A Season of Change at Ooligan Press

For many Portlanders, the arrival of summer brings with it warmer temperatures, sunshine, and days without rain. At Ooligan, the arrival of summer ushers in a season of change and growth for the press as a whole.

One of the things that makes Ooligan truly unique is that it not only operates as a full-fledged literary press, but it is a press that is run entirely by students who are enrolled in the Book Publishing program. We are responsible for nearly every aspect of the press—from acquisition to production—under the watchful and supportive eyes of our publisher. Students in the second year of the program are even selected to be managers to help lead project teams and departments.

Because we are first and foremost students, the arrival of summer means that our second-year students, including managers, are graduating and moving on from the program, while our new incoming managers are wrapping up their training and preparing to take over their departments for the summer term of classes.

In a traditional press, losing fifteen employees and training nineteen new ones would seem like the stuff of nightmares, but at Ooligan, this kind of changing-of-the-guard is normal—it’s simply how things are done.

The incoming managers also face a unique challenge: remote learning. Most of the graduating managers had the opportunity to attend in-person classes for almost a year before the pandemic closed campus, and as a result they were able to form these amazing connections with each other and this great camaraderie that resonates throughout the press. First-year students have had the reverse experience: they began the program with every aspect of their experience being remote, including training, and are finally preparing to attend in-person classes in September.

If there is one thing that I have learned while trying to navigate life as a student during a pandemic, it is that this pandemic has made us more resilient and adaptable than ever. When we were submitting our applications to the program, we had no idea that this would be our future or our reality. Regardless of our status as a first- or second-year student, we have adapted to every obstacle and challenge put in front of us. We have made it this far into a global pandemic, so we can handle pretty much anything. It is this kind of grit and determination that will have a profound impact on both the press and the program in the future.

Needless to say it will be interesting to see how these different experiences, learning environments, and mentalities will influence the press in the future.

Here is a list of current roles/departments that help run Ooligan Press:

  • Four project teams, one for each book we are currently working on
  • One project team for our Library Writer’s Project manuscript
  • Website Manager
  • Two Acquisitions Managers
  • Managing Editor
  • Copy Chief
  • Design Manager
  • Digital Manager
  • Audiobooks Manager
  • Marketing Manager
  • Publicity Manager
  • Social Media Manager
  • Three Publisher’s Assistants; two who focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and one who focuses on Metadata and Sales

Literary Festivals In The Time of COVID

Literary festivals have long been considered a bastion of in-person connection for fans, authors, and publishing houses, but what do they look like in the new virtual world of COVID? The largest book festival in the world, the Edinburgh Book Festival, wrapped up their digital event at the end of August with the intent to “Keep the Conversation Going.” Implementing their first-ever virtual event, the festival drew in hundreds of thousands of viewers in the midst of the global pandemic. Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said in a recent article, “While an online Festival cannot recreate the joyous coming together of authors and audiences, the cultural exchange and the stimulation of creativity that a gathering of people in one physical space can bring, I believe we have created something very special this year. It is clear from watching the interaction of authors and audiences that this year’s online Book Festival has generated its own sense of community.” Not shying away from the difficulties posed in moving to a completely digital format, Barley went on to say, “I am extraordinarily proud of the team who have turned themselves inside out, learned new skills and a completely new way of working to deliver events, in challenging circumstances, which have been warm, engaging, stimulating, entertaining and technically excellent. We have reached corners of the globe, and corners of Scotland, that we have never reached before, and brought an accessibility to the Festival that I never want to lose.” With over two hundred thousand views, more people were able to virtually attend from all over the globe without the cost-prohibitive travel often associated with in-person attendance. Another compelling element to the Festival was that all events in the Festival were free, which opened up accessibility in a way that has never happened before. Director Barley stated, “It is thanks to our incredibly generous funders, sponsors, benefactors and donors that we have been able to offer all events in the Book Festival for free this year—now the hard work starts to develop a financially stable model for a hybrid festival of live and online events for the future.” This seems to be the way of the future, with companies looking to expand the ways that they can reach more people, not just in-person, but online as well. While the publishing industry and the world-at-large remain hopeful, no one can predict whether or not in-person events like book festivals and fairs will return to some level of normalcy in 2021. If not, a commitment to innovation and creating new models for reaching an even greater audience in a virtual setting has already been established. In keeping with Edinburgh’s Book Festival philosophy, “you can’t keep a good Festival down.”

