Events and outreach: if you’re a new or prospective student of book publishing, chances are you’ve come across this term once or twice when looking into the program or researching the publishing industry in general. The term itself can be a bit vague, since it can encompass a lot of things. I didn’t know exactly what it was either when I first started at Ooligan. At the time, I knew it had something to do with a conference, and since I’m an avid convention goer, that was enough to hook me in. But once I started working with the team, I got a better sense of what it was, how important it was, and what it meant to be a part of it.
As an alternative to the worn-out phrase “jack of all trades,” Thesaurus.com provides a term you may never have heard of before: “pantologist.” Pantology is the systematic view of all human knowledge, and it was written about at length by a man named Roswell Park. Certainly there aren’t pantological handymen roaming the halls of Portland State, but “Oolies,” as the Ooligan staff members are called, provide a sufficient knowledge base for the development of the many systems needed to run the press.
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.
While part of the goal of a launch party is, of course, to commemorate all of the hard work of the author and the publishing team, these parties are also a marketing opportunity, and customizing the party to match the content of the book is a key element of that.
As I sit on the MAX on my way into Portland, I flip through the pages of my beat-up copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Every few stops, I find myself glancing up from the pages to look around at the passengers who are coming and going from the train on its way into the city. I notice an older man is fast asleep while the woman next to him stares out the window, a mother reties her son’s shoes, and a young man in a college hoodie taps his feet to the beat of whatever tune must be playing in his headphones. While I flip another page, I notice that I’m the only passenger in the car who is reading a book, while the majority of other passengers keep their eyes glued to their phones.
Do we, the storytellers, have a responsibility to warn our audience about subject matter that could cause that kind of distress? That’s right. I’m talking about trigger warnings.