The Excitement and Stress of Launching Odsburg

I joined Ooligan Press as part of the Odsburg team right as the marketing plan was being implemented. The promotion of this strange, gorgeous novel has been my focus throughout my time at the press, so getting to finally send it out to readers is beyond exciting. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work from many, many other Oolies as well as Odsburg‘s author, Matt. (Just designing the credits page for this book was a challenge because of how many people in the press had a hand in creating, promoting, and polishing it.)

With Odsburg launching early in the fall term, the team had to hit the ground running as we got back into the swing of school. As we prepped for launch, my team of new Ooligan students got a crash course in social media collateral creation and reading-tour research. Making collateral for Odsburg has always been a fun part of the process, as this book allows for us to be more creative than usual in our designs and copy. And of course, that amazingly detailed cover is fantastic to work with.

We continuously pulled elements from the cover to make new objects for marketing. Digging through that InDesign file has come to feel like making my way through a familiar forest. It’s dense, and while I know it well, it’s just as delightful as the first time I saw it. After you read the book, I highly encourage you to take some time to study the cover closely. Discovering all of the little secrets hidden between its leaves is a fun way to remember some of the strange characters you meet throughout Odsburg.

Once Odsburg launches, my team will continue to work on promoting it and finding reading opportunities for Matt (and we’ll be waiting for award season with bated breath and fingers crossed!). Even when we shift our focus to the next book coming to us from the acquisitions department, we’re not letting Odsburg go. This entrancing story has fascinated me since I joined Ooligan, and it will still be on my mind long after I graduate.

The excitement of a book launch is a motivator for a lot of us in the publishing industry. Often years of work go into a book, and the high of finally seeing it out in the world is tough to match in one’s professional life. Yes, there’s a lot of stress that comes with such an occasion, but it’s so very worth it. I can’t wait to hear what readers think of the little town we’ve been living in all this time.

Introducing Breaking Cadence: One Woman’s War Against the War

We’re preparing for a busy season at Ooligan Press, with three titles coming out in as many consecutive months beginning in March. Our final book of the school year, Breaking Cadence: One Woman’s War Against the War by Rosa del Duca, is set to publish on May 21. It’s a thought-provoking memoir that not only communicates Rosa’s path to becoming a conscientious objector in the military but also serves as a conversation-starter around a number of pressing topics.

Rosa’s first encounter with the military came at age seventeen, when she was a high-school student in a small town in Montana. Stuck without a way to pay for college and to break free of confining family dynamics, the National Guard recruiter that came to her school seemed to offer the perfect solution: a straightforward path to continue her education while training one weekend a month, and two weeks during the summer. She did the math: she’d be ten percent soldier, ninety percent civilian. It was the year 2000, and the recruiter assured her that the most dangerous work she’d be doing was fighting forest fires. A year into Rosa’s contract, 9/11 changed everything. As the US entered the War on Terror, she began to comprehend the increasing disparity between the American military’s agenda in the Middle East and her own principles. Ultimately, she realized that in order to live by her own ethics, she needed to seek conscientious objector status.

We’re excited to share this memoir for a number of reasons. It’s unique in offering a female perspective on the military experience, as well as a before-and-after perspective of the impact of 9/11 on the military and our society as a whole. Moreover, many people are familiar with conscientious objectors as pertaining to the Vietnam War but have less exposure to those who sought this path in more recent conflicts. And because the War on Terror is ongoing, the issues Rosa raises still resonate soundly today. This book has a dual purpose, then, in sharing her extraordinary story and sparking discussion around relevant issues like teenage military recruitment tactics and the moral quandary between honoring a commitment and not wanting to compromise your core values. You also don’t need to have a background in the military to engage with this book; Rosa’s journey to find her voice and identify her true path in life will resonate with readers beyond a military context.

If you don’t want to wait until May to learn more about Rosa, she also has a highly-rated podcast that’s been releasing episodes since October. In addition to her prowess as a writer, Rosa has an extensive background in radio and music and uses her talents to the fullest advantage in this medium. Her podcast features interviews with other conscientious objectors, activists, and individuals involved in the legal process of war resistance, as well as further reflections on her military experience. It’s an engaging and eye-opening companion to the memoir, and I hope you all check it out and join the conversation.

Hit the Trail: 50 Hikes Is Now Available!

