Two people sit at a desk together and look over papers with pens in hand.

The Art of Compassionate Critique: Why Building a Strong Editor-Author Relationship is Vital to a Book’s Success

Editors have one of the most delicate jobs in publishing. It is their responsibility to take an author’s work and help shape, transform, and develop it. An author’s piece of writing could be something they’ve worked on building for years, and things will change after putting it through the editorial process—beloved sentences or characters can get cut, and pieces of dialogue or character descriptions can get challenged or flagged as problematic. Taking criticism is never easy, especially when it comes to a piece of creative work. Respectful and open communication between author and editor will lead to the most fruitful editorial process, which is why establishing solid author relations needs to be a high priority for a book editor.

Know Your Author

Every author operates differently when it comes to writing style, communication style, and how much back-and-forth is necessary to produce the most promising iteration of a manuscript. There are so many things to take into consideration when working with an author, including but not limited to background, age, subject matter expertise, and past publishing experience. Debut authors may need their editor to act as a more involved guide while wading through the lengthy editorial process, while experienced authors can tend to be more independent. A first-time author or an author writing about a subject very near and dear to them may be more protective of their work and therefore more resistant to editorial critique. Tone of voice is everything, and regardless of who your author is, your commentary and corrections will hit that sweet spot when you can balance professionalism and authority with a healthy dose of understanding and encouragement. That being said, the better you know your author, the easier it is to strike the tone and type of feedback that most effectively gets them energized to engage with the work.

Things to Do

The most important thing to do as an editor working on author relations is to be respectful and supportive throughout the entire process. The most effective relationships flourish with mutual respect, so starting off on the right foot is key. This looks like praising the aspects of a given manuscript that the author did really well. It’s important to remember that they wrote an entire book, and that in and of itself is a mental and emotional feat. Be sure to point out the pieces that are working well, and conversely, make sure not to over-gush, thus rendering your adoration insincere. Empty praise is easy to spot, and no one wants to feel patronized. Another important thing to do is be a problem solver, not a Negative Nancy. When highlighting areas of a manuscript that need further development, be sure to explain your choices as well as offer alternatives. When offering suggestions be sure to bear in mind each author’s specific voice, and demonstrate to your author that you understand their writing style by presenting options that sound like them (just a little bit tighter, more precise, etc.).

Things Not to Do

As an editor, you will not always work with authors or manuscripts that you particularly enjoy. But as long as you are pursuing a professional relationship with an author, it’s important that they never doubt you are on their side. As much as you may want to, never mock or denigrate an author’s writing. It is not your responsibility to be head over heels for every sentence they write, but editing is not a power struggle and the intent of editorial conversations should never be to emerge victorious over the writer. Secondly, keep your temper even and your patience in check. Patience is a virtue and certainly not one that I excel at, but gentle and consistent kindness will make an author more receptive to correction; impatience or a sharp tone will almost certainly make them defensive. And lastly, and possibly most importantly, do not forget whose name is going on the cover. Editing a book is never about changing it to be the story you would write, but rather about making the manuscript you’ve been given into the best version of itself possible.

Editor and content director for ClearVoice, Chels Knorr, says, “Writer-editor relationships walk a fine line between familiar and professional. They’re built on mutual respect. They’re transactional but also, because they involve something as subjective as writing, deeply personal. The writer must trust the editor’s fresh eyes and insight. The editor must trust the writer’s voice on a deadline.” When most effective, the author-editor relationship is mutually beneficial, mutually enjoyable, and produces the strongest iteration of a given manuscript.

Can I Do Graphic Design?

Graphic design is so much fun. There is so much you can do in this space, just within the context of book publishing alone. From print to digital, there’s no end to what you can create. Because it is such a vast and interesting area, a lot of people want to try it out, but they hesitate because they don’t have any formal art training. I get it—I’ve been there.