Sensitivity Readers: An Editing Essential

It is becoming more and more common in books to see harmful stereotypes that negatively stigmatize certain demographics being applied to minority characters. You may see these characters have a racially stereotypical name or being treated differently based on their ethnicity. Just because an editor gives the green light on a book with minority experiences or narratives, does not mean that the character’s actions or how they are treated aren’t based on demeaning stereotypes. One editor can’t be responsible for providing feedback on how an entire demographic is portrayed—this is why it’s important to have multiple sensitivity readers look at the manuscript. Sensitivity reads have become an important aspect of editing in recent years. When an author who does not identify with a characters’ demographic writes experiences or narratives from that character’s perspective, a sensitivity read—also called a diversity read—can help point out any potentially harmful stereotypes that a character may be subjected to in the book. Whether or not you like the idea of sensitivity readings, one fact is clear: sensitivity readers play a pivotal role in the editorial process when a character is written outside of a writer’s demographic. Many authors may oppose the use of sensitivity readers because of issues regarding censorship, but underneath it all, sensitivity readers can help identify any internalized oppression that an author may have written about. Having two or three sensitivity readers on a manuscript is ideal, not only to ensure that the author has feedback from different perspectives, but also to ensure that a culture or demographic doesn’t become a monolith, especially when there are multiple diverse narratives. Finding a sensitivity reader who identifies with the same demographic as a minority character is a difficult process. In the Diversity Baseline Survery conducted by Lee & Low Books on the overall diversity within the publishing industry, it was found that 76 percent of people in the industry are White/Caucasian, 74 percent are cis-women, 81 percent are straight/heterosexual, and 89 percent are non-disabled. Finding sensitivity readers is a lot like trying to find a needle in a haystack for some, but it should not be a deterrent in looking for sensitivity readers. Don’t assume that just because a sensitivity reader is from the same demographic as the character they are automatically the end-all-be-all for feedback. Multiple sensitivity readers working on the same manuscript is proven to be incredibly beneficial. None of this is to say that an author should write a book that is void of diverse characters, in fact, quite the opposite is true—we need more diverse characters! We just want to push authors to seek assistance from multiple sensitivity readers when they do write about these types of characters. Of course, how to employ the right kind of sensitivity reader is a whole other topic, but regardless, it is expected that the author does their research.

Morality Clauses in Book Publishing

Publicity plays a crucial role in any publishing house. Authors who accrue bad publicity are often subjected to the morality clause in their contract so that the reputation of the publishing house is not tarnished by the actions of the author. Recent developments in the entertainment industry, especially in regards to the #MeToo movement, have led to an increased focus on ethics and morality in professional, educational, and media settings. Publishing houses and agents have faced similar problems, which is where the morality clause comes into play; an increasing number of publishing houses and agents are now including these clauses in their contracts, requiring authors to comply with acceptable professional standards and providing for the possible termination of the contractual relationship if the author fails to conduct themselves appropriately.
If you are unfamiliar with the term “morality clause,” here is a definition from Wikipedia: “A moral clause within contracts that is used as a means of holding the individual or party(s) to a certain behavioral standard so as not to bring disrepute, contempt or scandal to other individual or party to the contract and their interests. It attempts to preserve a public and private image of such a party to the contract.”
All morality clauses look different depending on what they cover contractually, but here is a generic example from Author’s Guild:

Publisher may terminate…if Author’s conduct evidences a lack of due regard for public conventions and morals, or Author commits a crime or any other act that will tend to bring Author into serious contempt, and such behavior would materially damage the Work’s reputation or sales.

