Event Planning for Untangling the Knot

Planning all of the events for the Untangling the Knot book launch and promotion was one of the most hectic and stressful things I’ve ever had to do, but also one of the most rewarding. When I wasn’t juggling email chains, trying to remember when I’d last been in touch with a venue, or reaching out to authors, contributors, event staff and others with emails and phone calls, I sat back and watched the events I’d planned unfold.

The thing about event planning is that your mother and father taught you how to do it once you took an interest in having your birthday parties done your way. You start early, decide who’s worth contacting (come on, who’s going to give you the best return of good presents on your resources of cake and ice cream?), and write that invitation!

It’s just a liiiiiittle bit different when you’re trying to plan a book’s kick-off event. Here are a few key tips to start with.

    Get in contact with venues early.

    Ask about their schedule months in advance if they’ll let you, and then poll your authors to see when their schedules align. Bother them every few days about responding to that poll. You can’t have an event without them, so it’s really important that the day you decide on works for them!

    Have a cutoff date for your scheduling polls.

    Give your authors about two weeks to respond. If they haven’t responded by then, they’re not going to. Make decisions based on the results you’ve collected by then.


    No one will show up if they have no way of knowing your event is happening! Promote it on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram (pictures of flyers are a great way to show off hard work and get the word out), SnapChat, anything! Get your event up on community calendars, venue calendars, and relevant organizations’ calendars. Don’t neglect tried-and-true methods like flyers, tabling, and word of mouth either.

    Be a person.

    This means when you’re courting venues to host your event, donate food or beverages, or sponsor you in some other way, do a walk-in. If you can’t manage a walk-in, call them. Do not email them unless you absolutely have no other choice.

    Be charming.

    This one has never been hard for me since I’m extroverted, talkative, and pretty good at reading people. However, if those things don’t fall into your skill set, a smile, firm handshake, and pleasantly consistent eye contact can go a long way. You can take it a step further by matching the body language and speech patterns of people you talk to, and if you feel up to it, a well-placed attempt at humor has never gone awry in my experience.

    Send thank-you notes.

    Most marketing and promotion is facilitated by who you know. If you’ve made a connection with someone at an organization, it never hurts to keep that relationship open so you can continue to do business together. I prefer to handwrite my thank-you notes, but emails are acceptable as well. The important part is to make sure your new contacts know how much you appreciate what they’ve done for you!

Event planning can’t be distilled to any sort of easy checklist, and nothing will ever go just as you’ve planned it to—you remember the time your cat licked all the icing off one side of your birthday cake—but these tips should be able to help you remember to cover your metaphorical cake before your sugar-obsessed diabetic cat can even get a whiff of it. Happy event planning, everyone!

Can Transmedia be Used in Small Presses?

When most people think of transmedia, the first things to come to mind are the massive transmedia campaigns of major franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek. These campaigns are great examples of the ways that transmedia can enhance the popularity of a story or series and involve their very loyal fanbases. From action figures to video games, these series remain two of the most popular examples of how companies can use transmedia. But these two franchises have a great deal of money behind them. How could a small press possibly be able to utilize transmedia with even a fraction of their success? Transmedia doesn’t always have to involve movie deals and mass amounts of fan fiction. There are many forms of transmedia that small publishers can use to engage their pre-existing fans and create new ones.

Various forms of social media are inexpensive and less time-consuming ways to create a continued interest amongst fans. Using social media is a great way to keep content fresh. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are two examples of social media that can be used for free. With these free services, a publisher could create accounts for characters from their more popular books; this could be especially effective for young adult books that have characters with strong and distinct voices. The publisher could use this account to post updates about the character using the character’s voice. If a series has ended, or if it is in between books, the characters from the books would be able to interact with readers through social media. Not only would this provide further insight into the characters that readers care about, but it would also ensure that there is continued interest in the books.

In the same strain are blogging sites like WordPress.com and Blogger.com, which publishers can use for free. These blogs can be utilized in the same ways as the Facebook and Twitter, but they encourage a longer format over the short snippets that Facebook or Twitter allow. This way, the story can continue for those readers who want to know what happens to their favorite characters after the books are finished. This would also be a great way to keep readers’ interest between books in a series, or to flesh out characters that may not have been the focus before, but may play more of a role in coming books.

Why stop at writing? What about video? Even with a small budget, publishers could create videos that would accompany the works they publish. YouTube is filled with examples of people who have had great ideas for video blogs or vlogs. For example, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries has quite an impressive following of over 237,000 subscribers. This modern-day adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice takes the form of a vlog by Lizzie Bennet. Not only did the creators retell this classic story through a modern lens in a way that appeals to longtime fans, but they also created new fans of Jane Austen’s work. Small publishers could do something along these lines about the characters from their own books for a relatively small amount of money, depending on how elaborate they choose to be.

Even though transmedia may seem like something that isn’t doable for small publishers, with a little bit of creativity, transmedia can definitely work in a small publisher’s favor.

The Holiday Rush

Greetings, readers:
Sorry to have been away for so long, but the holiday snuck right up on us! And I hear that there is another one coming. Now that we’re back, we are ready to rock n’ roll right through December. For starters, we have a great event opportunity planned for the new year: we will be hosting a celebration of William Stafford and our students at In Other Words on January 7 at 7 p.m. Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen and a few of our students will be present to share their poetry with you. And, hey, if you’re one of our student poets reading this right now, feel free to drop us an e-mail if you want to be a part of any future events.
This week, my group and I are gearing up for our promotions and sales push. We’ve designed posters and a fabulous selection of buttons to give away at our upcoming events, and we are very excited to work with our media partners, Paulann Petersen, Kim Stafford, and all of our wonderful student writers. Because we all belong in history, don’t you think?

Do You Belong in History?

Greetings readers,
This week has been a very exciting one for the staff of We Belong in History. We are focusing on promotions, specifically raising awareness of our coming publication date. We are running the gamut, tackling everything from social media blogs to conventional media outlets. Who knows, you might see flyers and posters pop up soon at a library near you. Do you belong in history? Find out by peeking at our website: http://ooligan.pdx.edu/poetry/we-belong-in-history/.
We are continuing our quest to solicit help from our student poets. If your poetry is part of We Belong in History and you would like to be a part of our promotions campaign, please drop us a line at wsproject@ooliganpress.pdx.edu. We would love to hear from you.
Remember my friends, We Belong in History will be published January 1, 2014, so keep your eyes out for the book, upcoming readings, and other related events.

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.