There is a lot of overlap between art and graphic design, as they require a lot of the same skills and an understanding of concepts like space, color, lighting, etc. But, while having a working knowledge of these when you start is helpful, it’s not required. These are things that you can learn and pick up as you go, and hand drawing doesn’t necessarily have to play a big role in your graphic design work.

You’d be surprised by the number of graphic designers who didn’t study art and can’t draw or paint. That’s what I find so wonderful about graphic design—how approachable it is and how it’s possible to build a vast portfolio of art using just the basics.

Let’s go back to Drawing 101. One of the very first things you learn is how to break down everything you see into shapes. From everyday objects to human anatomy, everything is composed of three basic shapes: squares, triangles, and circles.

For graphic design, that’s all you need.

There is a very common style in graphic design referred to as 2D or “flat” graphic design where very beautiful and detailed illustrations are made by placing those three shapes strategically, manipulating them, and distorting them. With just a few basic shapes, you can create anything from objects and patterns to people and landscapes.

The best part about approaching graphic design like this is that it’s very easy to get started.

The first step to creating your own graphic designs is to download a program to work in. Graphic design is all vector artwork, which is art built from “vectors,” or “images created with mathematical formulas.” Trust me, it’s a lot cooler than it sounds. Because it is digital art, you are going to need something more than pen and paper to create it. The most recommended program for this, and the industry standard, is Adobe Illustrator. This is the program we use here at Ooligan, but it’s not free and it’s not cheap. So if you’re just getting started and are looking to test the waters before you commit to some heavy-duty software, there is a free alternative called Inkscape. It offers a lot of the same features as Illustrator, and can be a great starting point for graphic design.

Next, try breaking things down into their basic shapes. Stop looking at the images you are trying to create in their full complexity and how they exist in a 3D landscape. Simplify them to those three core shapes. Look at a lightbulb, a cat, or a person and recreate them using only squares, triangles, and circles. Once you become comfortable doing that, take it a step further. Start thinking about how you can add more complexity to your designs, how you can add more detail and depth, all while still using just those three shapes. Then start exploring with other tools in Illustrator (or whatever program you are using), and see how they can take your designs to the next level.

And lastly, everyone’s favorite piece of advice: practice. The best way to get better at graphic design and to understand all its components is to practice. But make practicing fun! Make things that excite you and motivate you to create. Do you want to make a moon? A flower? R2-D2 or Pikachu? Do it! Experiment, create, and allow yourself to fail. It’s important to fail! Try to make something complicated that you’re not even sure how to approach. You’ll not only push yourself and test what you can really do, but you’ll also most likely learn at least one new technique to add to your arsenal, unlocking even more doors for you to explore design.

If this is something you are interested in trying, the best way to get experience is by doing it! And if you treat every time you open Illustrator as an opportunity to learn and grow, nothing can limit what you can create.

Behind the Scenes with Ooligan Press at the Portland Book Festival

The Portland Book Festival, formerly known as Wordstock, is Oregon’s biggest literary event of the year, featuring panels, vendors, speakers, and lots and lots of books. Every November, the day-long event attracts authors and publishers from near and far, and last fall, Ooligan Press was proud to be included yet again. The festival drew its biggest crowd yet, with authors such as Elizabeth Acevedo, Lauren Groff, Tommy Orange, and Emily Suvada, and featured celebs-turned-authors Tom Hanks (who held a baby on stage at the Schnitz!) and Abbi Jacobson of Broad Cityfame.

In preparation for Ooligan’s role at the festival, the publisher’s assistants (myself and co-assistant, Stephanie Anderson) are responsible for finding and training volunteers from our press to oversee our vendor booth. We then work closely with our publisher to make sure all the books and supplies we’ll need are packed and ready. The day before the event, we set up in the Mark Building at the Portland Art Museum, where the vendors are located. Each vendor is given a specific time slot for setting up to streamline the process and keep things from getting hectic. It’s strange to see how empty the second floor ballroom is before the event. It’s a far cry from what it’ll look like the next day, when the room fills up with vendors and festival-goers. This year, we had a prime spot—a corner end cap right across from Powell’s Books massive set-up.