Limitations and Benefits
There is much debate on whether or not morality clauses should be included in author contracts. Many publishers want to protect themselves from any bad publicity their authors might incur based on their beliefs, however, there are some who believe that morality clauses are inherently unethical because of the difficulty in drafting meaningful contractual clauses that explain what conduct is immoral or unacceptable other than in the vaguest terms possible. Because of this, publishers are able to terminate contracts based on what they deem to be inappropriate behavior. There is also the question of whether these clauses are necessary as a matter of law in regards to whether they add anything meaningful to what’s already in the contract.
While there are certainly limitations, there are also benefits to morality clauses. These clauses are meant to empower publishers to easily terminate contracts without having to go through a court proceeding. Publisher’s began adding morality clauses during the rise of #MeToo Movement as a way to protect victims and hold people accountable for their crimes.
Real Cases
In 2017, Simon & Schuster canceled Milo Yiannopoulos’s book contract after he made controversial comments on the topic of pedophilia. Instead of enacting the morality clause, which is harder to prove in court, Simon & Schuster claimed that the manuscript itself was unacceptable, which provided grounds for termination. This case provides some guidance about how already-existing contract clauses can be used to address situations like this, even in the absence of a morality clause.
Recently, Simon & Schuster also canceled their contract with Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri for his book, The Tyranny of Big Tech. In an Instagram post, the publisher wrote that it took this action “[a]fter witnessing the disturbing, deadly insurrection that took place on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.” Simon & Schuster went on to say, “We did not come to this decision lightly. As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints; at the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom.”
It’s a matter of balancing two aspects in the drive for justice: the desire to protect people from being penalized for their sexuality, lifestyle, or political beliefs versus the desire to believe victims and hold people accountable for their crimes.
Are morality clauses needed in the publishing industry? As a matter of law, the answer is arguably no, but the answer can also be yes when the clause is used as a reminder that publishing is an industry whose participants should adhere to moral and ethical standards of conduct. Should authors need reminders such as these in this day and age? Theoretically no, but in practice, given the current political and cultural climate, sadly it may be a good idea.

Publishing in the Age of Visual Content

According to Bradley Wilson, consumers from the Gen Z population are more attracted to interactive and visual content. With shorter attention spans and the need for more stimulating content, this generation presents a unique challenge when it comes to not only capturing their attention, but also their loyalty. According to a recent study, Americans spend an average of six hours per day consuming digital media, while only eight minutes a day is spent on reading, and these findings skew even more when it comes to Gen Z consumers. This new generation also has a need for “mobile-friendly communication.” This can prove problematic if publishing companies continue with traditional modes of advertising, because Gen Z has indicated a preference for more personalized messaging and the ability to connect with brands through word of mouth and influencers. Publishers are reaching a point where they need to start rethinking the way they deliver and market their stories, because it’s important to provide consumers with material in the ways that they consume them.
One way publishers are doing this is with the use of visuals novels, which are defined by Cecil Choi as “text-based stories told in a digital medium, often accompanied by relevant visuals and/or audio.” This offers publishers a way to merge the digital and visual needs of this generation with the stories they are already producing.
Surges in the popularity of story-based apps is something that the industry should be closely monitoring. For example, a popular app that was designed specifically to market an already-produced television show is called Love Island: The Game. Based on the popular British reality television show that shares its name, this app is written with the arc of an entire season of the show in mind. Drawing on plot lines from the show itself, writers developed a story that readers were then able to play out. The game has been a highly successful marketing tool for the show, and has spawned an online community of readers who have created more buzz on social media through sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Reddit. This is important because relationships that are formed on social media “have become a central life aspect” for Gen Z. There is so much untapped potential in the publishing industry for expanding into this market, and it is something that I feel publishing companies should strongly consider if they want to keep the attention of Gen Z while also redefining their own interactive digital marketing.
Marketing a novel using these avenues has the potential to be incredibly beneficial to publishers. It gives readers a chance to develop more interest and hold more stake in the success of the novel, since they are allowed to insert themselves and interact with the story in a way that they can’t with traditional publishing. This is a strategy that can be used to make backlist titles relevant and timely again; there is also potential to merge graphic novels with this visual formatting.
All in all, I believe that it offers incredible value for both designers and marketers. These apps are not only successful in that they are popular with Gen Z, but they are also lucrative. Many times these apps have the option to “buy in-game currency” (such as “gems” or “diamonds”) that lets readers make different choices or gives them the option to not have to wait until their “lives” are back in order to keep reading. This could potentially replicate the success that the industry has recently seen with new formats such as audiobooks, which saw a surge of “thirty-three percent last year,” and it is helping to keep the digital business of book publishing profitable. Because this is something that gaming and design companies seem to have a monopoly on at the moment, a partnership with one of these companies might be recommended for now.