50 Hikes in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests was published on March 1, 2018, and hundreds of hikers have already snagged a copy and hit the trails. On March 10, The Ranger Station hosted a well-attended launch event, at which guest speakers Tara Brown of the Wild Salmon Center and Greg Jacob of the Sierra Club shared important information about our state forests and how to turn hiking into advocacy.

Now we’re trying to get the word out about the book as much as possible, though the book seems to sell itself. Still, we are broadening our audience with continued news coverage, social media posts, and book events. In April, Tillamook Bay Community College invited me and Greg Jacob of the Sierra Club to speak about the book and the forests. In the coming weeks, you can learn more about 50 Hikes in an Astoria radio spot, a May 17 meeting of the Oregon Sierra Club, and through many other channels.

This spring and summer is this book’s chance to shine. We urge you to look out for a 50 Hikes photo contest over social media; the best photo from the Tillamook or Clatsop State Forest will garner a special grand prize to facilitate further adventures into the wilderness.

This book is special to us because it’s more than just another book. It introduces Northwesterners to beautiful yet relatively unexplored areas in our backyard. It’s about showing people that these forests, which have been famously devastated by fire and logging, are now viable playgrounds for horseback riders, cyclists, hikers, and campers. It’s about encouraging people to become advocates for these forests and the wildlife within so that future generations can enjoy the same trails.

50 Hikes was a pleasure to work on, and we hope outdoor enthusiasts of all types will continue to discover it. But now that this title has slipped into the backlist, we have set our sights on a new project, and we think readers will be very pleased with what we’re brewing. Stay tuned!

Happy Trails: 50 Hikes Is Almost Here

The pub date for 50 Hikes in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests (March 1, 2018) is so close we can already smell the pristine forest air. The Ooligan Press editorial team, design team, and 50 Hikes project team have worked tirelessly to put the finishing touches on a handsome, accurate, and useful hiking guide. As of this writing, 50 Hikes is at the printer, having gone through a rigorous OpenBook audit to ensure it is printed responsibly and sustainably. The final product will hit Northwest bookstores soon; but if you’re like us and just can’t wait, you can always preorder it online.

The book has already received an excellent write up in Coast Weekend, and the team is hard at work soliciting last-minute reviews from other media outlets in the region. You may have seen posts on Ooligan’s social media pages creating buzz for the book, and we ask you to stay tuned as the publication date draws near. We’ve set our sights on a March 10 launch event at the Ranger Station on SE Forty-Second and Hawthorne, and we would love to see you there.

Our efforts to market 50 Hikes will not slow down after the launch—if anything, we will work harder to ensure our readers can get the most out of our book during the warm and dry months. The Tillamook and Clatsop forests are resplendent between April and September, and we expect our guide’s first summer to be a great one. In addition to practical directions for the hikes, our guide offers fascinating information on the area’s history and elegant illustrations of some of the most abundant plants and trees. Our readers will discover something new and amazing each time they hit the trail.

Producing this book has been a challenging and rewarding experience. We are thankful to the Sierra Club Oregon Chapter for entrusting us with their trail wisdom, and we hope our guide inspires readers to be responsible stewards of the elegant Tillamook and Clatsop state forests. See you all on the trail!

Another Book Closes

When I took over this project at the end of spring term last year, I honestly could not imagine this end point: we have a finished book, reviews coming in, and several upcoming book events. It has been a long road, and yet it feels just like yesterday that my predecessor was graduating and handing me the reigns. And now, as we wrap up the marketing plan for Seven Stitches and celebrate the launch, we turn to a new manuscript. This is one of the most amazing aspects of our time at Ooligan Press. We have our hands in so many pieces of the process.

As one of the original team members from last year, I have watched Seven Stitches progress from the early editing stages to the cover design process to the finished product. This year’s team—which included two returning students and five new members—developed and implemented a marketing plan that showed a deep understanding of the book, its themes, and the world around it. Our first-year colleagues wasted no time in familiarizing themselves with not only Seven Stitches but Blue Thread and The Ninth Day, embracing the characters and worlds that Ruth Tenzer Feldman so lovingly crafted.