No other literary event in Portland draws as many readers, writers, and publishing professionals as the Portland Book Festival, which is why it’s one of the most important promotional and networking opportunities for Ooligan. It’s a chance to discuss our frontlist and backlist with potential readers while both are on display, and it’s also a great time for selling books. This year, two of our YA authors joined us at the booth to sign books—Meagan Macvie, who wrote the Kirkus-approved The Ocean in My Ears, and Connie King Leonard, whose Sleeping in My Jeans recently pubbed to great acclaim.

Sometimes people who approach our table aren’t always looking to buy a book. Instead, they want to create one, and we’re always happy to provide them information for how to do so. But one of my favorite parts of tabling at the festival is when I get to talk to prospective students interested in the book publishing program and working for Ooligan Press, which, of course, I highly recommend. And it’s always fun to visit with fellow local indie publishers like Overcup Press and Pomegranate.

After a long day of cementing Ooligan’s place within the Portland literary scene, inventory is taken of the remaining books, the cash box is counted, and the books are packed up and loaded onto the pushcart with the help of some amazing volunteers. Unlike setting up, all of the vendors pack up to leave at the same time, so getting out of there isn’t quite as smooth as getting in, and waiting for the elevator can take awhile, but it’s all worth it to be a part of the fascinating and fun celebration of books that is the Portland Book Festival.

Books, Beer, and Bettering a Manuscript: How Ooligan Press Brews a Bestseller

Ooligan Press, local author Jeff Alworth, and the Craft Brew Alliance have teamed up to bring you Ooligan’s next title: The Widmer Way: How Two Brothers Led Portland’s Craft Beer Revolution. The book, out March 26, explores the rise of Portland’s own beer titans: Kurt and Rob Widmer. From modest beginnings hand-delivering kegs out of an old Datsun to partnering with Anheuser-Busch InBev, from begging for customers to sample their wares to sponsoring the Timbers and the Blazers, the two brothers have never lost their status as local boys made good.

Along with our newest title, I would also like to introduce myself. I’m the project manager for this book, and I am lucky enough to see the project from acquisition through to its publication date. Often, project managers at Ooligan Press acquire a project, get the book up and running, and then hand it off to their successors when graduating from the program, or join the project partway through. For The Widmer Way, we decided on an accelerated publication schedule, which means that the book is going from manuscript to finished product in just one year’s time and that my team and I get to see the complete production. I was chosen to train as a project manager a mere six days prior to Ooligan unanimously voting to take on the book, and my training turned into a crash course of meetings, scheduling, and management.

Once the book was acquired, my trainer and outgoing 50 Hikes manager TJ Carter and I sat down with Ooligan’s department heads to plan out the production schedule. Marketing, social media, acquisitions, digital, design, editing, and our team members all came together to prioritize the schedule and decide where to begin.

Our first priority was, obviously, the manuscript. We called for volunteers (as it was spring break) to do a developmental edit. As Jeff is an experienced author, we started out in good shape, but still needed to spend some time polishing. A developmental edit offers (often significant) changes to the structure, narrative, and language of a manuscript. Our editing team collaborates and offers a letter with our proposed changes to the author, who then makes certain edits and returns the manuscript, often for another round of developmental editing. For The Widmer Way, after one round of developmental and line edits, we were ready to move on to copyediting.

At Ooligan, we often do a heavy, medium, and light round of copyediting. This is where we make more granular changes, rather than sweeping developmental changes. We look for clarity and accuracy, all while maintaining the author’s voice as much as possible. As this is a nonfiction title, we also took this time to do some fact checking and gathering of sources for the information presented in the book.

