People cutting paper with craft supplies surrounding them

Zines: A Creative Look into Self-Publishing

Have you ever had an idea you felt was too short for a full-length novel? Maybe you wanted to create a short collection of poems or a graphic novel. Getting your work published can seem like a daunting task, and many have trouble figuring out where to start. Writers and artists will oftentimes look for alternative ways to get their works out into the world. Self-publishing is an exceptional way to gain some exposure and work with indie writing and publishing communities. If you are a writer or an artist who would like to start issuing your own work, it might be an excellent time to start creating your own zine.
Let’s start this off with an explanation. What is a zine?
I recently took a small zine workshop where they taught some brief history of zines, what they are, and how writers use them today. A zine, pronounced “zeen,” is a small publication that can be used to express different sorts of messages. Zines first came to the publishing scene as small replacements for magazines, hence the name “zines.” People began self-publishing zines and selling them, or just passing them out for free, and used them as informative pamphlets. After gaining popularity, they became trademarks for groups such as sci-fi enthusiasts as well as the punk rock and alternative rock communities. However, authors and writers started using the zine platform to promote their short stories, poetry, and even comic strips. Zines can be used to express any subject matter. A fun example of this would be an informative zine that teaches someone how to create a short story.
From poetry to short stories, there are no rules that determine what can and cannot be made or created in this format. Think about your latest short story. Could it be created into a zine? Maybe you have a collection of poems you want to publish. The zine is the perfect way to do this. The beauty of the zine is that it doesn’t have to look like a typical book. You can be as creative as you want.
Most zines are incredibly illustrative and handmade. They are normally made in small quantities and created by the authors themselves. There are no rules as to how a zine is produced. Using this method would be a perfect opportunity to collaborate with another writer and/or artist. The creation of the zine does not have to be perfect. In fact, imperfections are often associated with the zine’s aesthetic. Zine consumers are looking for unique pieces to add to their collections. Many poets use them to publish exclusive content and will sell them in limited quantities. Having them be such exclusive items may bring a cult following to your work, attracting a good group of dedicated followers. Another benefit that comes from this form of publication is that the production of a zine is relatively inexpensive.
What would you do with your zine? Your stories are waiting to be told.

Four Haunting Halloween Reads

Halloween is not the first, nor the last, holiday to be derailed by the pandemic this year. Kids won’t plague the streets in search of sugary treats, and festivities might only involve a party of one, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to revel in a devilish spirit. Grab yourself a cup of hot cider, some fun-size candies, and a cozy blanket to settle in with these spooky reads for an evening of fun and fear.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Prepare yourself for a dive into psychological horror. This collection of short stories is a fantastical, mind-bending journey. “Especially Heinous” will disturb you and have you questioning every episode of Law & Order: SVU you have ever watched. “The Inventory” chills you with its human intimacy at the end of the world. In all of her stories, Machado haunts the mind with realism and myths. They will make you feel powerful. They will make you feel lost.

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Daniel Mallory Ortberg

Perhaps the most unsettling books on this list, The Merry Spinster will keep you up at night, and not for the reasons you expect. Ortberg’s short stories are dark retellings of children’s stories, fairy tales, and folk tales. While the horror in each story is overwhelmingly present, the dissection of gender roles and the feminist twists on classics are what keep your brain churning at night. A princess is someone’s male daughter. A character is given the option to be the husband or the wife. The stories within the collection leave you with more questions than answers. Some people are put off by the lack of concrete concepts, but I believe that the vagueness of it all is entirely the point. The Merry Spinster is an exploration of identities, not a declaration of one.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Hauntingly dreamy, Claire Legrand’s latest standalone novel is a ferocious, femme-forward horror story. Everything about the island of Sawkill Rock is perfect: rolling pastures are punctuated with sleek horses, the dark sea crashes up to meet picturesque cliffs, rich people populate the island in their opulent houses. Everything is great except for the legends of an insidious monster roaming the land—oh, and the decades of missing girls. Three girls are tangled together on a journey to transform their fears into power as they unravel the mystery of what exactly haunts Sawkill Rock and what happened to all of those missing girls. What pleases me most, in addition to the lesbian romantic representation, is the asexual romance. Ace-rep is not something commonly found in popular novels. I was delighted for people to have a chance to feel seen and represented in mainstream young adult fiction.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Let me just sum it up for you: lesbian necromancers in space. This book is my personal favorite on the list. I don’t know how Tamsyn Muir did it, but she has crafted a masterpiece of skeletons, swordplay, and mystique. Harrowhark (Harrow) Nonagesimus, heir to the Ninth House, is invited to the First House of the Emperor to participate in a series of tests of wit and skill. If she and the other heirs survive, they will have a chance to become powerful immortal servants of the Resurrection. None of this will be possible for Harrow without her reluctant cavalier, Gideon. Determined to escape the Ninth House forever and leave Harrow to rot underground with her skeletons, Gideon is roped into Harrow’s trials with the promise of eventual freedom. As the two of them explore the haunted gothic mansion of the First House, deadly secrets spill out and a mystery unfolds. The great news is that if you pick this book up today you don’t even need to wait for the sequel, which arrived on shelves August 2020.

