mother insisted that she loved us all the same. I have my own theories on that. And while I don’t have any children (don’t tell my cats I said that), getting into my second year at Ooligan Press means many of us have spent enough time with our titles to see them as our book children. Stick with me; this metaphor will bear out.
Other departments spend time with our book children—acquiring, editing, designing, proofing, digitizing. Then they give them a kiss on the forehead and unleash the kids into the world, to the semipredictable whims of the public. And then it’s onto the next book child, preparing them for entry into the world. Now don’t get me wrong, marketing is involved from the very naissance of a book, but I’m more like the helicopter parent who checks up on every book well after it has been released. It’s my job to follow their paths, catching up on reviews and awards that may trickle in far past the two or three months when they are the “new release.” And I want to do this more.
With a constant new pool of students, and given the forward progression of book publishing, remembering the titles after they launch and following their trajectories can be too easily shuffled by the wayside in favor of pressing concerns. But the award winning books published each year by Ooligan Press have lives well beyond their launch. Ruth Tenzer Feldman’s Blue Thread won the Oregon Book Award more than a year after publication. And both Untangling the Knot and Allison Green’s Ghosts Who Travel with Me won the Goldie Award a year later. These awards are incredible boosts for the books—enhancing their visibility and promoting the work within the target audience. But with few students still around who had a hand in publishing the book, Ooligan isn’t poised to celebrate these achievements like we should.
Thus, one of my focuses this year will be on institutional memory and the continuity of the press. We will modernize previous marketing techniques by creating a fresh, new branding campaign for backlist titles. We will keep a comprehensive record of publicity and awards for our titles and we will capitalize on these opportunities to promote our books on social media. We will take the time to analyze our marketing efforts and use these learning outcomes to better inform the future. And it is my hope that this work will help us link the past with the future, creating a constant and unified presence for the press that allows students to be steeped in our tradition while harnessing their energy to explore creative new fields.
We’ll see how that goes.