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.

Tips for Getting Your Author Ready for an Instagram Takeover

Social media is a great way to generate publicity for a book, and one trend that has recently gained popularity is Instagram takeovers. For authors who aren’t familiar with Instagram, the platform can look incredibly complicated at first glance. Knowing the basics of the platform is crucial, especially given the frequency with which it’s updated. In this post I will offer tips to get your Instagram-newbie author ready for a takeover in no time!

  1. Get Them Familiar with the Platform
  2. Most takeovers usually happen on Instagram stories, but the buttons to add this content may not come across clearly. Make sure your author knows that in order to access this button, they will need to either swipe left or locate the circle at the top left of their screen. I always find that screenshots and examples are incredibly helpful in this step! A great way to get comfortable with this feature is to practice—have them create test posts on a private or personal account so that they have a better idea of what to do when the time comes. This will also allow you to gauge their understanding of the platform as well.

  3. Set Expectations
  4. The idea of a takeover may seem overwhelming to authors who don’t know what to expect. They may ask questions like “How often should I post?” and “What kind of content do I share?” Giving your author some guidelines can help soothe some of this anxiety. Let them know specifics like how often they should post (i.e. once an hour vs. ten posts total), what the time frame is for their takeover, and what you and your viewers expect to see during that time. Make sure they know what they are getting into. I always recommend that authors share fun facts about themselves, pictures of their pets, and other material that allows viewers to get to know them. This will look different for everyone, so make sure you are as clear as possible every step of the way.

  5. Communicate
  6. Given everything going on in the world with social distancing, virtual meetings, and geographical limitations, it is more important than ever to establish effective communication. While emailing back and forth is convenient, giving a step-by-step tutorial in text can be overwhelming. Sharing screens or having an audio connection is a great alternative that will help take stress off your author and make them feel like they aren’t alone in figuring this out.

  7. Know Your Resources
  8. One of the great things about the “new normal” of virtual meetings is that it is easier than ever to find a video tutorial that can do some of the work for you. This video by Louise Henry is very in-depth and effective at covering all of the options that Instagram stories has to offer. In his tutorial, Dusty Porter offers a quick, but thorough, rundown on Instagram stories. These are just a few examples, but you always have the option to take matters into your own hands and screen-record your own tutorials as well.

  9. When in Doubt, Take Over
  10. Some authors just won’t get the hang of Instagram, and that is okay! I recommend that you sit down with your author and plan out content that you can post for them: choose photos to share and create captions with together, or offer a Q&A session via email so followers can still have authentic engagement with the author. There are endless possibilities!

  11. Move On
  12. An Instagram takeover will not make or break a campaign, so if things really aren’t working out, then it’s time to move on. With that being said, always be patient and allow your author the time and space to acclimate to Instagram. Only move on as a last resort.

Instagram takeovers are a fun and low-stress marketing tool that anyone can take advantage of. With these tips, you may be able to help your author in a big way! Just make sure to do your own research, because in the world of social media, the platforms we know and love can change in an instant.

Creating Branding Strategies to Stand Out from the Crowd

During discussions about branding strategies with my college peers, it is common to hear about the importance of searching for the value a reader is looking to find when they are browsing through books, and then focusing on producing manuscripts that target these values. This initiative probably works well when producing and marketing most products, but how effective could this strategy be in the book market?
Like marketers at other product and service companies, marketers in the book publishing industry conduct research about what their readers are looking for, and even find topics readers haven’t discovered yet because they are so new. The difference between other marketers and book marketers is in how they put their findings to use. If we want to put what readers are looking for on the shelves of bookstores, we need to begin by finding those writers whose personal and professional principles mirror the values of the readers. By investing in enhancing these writers’ identities and brand values, we can help them connect with readers who will become life-long fans.
In 3 Steps to Building your Author Brand, Leila Dewji says that it all starts with brand values. She claims, “whether you like it or not, all authors have a brand that will be judged by readers, media, and book sellers.” Rather than inventing this brand, the brand is naturally created by a writer who is motivated by their own principles, interests, and values. The author’s passion and drive will produce topics and materials that will spark the interest of readers. Manuscripts will be created with the intention of communicating, educating, entertaining, etc., rather than being created for the sole purpose of having a high financial profit, which might come as a given result anyway.
Once brand values are clear, the author, editor, designers, marketers, and publicists should work in unison to strengthen that brand. Each of them has a different role, but the goal is the same: to present a clear and defined identity to the readers, social media, and bookstores. The author’s role is to express and organize their ideas in a genuine way by being themselves. In the article Brand Strategy for Authors: How to Truly Stand Out From The Crowd, Kimberly Grabas writes that the “first step is to very clearly define your brand purpose and values.” These are composed of “purpose, vision, and mission.” Through this reflective exercise, authors can discover their “unique areas of advantage or value” and their own voice, which is then communicated through their writing. It is also important that writers show these principles and values, not just in their writing, but also in their social and public lives. The editor’s role is to then help the writer shape the manuscript toward that unique identity.
The design, marketing, and publicity departments also play a very important part in this process. They work on creating strategies that bring cohesiveness to the manuscript; this can include details such as the content in social media, the colors used in the design, and the chosen fonts, especially on the book cover and media graphics.
By investing in enhancing the author’s identity and brand values, we can help them connect with readers and create long-lasting bonds with them, which will result in the overall success of the project, which benefits everyone in the end.