Backlist gets front seat for summer reading

Jordana Beh wishes our backlist had received the kind of graphic branding that current titles get. Jordana was the marketing department lead for Ooligan Press until she graduated in June, and was responsible for generating interest in all titles, not just the frontlist. That’s why she conducted a Backlist Sales Initiative every quarter to study the effectiveness of past marketing campaigns. This, in turn, revitalizes interest in books published in prior years by applying up-to-date strategies.
“Think about what we learned from the Fall BSI,” she said in an interview. “We saw that Untangling the Knot would’ve benefited from a social media mention when they won the Goldie.”

Jordana Beh, Ooligan Press marketing lead.

She and Abbey Gaterud, Ooligan’s faculty advisor, came up with a fresh idea: each book team would create a mini-marketing campaign around a distinctive theme, choosing the titles and developing short campaigns to be rolled out between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
“The mini-campaigns allow us to finesse the topic into something creative and strategic,” Jordana said. “And meaningful, in terms of what these books have to say.”
Here’s a quick reading guide—and thank heavens it’s a non-election year—for summer 2017. You’ll see all of these campaigns in the usual places. Main hashtags are listed here, but that’s just to get the conversation started.

  • Theme: School’s Out, May 27–June 10
  • Social: #getoutside
  • Titles: Ricochet River, A Series of Small Maneuvers

What it’s about: summer vacation, trips, destinations, exploring the outdoors, going where you don’t expect to go, and dealing with unexpected challenges. Celebrate National Grape Popsicle Day (May 27), National Hamburger Day (May 28), and, of course, Memorial Day (May 29).

  • Theme: Pride, June 1–30
  • Social: #prideNW
  • Titles: Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before, Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity, The Ghosts Who Travel With Me, Memories Flow in Our Veins: Forty Years of Women’s Writing from CALYX, Siblings and Other Disappointments

What it’s about: June is International Pride Month which recognizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other queer lives and voices and their impact on history at all levels.

  • Theme: Summer Dreaming, June 28–July 10
  • Social: #summerdreaming
  • Titles: The Ghosts Who Travel With Me: A Literary Pilgrimage through Brautigan’s America, You Have Time For This: Contemporary American Short-Short Stories, Dot-to-Dot, Oregon, Brew to Bikes: Portland’s Artisan Economy

What it’s about: The endless possibilities of Northwest adventure, exploring fresh and diverse perspectives, escaping reality even if just for a little while.

  • Theme: Labor Day, Aug 23–Sept. 6
  • Social: #celebratework
  • Titles: Oregon at Work: 1859-2009, Dreams of the West: A History of the Chinese in Oregon, Speaking Out: Women, War, and the Global Economy, Brew to Bikes: Portland’s Artisan Economy

What it’s about: Everyone can be proud of the work they do. This reading list recognizes the importance of work as a celebration, diversity in work, history of blue-collar workers, and local Northwest businesses. Celebrate Labor Day (Sept. 4).

