A blue and green postcard with book cover, description, and author bio

Ramping Up to Launching FINDING THE VEIN

The ramp up to the launch of Finding the Vein has begun! Just as a quick reminder before the publication update, Finding the Vein, written by Jennifer Hanlon Wilde, is Ooligan’s first mystery title and follows both campers and police detectives as they investigate the death of a beloved camp counselor. Little do they know that his death is just the tip of the iceberg of secrets at Heritage Camp.
Whereas fall term was mostly about planning our marketing outreach campaign, winter term found us actually following through with those plans. We sent out advance review copies (ARCs) and digital review copies (DRCs) to national review outlets, finished our postcard (see image above), sent out blurb requests, wrote our social media copy and paired posts with images, prepared email templates, and finished our press kit. The Ooligan web page for Finding the Vein has also been created! Additionally, the interior of the novel has been designed (by yours truly, I might add) and the print and ebook proofreads have been completed. The project team, department managers, and other Oolies who have volunteered for certain assignments have been working diligently and I’m so excited to see the seeds of our efforts take root and bloom into fruition.
I’m happy to say that a few blurbs have come in so far, one of which was written by the previous Library Writers Project author, whose book published just last year:

Finding the Vein has a multidimensional cast of characters, with interwoven backgrounds and complex emotions. Vivid, sensory descriptions drew me into the story, and a plot full of tantalizing hooks kept me guessing right up to the end. Jennifer Hanlon Wilde has penned a satisfying mystery!

Cindy Hiday, author of Iditarod Nights

Finally, the day has come to publish Finding the Vein! On April 20, you’ll be able to find this thrilling and sweet mystery novel in bookstores everywhere, even here! We’ve been ramping up to this launch for months now, and are so excited that Waucoma Bookstore is hosting our virtual launch event, but also that best-selling novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz is joining us to interview and converse with Jennifer Hanlon Wilde! This event is going to kick off the publication of Finding the Vein and will (hopefully) herald in a new age of Ooligan press delving into more genre titles in the future. Speaking of which . . .
In other Library Writers Project news, we are moving forward with our next LWP title set to publish in 2022. I can’t say quite yet what it will be, but while Finding the Vein has been chugging along in its final stages of the publishing process, the copy chief, Erica, and I were been busy reading among the collection of LWP titles at the Multnomah County Library in search another self-published ebook to publish in print. We have chosen our next title, reached out to the author, officially acquired the manuscript, and have begun the process of developmental editing. While launching Finding the Vein will be a dream come true for Jennifer (the author) and all of us at Ooligan who have devoted our time and hearts toward its publication, we are all very excited to begin the rewarding process of publishing all over again with this next title.
To learn more about the Library Writers Project and how to submit work to the Multnomah County Library, please visit their website.

The Excitement and Stress of Launching Odsburg

I joined Ooligan Press as part of the Odsburg team right as the marketing plan was being implemented. The promotion of this strange, gorgeous novel has been my focus throughout my time at the press, so getting to finally send it out to readers is beyond exciting. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work from many, many other Oolies as well as Odsburg‘s author, Matt. (Just designing the credits page for this book was a challenge because of how many people in the press had a hand in creating, promoting, and polishing it.)

With Odsburg launching early in the fall term, the team had to hit the ground running as we got back into the swing of school. As we prepped for launch, my team of new Ooligan students got a crash course in social media collateral creation and reading-tour research. Making collateral for Odsburg has always been a fun part of the process, as this book allows for us to be more creative than usual in our designs and copy. And of course, that amazingly detailed cover is fantastic to work with.

We continuously pulled elements from the cover to make new objects for marketing. Digging through that InDesign file has come to feel like making my way through a familiar forest. It’s dense, and while I know it well, it’s just as delightful as the first time I saw it. After you read the book, I highly encourage you to take some time to study the cover closely. Discovering all of the little secrets hidden between its leaves is a fun way to remember some of the strange characters you meet throughout Odsburg.