A copy of the New York Times newspaper sits open and horizontal on a white table with a cup of black coffee next to it.

Cracking the Code of the NYT Best-Seller List

What is the secret combination to unlock a spot on the coveted New York Times best-seller list?
Believe it or not, there is a certain formula to finding your book amidst some of the nation’s best-selling authors, and it’s not just huge sales numbers. While success is not guaranteed, a behind-the-scenes look demystifies the ever-enigmatic selection process of the New York Times (NYT) best-seller staff.
Every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, the New York Times best-seller list is published online. It’s then published in print eleven days later. While sales numbers are a factor in making the list, according to the best-seller staff at the New York Times, they also employ investigative journalism and other subjective measures to dole out the highly selective spots on the list.
Here are the basic facts of the list straight from the Times:

1. Each week, several thousand vendors confidentiality report sales data in myriad genres and interests in the United States. Large press, small press, and self-published titles are eligible for the list.

2. Data on millions of titles is reported from bookstores (including independent), online retailers, and specialty stores.

3. Print and/or ebook titles can be included; both formats are allowed. Audiobooks are included, based on the combination of both physical and digital copies.

4. Sales are defined as completed purchases by the buyer.

5. Books such as perennial sellers, class books and textbooks, journals, crosswords, ebooks available exclusively from a single vendor, etc., are not included in the list.

6. There are eleven weekly lists and seven monthly lists.

7. A book can be featured on the best-seller list and not in the Book Review, and vice versa.

8. Books published during a busy publication week face harder competition than books published during down times.

9. The best-seller staff is responsible for employing investigative journalism in order to detect manipulation or fraud. Parties frequently buy bulk orders of books in order to skew sales data. This practice is not illegal, but the NYT actively investigates circumstances to more accurately reflect the sales data.

10. The best-seller staff does not read every book they choose to reflect and rank on the charts; according to the NYT, sales data is the only factor.

However, in a lawsuit, the New York Times was sued for neglecting to reflect certain books on the charts. Their response is a direct hit at the claims of objectivity: “The list did not purport to be an objective compilation of information but instead was an editorial product.” Therefore, it must be noted that even after the vetting and research, the New York Times best-seller list is ultimately an editorial—subjective—list, rather than an all-encompassing objective reflection of current book consumers. The confidential reporting aids in reducing pressure on booksellers, but it still shades the number of actual reports the Times receives.
While not reported by the Times themselves, here are a few other “tricks” to get on the list as reported by Entrepreneur:

a. Preorder campaigns are extremely valuable. In order to reach the list, it is generally understood that a book needs over ten thousand preorders for consideration.

b. While five thousand copies purchased after publication could mean a spot on the list, most times five thousand does not apply for new and/or unknown authors. Further, those numbers over a week of sales mean more than the gross total of sales in a year.

c. The more mainstream press coverage a book receives, the more likely it is to be featured.

d. Legitimate bulk sales of books may flag the title as fraudulent during the NYT investigative process.

e. It is also reported that more reported sales selected by the Times come from independent bookstores rather than storefronts or online retailers. This can skew the readership, since books purchased at an indie bookstore could differ from what the masses are purchasing elsewhere at different prices.

