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.”

Which Ooligan Book Matches Your Zodiac Sign?

Aries: Leader, Brave, Prepared
Faultland

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
Odsburg

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.

Diversifying My Bookshelf

You may have asked yourself if it’s possible for one person to amplify the voices of underrepresented authors. The answer is yes! We can create diversity within our own bookshelves by analyzing our book-buying habits, which will help amplify these voices. I’m a firm believer that money can talk (metaphorically speaking), so when we put our money forward in support of underrepresented voices, these voices are amplified. By carefully examining our reading habits, book-buying habits, and curating our bookshelves as an act of intention, we can amplify these voices.
But this requires effort from each of us. As publishing professionals, it’s not only our job to create diversity within publishing houses, but also create diversity within our own bookshelves. A few years ago, this wasn’t even a blip on my radar. I would read what was in front of me and buy from my usual places. I wasn’t thinking about my reading habits or my book-buying habits. Now, instead of buying from Amazon and other big box stores, I look on Bookshop or seek out Black-owned bookstores, and I read books on anti-racism and search for books from diverse authors and perspectives.
In doing so, I have discovered an incredibly beautiful, diverse world that I was unaware of because it wasn’t what was right in front of me. I had to seek it out. 2020 has given many like myself the opportunity to look and seek it out.
As the world shut down because of the pandemic and the largest social justice movement in history expanded, seismic shifts were—and still are—felt on a collective level that was not previously acknowledged. Publishing companies have created imprints that focus on stories written by BIPOC authors, and they have also put people in positions to run these imprints in a way that is representative of the stories that need to be told and the readers who need to be reached.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Tolkien or Neil Gaiman book, but if I don’t start reading and buying books that are outside of my own interests, nothing will change. The little changes that we make as individuals can ripple out and have a greater impact than we realize. One or two people making these changes will have a smaller impact, but when thousands of people start making conscious choices based on their own habits, the ability to amplify the voices of underrepresented authors can become quite large.
Authors like Dr. Ibram X. Kendi are penning best sellers about anti-racism and Black history in America. Books like these are able to come to the forefront because individuals are actually looking at what they are reading and the books they are buying, and they are making a conscious effort to choose otherwise. We are hardly there, and we have a long way to go, but the diversity seen and felt over the last year seems to be a step in the right direction.

From Fanfiction to Publishing

Have you ever been so engrossed in a book series that you just had to continue the story beyond the pages? If so, then you are not alone! Before the internet, members of the Star Trek fandom would write fanfiction to send to their friends and pass out at fan conventions. This phenomenon has been around for quite some time, and it continues to grow in popularity as more and more fandoms are created.

I have been reading and writing fanfiction since I was thirteen, and it’s something that I have continued doing as an adult. For many of us who are prolific readers, the book doesn’t just stop on the last page; its world goes deeper than what is written in the pages of the book. As fans of both the world and the characters, we want the legacy of the series to continue long after the series ends. This mindset can not only get you started on the path to writing your own works of fiction, but it can also allow you the opportunity to edit new works by different authors before they get out into the world.

Cassandra Clare, author of the well-known series, The Mortal Instruments, got her career started by writing Harry Potter fanfiction. (If you’d like to check out her current fiction, you can do so on her website). You have to start somewhere, right?

Creating fanfiction is a great place to start writing. You can get feedback from the community, practice developing characters, and delve deeper into a world that you already love. It’s a great way to hone your craft from the very beginning, in a safe and welcoming environment. I’ve even seen fanfiction authors who have created their own characters that fit into the world of the original book.

Many fanfiction authors even have what they call beta-readers, who essentially act as editors to help with organization, plot, world-building, character development, and more. Some fanfiction authors even have people who create custom artwork for their stories! There are so many elements that go into the development of fanfiction that it’s almost a microcosm of the publishing industry.

Many people automatically equate publishing with editing, which isn’t necessarily the case. While it is true that editing is a crucial aspect of publishing, it isn’t the only aspect. If you enjoy reading and contributing to the numerous (and usually hilarious) tags on AO3 and Fanfiction.net, then search engine optimization (SEO) and social media work might be a great option for you to pursue. Do you love art and design? Then you can work in a design department creating book covers and art for the interior of books. If you are fascinated by computers and coding, then you can work in the relatively new and evolving field of ebooks and audiobooks. The publishing industry has a place for every bibliophile out there—even fanfiction writers. The best part? You are getting paid to do it ! My advice to you is to keep calm, follow your dreams, and write fanfiction!