All the while, my team was hard at work on the nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes, no-one-knows-this-stuff-happens-at-publishing-houses tasks. A marketing plan was developed, complete with our wish list of events we hoped to participate in, social media strategy, and the industry-specific details like BISAC codes. We also used this time to create the beautiful cover you now see, courtesy of our own design department head, Jenny Kimura. Covers are voted on by the entire press body, much in the same way we acquire our books. Everyone has a chance to be heard and give their input as to how the design should develop.

In the months since, we’ve completed editing, are zeroing in on completing the interior design and proofreading (wherein we look at the aesthetics of the words on the page, rather than the words themselves), and are in the process of requesting reviews from major publications. In the next term, leading up to the March 26 publication date, we will be designing the ebook, recording the audiobook, and planning an amazing launch party to celebrate the long, difficult, exciting, frustrating, and rewarding road of turning an idea into the next book you pick up at Powell’s.

Interiors by Genre

When most readers think of book design, they focus on the exterior aspects: the front and back covers, the jacket, the spine. Interior design is often overlooked and underestimated, and yet the work that goes into designing the words on the page is just as intensive and can be just as creative as the work that goes into designing covers. And just like cover design, different genres have different challenges and style trends for interior layout. The cardinal rule of interior layout is that the design must be invisible: the choices shouldn’t be so obvious that they distract the reader from the content of the book.

If you’ve ever browsed different genre aisles at a bookstore or library, you might have noticed some differences between cover trends: fantasy books tend to have a lot of shadows, with a dark color palette of reds and blues and greens, and feature mysterious figures or objects; while nonfiction often feature photographs relevant to the topic. For the purpose of this post, I’ll be looking at nonfiction, adult literary fiction, and middle grade fiction. Each of these categories have different audiences, which determine some of the factors in their interior layout.

Middle grade books usually feature interior layouts with a lot of empty space: bigger margins, bigger leading (space between lines), bigger font sizes. This is to make the books more accessible and easier to read for younger readers—to ease them into longer stories. The same leading and margins wouldn’t be used for adult books.

Layouts for nonfiction books vary depending on the topic and type. For example, memoirs and biographies are often designed in a similar style to fiction books: single column, chapters, etc. Sometimes they include photographs, either in a designated section or interspersed throughout. Guides and informational texts might have multiple columns, more often include photographs and charts throughout (with informational captions), and might have sidebars with additional information. Any book that includes photographs or illustrations should have a grid to help better place the images and image captions. InDesign will create grids based on your specifications, which are calculated in relation to trim size and margins.

Adult literary fiction can seem boring on the surface: there are rarely images to be arranged, and many novels don’t have chapter titles. However, this truly depends on the nature of the work and on the designer. For example, there have been a few recent adult literary fiction Ooligan titles that contain imagery. The most recent is Peter Donahue’s Three Sides Water, which contains a map of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington—where all three stories take place—and an image from a specific area on the title pages before each story. Since the setting of the stories plays such an integral part in each, we wanted to highlight that role and give readers an idea of the mood and region. Last year’s At the Waterline similarly relied on setting, and included a map of the area around the Willamette River, as well as a diagram of a sailing boat (to help those of us uninitiated in sailing). Adult fantasy books also frequently feature maps and other imagery, since many take place in fictional worlds readers aren’t familiar with.

Interior designers are the unsung, invisible heroes of book publishing. Many readers may not be able to point to a design they liked especially, but will often remember one they didn’t—one that failed to remain invisible.

The Covers That Typography Built

Typography is an important aspect of any cover. It’s the first thing readers read on a book. The typeface must not only be compatible with whatever images are displayed on the cover, but also with the genre in which the book is positioned. Covers that use the typography as their primary design feature are referred to as “typographic covers.” These are the ones with limited imagery, photographic or otherwise, where the title and author take up most of the space. With these covers, finding the right font is more important than ever.