Some best-seller lists include the Wall Street Journal and the USA Today best-seller lists. The former requires around three to five thousand copies, makes it easier for nontraditional published works to get featured, and is purely based on sales. The latter is more similar to the New York Times list in that it is curated to an extent, but it can include books excluded on the NYT list like cookbooks and game books.
Overall, award list notoriety can be dazzling, but it can also be a disappointment if that is the only baseline for success. For indie books, it is often better to focus on smaller literary awards, local awards, or other local press. The New York Times best-seller list is a good baseline for seeing what is selling from week to week, but it is not the end-all-be-all of the current publishing landscape. There are several thousand books that will never make the list, but will still win awards, win hearts, or just win support from your closest friends and family.

A white, wooden chair with a pink party balloon tied to it.

What We’ve Learned from a Year of Hosting Virtual Book Launch Events

In an October 2020 survey of nearly four hundred marketing professionals, the event tech company Bizzabo concluded that more than 80 percent of event marketers saw an increase in audience reach as a result of the sudden shift from in-person to virtual platforms. Ooligan Press has hosted four virtual launch events since the outbreak of COVID-19. First was for The Names We Take by Trace Kerr; it was originally planned to be held in person, so the team had to pivot to a livestream. Second was Laurel Everywhere by Erin Moyinhan and the choice to go virtual was made from the start. Third and fourth were Faultland by Suzy Vitello—hosted by the press—and Finding the Vein by Jennifer Hanlon Wilde, held by Waucoma Bookstore in Hood River, OR. Both were created using Eventbrite. We have two more still ahead this year, so keep an eye out for info and dates on our platforms!
I reached out to graduating project managers Grace Hansen, Cole Bowman, and Bailey Potter who oversaw the successful launch events for Laurel Everywhere, Faultland, and Finding the Vein, respectively. I asked each of them about advice for planning future virtual events. Within a few hours, I had struck gold. Synthesized below are their replies and some guidance to get started when it is time to plan a celebration of your new book.

Know the Author

Cole pointed out that the author’s comfort is “the biggest barometer of whether or not the event will be successful” because attendees reflect the energy from the author, and “if they’re visibly nervous or clam up, it can really dampen the audience’s experience.” For all three launches, the moderators and guests were chosen to intentionally match authors with people they shared histories with. Talk to your author about their comfort level with speaking and reading live, their past public speaking experiences, and their expectations for the event.
Keeping the author at the forefront of planning should lead to conversations about the best possible ways to celebrate their achievements. Grace explained that this led to her team’s decision to have a roundtable discussion with the author and a small panel of people. They wanted those in attendance “to have more to hold on to than just the contents of a book they hadn’t read yet,” and it turned out to be a great structure; the “audience of book lovers [got] to track the entire publishing process from our author’s idea to actual publication,” said Grace. It was a prudent way to respectfully regard the heavy themes of the book.

Find a Meaningful Location

Once you have a relationship built with the author, encourage them to begin cultivating one with their local community venues. Then when it’s time, Bailey suggests they “pop the question!” Outreach efforts, Bailey added, “certainly led to many bookstores selling our book,” but “the author’s relationship with her local bookstore” is what paved the way to a successful launch.
The managers agree that finding a location three to five months before the launch event is important. Grace recalls reaching out to local bookstores only to find that “their calendars were all booked up or they weren’t doing events at all.”

Plan for Success

Commit to using a webinar format as opposed to a meeting format. They are more official and organized, Bailey noted, and they can be a bit of a built-in backup plan should the venue fall through.
Set the author up by providing them a list of questions from the moderator and an agenda for the event. Cole suggested allowing the author to choose whether or not to read from the book. “What this did,” they said, “was ensure that [the author] knew what to expect of the event itself and she felt like she was in control of at least part of it.” Being transparent about and flexible with the structure is an important part of successful communication.
Consider a few last recommendations from the managers: Decide if you’re planning a hybrid event or a totally virtual one. Create a separate link for an afterparty. Find ways to engage the audience with a giveaway, signed books, a “care package,” playlists, recipes, or anything that matches the theme of the book.

A stack of books across several genres, their spines facing out to showcase their titles.