  • Theme: Back to School, Aug. 28–Sept 17
  • Social: #beyourself
  • Title: Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before

What it’s about: Many teens spend high school trying to figure out who they are and begin to understand their sexual identities. As school goes back into session, read about showcasing the diversity of young people, anti-bullying, and exploring your identity.

You don’t have to remember all the titles. Just find us @ooliganpress (on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and follow the hashtag trail.
#summerreading, #getoutside, #summerdreaming, #prideNW, #celebratework, #beyourself

New Year, New You

Well, we made it.

Kait Heacock’s Siblings and Other Disappointments is out in the world, and maybe even at a bookstore near you! It’s been a journey. As a team, we’ve all been grappling with some mixed emotions lately—from the particular thrill of seeing hard work pay off to the melancholy feeling of saying goodbye to an old friend—but what is Siblings itself if not an emotionally complicated experience from start to finish? We continue to be blown away by the positive and personal reactions that Siblings elicits in its readers, including this lovely review from Lauren O’Brien in Shelf Awareness. Though the lion’s share of our work with Siblings is behind us now, we’ll still be keeping up with the book—and with Kait, as she too moves on to new and different things. Keep an eye on Ooligan’s Facebook page and Twitter account for all the updates. (But you’re already following us, right?)

Meanwhile, we’ve started laying plans for the future. The Siblings team is becoming the 50 Hikes team as we get to work on a brand new project. At the end of last year, the press unanimously voted to acquire 50 Hikes in the Tillamook State Forest, a hiking guidebook originally published by the Oregon chapter of the Sierra Club back in 2001. The hikes have all been newly reviewed and vetted for 2017, and we could not be more excited to reintroduce readers to this guide that explores the state forests that we Oregonians are lucky enough to have right in our backyard. Even Portland’s annual January snowpocalypse couldn’t tamp down our enthusiasm for this project, and we’re now back in the swing of things and hard at work deciding what we want this book to be. The team already has tons of great ideas about design elements, marketing efforts, and supplemental content, but the first step, as with any new Ooligan acquisition, will be to take the Sierra Club’s manuscript through developmental editing, working with the original authors to make the text of the book as strong (and, in this case, as useful) as it can possibly be.

It’s sure to be a busy term for us, but we’ve got lots of talent on our team, and a new book is always something to get excited about. Here’s hoping this particular one will also be an opportunity to leave campus and get out into nature once the weather warms up. I’m already planning some field trips. See you on the trails!

Here We Go!

The launch of Kait Heacock’s debut collection Siblings and Other Disappointments is almost upon us and I, for one, cannot wait to share it with you. I started at Ooligan in the spring of 2015, the same term that we as a press voted to acquire Siblings, so I’ve been with it since the very beginning of its journey into publishing. It’s a bit of a bittersweet feeling to see the end of a project that we’ve worked so hard on for so long. I am filled to the brim with emotions, but chief among them is an overwhelming sense of pride to at last be able to show the world what we’ve made.
Siblings is so deeply rooted in the cities and towns of the Pacific Northwest and in the experience of living and working and growing up here that, when we started thinking about launching this book, we wanted to make sure our plans likewise embraced the totality of this beautiful region we call home—especially after we learned that Kait would be moving back here from Brooklyn. I hope she’s got gas in her car and good shoes on her feet, because she’s going to be traveling up and down the west coast for the rest of the year. Here’s where you can catch Kait—and maybe even a few Oolies—talking about this remarkable book over the course of the next few months:

. . . plus much more to come. Check in with our Facebook page or follow @ooliganpress or @kaitgetslit on Twitter to stay up to date with our latest happenings. And don’t forget that Siblings and Other Disappointments will be available from the finest online retailers and brick-and-mortar emporiums as of October 11. What’s that? You’re desperate to find out more but you don’t have a link? Don’t say I never do anything for you.

Close is Just Fine By Me

I grew up in a small town. A population of less than two thousand, a small gas station and convenience store, a tavern, and no stoplight anywhere even close to the city limits. There’s a way of life in small towns—slower, quieter, less self-aware—that people who grew up in a city just can’t quite grasp. Eliot Treichel’s short story collection Close is Fine is one of the closest depictions of small-town life I’ve read, as it captures both the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.