Growing, Pruning, and Shaping Your Story

Many writers often ask how their first draft gets turned into a polished manuscript that is ready for publication. This first step is called the developmental edit, which takes place after the text has been completed. This is one of the most in-depth parts of the process because it’s when the manuscript as a whole is refined and cleaned up. With that being said, it is also one of the most confusing parts in the process. Most people think of editing as just grammar, punctuation, and proofreading, but those are more line level elements; developmental editing, or substance editing as it’s sometimes called, is all about the content: the meat of the story and what form it will take by the time it reaches readers. This is the phase where we analyze characters, plot, setting, and even the pace of the story. These are the big issues that require the use of three techniques to help refine the story: growing, pruning, and shaping.


When a writer or editor is looking for places to grow the story, they are often looking for scenes and elements that can be expanded in order to better serve the story as a whole. These are often places where there is confusion or where additional content can be added to provide clarity. In some instances an element may need to be added such as stronger character development or world-building in order to round out the story or clarify a specific plot point. When looking at the text it’s important to ask yourself: What does this story need in order to make it feel complete?


Pruning is useful for cutting out elements that don’t fit with the overall story, but it’s more than just trimming away bits and pieces. It’s more about providing space for adding elements or details that might work better for the story. It’s important to use this technique in places that stand out. Ask yourself: Are there pieces that feel out of place, unnecessary, or repetitive? Keep in mind that repetition isn’t just repeated words, but also repeated elements, characters, and plot devices. While some repetition isn’t bad, it’s important to make sure that repetition is clearly intentional and not just the by-product of creating a longer manuscript.


Shaping the story is more than just adding and subtracting pieces to the text. Sometimes you need to change the order of events, clean up errors in continuity, or change the overall structure of the text. Sometimes this can mean breaking up a longer paragraph into smaller paragraphs that don’t tire a reader or cause fatigue, but it can also mean turning chapter six into chapter two, and reorganizing the events of the story to better fulfill the overall narrative. Sometimes this reorganizing creates a better opportunity to go back and try growing and pruning again. When shaping your text, ask yourself: Do the events of the story make sense? Are there places in the text that are too wordy? How can I restructure this to make it better?
Developmental editing requires time and patience. It may even take several rounds to create the best version of the manuscript, but these tools and techniques can help guide you through the process.

Which Ooligan Book Matches Your Zodiac Sign?

Aries: Leader, Brave, Prepared

Faultland tells the story of the three Sparrow siblings who must come together in the wake of a life-shattering earthquake. This book is all about being prepared for the unthinkable, and there is no better sign more equipped for the task than Aries. Like the characters in Faultland, Aries are bold, ambitious, and determined to survive.
Taurus: Stable, Devoted, Patient
Elephant Speak

Much like an elephant, Tauruses have incredible memories and aren’t likely to forget the small details. As you will read in Elephant Speak, trust is the key to winning over a herd of elephants in the Oregon Zoo. Their keeper, Roger Henneous, exhibited the core traits of any Taurus: ambition, honesty, and reliability.
Gemini: Adaptable, Adventurous, Curious
The Step Back

Ed handles whatever life throws his way, even making a 3-pointer every now and then. Like a true Gemini, he is impulsive and changes the direction of his life at the drop of a basketball, but he never gives up. Gemini’s are all about change, transformation, and opportunity, just like Ed finds in The Step Back.
Cancer: Sensitive, Intuitive, Protective
Laurel Everywhere

Like any true Cancer, family means everything to Laurel Summers. When her mother and siblings die in a car crash, Laurel must rebuild her home with her father. While coping with her incredible loss, Laurel is often haunted by ever-changing moods and grief, but at the heart of it all, she finds comfort and healing in her family and friends.
Leo: Warm, Passionate, Dynamic
Iditarod Nights

There is no better sign to warm you up on a cold Iditarod night than a Leo. Leos are fiercely brave and set out to dominate whatever task is at hand, making them the perfect sign to face the harsh and bitter Iditarod. Claire and Dillion won’t stop until they reach Nome, but they’ll find comfort in each other’s arms wherever they go.
Virgo: Logical, Intelligent, Observant
Finding the Vein

Virgos can’t resist a problem that needs fixing or a mystery to solve, making them the clear detective of the bunch. While investigating a murder at a summer camp for adoptees, Sergeant Mikie and fellow camper Isaac must sort through rumors and facts, channeling the attention to detail and perfection of a Virgo. Beneath the haze of suspicion, Finding the Vein is a story about acceptance and identity, with a passion for the truth.
Libra: Empathetic, Charming, Social
The Gifts We Keep