The Evolution of a Book Title

Whether it’s emblazoned on a cover, included on a best-seller list, or mentioned in passing by a friend or acquaintance, most often the title of a book gives a reader the first impression they have of the work. It is not enough for a title to be good (that is, a fitting description of the events of the plot that also strikes the right tone and implies the themes surrounding it), it must be enticing to the target audience and lend itself to marketing. Therefore, picking a lasting title is a crucial part of the process publishers use; titles can be edited like any other piece of text if the original does not work. But if the title of a book really is the first impression a reader will get, who decides what makes for a good and enticing title?
The first person to propose the title of a work is typically the author, and while the author may feel they have a perfect grasp of how to build first impressions of their work, they don’t always get it right on the first try. Certainly Jane Austin must have felt that pride and prejudice coursing through her when she dubbed her most famous work First Impressions. Yet that’s not the name we know it by, and what’s more: she is not the only great author of a famous work to put forward an unremarkable working title.
So then is it the responsibility of the publishing house to decide on a better, more marketable name? Perhaps. Certainly it is up to the editor working with an author through a publishing house to raise concerns if a proposed title isn’t landing well with marketing (especially if the title implies a theme or genre outside of the manuscript’s actual scope), and then to work with the author and/or publisher to generate a more fitting title. However, there are legitimate concerns surrounding “designed by committee” titles either also missing the mark on what a title needs or not generating a title the author can agree with. The fact is, there is no style guide to titling books.
Certainly, there are factors that market studies suggest are essential to a good title. A study of contemporary novels purported that titles that start with the word “the” were more likely to become best sellers, without taking into account that “the” is the most common word in the english language. There are also patterns of naming that publishing houses find themselves in. Ooligan, for instance, has published a few titles with names following a “The X We Y” pattern established by The Gifts We Keep and sustained by The Names We Take. Even so, this naming convention is obviously not appropriate to every single book we publish, which leads to perhaps the most important and most straightforward answer to what makes for a good and enticing title: it will vary from manuscript to manuscript, based on what that specific manuscript has to offer the reader and therefore what title such a reader would seek out.

Sign that says time for change with led lights in background.

Demanding Diversity with BookTube

BookTubers are a well-known part of the book-loving community. BookTube is the place on YouTube people go to hear others rave about books they love or discuss all things wrong with the books they don’t. Throw in some fun bookish tags and it is the perfect space for readers to get more content when they aren’t curled up with a book. That being said, BookTube has gone through some important changes over the years and one vital change is that the personalities and faces of these channels are becoming more and more diverse.
Diversity is something the publishing industry has long struggled with, but BookTube isn’t letting that stop them. Anyone who has a passion or an interest can upload a video onto YouTube, and that is no different for the book community. These videos afford BookTubers an audience and platform to speak their minds and call for change, much like the creator Christina Mitchell does consistently. Mitchell’s channel takes the issue of lack of diversity head on and calls out the community in dedicated videos. One video, which criticized the attendance of BookCon, resulted in the Con giving her a panel to speak on issues that concern her, such as diversity.
Mitchell’s example of speaking out isn’t the only headway the community is making on diversity. YouTube recently released a trailer for a BookTube video featuring David Sedaris. While Sedaris is highlighted, this video also features a panel of numerous BookTubers including Cindy Pham, Joel Kim Booster, Jake Roper, and Francine Simone, a small selection of people that still showed a more diverse set of content creators from the platform. This support from YouTube itself shows that people are taking notice and their platforms are just as successful as the white creators from BookTube’s inception. This is also a show of growth as YouTube’s previous feature with Michelle Obama consisted of a largely white panel of BookTubers. A HuffPost article was even written with Black BookTubers criticising the choices of creators included in this video and the missed opportunity YouTube had to highlight a marginalized group of the book community. These outspoken creators are a huge part of the visibility of these issues and a huge step into holding the publishing industry as a whole accountable.
BookTubers aren’t just making callout videos—they are also uplifting authors and books that are already representative of the diversity they seek. They are still coming up with popular BookTube content while also featuring people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and so much more. For example, Cindy Pham from readwithcindy even posts an annual Asian readathon in the month of May to highlight Asian Heritage Month. This event is specifically targeted for Asian authors, characters, or both. These creators are using their platforms to both create a positive and fun space for book lovers while also giving a spotlight to issues they care about. These content creators are unapologetically calling for change out of love for reading, something their audiences can no doubt identify with. BookTubers are making it quite clear that they won’t stand for the industry’s lack of diversity, and with their impact we can look forward to how that will change the face of the industry in the years to come.

Image of laptop with a plant leaf in top left corner. On the desk is a tablet with the words "online book marketing" and a graph. A pair of glasses are to the right of the tablet and a cup of coffee is above them.

