A Lucky and Successful Launch for ELEPHANT SPEAK

This is the third and final blog post for Elephant Speak in Ooligan’s Start to Finish series. Read the first and second posts for a full picture of this book’s journey to being published!

The month of March 2020 will likely be remembered by Americans as the month when everything we accepted as normal got turned on its head. How strange it is to reflect on events that only transpired two weeks previous to my writing of this post. I speak not only for myself as project manager but also for the book’s author, Melissa Crandall, and for Roger Henneous’s family when I say we are extraordinarily lucky to have enjoyed a four-stop book tour for Elephant Speak: A Devoted Keeper’s Life Among the Herd in the first week of March. With gratitude, I’d like to share some of the joys of Melissa’s book tour in Oregon, which made for a successful launch week that we will all remember for a long time.

The publicity phase for Elephant Speak ramped up during the week before the launch, with features on the book and on Melissa’s upcoming tour. This included an informative feature by Amy Wang in The Oregonian and an article in The Bulletin by Brian McElhiney that highlighted bookstore events scheduled in the newspaper’s own town of Bend (also the hometown of the one and only Roger Henneous). On Tuesday, March 3, the day of the book’s release, Melissa arrived in Portland prepped for a busy week. On Wednesday, she appeared on both AM Northwest and Afternoon Live, where she was interviewed about the book. Her interviews are archived by each show and discoverable on KATU’s website.

Later that evening, our Elephant Speak launch event was hosted by the iconic Powell’s City of Books on Burnside. Melissa presented the book with warmth and perfect poise, sharing photos of Roger and the elephants as she spoke and answering a variety of questions with intelligence and humor. She thanked Ooligan Press, her traveling cohort, Roger’s family, and the rest of the crowd (an estimated 130 people in all), then signed every one of the fifty available copies of Elephant Speak, leaving me to get up and invite anyone who wanted books that night to Rogue Hall, where we would be able to sell a few more books from Ooligan’s own stash! The lesson of the tour was this: don’t underestimate the number of books you may have the opportunity to sell, especially at author events. We carried an extra box of books to each event after that, and we were glad we did.

Thursday saw a small group of us accompany Melissa to the Oregon Zoo, where she joined the regular Asian-elephant keeper’s talk by introducing the book about Roger Henneous’s life and career as a keeper and discussing his familiarity with current residents Rose-Tu and Shine. A past colleague of Roger’s and a few zoo staff who remembered him showed up in support and conversed with Melissa in the gift store while getting their copies signed. They passed on their good wishes for us to take to Roger in Bend.

Bookstore events on Friday and Saturday were held at Roundabout Books in Bend and Sunriver Books in Sunriver, respectively. Roger Henneous and his wife RoseMerrie, together with their daughters and other family, came out for both events. The Henneouses have all but adopted Melissa into their family, which is apparent as soon as you see them all together. Roger humored us by signing books at these events, making for a very special finale.

This project has taught me what the greatest powers of small presses are: focused attention on a few projects (instead of hundreds each year), strong author relationships, and intimate knowledge of a book’s story and content. These factors made all the difference in Ooligan’s ability to support Melissa, market the book to reflect its true focus, and get the book out to the right audiences via publicity and events. My last tip to all (which is especially applicable to nonfiction) is to define a book’s mission before release and then make it news. If you can’t say why your book is special, no one’s going to fill in that blank for you.

Thank you to all my fellow Ooligan managers and project-team members who helped Melissa bring this book to life. The message from Roger was this: “Crackin’ job, kids.”

Hit the Trail: 50 Hikes Is Now Available!

50 Hikes in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests was published on March 1, 2018, and hundreds of hikers have already snagged a copy and hit the trails. On March 10, The Ranger Station hosted a well-attended launch event, at which guest speakers Tara Brown of the Wild Salmon Center and Greg Jacob of the Sierra Club shared important information about our state forests and how to turn hiking into advocacy.