Once Odsburg launches, my team will continue to work on promoting it and finding reading opportunities for Matt (and we’ll be waiting for award season with bated breath and fingers crossed!). Even when we shift our focus to the next book coming to us from the acquisitions department, we’re not letting Odsburg go. This entrancing story has fascinated me since I joined Ooligan, and it will still be on my mind long after I graduate.

The excitement of a book launch is a motivator for a lot of us in the publishing industry. Often years of work go into a book, and the high of finally seeing it out in the world is tough to match in one’s professional life. Yes, there’s a lot of stress that comes with such an occasion, but it’s so very worth it. I can’t wait to hear what readers think of the little town we’ve been living in all this time.

The Book Launch Party

Literary launch parties can go a number of ways. There are always worries over doing too much or too little, decisions about sticking with cheap beer or splurging on champagne (and perhaps questions about whether alcohol should even be involved at all). As with other marketing matters in the twenty-first century, so much of what we do when we promote a book’s release is done online and through various social media outlets. Facebook release parties have become not only an accepted industry format for release but also a more relevant option for certain types of author-reader relationships. On the other end of the spectrum, children’s book releases and fantasy and sci-fi book releases can often be events to get dressed up for, and they really can take on a life of their own that’s altogether separate from the book itself.

Regardless of what type of book is being promoted, the decisions a publishing company makes when planning a launch party can have an impact on the sales of a book as well as on the perception of what that book stands for. Given the importance of these considerations, the sheer number of lists that one finds when simply googling “book launch party” shouldn’t come as a surprise, but these results can be quite overwhelming to sift through. There are lists on how to organize a party on a budget, lists on how to plan a book party so no time is wasted, and articles describing how parties can be organized on Twitter. And yet this seems like a lot of effort to go through when it’s always possible that the increase in sales and publicity may end up being marginal no matter how much planning you do.

Thus, the best way to actually plan a launch party is to make sure to incorporate marketing collaborations of some kind. Much like the benefits of special sales for publishing companies and writers, the benefits of cross-marketing with other industries can be significant. For example, partnering with local food and liquor vendors so that all parties involved can gain extra exposure is a good move to boost local community solidarity. Another approach to cross-marketing would be to donate a portion of profits—from both the book sales and the sales of other cross-marketed items, like food and liquor—to a social cause.

Political books of multiple varieties were the most profitable books last year, and this is due in no small part to the fact that consumers can connect these books to particular political views and to their own political involvement. Marketing departments should lean into these political associations rather than shy away from them, and book launches can incorporate elements that further drive the association between a book and a particular political cause. This can mean reaching out to local or national organizations that relate to a theme in the book, or it can mean throwing the party at a venue connected to that political cause. This is a heated political moment, and parties themselves can often turn into political debates. We in the publishing industry shouldn’t feel the need to deny this reality.

Three Sides Water Book Launch

What goes into launching a book?

I have been a graduate student at Ooligan for two quarters, but until recently, I had yet to experience a book launch for a book I helped with. I was first introduced to Three Sides Water on my first day of graduate school. At the time, it was still in manuscript form and had only been read by a few members of our press. Seeing the book grow from something completely digital and abstract to being printed and sold has been very exciting to say the least.

The launch event took place on April 28 in southeast Portland. It was an aggressively rainy day, but the mood in the wine bar was cozy. The bar was decorated in an old-timey speakeasy fashion. Warm vintage lights of every shape and size were scattered throughout the small bar. The wall lining the entrance to the bar was covered floor to ceiling in various wine bottles and black and white vintage photos. The Three Sides Water team had been planning this event on and off since September. Months of planning, phone calls, and emails boiled down to two hours. A book launch event varies based on the themes of the book being presented. Three Sides Water takes place over three different time periods on the Olympic Peninsula, so the vintage wine bar was the perfect location to match the first short novel in the book. We compiled raffle prizes that related to our book, and physical copies of the novel that dozens of people had put their blood, sweat, and tears into to sell to the public for the first time. Most of the attendees were members and friends of Ooligan Press, and friends and family of the author, Peter Donahue. The first half hour was spent mingling and enjoying wine. Talk of the new book could be heard throughout the bar, but the conversation often carried on to to other novels as well. There is something truly heartwarming about discussing literature in a casual environment, beyond the constraints of a classroom. Knowing that you are willingly among people who love books as much as you do is something I wish every book lover could experience at least once (but hopefully much more).