The Magic of Portland’s Independent Publishing Resource Center

Portland, Oregon, has long been heralded as one of the best locations in America for artists, authors, and other creatives to find inspiration and community. Indeed, the city’s reputation has made it a hub for creative-minded folks looking for opportunities to hone their crafts and, more importantly, showcase and distribute their work to the public. For authors and artists who don’t have access to publishing technology or spaces to create, print, and publish their work, there are distinct barriers to doing what they love. However, there is an incredible nonprofit organization right here in Portland that seeks to break down these barriers and make publishing affordable and accessible to all.
Founded twenty-one years ago in a partnership between writer, publisher, bookseller, activist, and Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and printmaker Rebecca Gilbert, the Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) is a nonprofit community center that is dedicated to making the process of publishing accessible and affordable to all. According to their mission statement, the IPRC seeks to provide “affordable access to space, tools, and resources for creating independently published media and artwork, and to build community and identity through the creation of written and visual art.”
One of the IPRC’s goals is to increase the accessibility of both print and visual publishing materials in order to promote diversity and equity in Portland and beyond through the creating and sharing of art. The center describes their goal this way:

By gathering such a diverse group of people under one roof, the IPRC nourishes an expansive and productive community, and is an incubator for the independent creative spirit that makes Portland unique. The IPRC fills the community need for low-cost access to otherwise expensive space, equipment, and materials, and supports artists to create quality, innovative, and experimental work that couldn’t be made elsewhere.

So just what kind of equipment does the IPRC have? The center’s main studio (currently open by appointment only due to COVID-19 safety precautions) offers an open workspace where patrons can work on individual projects and chat with other community members. The space is home to a digital lab containing iMac computers, which have access to creative software like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign; black-and-white and color photocopiers (adorably named Blanche and Stella); paper-cutting equipment, including manual and electric paper cutters; paper finishing tools and staplers; button-making tools; and a Bind-Fast 5 perfect book binding machine. Haven’t used these tools before? Either a volunteer or the studio manager will provide you with training before your first use.
Outside of the main studio, the IPRC also offers other specialized studios for different types of printing. The Berlin Family Letterpress Studio is home to a number of letterpresses, a lead type collection, and even offers a galley rental. If screen printing is more your style, you might want to check out the WeMake Screen Printing Studio, which allows members to learn and practice screen printing fundamentals, and offers all the necessary materials that are needed to make a project come to life. Finally, the IPRC Risograph Studio is home to three Risograph printers and thirteen color drums. For each of these specialty printing studios, members are required to complete introductory workshops on how to use the equipment before being allowed to access and use the technology.
The IPRC also offers workshops and classes on a variety of other subjects, including creative writing (both fiction and nonfiction), poetry, chapbooks, zines, and even bookkeeping. The center keeps an updated calendar on their website with information about upcoming workshops and events. Other programs offered by the IPRC include a year-long certificate program that combines creative writing workshops with instruction in design, book arts, and print production; a BIPOC Artist & Writer Residency which provides authors with time and space to create, as well as a stipend of three thousand dollars; and summer youth camps that offer five weeks of creative writing, printmaking, and comic workshops for youth ages five to eighteen.
Interested in using some of the IPRC’s many tools and resources for your creative projects? Learn about membership opportunities and non-member access to studios on their website. You can also donate to this incredible organization to help keep it running so that the Portland community can retain access to these incredible resources. See their wishlist on their website, and support local artists by shopping the wonderful artwork created at the IPRC’s studios.

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 light bulb lays on a chalkboard with a thought bubble drawn around it.

Benefits of Agent Representation

It is a literary agent’s job to represent a writer and ensure that their work finds its way to the right publisher. But why is this so important? Writers can find publishers on their own, but it is much more difficult to get their book picked up without agent representation. This is because agents have a reputation for building an author’s career and developing their writing, and they are often well-known in a community where connections matter. Having a literary agent will help an author pitch their book to a traditional publishing house, like Penguin Random House or HarperCollins imprints. If, however, an author should choose to pitch a book alone, it is often to indie presses or to be self-published. Even in this case, there are benefits to finding agent representation early on in the publishing process. Here’s why:

  1. Editors won’t look at your manuscript if it isn’t represented by an agent. According to Valerie Peterson, a book publishing professional, agent representation indicates that an author has quality written work. Thus, an agent “approves” of your book, which tells the publisher that it is at least worth looking at and possibly publishing.
  2. Agents understand complicated contractual agreements. As Ms. Peterson mentions, agents know how to negotiate subsidiary rights (foreign, film, language, etc.) and more. They also ensure an author knows how money is tied to all of these rights and they negotiate royalty payments. This helps the author get the best deal out of a contract, especially when they don’t understand how the publisher is trying to bind them.
  3. According to Writers Victoria, agents are on top of the book market and sales industry. This knowledge is beneficial to authors, who may not know the trends. An agent knows when it is the best time to pitch to a specific publisher, if the book content is right for the current market, and if a book will get a large amount of sales upon publication. In addition, this indicates that agents have connections in the market, which looks better to publishers and makes them more receptive to an author’s manuscript.

If you’re an author, these are just a few specific benefits to having an agent. It is an agent’s job to represent your material, get you the best deal, and make sure you’re entering the market at a good time. But, they do more than that. Agents often help authors throughout the entire publishing process, from developing a book to creating a pitch to share with publishers. That being said, it’s like having a personal support system from the very beginning. An agent chooses an author because they like them (and what they have to offer). This support will not only make the process easier for the author, but it will also ensure that the author’s book finds the right publishing house, which is ultimately the end goal.

