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.

Reaching Unconventional Contacts

Welcome back to Finding the Vein by Jennifer Hanlon Wilde, Ooligan’s third title in the Library Writers Project, our partnership with Multnomah County Library. Ooligan’s first mystery title follows two detectives, a teen sleuth and a police sergeant, as they and their respective partners-in-crime (or in-justice, as the case may be) investigate a camp counselor’s death. In addition to the multiple potential murderers and classic mystery genre red herrings, Finding the Vein is filled with comedy and heart.

When we developed the marketing plan for this book, we included unconventional contacts that were appropriate for the themes in Finding the Vein. These included adoption associations, libraries, book clubs, and summer camps, in addition to the typical contacts that a project team collects such as national and regional publications and magazines, independent bookstores, individual bloggers and book reviewers on social media, and podcasts. Our question was this: How do we reach the unconventional ones? Thankfully, some of the libraries are already taken care of through our partnership with LWP: Multnomah County Library purchases a few copies of the LWP books as they are published to distribute among Multnomah County’s library branches. For the adoption associations, other libraries, book clubs, and summer camps, though, we needed to get more creative. Due to COVID-19, our options were limited because we didn’t have the usual physical collateral that teams include in a sales kit.

We decided that we needed to design something versatile that could be used both physically and virtually in both our marketing and social media campaigns, and we came up with the idea of designing a summer camp–themed postcard. We have a small budget set aside for collateral, which we haven’t used yet, so this is a completely doable strategy. First, we’ll send our contacts an email that informs them of the forthcoming Finding the Vein, gives a summary of the book, describes why it may be of interest to them, and encourages them to tell their colleagues about it. If we get a response, we will send them a physical postcard; that way we don’t waste any by sending them to contacts who won’t be interested or informed of its relevance beforehand. Hopefully we will receive more sales through these connections. At most, we may receive a couple of reviews or an announcement in a newsletter out of our efforts, both of which would be fantastic to have from these more specialized contacts.

The additional benefit of designing a postcard is that we can use it virtually as well. I’ll be sending it to Jennifer, the author, in case she’d like to use it during her email preorder campaign in the early spring of 2021, as well as for usage on her website and blog. They can also be printed out and used as flyers, so we’ll be sure to send the independent bookstores and libraries on our contact list a virtual copy as well. Lastly, the design can be used as an image on social media. Through the combined usage of the postcard design, we are essentially creating an immediately recognizable image that nearly every one of our contacts (and their associates) will eventually see in some format. This ensures that if they or a member of our intended audience sees Finding the Vein on a bookshelf or an online store, they will be that much more likely to purchase it, and in turn, tell others about it.

I’m excited to see how our postcard campaign moves forward, and I can’t wait to see its results!

Finding the Vein will launch on April 20, 2021, in both trade paperback and ebook formats. To learn more about the Library Writers Project and how to submit work to the Multnomah County Library, please visit their website.

The Mystery Behind the Mystery Genre

Overseeing the process of publishing Ooligan’s third title in our partnership with Multnomah County Library and their Library Writers Project has been a whirlwind of mystery and excitement so far. From designing the cover to crafting our marketing plan, Finding the Vein has shown how different the publishing process can be for different genres. As a reminder, Finding the Vein is written by Jennifer Hanlon Wilde and is about a murder at a summer camp for adopted international children. After a well-liked counselor mysteriously dies, camper Isaac and his new friend Hal—a duo not unlike Sherlock Holmes and John Watson—begin to theorize with their fellow campers what could have happened. Sergeant Mikie O’Malley is called to the scene to investigate the case and, due to the nature of the camp, is reminded of her recent discovery that she and her father are not biologically related. Soon, both the amateur and professional detectives come to the conclusion that Paul was murdered. The question is how. All parties involved slowly realize that there is more to Heritage Camp than meets the eye, and the murder is just the beginning.

As the LWP team saw last year while researching the romance genre when working on Iditarod Nights, it can be difficult but also incredibly rewarding to learn how to publish a new genre. Like every kind of genre fiction, we knew that the mystery genre has a large audience, which would be great for Ooligan to break into. We just needed to get there. How? Well, that’s part of the mystery.

Working as detectives, the LWP team investigated the best ways to design the cover—the first step in order to properly reach the desired audience. We researched popular design decisions for mystery and thriller books, finding that dark and misty forest photographs and all-caps sans serif fonts would set the scene of this title perfectly while still meeting the expectations of mystery-book lovers. With this in mind, our designers got to work. What came out is a beautiful cover design that not only solidifies Finding the Vein as a mystery book to its audience, but one that looks like it belongs to the same collection as the two previous LWP titles, The Gifts We Keep and Iditarod Nights. In addition, the design is lighthearted enough to fit the other aspects of Finding the Vein, such as the comedic interactions of the endearing characters, the setting of a summer camp, and themes such as identity and learning what it means to be LGBTQ+.

In regards to marketing, Finding the Vein proved again to be educational to the LWP team. We needed to rethink how to reach our desired audience, so we began researching mystery book bloggers, reviewers, podcasters, and book clubs. We searched for adoption associations, summer camps, and LGBTQ+ media that may be interested in other aspects of the book as well. We are excited about what kinds of attention Finding the Vein may receive once we start inquiring about blurbs and reviews from all of our collected contacts!

In addition to the above-mentioned progress, Finding the Vein has undergone a developmental edit, a heavy copyedit, a medium copyedit, and has been prepared for the design process via XML typecoding. Next up, we’ll see the finalized galley, finish up the social media strategy plan, and do a print proofread.