Now we’re trying to get the word out about the book as much as possible, though the book seems to sell itself. Still, we are broadening our audience with continued news coverage, social media posts, and book events. In April, Tillamook Bay Community College invited me and Greg Jacob of the Sierra Club to speak about the book and the forests. In the coming weeks, you can learn more about 50 Hikes in an Astoria radio spot, a May 17 meeting of the Oregon Sierra Club, and through many other channels.

This spring and summer is this book’s chance to shine. We urge you to look out for a 50 Hikes photo contest over social media; the best photo from the Tillamook or Clatsop State Forest will garner a special grand prize to facilitate further adventures into the wilderness.

This book is special to us because it’s more than just another book. It introduces Northwesterners to beautiful yet relatively unexplored areas in our backyard. It’s about showing people that these forests, which have been famously devastated by fire and logging, are now viable playgrounds for horseback riders, cyclists, hikers, and campers. It’s about encouraging people to become advocates for these forests and the wildlife within so that future generations can enjoy the same trails.

50 Hikes was a pleasure to work on, and we hope outdoor enthusiasts of all types will continue to discover it. But now that this title has slipped into the backlist, we have set our sights on a new project, and we think readers will be very pleased with what we’re brewing. Stay tuned!

Sleeping in My Jeans Changes Hands

There’s a lot that’s unique about how Ooligan Press takes on publishing, but one of the best aspects, in my opinion, is how students run each and every book project from start to finish. This means students are doing the work, making the edits, and designing the covers. It also means there are student project managers at the helm of each team. Since the publishing master’s program at Portland State is only two years long and students are only eligible for management positions in their second year, almost all book projects experience a change in management before they’re put out into the world.

Spring term is the time for that change, and what’s interesting is that each new project manager will be taking on a project in a different stage from all of the other projects. On the Sleeping in My Jeans team, new project manager Monique Vieu will be taking the helm just as our marketing strategy really kicks in. If you’ve been following previous updates on Sleeping in My Jeans, you’ll know that we’ve been through just about all of the publishing phases: from acquisition to editing, from sending out blurb requests to mailing sales kits. Now it’s time to put all the hard work and research the team has been doing for the past year into action, and there isn’t anyone better to implement our plans than Monique.

Monique came to Ooligan in the fall of last year, and has proven herself to be a shining star, from her very first assignment with the press to all the work she’s doing now to put together a thoughtful launch event for the book. She’s a bright personality and a clever person to have in the room, and she’s full of new ideas to take this book even further as it comes out into the world this November.

Changing management can be stressful for a book project and an author, as it means meeting someone new, adapting to another way of doing things, and adjusting to a new management style. It’s never an easy process because there are always so many things happening at once, but the transition for Monique has been seamless. She’s attentive to everything that’s going on, and a master multi-tasker. Monique is an adept editor, a skilled photographer, and an amazing marketer—exactly the combination Sleeping in My Jeans needs in this final phase of publishing.

This term we’ve been working on putting together review requests to send out to major outlets like Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Review, and Booklist. Though the team has been busy writing the requests, Monique will be in charge of sending them out, along with advanced reader copies of the book. While she’s doing that, she’ll also be implementing our social media strategy, planning the launch event, and working to generate some pre-pub buzz for the book. It will be a hectic two terms, but I can’t imagine anyone better suited for the job. And be sure to stay tuned for more details on the Sleeping in My Jeans launch event—it’s going to be fun, interactive, and for a good cause! That’s all we can say for now, but be sure to keep checking the Ooligan blog for regular updates.

Happy Trails: 50 Hikes Is Almost Here

The pub date for 50 Hikes in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests (March 1, 2018) is so close we can already smell the pristine forest air. The Ooligan Press editorial team, design team, and 50 Hikes project team have worked tirelessly to put the finishing touches on a handsome, accurate, and useful hiking guide. As of this writing, 50 Hikes is at the printer, having gone through a rigorous OpenBook audit to ensure it is printed responsibly and sustainably. The final product will hit Northwest bookstores soon; but if you’re like us and just can’t wait, you can always preorder it online.

