FAULTLAND's red book cover featuring a map of Portland in the shape of a piano

FAULTLAND’s Digital Launch

On March 30, 2021, Ooligan Press launched Suzy Vitello’s debut adult novel, Faultland, with a virtual launch party that not only celebrated the book itself, but also it’s journey from an idea in Suzy’s mind to a beautiful novel that is already gaining wide acclaim. During the launch, Suzy answered questions, did a short reading from the novel, and engaged in an insightful conversation with fellow author and moderator for the evening, Monica Drake. Special guest Laura Hall of the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization also joined the conversation, giving expert insight into the protocols that the city of Portland has in place to keep people safe in the event of an earthquake like the one that happens in the book.
Like many other publishers, our team was somewhat nervous about launching a book virtually, but Faultland‘s launch far exceeded our expectations. So much of the work that goes into a launch event like ours happens well in advance. We created collateral and built partnerships with bookstores to promote the book and hand out Faultland postcards that they could give to their patrons. We set up an Eventbrite page for attendees to register for the launch. which allowed us to incorporate a randomized drawing for our raffle item based on ticket sales. We promoted the launch—both online and in-person— for weeks leading up to pub day, and secured some stellar advance reviews to really get people interested in the book. All of this hard work paid off: at the events’ peak, one hundred and twenty people were in the Faultland audience ready to celebrate the book’s launch and engage with the author. While the sales numbers for the book are yet to be determined, if enthusiasm is a barometer for success, then we certainly succeeded with this launch!
More than anything else, we knew that having secure and reliable technology was going to be our biggest hurdle for this digital launch. For this, we tasked one intrepid Oolie with overseeing the technical aspects of the Zoom room. He was in charge of the recording, admitting participants, sifting through the audience Q&A, and running an ongoing chat with the audience that highlighted the speakers’ works and directed the attendees to resources mentioned during the event. Other Oolies were at the ready, live-blogging the event and bringing even more attention to the incredible conversation happening between Suzy and our guests. My job was to play the role of facilitator, which allowed me to step in and introduce the speakers and keep an eye on the flow of the event. Because I was able to monitor the time and let the speakers know when it was time to move on, there was less pressure on them and they were able to focus on their conversation and, of course, the book itself, instead of watching the clock.
Above all else Suzy’s natural charisma and her history as a writing teacher ensured that the event went off without a hitch. The audience was immediately drawn in to the playful banter she had with writer and longtime friend, Monica Drake. Together, they navigated difficult audience questions, told charming stories of their “coming up” as young writers, and discussed the finer points of Portland safety protocols with Laura Hall. Through it all, Suzy’s love for her newest book shined brightly. The acme of it all was being able to celebrate the triumph of seeing her book on shelves and sharing that with an audience who was eager to recognize her dedication to bringing it to life.
There’s something so bittersweet about a book launch at Ooligan; it’s a culmination of everything that has gone into creating a book: the months of research, editing, development, marketing, and countless hours of Ooligan student work. Like the changing of the seasons, it signals the end of one book project and the emergence of a new one. We are so excited to start on our next book project, but the Faultland team (and everyone who has worked on the book) will undoubtedly be touched by the work that we put into Faultland for years to come. Now that the book has officially launched, this will be the last Faultland start-to-finish and I’m so proud to leave it on such a fantastic note.
Faultland is now available for purchase just about everywhere books are sold. You can find your copy at Ooligan-favorite online retailer bookshop.org. If you missed the event, you can still celebrate the launch by watching the recording on our Facebook page!

Brief Art Lesson on the Bookstagram

Bookstagrams are a form of art. Fact.

Bookstagrams are also a form of great marketing, and as such, a source of revenue. Also fact.

Why is it that the bookstagram community has worked so well for publishers and bloggers alike? Why is #bookstagram currently at over 19 million hits on Instagram? It’s because of both of those above facts. People like to see art. And in posting this art, they are unknowingly marketing a publisher while simultaneously marketing themselves. It’s brilliant. And there are no signs of it slowing down.

Bookstagrams, like all other forms of art, can be tricky to learn how to make. All it takes, though, is an honest feed, intentional artistic arrangement, and, most importantly, consistent branding.

What exactly goes into a bookstagram? The short answer: ANYTHING WITH A BOOK. It really is that simple. For me, I like to use props that go well with the themes of the book as well as the cover design. Some people just take pictures of pages. Some people take pictures of endless stacks of books surrounded by hundreds of colorful props so large you actually can’t read any of the titles on the books.

When starting an account, you have to understand who you’re trying to reach and what your basic brand will be. I want to be a very personal and trusted reviewer. I want people to feel like they know me. So, I only post pictures of books I’ve read and only post honest things about those books. That’s my brand. (This also makes it much easier to pick out themes in the book I can match with props.)

For my picture, I arrange the props against a consistent white background. It’s actually just a shelf I have at home. A really popular background right now is monochrome sheets.

For my props in my example of The Ocean in My Ears, I used SweeTarts because they’re relevant in the book itself and also pair very well with the cover.

After I take the picture, I edit it. All of my photos are edited to have the same lighting, the same fade, the same vibrancy. This is all part of the brand. I’ve yet to see a successful bookstagram that doesn’t use some kind of consistent photo editing. People want to see similar styles of photographs.

Keeping a consistent brand, no matter how personal the account, is so important. People want to follow accounts they can trust will post fairly similar art because they like that art. You wouldn’t commission an artist who gave out a different-styled piece every time someone requested their services; in a similar way, people will not give you that follow if you remain inconsistent and unpredictable. According to Forbes, “The best brand strategies are ones that are unique, ones that get users involved directly, and ones that remain true to the brand (preferably all three). If you can do this, and maintain a steady stream of content over the course of months and years, you can build a similarly massive, engaged following with your Instagram account.”

You heard it from the rich people’s magazine itself. Stay consistent, and your bookstagram will reach more people. When you reach more people, the books make more money, and you get more followers. It’s a win-win.