As the conversations winded down, the project manager (and cover designer), Michele Kimbriel-Cope, took to the makeshift stage to introduce Peter and the book. You could feel her passion for the text in her voice. Peter spoke next, and after a moving speech about Ooligan Press, he read an excerpt from each of the short novels in the book. This is what all the stressing, planning, and hard work had been for—seeing Peter read his book out loud. Seeing a manuscript become an actual physical book. After the readings, there was brief period for more mingling and for purchasing raffle tickets and the book. We had generously received six prizes for our raffle: three bigger, experience-based prizes, and three bundles of smaller items loosely related to the themes of the novels.

I had never attended a book launch before, but I can only imagine the possible variations for an event like this. If you ever have the opportunity to go to a launch event, for Ooligan or any press, I would definitely encourage you to attend. In the case of the launch event for Three Sides Water, we had the chance to sit around with friends, drinking delicious wine and discussing books. And really, isn’t that why we all want to be a part of the publishing industry? Not to drink wine, of course, but to discuss our passion for great books.

Seven Stitches Pub Date and Launch Party

Today we celebrate Valentine’s Day, Oregon’s statehood, and … the publication of Seven Stitches! Ooligan Press is thrilled to bring you the third companion book of the Blue Thread Saga. Read more about Seven Stitches, then join us on Thursday at Another Read Through for the official launch party.

It’s been a year since the Big One—the Cascadia subduction zone earthquake—devastated Portland. While Meryem Zarfati’s injuries have healed and her neighborhood is rebuilding, her mother is still missing. Refusing to give up hope, Meryem continues to search for her mother, even as she learns to live without her in a changed Portland. Along the way, she struggles with her Jewish-Vietnamese heritage and what it means to honor her ancestry. After she receives a magical prayer shawl handed down from her maternal grandmother, a mysterious stranger appears and Meryem is called to save a young girl living in slavery—in sixteenth-century Istanbul. The third companion in the Oregon Book Award–winning Blue Thread saga explores how we recover—and rebuild—after the worst has happened.

Help the author, Ruth Tenzer Feldman, celebrate the launch at Another Read Through on February 16 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Ruth will be answering questions, reading an excerpt, and signing copies. Refreshments will be provided by the team at Ooligan Press.

Events and More

Now that Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before is out in the world, we’ve been putting all our energy into preparing for upcoming events. Karelia and Elisa, owner of Another Read Through, were a huge help in setting up the official launch. We celebrated the book’s message and insight into growing up gay in the early 90s, specifically in Oregon. It’s important to reflect on how far we’ve come and what had to be done back then to pave the way for the recent strides towards equality for everyone. Karelia read and signed books, and we also had a representative from GLPAN there to discuss the anti-gay Ballot Measure 9 featured in the book. Additionally, we were excited to host one of the lawyers responsible for overturning the ban on gay marriage in Oregon back in May. This panel of activists did a great job answering the audience’s questions about the equal rights movement then and now!

This coming Thursday, November 20, we invite you to join us in a more relaxed celebration of the release of Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before. In the nostalgic spirit of the coming-of-age novel, set in Oregon during the politically charged years leading up to infamous anti-gay Ballot Measure 9, we will come together at Jones Bar for an author reading, raffle, and 90s themed dance party. The bar will open early for us at 7:00 p.m., food and full bar available, and music. Everyone twenty-one and over are welcome. We hope to see you there!