The book has already received an excellent write up in Coast Weekend, and the team is hard at work soliciting last-minute reviews from other media outlets in the region. You may have seen posts on Ooligan’s social media pages creating buzz for the book, and we ask you to stay tuned as the publication date draws near. We’ve set our sights on a March 10 launch event at the Ranger Station on SE Forty-Second and Hawthorne, and we would love to see you there.

Our efforts to market 50 Hikes will not slow down after the launch—if anything, we will work harder to ensure our readers can get the most out of our book during the warm and dry months. The Tillamook and Clatsop forests are resplendent between April and September, and we expect our guide’s first summer to be a great one. In addition to practical directions for the hikes, our guide offers fascinating information on the area’s history and elegant illustrations of some of the most abundant plants and trees. Our readers will discover something new and amazing each time they hit the trail.

Producing this book has been a challenging and rewarding experience. We are thankful to the Sierra Club Oregon Chapter for entrusting us with their trail wisdom, and we hope our guide inspires readers to be responsible stewards of the elegant Tillamook and Clatsop state forests. See you all on the trail!

Join the Scavenger Hunt Celebrating At the Waterline

Save the date for Ooligan’s next big book release party—May 13 is going to be one of the first memorable events of the summer. If you like Portland, books, scavenger hunts, or all of the above, this is one event you won’t want to miss. To celebrate the launch of Brian K. Friesen’s debut novel, At the Waterline, Team Rivers is throwing a massive party to show you how excited we are about this book! Keep reading for all the details.
The Scavenger Hunt:
On May 13 at 3:00 p.m., we’ll kick off our launch celebration with an At the Waterline–themed scavenger hunt throughout the city. The hunt will start near the downtown PSU campus—spanning Northwest Portland, the Pearl District, Goose Hollow, and the South Waterfront—and it will end at the Buffalo Gap on Macadam at 6:00 p.m. Grab a few friends and sign up in teams of two to six people to compete. The link to the sign-up sheet is here. We’ll all meet up at a designated location on campus (TBD), hand out the list of scavenger hunt challenges to complete, and ring the starting bell!
How It Works:
First of all, it’s going to be tons of fun; it’s an all-out sprint across the city. You get to choose which challenges you want to complete based on their point value, giving you the ultimate flexibility in your scavenger hunt experience. Pick from mind-bending riddles, photo challenges, and classic seek-and-find items. Each challenge on the list relates to At the Waterline and will be designated a point value. The team with the highest number of points will win one of the epic prize packs donated by our sponsors. There will be some scavenger hunt challenges related to the book, so if you want to give your team a leg up, go ahead and preorder At the Waterline from IndieBound.
Why You Should Do It:
Besides the fact that it’s going to be a great activity for the entire family, every team has the chance to win a variety of awesome prizes from our sponsors. So far, sponsors include Ancestry Brewing, the Willamette Sailing Club, Portland Kayak Company, Pacific Pie Company, The Meadow, Daily Cafe, the Outdoor Program, Crafty Wonderland, and Nossa Familia Coffee—but that’s just the start. We’ve got more sponsors with more prizes rolling in every day. So if you’re up for a bit of fun and the chance to win some seriously cool prizes, you will not want to miss out.
The After-Party:
At 6:00 p.m., all scavenger hunt teams will meet back at the Buffalo Gap, where we’ll tally up scores, award prizes, and celebrate Brian K. Friesen and his amazing book. There will be food, drinks, books, and a short presentation from the author about At the Waterline. The party will officially go until 9:00 p.m., but unofficially, that’s when the Buffalo Gap will start its regular live music program, so you can bet we’ll be sticking around. This is one Ooligan event you don’t want to miss, and best of all, it’s absolutely free. So get your team together and sign up! And if you can’t make the scavenger hunt but still want to celebrate an awesome local author, please drop by the Buffalo Gap after 6:00 p.m. for the launch party.
We can’t wait to see you all out on the hunt! Again, to sign up for the scavenger hunt, fill out this Google Doc. Then make sure to follow Ooligan on Facebook and Twitter for updates about the event as it gets closer.