Fresh advance reader copies had their spines stretched one by one as Melissa signed first pages and gave copies away with her thanks to all the attendees, many of whom shared connections with the Asian elephants of Portland.
Ooligan Press is mostly made up of students in either their first or second year of the master’s in book publishing program at PSU. This means that every student is working on a book project team or as a department manager in addition to taking another two or three classes. And who can find the time to create cover and interior designs as we juggle up to six books in development at once? The key is collaboration. By trusting each other as managers, creators, and book lovers with valuable feedback to give, we work toward a fully designed book that best reflects the essence of the final manuscript.
Ooligan has several department managers who most closely correlate to positions you would find in a standard press, including a digital department lead, a design lead, a social media lead, a marketing lead, a copy chief, a managing editor, two acquisitions leads, and two publisher’s assistants. For anyone keeping track, that’s ten department managers. There are independent presses all over the country that operate with an entire staff of fewer than ten people, let alone ten managers. But the truth is, Ooligan doesn’t operate with ten managers: it operates with seventeen.
When I told friends and family that I would be pursuing a graduate degree in book publishing, I was met with varied reactions. Some people thought it sounded wonderful—the perfect niche degree for a bookworm like myself. Many others were surprised and pessimistic: “Isn’t that a dying industry?” I admit it made me question my choice at times. Was I really about to go thousands of dollars into debt to hopefully get a career in an industry that would soon cease to exist?
At Ooligan, we only publish three books a year. Every manuscript we acquire is treated with extra special love and care, and receives developmental edits, line edits, and several rounds of copyedits.
Sit in a room full of English majors long enough, and you’ll eventually hear someone groan, “Ugh… math.” The topic may be differential calculus or how to split the tab, but the sentiment is always the same. Why, the lover of words bemoans, do we have to take a break from talking about books to do things with numbers?