Five different people find themselves part of the same entrancing story that you won’t be able to forget in The Gifts We Keep. Much like a Libra, this story is balanced by love and loss, escape and home, and the sadness and happiness of being part of a family. Empathy and strong hearts are favored here.
Scorpio: Loyal, Determined, Bold
The Names We Take

A true Scorpio would never leave someone behind, and neither will Pip, even when faced with unspeakable trials and tribulations in The Names We Take. In a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by plague, she has no choice but to keep her and her friends alive. There is no doubt that out of all the signs, Scorpios would rule an apocalypse with style and ease, even finding a family along the way.
Sagittarius: Optimistic, Honest, Free
The Ocean in My Ears

Meri Miller lives in Soldotna, a decidedly small and boring fishing town in Alaska. Like any Sagittarius, she dreams of escaping to a far, distant, and way more exciting city. The destination doesn’t matter, as long as it’s new and the ride is great Even when the going gets tough and the days are dark, Meri is tougher and brighter, always looking for the silver lining amongst the clouds.
Capricorn: Ambitious, Serious, Helpful
Breaking Cadence

Standing up for justice and embracing her morals, Rose del Duca is not only a soldier in the National Guard, but also a conscious objector. Pragmatic and morally driven Capricorns are reflected in del Duca’s powerful vocalization of her beliefs. She is torn between duty and conscience, and is constantly testing her strength to its limits and breaking cadence.
Aquarius: Unique, Resilient, Surprising

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being the odd one out in a room full of people. As an Aquarius, you are used to being you; some may describe you as being witty, original, and eccentric, but these are also words used to describe Odsburg. Take a journey with the self-proclaimed “socio-anthropo-lingui-loreologist” as he ventures into a fictional land, collecting ephemera and outlandish stories from its inhabitants. Perfect for the curious and creative Aquarius, this one is sure to redefine your reality.
Pisces: Generous, Emotional, Creative
At the Waterline

Forever the romantic, the one with the grand gestures, and the one with the dreamy eyes, a Pisces is often miles away or underwater, reminiscing in memories and submerged in thought. Divorced and haunted by tragedy, Chad once had romantic notions of a sailing life, but he now lives along the river just north of Portland. Meeting the colorful locals and learning about their lives, Chad learns once again to love, trust, and heal at the waterline.

Celebrating the Most Notorious Works of Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary was born on April 12, 1916, in McMinnville, Oregon, about an hour outside of Portland. Beloved author, daughter, spouse, and librarian (she was even named a “Living Legend” by the 2000 Library of Congress), Cleary knew from a young age that she loved books and reading. She began writing and telling stories that kids could identify with after hearing concerns from her children at school. After publishing her first story, Henry Huggins in 1950, Cleary began her journey as a published author, writing over forty books that were translated in twenty-nine languages, and receiving countless awards. It’s easy to say that one could not go through their life without encountering her name or her stories at least once.
With her recent passing on March 25, 2021, the world has collectively mourned the loss of one of the greatest authors in our history. It all started here in Oregon, where she took inspiration from her early childhood memories growing up in areas such as Portland and Yamhill. With little pieces of home woven throughout, let’s take a look at some of Cleary’s most notable works and how they connect to her life in Oregon.

  1. Henry Huggins (1950)
  2. Cleary’s first published book followed the story of Henry, his dog, and his neighbors, including some familiar names: Beezus and Ramona. Cleary explained that her first book took much inspiration from her own childhood and the neighborhood kids that she grew up with in Oregon, as well as the kids she knew from school as a librarian. Because Cleary spent most of her time in the Portland area, the Henry Huggins book series showcases familiar Portland landmarks, including Grant Park, where Henry was well-known for hunting nightcrawlers, and Knott Street, where Henry had his infamous paper route.

