If you had told me last summer that by this summer I would be the Ooligan digital manager, I would have been like . . .
Like many other word-lovers who have been forever entrenched in the humanities and social sciences, the idea of anything computery seems out of line. My identity revolved around verbal and artistic expression. The most technical know-how required of me would certainly be related to spelling out numerals and placing commas.
However, the Ooligan publishing program offers (and demands) much more than editing skills. And my pre–grad school days scrapping as a freelancer showed me that if there is one area where many people quickly become helpless, it’s cyberspace.
So what does turning a word-nerd into a digital publisher entail?
- Ebook production illumination. Take note, aspiring digital Oolies: Spring term brings along the must-have class for making books readable online and on an ereader. Ebook Production class detailed each step in the process, from exporting a book from Adobe Indesign to editing the html to designing the CSS and converting the epub to Mobi (the proprietary Amazon file format). And don’t worry. A lot of those concepts made me look like confused chicken before I took the class as well.
- WordPress wizardry. Ok, wizardry is a bit strong, but an understanding of the Ooligan website’s organization as well as how to edit and navigate through posts and pages is necessary to keep the operation afloat. A few website maintenance tasks I’ve already performed are fixing broken links, creating new Start to Finish web pages for upcoming Ooligan books, and creating a new link to the Write to Publish registration page.
- Sales Page Surveillance. Every time there’s a sale, every time a new book pubs—and just as a general precaution—the digital manager must keep a close eye on how epubs are being distributed through different sales channels. That includes uploading the correct epub files and ensuring that the lovely people who buy our ebooks get everything they’re paying for.
- Delegating digital activities. Intimidation is a silly condition for the group of intelligent and driven people that comprise Ooligan Press. XML tagging, the sort of code that is just about organizing text elements, is something that any person who can read and use a computer can do with relative ease. When a new book passes through the editorial process and is ready for production, XML tagging is delegated to the project group or to any member of the press ready to flex a new skill. Is it a paragraph? Just put “p” tags around it. Guess what? YOU’RE CODING.
With digital tools and skills connecting higher numbers of publishers and readers, coding and content management isn’t just for a select group of indoctrinated people anymore. The benefits for those who dive into digital publishing include know-how applicable to multiple industries as well as a major boost in confidence. In fact, I feel that if I can learn how to make an ebook in just a few short months, there are many more unexpected feats that I will be able to accomplish in the near future.