Reinventing the Market for Classic Novels

What makes an old book new—at least in the eyes of the consumer? Publishers of classic novels face the distinct challenge of marketing books that have already been extensively read, loved, discussed, and marketed. More often than not, publishers are not selling the content of the book—after all, the words are already tried and true—they are selling the experience.
The New York Times best seller list is ever changing, with new books entering the lineup every week. Most books do not stay in the public eye for more than a year or two before they are replaced by the next best novel or the newest hot author. However, there are some novels that never sway from mass public consumption, withstanding not only the test of time, but also the constant influx of current best sellers. Novels such as Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, and Dracula, as well as collections of short stories by Virginia Woolf, poetry by Emily Dickinson, and plays by William Shakespeare are all shelved neatly together, collectively given the term “classics.”
These novels are, in a sense, timeless; they coined phrases and pioneered ideas that are still being gleaned from today. However, while these novels remain popular well after their initial publication, what keeps them flying off the racks, so to speak? How do publishing houses convince a consumer to purchase their seventh copy of To Kill a Mockingbird? Publishers have had to reinvigorate and, on occasion, redesign the market for classic literature. Using book cover redesign, contemporary author introductions, and celebrity audiobook performers, publishers have had to get creative in order to keep classics afloat amid the tide of new releases.
Penguin and Puffin Classics are great examples of how publishers can use a book jacket revamp. According to children’s book publisher Sharon Cullen, an old classic can get a facelift with a new cover: “From Treasure Island and Heidi to the Secret Garden and The Wizard of Oz, these books have been firm favorites of children across the generations and their striking new jackets will ensure they remain popular for many years.” After all, a dazzling new book cover for a classic like Dracula could convince both a reader who already owns a copy (but a different version) and one who does not have it to pick it off the shelves, even when surrounded by new releases.
Modern Library, a renowned publisher of classics, has a history of bringing new life to their classic catalog. In 2000, they published a series of classics with newly added introductions by contemporary authors of the time. More recently in 2019, they launched a series of classics “penned by women.” Via Publishers Weekly, “the series, the publisher said, will ‘honor a more inclusive vision of classic books’ by ‘recognizing women who wrote on their own terms, with boldness, creativity, and a spirit of resistance.'” Furthermore, Modern Library repackaged the included novels with redesigned covers and introductions by contemporary women writers.
On a more digital aspect, publishers and businesses have experimented with adding celebrity names to audiobooks and ebooks. According to Publishers Weekly, in 2012, Audible.com “released the first of four planned waves in their ‘A-List Collection,’ audiobooks of classic literature read by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.” For example, Anne Hathaway read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, while Samuel L. Jackson read A Rage in Heaven by Chester Himes. While the authors themselves have varying degrees of public recognition, actors such as those listed above afford both a great fanbase and a sense of intrigue to the audiobooks. In 2020, Audible advertised Little Women performed by Laura Dern and The Great Gatsby narrated by Jake Gyllenhaal.
Many of the sales techniques and strategies surrounding the market for classics are conditional based on specific moments occurring during the period in which the books are being sold. Much like book covers and marketing campaigns, the novels themselves need to be positioned toward cultural, political, and current social themes. Classic novels will always carry a sense of nostalgia, while also bringing about a wave of timelessness with each turn of the page. However, while such novels will continue to be taught in curriculums and read by aficionados, the classics continue to need facelifts and facetunes in order to be repurchased and re-digested by the masses. Classic novels have managed to not only stay afloat in modern times, but to also make new waves and their own splashes within the tumultuous sea of best sellers, new releases, and backlist titles.

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Personal versus Professional Branding in the Business of Book

