Interview with Ooligan Alum Brooke Horn

Brooke Horn graduated from the Portland State University publishing program in 2015. During her first year at Ooligan Press she worked on We Belong in History and The Wax Bullet War during the final stages of their production, and she spent her entire second year working on The Ghosts Who Travel With Me from start to finish. Now Brooke works for The Pediment Group as an acquisitions editor. She has been kind enough to answer a few questions about her time at Ooligan and all she has learned.
 
What was your favorite course you took while at PSU?
I really can’t pick a favorite course—that’s like asking a bibliophile to pick their favorite book (and we all know how that goes). I chose to take a range of courses instead of micro-focusing on one specific area, and ultimately I’m glad that I did so. Some memorable ones were Transmedia Marketing with Peter Lund, Developmental Editing with Meg Storey, and The Popular Book in the United States with John Henley. I think it’s important to take both practical courses and those that speak to your interests and/or your background.
Which course material do you use most today?
Because I work for a small company, I wear a lot of hats. I use the skills learned in Book Design Software and Copyediting on a daily basis. I think some of the most useful material I learned was how to network and work as part of a publishing team.
What would you tell incoming Oolies to help them make the most of their time at Ooligan?
Get involved with projects that are outside of your comfort zone early on. Keep samples of your work organized as you go, and think way, way ahead about your portfolio. Having a wide range of skills is also valuable because it widens the range of jobs that you’re qualified for after graduation. Having a diverse range of samples to include in your portfolio will not only make the graduation process easier on you, you’ll be ready to apply for jobs on short notice too. Also, look outside of Ooligan for opportunities. There are a number of groups on campus (Student Media, resource centers, etc.) that can use the skills you’ll be learning, and it’s never too early to start looking for internships.
What advice do you have for Oolies who will be graduating soon?
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. It seems counterintuitive, but take some “you” time. Think about all the people who have supported you and how far you’ve come in a short span of time. Pat yourself on the back because you deserve it.
Play around with the different platforms available for your portfolio when you have the time. Also, and I can’t say this enough, build your brand. Go ahead and design your résumé, create matching letterhead for your cover letters, and if you have a website, keep the theme going on there. Keep a cheat sheet of your accomplishments and experience on hand for phone and Skype interviews. Employers will Google you and look up your social media profiles, so it’s a good idea to clean those up (or at least adjust your privacy settings) before you enter the job search.
Wear comfortable shoes to the capping ceremony.
What is your role at The Pediment Group?
My title at Pediment is acquisition editor, but my actual job responsibilities vary significantly from what would be expected from an acquisition editor at Ooligan. This is largely due to Pediment’s unique business model. Most of what I do involves traveling (awesome, right?) to hyper-local markets and scanning/captioning/organizing historic photos for publication as coffee-table books. I also edit captions, proofread, answer customer emails, and pitch in for marketing, inventory, design, and distribution tasks as needed.
How do you think graduating from the program prepared you for your career?
I wouldn’t be where I am without it. I’ve always known, more or less, that I wanted to work with books. It wasn’t until I started at Ooligan, though, that I realized how many jobs actually relate to books and that I enjoy marketing and design work as well as editing. Ooligan allowed me to acquire technical skills, professional experience, and a network. While my job doesn’t require a MS (or even a BA, although it’s preferred), the industry-specific nature of the program means that you leave with applicable skills, not just a degree.
Is book publishing everything you thought it would be?
The short answer is no! I’m not sure what I imagined publishing to be like when I started at Ooligan, because I wasn’t thinking of the world of publishing so much as the world of editing. That mental image involved a lot of printed manuscripts, quirky authors, and red pens. Because I was hired at my job during the week in between my finals and graduation, I honestly didn’t have much time to dwell on expectations. I certainly didn’t expect to find a job that allowed me to travel, and although I’m not working with authors and their stories like I imagined, I still have an integral role in the telling of stories.