The current trend of typographic covers in book publishing transcends both genre and age demographics, from John Green’s latest YA offering Turtles All the Way Down to Diane Keaton’s home design book The House That Pinterest Built. At Ooligan Press, we strive to produce creative takes on the current design trends in book publishing, and that has included typographic covers, with Sean Davis’s war memoir Wax Bullet War in 2014 and Daniel Kine’s road novel Up Nights in 2013. Ooligan’s latest novel, The Ocean in My Ears by Meagan Macvie, joins this typographic trend, with a beautifully handwritten font that’s front and center on the cover, accompanied by a few illustrated elements that appear in the book.

In order to make a typographic cover that’s successful, there are a few things you’re going to need to keep in mind:

  • Font: The first and most important, of course, is the font that you choose. It must be readable, fit the genre and tone of the work, and not get lost in the accompanying cover images. Readability is especially a concern when working with handwritten fonts. For example, the font used in The Ocean in My Ears, while in a cursive style, is still readable due to its size and spacing. As for fitting genre and tone, you’d hardly use a Western saloon-style font on a Neil deGrasse Tyson astronomy book; it would contradict the content of the text and confuse the reader. The font must also be bold enough that the words don’t get obscured by whatever images appear on the cover.
  • Placement: The next thing to consider is the placement of the text. Since many typographic covers use limited imagery, the design relies on the text to draw readers in and its placement is a key component. For example, in the latest from Mohsin Hamid, Exit West, the text takes up all the space on the cover. The tilted text implies motion, direction, and travel, which reflects the major theme of emigration from the novel.
  • Imagery: Related to both of the previous points, imagery on the cover of a typographic cover is important, especially since it will be in a more limited capacity; you’ve got to make those images count. Whether you’re incorporating the image into the text—like Tana French’s In the Woods—or simply using images to complement the text—like Ruth Gilligan’s Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan—selecting representative images from the text to incorporate into the typography of the cover makes the cover stronger.

Typographic covers is a trend that has been around for several years, and continues to grow in popularity and creativity.

Aiming for Accessibility

As the manager of Ooligan’s digital department, I oversee the creation of our ebooks and help maintain our websites, and I also keep an eye on current technical trends and best practices in the larger publishing world. Lately, I’ve been struck by the importance of incorporating accessibility into the ebooks we create.

According to Accessible Books Consortium, 10 percent of people in the developed world and 15 percent in the developing world have some degree of impairment that can seriously affect their ability to read, such as blindness, low vision, dyslexia, or motor disabilities.

To learn more about current efforts to make books accessible, I spoke with Kristin Waites, digital products assistant at MIT Press. At last spring’s ebookcraft, a Toronto event that brings together ebook developers from all over the world, Waites co-presented “Creating a Roadmap for Accessibility,” a look at how to incorporate accessibility into a publishing house workflow.

“The most compelling argument for getting people inspired about accessibility is that you’re making your book better generally,” says Waites. “A lot of times, people say, how many blind people are there? How many customers are we going to gain? That’s not the right way to think about it.”

Waites compares accessibility to curb cuts, the little ramps from sidewalks into the street. The curb cuts were intended for people in wheelchairs, but once they were installed, other people used them for strollers, shopping carts, bicycles, and so on. “They benefit everyone,” says Waites. “But no one realized that until they were there.”

In the same way, we as publishers need to realize that the accessibility features we implement will help everyone, not just someone with a specific disability.

What are some steps we can take toward accessibility?

  • Structurally-tagged content—When we create our books, we can mark up elements of the text with tags that declare what function they serve. Is this a headline, a paragraph, or a list item? This structural tagging enables readers who aren’t able to use the visual cues of styling to still understand the meaning of the content.
  • Logical reading order—Tagging content with semantic markup also makes it possible for visually impaired readers to stay with the main flow of the book and not get stalled by every footnote and sidebar that a sighted reader would recognize as supplementary to the main content.
  • Use of color—We can make sure that we don’t rely on color to convey essential meaning and that there is adequate contrast between text and backgrounds.
  • Alternate text—For all illustrations and images, we can include a text description of the visual content so that reading devices can use that alt text to identify and describe images.