In the age of social media, the art of personal branding is a vital aspect of ensuring the books that authors and publishers are putting out into the world are making it to the right audience. Everything from the cover design to the publishing business logo to the author’s Twitter account are all part of the message telling readers that this is a professional publication.
So what is the difference between personal branding and professional branding? Why does it matter, and when is it better to use one over the other? Let’s start by defining what each one is. According to Pamela Wilson of Big Brand System, a nationally recognized company that specializes in building online presences for both businesses and individuals, personal branding is “built around you—your personality, your interests, your lifestyle.” On the other hand, professional branding is “built around an identity that you create for your business.” This is not to say that a personal brand is not professional or that a professional brand cannot have a personal aspect or touch to it. More specifically, a personal brand focuses on an individual and a professional brand focuses on the business.
This is important for bookselling because, as mentioned above, branding fits into almost every aspect of writing and publishing. If you are a publishing company, you will need to have a brand for your business that represents what your goals and missions are. It should represent just what sort of books you will publish. Within your company, it is likely that you will either have inhouse editors and design teams, or perhaps you will work with freelance editors and design teams. In either case, these editors and designers likely have their own personal brand, even if this falls under the umbrella of the publishing company. They have a specific way they represent themselves to the authors and agents with whom they are working. If they are freelancers, they more than likely have websites, portfolios, and business cards with their own logos and individual branding that reflects the way they want to present themselves, both online and off.
Authors, too, have spent time building their images. At one point in time, we looked to the author’s personal history or biography, their book cover designs, and even their work itself as the evidence of how this author was meant to be perceived. I’m sure many of us remember high school or undergraduate Shakespeare classes where we discussed authorship debates. The things that we use to define a play or sonnet to be “Shakespeare’s” are the marks that his work has revealed with consistency: iambic pentameter, sonnets and the syllables and rhyme schemes therein, and the themes of the plays. This, for all intents and purposes, could be considered Shakespeare’s personal brand.
It is still more important today for authors to build their personal brands. So much of life’s interactions are done online these days, from Twitter to Instagram, Facebook to Snapchat, LinkedIn to TikTok, and email or personal web pages. Many well-established authors have, at very least, some form of social media. Many others have websites that are also linked to social media. In all of these aspects, they have learned the importance of building their online personas, or in other words, their personal brands.
A common misconception of personal branding and social media, especially among novice authors, up-and-coming artists, and other such individuals, is that self-promotion is a bit of a narcissistic trend when it is in fact a rather vital aspect of the success of one’s personal brand. It’s important to have that presence and persona in order to network both online and off, as well as aid in the success of your book sales. So yes, it is self-promotion, but for the purpose of self and for the purpose of your audience finding what very well could be their next favorite book. You want your work to make it into the right hands: the right agent, the right publisher, and the right readers. Making sure you are well-represented through a personal brand is the foundation on which you will build your career. Make sure it reflects yourself well.

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Navigating the Publicist-Author Relationship

Book publishing is one big group project. Learning how to navigate relationships with authors is an essential part of being in the industry. There is bound to be some disagreement with the way the book is being edited, designed, marketed, and publicized. As the publicity manager for Ooligan Press, I have been in delicate situations with authors where everyone’s feelings must be taken into account. And the most important thing I’ve learned from going through these slightly awkward situations is that communication is king. Below, I will give some advice on how to coach your authors and clearly lay out what is needed and what they can expect when their book is ready for publicity.
The first thing a publicist should do when preparing an author for their book launch is to get with the author and listen to their elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a thirty-to-sixty-second spiel on what the book is about and why someone should read it. It is called an elevator pitch because it should take the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator. Now, some authors may have already come up with a pitch like this when they were looking for publishing houses to publish their manuscripts. The difference between that pitch and this one is that this one should be slightly different to better sell the book to readers instead of publishing houses. It is also important you and the author are on the same page with how you want to sell the book. Working with marketing is a great way to do this because they have already come up with selling points and buyer personas for the book. Similar to the elevator pitch, it is also helpful for publicists to help authors come up with key talking points for interviews. This way, the interview stays on track and the author doesn’t feel lost or nervous.
Throughout the process of publishing an author’s book, there are bound to be disagreements between the press and the author. The most important thing to remember is that both you and the author want the same thing—to get their book read by people who will enjoy it. Always listen to and respect the author’s point of view. But remember that the author does not always know what will best sell and publicize their book. Clearly explain why you and the press are doing what you are doing so the author can understand where you are coming from. Sometimes you will want to compromise, and other times you will need to put your foot down.
Above all else, you are helping to run a business, so being professional is important. Clear communication, active listening, and compassion are important in professionalism. A publicist’s job is to make sure an author is knowledgeable about the publicity process. This may mean anything from making sure they are comfortable with interviews or author meet-ups to explaining to them how everything works. Again, remember you and the author have the same goal: to get their book to the right audience. Hopefully these tips will help you to have a successful relationship with your author.
For more tips from book publicists to authors check out: 33 Tips From Book Publicists For Self Published Authors or What to Look for in a Book Publicist.