Ooligan in the World

Here at Ooligan Press, our managers, project teams, and department specialists put countless hours of work into creating the books you see on our list. From acquisitions and editing through design and marketing, our talented colleagues sit in meetings together discussing strategies and best practices, take those conversations home to create something wonderful, and then return to our meetings the following week to do it all again.

It’s a deeply effective learning process, but there is one important piece of book birthing that it doesn’t account for: the immensely rewarding experience of bringing our books and our authors out into the world and watching them shine.

From intimate readings to established conferences and book festivals, we’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months arranging opportunities for the world—or at least our Pacific Northwest corner of it—to meet our books and their authors. There have been plenty of volunteer schedules to fill, promotional marketing and social media posts to plan, and boxes of books to cart to and fro. In return for that work, we’ve watched our authors delight and charm audiences while their books are admired, applauded, and carried away to new homes. So where in the world have we found Ooligan authors this fall?

Brian K. Friesen’s At the Waterline was published last May, and this summer found Brian and his family embarking on a book tour across Oregon and Washington, culminating in late summer with a much-anticipated reading at Portland’s book mecca: Powell’s Books. Later this fall, Brian also joined awarding-winning fellow Oolie author Eliot Treichel at the Audubon Society of Portland’s Wild Arts Festival, “a celebration of nature in art and books,” where both were featured authors.

Meagan Macvie’s The Ocean in My Ears entered the world in the beginning of November to glowing reviews from such industry giants as Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Book Riot, and School Library Journal‘s Teen Librarian Toolbox. It even made it onto a Bustle list of “The 11 New YA Novels You Need To Watch Out For In November 2017.” With her book generating so much enthusiasm, we’ve loved watching Meagan do the same. She began the fall season with a panel appearance at the Montana Book Festival, where she talked about picking a publisher and the advantages of going with a small press. At this year’s Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) conference, Meagan was invited to participate in an evening “Sweet and Greet” event where she signed advanced reader copies of the book and connected with regional authors and booksellers. Then, the big send-off: we celebrated Meagan and the launch of The Ocean in My Ears with 90s trivia and lots of laughter.

Meagan wasn’t our only representative at PNBA. Ooligan Press also staffed a table at this two-day conference, showcasing our books and chatting with booksellers, librarians, and other publishers about our work. Both first and second year students are given the opportunity to attend events such as this and to begin testing the waters of networking and business-to-business marketing.

Ooligan and our authors have had an action-packed fall, and it all built up to the main event of the season: Wordstock. Meagan, Brian, and the Ooligan Press team all attended Portland’s most anticipated book festival to indulge ourselves in all things literary. Brian and Meagan both had pop-up readings in the Portland Art Museum’s American Art Gallery and signed copies of their books for eager readers at Ooligan’s table. Later in the afternoon, Meagan taught at the sold-out workshop Writing YA Fiction: Bringing Young Narrators to Life on the Page, helping budding writers hone their skills. All throughout the day, you could find the smiling faces of Oolies around the festival. Students staffed our table, attended readings and panels, perused the aisles of booksellers, and even staffed other publishers’ tables as part of their various internships. Wordstock also, as it does every year, turned into an unofficial reunion for Ooligan alumni. Graduates flocked to the table to pick up copies of books they worked on during the early stages of development and to catch up with old friends.

Ooligan has been spending a lot of time out in the world over the past few months, and now we are turning our focus inward as we prepare to move out of our current offices in early December.

PA Adventures at PNBA

Early on a brisk October Saturday, bleary-eyed but with coffee in hand, I stumbled off the longest pre-dawn bus ride of my life into the brightly lit lobby of the Portland Holiday Inn Conference Center, which was packed for the occasion with books and the people who make books their business. A perky volunteer handed me my name tag, and suddenly it was official: I was representing Ooligan Press at my very first publishing industry event, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Fall Tradeshow—or PNBA, as it is known in the book business lingo I’ve been picking up in Portland State University’s publishing program.

PNBA-Bag

Feeling official at PNBA.

As I headed to Ooligan’s booth armed with my laminated credentials and a freshly printed event program, I felt a heady sense of VIP status come over me. PNBA trade shows are open only to book industry professionals, not the general public, and I was thrilled to count myself among these people who had made books their life’s work. My partner in this adventure into the inner world of publishing, fellow Publisher’s Assistant Chris Thomas, was already busy arranging backlist titles, bookmarks, and buttons in hopes of luring the already-buzzing crowd over to Ooligan’s booth.