If you aren’t able to make it to Jones, Karelia will also be reading at Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing on Tuesday, November 25th at 7:00 p.m..

Alive at the Center - Vancouver, BC

Alive at the Center: A Canadian Adventure

By Sarah Soards
After all of the stress, uncertainty, and excitement, the day had finally arrived—the Vancouver, Canada, book launch of Alive at the Center. Eight hours of driving in grid-locked traffic and pouring rain left a stale taste in our months as we lugged our boxes of books into the Rhizome Café. But we had arrived. It felt almost surreal; we had been planning the event for so long, making the calls, inviting the people, trying to wrangle a venue in another country. But we had arrived.
The brick walls of the café were warm and inviting, and it was great to stretch our legs. But the moment we set down our slightly damp boxes of books, we were met by the shining faces of excited poets. The night began in full swing.
It was a packed house. Extra chairs were brought in to accommodate the crowd, but many people had to stand or sit on the lap of a friend. The air felt electric and warm—totally the opposite of the chilly storm that raged outside.
It’s strange that poetry can change so intensely when it is read out loud. The inflections, the pauses, and the expressions can transform words or even the overall meaning of a poem. That night, words flew off of the page and into the audience, where they lingered briefly before dissipating into the evening air. We felt so proud of the project at that moment. Life was being infused into ATC—they weren’t just words anymore.
The amount of support, awe, and appreciation at the Rhizome Café was incredible. People were cheering each other on; compliments ran rampant amongst fellow poets and audience members. Ooligan Press was thanked every time a poet came up to the microphone. It was our collective vindication (Oolies, poets, and editors alike,) to prove to the world that we could create something so unusual and outrageous, and, moreover, that we could still love it even after all of the difficulties and rough patches. It was our night to appreciate our hard work, to bask in greatness for one night. Thank you to all of the contributors, editors, and students who worked on Alive at the Center. It was one heck of a ride.

Alive at the Center Seattle Launch

by Kait Heacock

On Friday night, poetry fans gathered at Richard Hugo House, a literary hub in Seattle, for the first of three city launches of Alive at the Center, Ooligan Press’s latest release. The poetry anthology gathers some of the best and brightest of poets from Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver B.C. At the Seattle launch, the overall feeling was that of celebration, thankfulness, and community. Over twenty poets featured in the Seattle section of Alive at the Center read their featured poems.

Hugo House

The three Seattle editors — Kathleen Flenniken, David D. Horowitz, and Cody Walker — introduced each poet during the marathon poetry reading, which opened with Kate Lebo’s homage to Richard Hugo House’s own marketing director Brian McGuigan, “A Poem By Brian McGuigan,” and ended with Frances McCue’s poem of family and daughter love, “Kingship.” Brian McGuigan introduced the event by recapping his involvement with the project — he wrote one of the blurbs for the back of the book. He commented that this book and event were perfect for anyone who loves to stalk poets, as it gathered them all in one central location. The event was filled with applause and admiration, with many poets discussing the other poets in the collection they were excited to be listed next to.
Highlights of the night included when Jeremy Halinen, who read the poem “Afternoon Above I-5,” prefaced his poem with the offering of a blessing to everyone in the room: that the poets would write the poems they were meant to write, and that they would find the audiences who were meant to read their poems. Seattle poetry slam legend Karen Finneyfrock brought the room to an eruption of cheering with her ode to spring, “Monster.” Personifying spring as a teenage girl, Finneyfrock talks of spring’s longing to be loved like summer. The poem was a perfect fit for the rainy Seattle day.
Jyoti Roy
Since April is National Poetry Month, there is no better time for us to keep celebrating Alive at the Center, all our wonderful poets, and the community spirit of poetry. Join us for our next two launches: April 12th in Vancouver B.C. and April 19th in Portland.