In publishing, we have the privilege to breathe life into a book many times over through editing, design, and marketing. We get to guide a manuscript through many transformations and make many choices that affect its future. We decide how the edits will shape the story, how the design will frame it, and how the readers will see it in stores. At the end of all this, a book exists in the world that might not have otherwise.
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.
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.