A pair of headphones rests on a notebook

How Audiobooks Are Changing the Publishing Industry

It is no secret that our lives are often thrown into a chaos of busy schedules and unknowns. With so much going on in the world, it is a wonder anyone has time to read. Between full-time jobs, working toward degrees, walking our dogs (or cats, or other pets), and trying to fit in a yoga or Orange Theory class, who has time for reading? Many of us who love the dusty-vanilla scent of old books or the chemical scent of the ink on a newly printed book have opted for the audio versions instead. With so many choosing to listen to books instead of reading the physical copies, it is no doubt the publishing industry has needed to change with the evolving demands of technology and fast-paced culture. Much like the debut of ebooks, the prevalence of audiobooks has posed several questions regarding what this will do to the publishing world and books in general.
Books have been around in many different forms for centuries. From mosaic-like cave drawings to scrolls to leather-bound copies to electronic screens and now to audiobooks, they have long been proven as a means of storytelling and sharing information, both for education and entertainment. With that in mind, these concepts are not going anywhere. However, the mediums used to tell these stories and share information will definitely evolve as society evolves. Books, libraries, and publishing companies are still very active in our lives. Books are still being published, and yes, many of those are turned into audiobooks. The best ones are those with a full cast, in my opinion, but I digress. Audiobooks have not made print books obsolete, but rather have opened up the world of books to both busy readers and nonreaders alike.
The initial purpose of audiobooks was to engage nonreaders, but many avid readers have taken to them as well. According to this article from Business World, publishers have reported an increase in sales over the past year alone, with HarperCollins at a 5 percent increase and an elevation of 32.1 percent revenue overall earned by publishers from audiobooks alone. The numbers are only growing. So, the industry is certainly evolving but there is nothing to suggest that books themselves will become obsolete. In fact, many publishers are looking at audiobooks as “trendsetters” in the publishing industry.
One major factor to take into account when considering the value of audiobooks is that they have made books far more accessible to those who have visual disabilities or impairments but still want the enjoyment of reading a book. Accessibility is huge to be able to create a more widespread and diverse audience as well. If you’re like me and do have the choice of how you consume your literature, nothing beats reading a physical book—one where you can imprint those words onto your heart and mind. Still, reading is reading. I know many puritanical elitists who shun audiobooks and claim “listening doesn’t count as reading a book.” Yet, if you are still getting the information and the experience intended from the book’s author, what difference does it make? If audiobooks are making books more accessible for a wider audience, then so be it!

A drawing of two people with flowers in their hair and text next to them that reads "Take care of yourself so you have space to care for others."

How To Stay Sane in the Publishing Industry

Okay, so we all know COVID-19 is happening right now, right? We’re all caught up, we all get the gist? Keep your mask on, stay six feet apart, wash your hands for twenty seconds, try to isolate—do I have to keep going? I think we should all have caught on to this massive world event by now.
Yes? Great.
The first few months of isolation weren’t terrible. I’m pretty sure we all had the same mind set: I’m going to get fit, make some banana bread, and get my life together. That didn’t happen.
Then we hit four months. Reality really set in, and I realized I actually hate banana bread.
Suddenly we were at nine months: “Holy crap, this winter was awful, there is so much upset in the world and I have no hope. What are we going to do? Should I try to make banana bread again?”
Now we’re at twelve months: “I don’t even remember what real life is anymore. GIVE ME THE VACCINE.”
Staying sane in these tumultuous times and just living through the fact that we are in a massive disaster has been . . . less than easy. Every industry is being hit hard, and the publishing industry isn’t doing any better than the rest of them—especially independent presses who were struggling to get by in the first place. On top of it, no one can even cry with their friends over the struggles unless they schedule a Zoom meeting.
So what’s someone in this book publishing program to do? The people here are in grad school, working full time at Ooligan Press, living through a pandemic and social uprising, and some of them are even writing a thesis. Where’s the time for self-care?
In truth, self-care can be found in boundaries. It’s easy to let work and education overwhelm you, especially in this time of isolation we find ourselves in. There are so many things to do in the press, in classes, and in our own lives that we can lose the time we need to, well, take time. It can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, or minutes in the hours we get, to just take time for ourselves—but there are when you add boundaries.
When I first came to Ooligan, I would lose my day to editing assignments or overthinking mini-essays for classes. I suddenly didn’t have time to grab a beer with friends or hike that one trail, and it was all because I refused to establish the boundaries that are needed in everyday life.
Now I only work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekdays unless there’s an emergency and I make sure to go on walks during my lunch. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have time to work on my next art project or even stretch my legs. In the end, the change in comma placement can wait and the concern about proper ISBNs isn’t an absolute emergency.
If boundaries aren’t established with work, school, and social life, then you don’t have time to focus on what really needs your attention. You.