The rolling fields, the dilapidated houses, and the trucks that require a refuel on the trip to town and on the trip back are all hauntingly familiar to me. Treichel writes of teenagers forced to be older than they are, with no outlet for their aggression; of a girl who learns the hard way that life is cruel and unfair; and of fathers learning to let life take its course and sons learning to be okay with that.

The story “On By,” my favorite of the series, conveys in just sixteen pages the complexities of a man’s slowly collapsing marriage to his pregnant wife and the lure of someone new and different—a woman wild, tough, and steadfast. The new woman brings out some of his animalistic tendencies, a side of himself he loves and hates at the same time.

Treichel’s writing is gorgeous and easy, not at all flashy—just like the people and locations he writes about. So much is left unsaid, yet at the same time, he conveys entire lives and worlds in the few pages of each story. Treichel’s haunting landscapes and complex characters are what hooked me from the beginning. His masterful way with words is what won me over completely.

Eliot has since published a second book through Ooligan Press, a young adult novel called A Series of Small Maneuvers. You can learn more about Eliot at his website.

Coping With Galleys

Did you know Ooligan Press undertakes a backlist sales initiative every term? It’s true! Last spring the Siblings team dug into the Ooligan sales data and our past social media efforts to see what we could find out about our own efficiency as a sales force. Here’s one surprising result: an awful lot of our social media presence focused on the run up to publication—and dropped off sharply once the pub date had passed.

The realization that we needed to spend some more time talking about our books once, you know, people could actually buy them feels a bit like a well duh moment, but it’s not hard to see how it happens. So much work and worry goes into the process of making the book into a tangible thing that it’s easy to lose track of the fact that, to the rest of the world, things are only just getting started.

I bring all this up because we got the Siblings and Other Disappointments galleys in last week, and I was reminded again that—while our time with the book is coming to a close—the rest of the world is only just now becoming aware of its existence. Our goal over the coming months, as Siblings‘ pub date for October 11 surges towards us, is to stir up some excitement.

The galleys are heading back out the door already to potential reviewers and literary organizations. And they’re heading to our sales reps who have been working hard to push the book—who will surely be just as happy to see it in hard copy as we were. We’re nailing down the final details for our launch events and getting ready to roll out our marketing and social media plans. And in between we’re talking to booksellers and bloggers and the literary-inclined—in short, anyone who we think will connect with this beautifully complicated little collection.

So keep an eye on Ooligan Press this fall. You can be sure we’ll be talking about Siblings on October 18—and because we’re publishing students and we learn our lessons—in the months that follow as well.

Spilling Our Guts

Spilling your guts is just exactly as charming as it sounds.
—Fran Lebowitz

Sorry, Fran. We think that spilling your guts is charming, and we plan to gush about Kait Heacock and Siblings and Other Disappointments constantly. Since unveiling the cover, we have been working hard to develop the marketing and social media plans and to support our interior designer, Leigh Thomas. A first year student, Leigh submitted gorgeous cover drafts for consideration and has been selected as next year’s Ooligan Press design manager. Her design carefully captures many of the key themes of Heacock’s collection:

The challenge with the interior was to represent the collection’s gritty undertones while still presenting a visually polished piece. Generous use of space helped reinforce the stories’ themes of loneliness, and stumbling upon a font that closely fit the aesthetic of the hand-lettered cover carried through the handmade Siblings tone. Adding in tiny huckleberry glyphs was just a bonus. (Leigh Thomas)

The interior design of a book must visually organize and present the guts of the work in a beautiful, readable format. As we celebrate the milestone of having the interior designed, it is also a great time to think about how we can most effectively spill our guts about the power of these short stories and Heacock’s amazing rising voice. Our social media and marketing goals are divided by our various phases of promotion: awareness, preorder, launch, and sustained sales.

With generosity of support we know the fans of Ooligan Press to possess, we know our readers will be just as jazzed about us spilling our guts about Siblings and Other Disappointments as we are.

The Cover is HERE!