  3. Beezus and Ramona (1950)
  4. The main characters in what is probably her most popular book series, Beezus, and her younger sister, Ramona, were first introduced in the Henry Huggins books. Known for their dynamic duo of personalities, the sisters have adventures all over town, even in their very own home located on Klickitat Street in Northeast Portland. Other spots around the city include the Rite Aid on NE 41st, where the Colossal Market from the books is located, and Ramona’s school, Cedarhurst Elementary, is based on Portland’s own Laurelhurst School. The Multnomah County Library even features a stonewall map titled “Walking With Ramona” that maps out the areas that are mentioned throughout the book series so you can walk along the same paths! The books also inspired the 2010 film, Ramona and Beezus, starring Selena Gomez and Joey King. The movie was a box office hit, earning over twenty-seven million dollars.

  5. A Girl From Yamhill (1988)
  6. Although not as well known as her children’s books, Cleary also wrote and published an autobiography about her childhood and early teen years in Oregon. She expresses the difficulties that she had connecting with those in her family and her struggles with learning how to read. She grew up more independent than most would have thought, and her stories are not only inspired by her childhood, but they are also a recreation of what she wished her childhood was like. Cleary opens up and brings forth raw emotions as readers take a look at the woman behind the books. Her yearning for a relationship with her mother and missing her father, who was away so many hours of the day due to his job, are just some examples of what shaped Cleary’s life as she began her writing career.

Many people know the name, “Beverly Cleary” but not everyone knows the story behind the name. With so many iconic characters and series, Cleary has given a name to the Portland area and showcased its beauty through each of her books. The rest of the world will miss her, but the Oregon community in particular will feel her loss the hardest. While she may not be able to recount these stories in person any longer, her words will live on forever and continue to inspire readers of all ages and backgrounds. She not only wrote for herself and her imagined childhood, but for every child out there.

What Typography Choices Can Reveal About Politics

Every font can be used to elicit a response from the reader. We recognize it through our emotions and as we interact with the shapes and colors of the letters on the page. When creating a specific brand or when branding an idea, this concept can be incredibly powerful.
Let’s start with an extreme example. The Blackletter text of the Fraktur font will always be associated with the Nazi party. Hitler used the native German text as a way to unify people into a sense of nationalism because he understood that language could be used for manipulation. Once he had the support that he wanted, he flipped the switch and said the language had been corrupted throughout history by the Jewish people. He then used it as a way to justify the persecution and murder of innocent people. Though time has created distance, Fraktur text is instantly recognizable and associated with this specific ideology. The above picture was spotted on a bus door in September of 2019, in Dresden, Germany. It reads, “This bus is driven by a German driver.” There is no question as to what the sign means.
There is a pattern that oppressors use to weaponize language when they are creating their brands. It’s a familiar tactic that can be detected by a subtle or blatant switch in font and color in political propaganda. The signs that represent the ideology start out benign, with serifs or organic curves to suggest brotherhood, unity, and a concern for all. Then they shift to sans serif, bold, and blocky fonts to make the ideology stand out. The use of a bold sans serif in itself isn’t bad. In fact, for many years American politicians have used bold sans serifs to create their brands and capture the attention of voters. It’s the subtle changes and inconsistencies in their usage that can indicate that things are headed in a dangerous direction.
In light of what happened in our country on January 6 of this year, I think it’s fitting to look at the campaign posters of Donald Trump to see what kind of message he has been sending from the beginning. While it might be argued that this is just one biased opinion, remember that we don’t have to rely solely on what I glean from his posters; the former President has been very verbal about his agenda and has backed it up with his actions.

Font used by Trump

Changes in Trump’s Campaign Posters

In his first campaign, there was little unification except for the box with the little stars that eventually became his logo. He changed his fonts and colors for every group that he pandered to. His slogan, “Make America Great Again,” was written with America as the main focus in a Century Schoolbook (serif) font; this large, non-threatening word served as his hook. The poster that bore his name was put in bold, and his slogan took up roughly the same amount of space. America was no longer the focus and had no special treatment, but there was also a pleasing amount of negative space, leaving the impression that there was room for others with Trump. Even though he appealed to the majority, there were warning signs. He started out humble-ish until he was elected.
His 2020 campaign tells a completely different story. He had to scrap the “Keep America Great” slogan because 2020 hadn’t been such a banner year, and not very many of his promises had come to fruition. His propaganda, however, would have you believe otherwise. His logo and name took up almost half of the space, and the margins were pushed out to maximize the overall space. Overblown, in-your-face, and loud Akzidenz Grotesk font screams, “Trump is the Greatest!” The poster bearing his VP’s name shows that Pence has been demoted along with America, and the red line between their names says that Trump won’t be sharing power with anyone.
Had the coup on January 6 succeeded, our country may have learned to associate this unfortunate font with a dictator, just as the Germans do with the Fraktur font. Trump made promises that he wouldn’t be the typical politician, and in regards to American politics, he was right. Though Trump used Akzidenz Grotesk font for his campaign, it is ambiguous enough to escape shame and may still have a future.