At Ooligan, our existing workflow—in which we tag all of our books during the editorial phase—gives us a great start toward accessibility. However, there are areas in which we could do better; fortunately, there are many resources available to help us do so. Here are some great starting points:

The tools and knowledge are out there for us to make reading more accessible to all; it’s essential that we start to use them.

[For a full Q&A with Kristin Waites, please visit StephanieArgy.com]

Three Sides Water: Designing One Cover for Three Stories

In the world of publishing, we know that a good cover design can go far in making a potential reader interested enough to pick up a book. Covers are the first things readers see, which means that they must convey everything about the story in one image (or collage of images). The eternal dilemma that designers face is how best to represent the themes, characters, plot, and mood of the work in a way that piques the reader’s interest. This is difficult enough when the work is only one story—add two more into the same title and the challenges increase.

Ooligan Press recently acquired a set of three short novels (to be published in one volume) called Three Sides Water, by Pacific Northwest–based author Peter Donahue. Each of the stories takes place in different time periods—1920s, 1960s, and present day—and each feature a different cast of characters. The only constants are the setting (all stories take place on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington) and the main theme of finding identity. We recently wrapped up the cover design process, through which we received many diverse and compelling concepts to solve this designer’s dilemma.

So what things can a designer do when faced with the challenge of representing three separate stories in one cover? Here are some tips:

Use the Cover Design Brief

This seems to be one of those “goes without saying” things, but it can never be overemphasized. At Ooligan Press, the cover design brief is put together by members of the project team after careful consideration of the type of cover that would fit the vision of the rest of the team. Included within the design brief are lists of key and minor visual elements from the works, main themes, and published examples of what to do and what not to do. Taking all of these things into consideration is the first step in creating your concept.

Pick a Direction (or Two) to Work With

Narrowing down your focus on the kind of cover you want to create does wonders for generating specific ideas. Once you know where you’d like your cover to go creatively, then you can figure out the how. A design brief might specify both illustrative and photographic directions as possibilities, and if you can decide on which one to put your energy into, you’ll be one step closer to putting the pieces together. (Of course, you can choose to do both.) Deciding to go in a more photographic direction would allow you focus on searching for the right photo, while choosing an illustrative approach would shift your focus into the style of illustration that you’ll be using.

Pick a Key Visual Element to Portray

Choosing a style of cover can also help in deciding what visuals you’ll be using to represent the works by allowing you to zero in on which visual elements will be done the most justice through your creative direction. For example, one of the key visual elements that appear in all three stories in Three Sides Water is the physical setting where they take place. If you, as the designer, decided to take a photographic direction, you could focus on the place element and search for the right photo of the setting. In the case of titles like Three Sides Water, it’s important to choose as few visual elements as possible to portray on the cover so that readers are not overwhelmed with images that could become confusing.

The main challenges that face a cover designer in any situation are how to make a cover that fits the genre, but not in a clichéd way, and to create something visually interesting and unique, but not so far from the norm of the genre that it doesn’t feel right to the reader. This is complicated when looking at not one, but three distinct stories that need to be represented on the cover. The unique challenge posed by this title has yielded interesting concepts, and the final cover reflects them beautifully.

Using Your < span > Tags for Good

We can’t all be authors who can use their voices and platforms to start political movements, shatter stereotypes, and help teenagers survive their miserable ninth-grade years through the worlds they build. We can’t all be editors who discover earth-shaking stories, nurture talent in authors, and shape the culture through the content they select.

Some of us are wired for less glamorous positions, but that shouldn’t be a reason to give up on the goal of being a force for good in the world of publishing. Many who specialize in digital publishing are used to focusing on solving technical problems and minutiae. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t bigger issues at play.