Despite the early hour, Chris and I were excited to represent the press in our first official capacity as Ooligan’s new publisher’s assistants. We had prepared for the challenge by reviewing Ooligan’s extensive backlist while we packed up the press’ bestsellers, business cards, and brochures to hand out to the regional booksellers, librarians, sales reps, and distributors who had flocked to Portland for the weekend to check out the promising titles that were the pick of publishers’ fall lists. PNBA is a nonprofit trade association that has been representing the interests of independent bookselling throughout the Northwest for decades, but this PNBA show would be extra special, since Ooligan author Eliot Triechel had been selected to give a spotlight talk on his upcoming young adult novel, A Series of Small Maneuvers. Chris and I had shipped crates of Ooligan’s newest title to PNBA right off the press so that copies of A Series of Small Maneuvers would be on hand for booksellers to enjoy, and Eliot would be building excitement still further with a book signing later that afternoon.

As the weekend went on, I met independent bookstore owners, acquisition librarians, and even fellow authors who stopped by our booth to meet Eliot and check out Ooligan’s latest titles. Some had been seeing Ooligan at industry events for years, but I had the pleasure of introducing quite a few people to our list of Northwest literature titles and explaining Ooligan’s mission as a regionally focused, student-run teaching press. Best of all, I got to take time between conversations to wander around other publishers’ booths, stopping by Milkweed Editions to discuss the literary culture growing up around Minneapolis, asking a senior editor at University of Washington Press about the marketing plan for their upcoming book on Seattle landscapes, and chatting with a contingent of Canadian publishers about the success of their Read Local BC campaign. Striking up conversations with strangers doesn’t always come easy to an avowed bookworm like me, but armed with some networking tips from a publishing pro, by the end of the weekend I had loaded up my PNBA swag bag with publishers’ catalogs, business cards, and even better, free books! My bookshelf is full to busting, but I can’t wait for next year.

PNBA-Swag

Best part of tradeshows? New books!

Ooligan Press at the PNBA Tradeshow

This Monday Ooligan Press was lucky enough to snag a table at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) Fall Tradeshow. And while the tradeshow closely followed Wordstock, the two events were entirely different. For one thing, the conference was only open to book industry professionals. For another, the goal was to promote books, not sell them. Publishers, distribution services, and writers’ groups all had tables handing out leaflets, collateral, and advance review copies of their newest publications. As I walked around looking at the booths, the first thing I learned was that although the organization is called the Pacific Northwest Book Association, the publishers present spanned the entire country. Ooligan’s table was directly in front of Random House, for example, and mere feet away from Penguin’s. It was exciting to see Ooligan Press’s representatives talking to booksellers alongside the heaviest hitters in the publishing game.
The Ooligan Table at PNBA 2013
For our part, we used the opportunity to tell the bookselling public about Ruth Tenzer Feldman’s The Ninth Day, our newest title. This soon-to-be-released companion novel to the OBA-winning Blue Thread (2012) was front and center on our table, and the first thing we told visitors about.  We received a fair amount of interest, and gave away a few copies to reviewers, booksellers, and librarians in the know. It didn’t hurt, of course, that Ruth would be signing books at the tradeshow the next day.
Not just publishers had tables. Ooligan’s table was next to Seattle7Writers, an organization of Pacific Northwest authors supporting each other and the written word. In between pitches to booksellers, our close proximity allowed us to discuss ways we can support each other. For example, they were happy to hear and spread the word about our call for submissions for our anthology More than Marriage. It’s these sorts of connections that help bolster Ooligan Press’s reach in the publishing world.
Along with making connections with other publishing professionals, the PNBA trade show was also a great place to eavesdrop. As I surveyed the different booths and books, I overheard one publisher tell another, “This year, it’s all about cookbooks.” Judging from the amount of glossy pictures of fennel salads adorning the shelves, I couldn’t help but agree. However, the trade show wasn’t just about cookbooks—it was also about chocolate. Just about all of the booths had at least one bowl of sweets peppering their table, a great tactic to lure in potential business. I asked Ingram Publisher Services’s representative, Gary Lothian, about the approach, and he assured me it was par for the course. “Yeah, it’s all about chocolate in the publishing world,” he told me. “Chocolate and caffeine.” That was all the affirmation I needed to know I was in the right business.