Finding the Vein will launch in April 2021 in both trade paperback and ebook formats. I can’t wait to see how this title progresses through the publication process and to finally hold it in my hands. For updates on this title and others, stay tuned to Ooligan’s blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. To learn more about the Library Writers Project and how to submit work to the Multnomah County Library, please visit their website.

Different Places, Different Faces: Book Covers in the US and the UK

This may not come as a surprise, but when a book is sold both in the United States and the United Kingdom, it typically has a very different cover in each country. This is because when the rights of a book are sold to a publishing house in another country, the book goes through the editing, marketing, and design departments of that house, where it is reshaped to suit that house’s specific audience.

As the cover of a book communicates to the potential reader what lies within, many conventions have emerged to highlight certain genres, such as an old photograph that promises a memoir, or an image of a shirtless, muscular man that promises a romance novel. To investigate further, we’ll look at four popular books sold in both the US and the UK and see what each cover has to say about the same story.

  1. Educated by Tara Westover: At first glance, the US cover of this memoir looks like an artful rendition of a pencil; but on further inspection, it shows a woman standing on a hill among mountains with birds flying above. This highlights the journey at the heart of the book—a story of a person surmounting seemingly impossible challenges—rather than the memoir genre. The UK cover sticks closer to the conventions of a memoir: it showcases an image of Tara as a young girl playing on a swing, promising this is Tara’s life story.

  2. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert: The US version of this young adult fantasy novel presents gold-and-silver illustrations of roads, branches, and other objects that somehow tie into the story weaving around the white font of the title and author name. This cover promises a reimagining of dark fairy tales that intertwine with a central entity. On the contrary, the UK version shows dense, blue-tinged foliage partially swallowing the white font of the title. The UK publisher also added the warning “stay away from . . .” above the title, suggesting something sinister lying beyond the leaves and tempting readers to find out for themselves what it is.

  3. Still Me by Jojo Moyes: Both versions of this contemporary romance novel provide more simplistic designs that showcase the title and author. The US cover offers a more typically romantic look with large, curly font on a blue background. The M wraps around a small rendition of the Empire State Building, showcasing the New York setting of the book. By contrast, the UK cover offers standard black-and-white font centered on a yellow background with a small bee in the upper right corner, accentuating the boldness of the main character as she searches for meaning in her life.

  4. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell: The US version shows a more feminine take on the mystery/thriller novel with large pink font on a white background, which is covered in branches that are bare apart from a few pink petals scattered here and there. Alternatively, the UK version features an image of a person (only shown up to the knees) crossing the street barefoot at night. The UK publisher also added the subtitle “A missing girl, a buried secret,” highlighting the elements of crime and mystery in the book.

Backlist to the Future: 42

Quizzically, I gaze at myself in the mirror. I notice half my face is covered in thick stubble, the other smooth as a baby’s butt. Apparently, after my car was dropped off I’d forgotten to finish the rest of my shave. Now that explains people’s reaction to me while in Powell’s, while shopping for sticky notes and shampoo, while drinking my lunch. I was obviously some freakish eccentric with his “Rottie” and a half-shaved face. –42, M. Thomas Cooper

Whenever I read the quote above, I can’t help but feel that this is the perfect embodiment of what it is like to have a split personality. Two sets of consciousness inhabiting one body, each with their own definition of morality. Even more, it visually shows what it feels like to fight to hold on to a reality when one’s mind is slipping deeper and deeper into a state of psychosis through the pairing of the shaved and unshaved face. This is George Olsen.

42, a novel by M. Thomas Cooper, follows George as he descends into paranoia after his wife and daughter disappear. At first, he believes that everything will soon go back to normal, but the longer they are missing, the more George begins to realize that something more disturbing must have happened. During this time his cat and dog also go missing, his wife’s van is found in a lake with a dead man inside, and the number 42 (the answer to everything in the universe as determined by Douglas Adams in his novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) begins to pop up around everything in George’s life.

Through first person narrative, Cooper tells the story of George as he hunts for the reason why his family disappeared and why the number 42 is following him. At the beginning of the novel, it feels as if you are reading the diary or testimony of an ordinary man who is overworked and continuously contemplates the world around him. While sitting outside a Costco, George watches the masses of people enter and exit the warehouse. He states, “It seems logical that at some point along the chain of supply there’d be a gap, which would affect things here. That the store would eventually run out of products, of things, of stuff, and be forced to close.” Not only does this show just how normal everything is for him, but is also an unconscious commentary on how he feels in his marriage. As the novel continues, George begins losing track of himself and starts repeating words and phrases, so much so that you think you might just go crazy along with him.

The best part about the book, in my opinion, is that the design of the book begins to take on a life of its own. As you move through the chapters, the page breaks begin to fill and darken with the numerals 42 until they completely cover the pages in patterns, just as they are taking over George’s thoughts. Other design elements include text repeating off the page, crossed out names, and the use of handwriting to differentiate from notes and George’s main voice.

Put the crazy repetitions and the design strategy aside, Cooper has created a character that ultimately is a man searching for an explanation to his life. He wants to know what it means to be George Olsen and will discover the answer by any way he can devise. This is more than your average whodunit thriller novel. As Elliott Swanson puts it, “the book is a meandering, infuriating, and ultimately wonderful journey that lands its main character—as well as its readers—on strange shores of mind and spirit.” Don’t you want to take that journey too? George is waiting.