Sailing Over the Horizon; Landing Someplace New

With a couple cracks of thunder, a light hail baptism, and an enthusiastic welcome from an amazing crowd, At the Waterline was launched into the world (and onto the Powell’s staff picks shelf!). If you’ve been following our journey, you already know what Team Rivers has been up to. We helped Brian edit his manuscript, we added maps and diagrams, we dreamed up a killer marketing campaign, and we planned a citywide celebration to top it all off. At the Waterline is sailing smoothly into readers’ lives, with lots of fun stops planned for the future. It’s the nature of the publishing process that eventually we have to let one book go and turn our attention to the next. But before At the Waterline slips over the horizon on its world tour, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the crew that helped make her seaworthy.

In my very first Start to Finish post (circa spring 2016), I introduced you to Team Rivers. Since then, the amount of talent manning the decks has been truly remarkable. And thank goodness! Between At the Waterline and Ricochet River, there was a lot of work to be done.

If there’s one person who can appreciate how far we’ve come as a team, it’s Alyssa Hanchar—she’s been on board since we made the switch over from Rhythm in the Rain, and her design prowess has ensured that our social media looked amazing right from the start. Alyssa drew on her familiarity with At the Waterline to create a beautiful interior design that complements and enhances the text. Her dedication to the project provided some reassuring consistency across the seasons, as we had to bid farewell to graduating crew members and meet our new recruits. Not that we really needed to worry, given who was coming on board.

Should you ever find yourself in need of someone to run a flawless social media and marketing campaign, look no farther than Emily Hagenburger. Emily ran the Ricochet River campaign like the professional she is, with inspired ideas and a meticulous system that worked so well we adopted it for At the Waterline, too. She’ll soon be leading her own crew over on the Ocean in My Ears team, just in time to deploy her brilliance as they head into the marketing phase. Watch out, you’re going to want a copy, and it will be Emily’s fault.

Every good crew needs its specialists, and last fall we were lucky enough to receive exactly the ones we needed. Thomas Spoelhof lent his decades of experience teaching high school English to the teaching unit for Ricochet River. It is a thing of beauty, full of amazing resources like practice standardized tests, vocabulary lists, and essay topics that teachers can use to easily adopt the book into their curriculum. I have no doubt it will be a valuable resource for years after we’ve all up and graduated.

Riley Pittenger is another expert who couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune moment. Riley is an amazing artist, and we immediately put him to work drawing maps, sailboat diagrams, social media posts, and (of course), coloring pages. He’s lending his talents to 50 Hikes now, and I have no doubt it will be a richer, more beautiful book because of his contributions.

Grace Evans started her Ooligan career in the middle of Team Rivers’ most chaotic period. I imagine it must have seemed like everything was past due and there was no time for any explanations. And yet she looked around, figured out what went where, and quickly made herself indispensable. Next year is going to be a little chaotic for Ooligan—not only is PSU renovating our longtime home and moving our whole operation to temporary offices but we’ll also be on the hunt for a new program director after Per Henningsgaard moves to Australia—I can think of no better candidate to help steer the press through the stormy seas ahead than Grace “all the answers” Evans.

If you’ve got a lot of content that needs to get out in front of important eyeballs without being full of embarrassing typos, you need Hilary Louth on your team. She cleaned up our mountain of press releases, pitch letters, blog posts, flyers, and incidentals cheerfully and often instantaneously. Her new role as Ooligan copy chief will keep her busy, but after seeing her in action, I think she’ll barely break a sweat.

Team Rivers got a bunch of new recruits this term, and in the short time that they’ve been on board, each one has already made valuable contributions. Michelle Zhang and Kristen Ludwigsen are generalists in the best possible sense—they’re interested in every aspect of the publishing process, and their enthusiasm and professionalism ensured the At the Waterline launch ran perfectly. Terence Brierly lent his considerable design talent to our Instagram campaign and created beautiful character profiles. And Jasmine Gower and Katie Fairchild, both editors in the making, helped us keep track of the little details that popped up across projects. Given how effective this group was jumping in at the tail end of a project, I can only imagine the tight ship they’ll run next year when they get to build something from the ground up.

And what will they be building? Team Rivers has a new book! It’s a YA title from local author C. K. Leonard called Sleeping in My Jeans and, in a twist, it’s not about rivers or rain or any other form of water. Looks like Team Rivers is going to need a new moniker. I’ve got some ideas, but the final decision will have to be made by our new team captain. I’m so proud to be passing the helm to Mackenzie Deater for this next adventure. She’s got it all: amazing editing chops (our new author will be in great hands), an established career in marketing, and the creativity and passion it takes to steer a project to success. We’re really excited about the new book, but you’ll have to wait for Mackenzie’s first Start to Finish post to find out all the details. Be sure to stay tuned. I absolutely cannot wait for you all to see what she and the rest of the once and future Team Rivers are capable of—even if it means retiring the sailing metaphors.