How We Updated Our Mission Statement

In the aftermath of the George Floyd protests last year, our press decided it was time to take more active and progressive steps towards diversifying the books that we publish. In the fall we began investigating and discussing the best way to implement these changes, and in the winter we assembled a team to research and draft an updated mission statement for our press.
Ooligan’s Background
Ooligan Press is a trade press run by the students of Portland State University’s Masters in Book Publishing program. Our press publishes four books each year, which creates learning experiences and fosters growth so that students can enter the publishing industry with both experience and knowledge.
Most of our decisions are made together through a democratic process, whether we are acquiring a new book or voting on a cover. This is a pretty rare process in the publishing industry—and it’s somewhat unique to us—so we wanted the process for updating our mission statement to be just as unique.
Our first task was to have all of our students write a list of several words and/or phrases that they believed should be included in the new mission statement. Regardless of whether or not it was included in the final draft, this allowed the mission writing team to see various trends and learn the values of those who make up the press, which would then be reflected in the updated statement.
Our writing team was composed of eight people who met over Zoom to complete the necessary tasks until a finalized draft was ready to present to the press.
In the winter, we began looking at mission statements from other presses and other facets of the industry such as publishers and printers. Our goal was to analyze a variety of mission statements in order to see what was working and what we could benefit from in terms of structure, rhetoric, etc. This may seem like a fairly obvious step, but this type of research allowed us to see all sorts of language and structures and to consider what would best fit the personality of our organization before we began writing.
We also looked at the slogans used by different corporations. Larger companies tend to focus on their brand and their outward image, so this exercise allowed us to look at effective and punchy copy that used a short number of words.
One of the most delicate parts of updating a mission statement is choosing your words precisely. While our press had a largely democratic process in the fall, the writing team was responsible for choosing rhetoric that matched the unique identity of our press. We discussed, agreed, and even disagreed, respectfully, favoring words like “equity” and “inclusion” over the more simple and overused “diversity.”
Another important part of the process was finding a way to simplify our press into its key parts, to really figure out who we are and what we represent in this industry. We felt that the most pertinent aspects of our press were the student-run and Pacific Northwest aspects, but we also wanted to add in a third idea of publishing diverse authorships.
We also looked at the structure of other mission statements, paying particular attention to word count and paragraph breaks to figure out how to most effectively organize our ideas.
Mission statements are most successful when they are focused and to-the-point. A writer who is submitting their manuscript is going to read dozens of mission statements, so we wanted ours to be under one hundred words in order to keep readers engaged, while still allowing them to get an understanding of who we are.
Pledge for Inclusivity
Our main focus, which I’ve been hinting at, was to add the idea of publishing diverse authorships so that we can demonstrate our progressive values as students. This has been an emerging part of our identity as a press, and we wanted this value to be stated clearly, without being buried behind our other goals. We want other publishers to know that this is what we are going for moving forward.
Team Writing
After our research and discussion near the end of winter, we finally began writing as a team. Team writing can be quite difficult, but we set out with concrete goals and tasks in terms of rhetoric, structure, concision, and our goal for inclusivity.
Our first meeting was very discussion-oriented, and before our second meeting, I compiled the most prominent points from each writer into a draft. When we met the second time, we discussed, tweaked, and played with the format until we had several versions of the same mission statement.
An advisory board of faculty members decided on one of these versions. After we presented it to the press, we allowed each student the chance to vote on the mission statement, and it ultimately passed. We are so excited to release it later this year!
The End of A First Step
Clarity, brevity, and utility were our main goals in updating our mission statement, and our group is incredibly proud of the work we’ve done. In moving towards our values of inclusivity, however, the mission statement is just the first step. Updating our mission statement is at the core of things that Ooligan Press wants to accomplish in terms of shaping literature and the publishing industry, and our work is still cut out for us.