What-stock? Ooligan Press and the Portland Book Festival

November 9, 2019: authors, publishers, and content creators across the broad spectrum of publishing will be gathering for the Portland Book Festival (PBF), a one-day extravaganza featuring celebrity authors, raffle giveaways, panels, and writing workshops.

Ooligan Press is proud to exhibit at the festival this year and promote the recently launched Odsburg by Matt Tompkins, along with the upcoming Elephant Speak by Melissa Crandall (in stores March 3, 2020) and our current frontlist. PBF remains a great opportunity for Ooligan to inform local (and not-so-local) publishing professionals about our unique teaching press and how it provides valuable experience to its students.

The more we spread the word about Ooligan, the bigger and better we can grow as a press! As publisher’s assistants, one of our main goals—aside from all the copyright registration and metadata shenanigans—is to promote our program! Ooligan represents a unique opportunity for graduate students to gain real-world experience in the publishing industry as part of their core curriculum, rather than as an internship layered on top of demanding coursework.

Prior to 2018, Portlanders may have heard of the festival under another name—Wordstock. In a 2018 blog post, Amanda Bullock, Director of Public Programs at Literary Arts (the curators of PBF), outlined three major reasons why the festival underwent a name change:

  1. “Portland Book Festival” as a title is more inclusive of the wide array of events, panels, and workshops that the festival has to offer. It’s more immediately clear that PBF is a festival—of what?—of books and all things associated with them.
  2. Major book festivals often include the location of the festival in the title, as in the case of the Edinburgh Book Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Including Portland in PBF’s title also increases clarity: Where is this book festival? In Portland!
  3. Literary Arts hosts a wide variety of other programs with an Oregonian or Portland-centric focus, such as Portland Arts & Lectures, the Oregon Book Awards, and Oregon Literary Fellowships. PBF aligns with Literary Arts’ programs and provides a more cohesive overall brand.

Prior to the actual festivities getting underway at PBF, Lit Crawl® Portland will take place on November 8, 2019, offering engaging games not unlike those you’d play in a brewpub—except these games are all related to words and publishing. The Telephone Game for Writers and Illustrators, How to Build Your Own Industrial-Strength Crap Detector, Poetry Karaoke, and Choose Your Own Adventure Bingo are just a few of the offerings.

Come support Ooligan at the festival on November 9, 2019!

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.