Our time with Seven Stitches, Meryem, and Feldman is quickly coming to a close. It’s a bittersweet time, marking another Ooligan success and showing what we can accomplish, but it signals the end of a special bond that we’ve all shared with this book and the author. And for many of us, it’s another milestone toward graduation. At the end of this term, a new manager will be selected; they will help me begin a new project and then take over once I transition out of the program. Ooligan Press is not unusual in this style of turnover, but it’s unique in that we feel a different connection to our books. (Perhaps this is just me.) I’ve developed a strong affection for this book, it’s author, and the group I’ve been working with. I will be forever grateful for the trust given to me and our team by both our publisher and Ruth Tenzer Feldman. I feel I couldn’t have asked for a better project to manage—with its triumphs and tribulations—to encapsulate my time at Ooligan. Thank you, Ruth. Thank you, Meryem. Thank you to the entire Seven Stitches team. We did it!

Happy #BookBirthday! Memories Flow in Our Veins Has Arrived

Last week, amidst the flurry of the twelve thousand writers, publishers, and book lovers in attendance at the 2016 AWP Conference in Los Angeles, Memories Flow in Our Veins: Forty Years of Women’s Writing From CALYX made its long-anticipated debut. Those of us on the project team who have been, up until this point, the book’s biggest fans were completely delighted and so grateful to everyone who stopped by the Ooligan Press booth to heap praise and appreciation on Memories and talk to us about the project. We lost track of the number of times someone beelined towards it to remark on how beautiful the cover is—cover judgment totally welcome. Thanks, everyone!

With our books in hand, the project team back in Portland has plenty of upcoming work to keep us busy. We’re planning a local launch for the book (info below!) and strategizing the marketing and publicity long-tail for the anthology—continuing to pursue post-publication reviews, make pitches to potential sales partners, and generate promotional content to carry our title into the hands of readers.

If you missed the launch in Los Angeles, there will be many opportunities ahead to come out and celebrate: on Thursday April 21 from 7 to 9 p.m., Ooligan Press will host a night of Memories-inspired feminist pub trivia at Portland’s Bazi Bierbrasserie, featuring general trivia about women in art and literature, feminism in politics and pop culture, and our favorite feminist icons.

We’ll see you there! Visit the Memories book page here to read more about the book and find it in a bookstore near you.

Checklist to Stereotypical Female Characters

April 1 marks the end of Women’s History Month, and Ooligan Press is going out with a bang. Today at the AWP Conference & Bookfair in Los Angeles, we are launching Memories Flow in Our Veins, an anthology of prolific women writers that was collected in partnership with CALYX Press. After months of hard work, Ooligan is making sure Women’s History Month continues on throughout the rest of the year.

To celebrate the amazing contribution women have made to literature, both as the authors of works and the characters within them, have a satirical checklist guide to creating a stereotypical, commercially-approved “strong female character.” Let’s see how many popular heroines we can check off this list, shall we?

  • Have her beat up a man within the first twenty pages. The closer you make the beating to her introduction, the stronger a female character she will be. In the best case scenario, she enters the story already karate kicking. Bonus points if she knows science-y stuff.
  • Avoid femininity in favor of a sexual militant look. This sexual militant look must be effortless and accidental, because strong female characters are too strong to put time into their appearance. That would mean they were shallow or weak (except for that one scene where she wears the slinky dress and we realize she’s human … or at least a viable sexual partner).
  • Give her a generous amount of dialogue relating to her independence and autonomy. This is to make sure that people understand she is a strong female character. If possible, throw in some jabs at the male characters and their maleness, because the best way to eradicate the objectification of one gender is to objectify another gender.
  • Emotional scarring is a must. Emotional damage is a good way to explain her lack of soft, feminine values, especially if this damage relates back in some way to a man. This adds complexity, making the strength of your female character actually a flaw that needs to be fixed (probably by the hero).
  • Keep her alone on her pedestal of perfect strong female character-ness. While male characters can be surrounded by buddies without losing integrity, it is best if your strong female character is a lone wolf. Too many strong female characters may push the story into “feminist” territory, and no one wants that. (The one exception to this rule is if you have another strong female character and they are in conflict with one another. Everyone likes catfights.)
  • Multitask, and knock out the diversity requirement by making her a minority. Let’s face it, modern stories don’t just require that women be included. They also need diversity. A clever way to meet this requirement is to knock out both at once and make your strong female character black or Asian or Latina. Now you’ve got more room for more white male characters.

If you are looking for some realistic, engaging female characters to counter these stereotypes, consider purchasing your own copy of Memories Flow in Our Veins. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for more information about our Memories launch party on April 21, with Feminist Pub Trivia Night at Bazi Bierbrasserie.