The job market is tough, and even after graduation, some of us are underemployed or underpaid. People with digital publishing skills have the versatility of being able to create products that people outside of book publishing need: websites, self-published ebooks, and email marketing campaigns, just to name a few.

This raises the question: Should you consider yourself a mercenary?

If you Google “‘freelancer’ + ‘gun for hire,'” there will be no shortage of profiles that pop up. The language of the mercenary gives a lot of people trying to make money in digital publishing a feeling of being a maverick or a renegade. What “gun for hire” means at its most basic level is that you will shoot whatever anyone with two bills to rub together tells you to.

Always remember that you have agency. While taking any job (i.e., creating ebooks for any random “entrepreneur” online) might seem mandatory, remember that people whose values give you pause might not feel a moral imperative to pay you. The more ethical clients you work with, the more ethical clients you will meet.

And clients with good ethics are way more likely to pay you.

When we solve technical problems, it’s easy to ignore the larger implications of projects. You do not have to blindly accept the edicts of every swinging money bag that comes your way. Be prepared for ethical dilemmas that may arise in your line of work by familiarizing yourself with all possibilities. Keep up with digital and social trends, and learn from others’ mistakes.

We have an edge over other people skilled in making websites or ebooks, in that we have a unique view of literary and media culture. We value long-form content, and we can bring that perspective into whatever we end up doing, whether it’s web work for an internet start-up, an email marketing campaign for a nonprofit, or a self-published ebook that teaches people how to do yoga with their dogs.

Graduating with digital publishing skills means we don’t just know “how to computer”—we also have discretion, a greater sense of cultural trends, and therefore, a responsibility to apply our in-demand skills to projects that we think add positive value to the world.

Sailing Forward

With three books ready to hit the market in the coming months, two teams are working hard on their Social Media Strategy Document, which covers everything from who they aim to reach with their social media campaign to when this campaign will be launched and—most importantly—how they plan to execute their ideas. The document is extensive, and for every platform they utilize (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.), there is “paperwork” to be done. So, where do I come in? I help each team through the occasionally difficult process of filling out their strategy documents. I glance over their document nearly every day and will leave comments and suggestions when I feel they’re warranted.

First came Seven Stitches, whose project team is run by the wonderful Julie Swearingen. Their book pubbed on February 14, and I got their content in the queue to go online, and then it went out into the world. Next up is the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Ricochet River, which will be published on April 1. Jacoba Lawson is their project manager, and her team has worked hard to make this social media campaign successful. I plan on assisting Team Rivers by brainstorming some strategies that we could use to push this book on Tumblr, where there is a large YA readership, such as choosing the right tags to use to improve the chances of posts getting seen by the right crowd. The third book on our horizon is At the Waterline that is also being worked on by Team Rivers. Having one team juggle two books is an uncommon practice at Ooligan, and this arrangement has created a lot of crossover between people working on the strategy documents for these books. Accordingly, I will have to pay close attention to the team’s plans to help them cater to the right audience; because these books are being worked on by the same team, it’s helpful to have an outside perspective when crafting marketing and social media initiatives. These are two separate books and deserve two separate marketing and social media plans, even though they have similar topics. For At the Waterline, we have to strike a delicate balance between building and promoting our author’s social media presence and pushing our title. We plan to accomplish this by encouraging the author’s activity on social media and then reblogging and reposting his content on our platforms: “Check out Ooligan’s new author. Book coming soon.”

But the most exciting aspect of winter 2017 is the installation of a new position at Ooligan Press: social media voyager (name pending). This person will act as an assistant of sorts to me; they will manage Ooligan’s Facebook and Twitter platforms part time. Ooligan will now have the ability to be far more effective and relevant in the online community; we can stay aware of hot topics and participate more actively in conversations. Not only will this boost our social media presence but it will give us more information and data to pull from when marketing our books online.

Winter 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting, busy time. We are striving for greater discussions with those in the book community, so check us out on social media and join in.