Getting our sales kits out the door, each with a chapbook, postcard, tipsheet, marketing plan, and small treat (coffee-related, obviously) was one of the driving forces for getting the cover concept finalized. After much effort and Pantone finessing on the part of our designer, Ryan Brewer, we have a cover we love! In honor of the momentous occasion of unveiling the face of Siblings, we thought it might also be appropriate to put some faces and names to the hardworking members of the project team who often go unseen.

Alexis has been on the Siblings team since September 2015 and plans to depart for graduation in June. Primarily an editor, they were especially involved in the copyediting stage; there are only two stories in the collection that they didn’t work on. When called to the challenge of participating in marketing and publicity, a departure from their usual area of focus, Alexis has knocked it out of the park with exceptional copywriting for blurb and review requests. Alexis also does the amazing work of providing the team with superior vegan baked goods.

Kristin has also been with Siblings since the book’s acquisition. She worked tirelessly on the research and development that led to the book’s final title and brainstormed preliminary cover design concepts. She also has her hands in tasks like polishing the author photo, brainstorming sales strategies, and keeping track of vital data and potential contacts. The contribution she’s proudest of is writing marketing copy because a book’s success hinges on catching and keeping readers’ interest.

Emily came to work on Siblings in January and has had the privilege of being a part of some pivotal moments in the book’s progress. Helping to develop the marketing plan and a classroom discussion guide allowed her to flex her creative muscles. Additionally, Emily procured one of the early glowing blurbs. Her copywriting work contributed to the finalized back cover copy, and she photographed and designed what became the postcard collateral for the sales kits.

In addition to being the 2016–2017 project manager for Siblings, Sophie designed and created the chapbooks we sent to the sales reps and continues to make content, like design briefs and booksheets, beautiful. Although she says marketing can be a challenge for her, Sophie has stepped up at every occasion, trying new things and learning the ropes with a smile and infectious laughter. As she continues to adopt more of the leadership role, we know there are more great things to come.

Cade has been a crucial contributor to design, sales, marketing, XML coding, corporate sponsorship, and event planning. Her unique abilities to be empathetic and creative make her a major asset for author relations and brainstorming unconventional ideas. When communicating with Heacock to discuss major considerations for the work (developmental edits, the final title, etc.), Cade took the time to truly acknowledge our author’s motives and aspirations. Her cover concept was the first runner up, and there will be more great design work coming from Cade throughout her time at Ooligan.

Some of Alex’s proudest contributions to Ooligan Press have been helping to bring Siblings to print. She helped develop the design briefs and offered feedback on the early jacket designs. Alex’s expertise in book publishing and Ooligan’s workflow and office administration have been invaluable in creating the sales kits to get booksellers excited to spread the word about the collection. She has also been pivotal in the creation of an analytics system that will be used to track the marketing and sales metrics for Siblings and other titles in the future.

With an amazing collection of short stories to rally around, an endlessly enthusiastic and creative author, and a competent and compassionate team of publishers, it’s no wonder these updates can be so overwhelmingly positive.


Learning How to Brag About Our Short Story Collection

Leading up to a brief break between terms, our group members have been astonishingly productive. After the cover concept was selected by the press, we worked with Kait Heacock to offer notes and feedback to the designer, Ryan Brewer, who continues to improve and expand the cover each day. We expect to have a final cover ready for unveiling in the next few weeks. Also within the realm of design, our group constructed an interior design brief and received more than ten applications. Leigh Thomas was selected for the honor of designing the Siblings interior, and we are thrilled to see her initial drafts soon.

On the marketing, publicity, and sales fronts, we got a handful of printed and bound copies to send to a few prospective blurbers. This is the first time the book has appeared in codex form, albeit in an undesigned word document on regular printer paper. It was an amazing preview into the excitement yet to come! We are hoping that these physical copies will find their way into the hands of some notable authors by the end of the month. Tell Cheryl Strayed to check her mail.

In addition to pitching to blurbers, we shared our enthusiasm about Siblings with our sales representative in a brief sales call last week. Preparing for the sales call, constructing the tipsheet, and drafting early backcover copy means finding concise, powerful ways to talk about Heacock and her work, highlighting the themes that run throughout each story without underselling the collection as homogenous. Learning how to most effectively talk about the strengths of this collection is an ongoing process, but our group could not be more suited to the challenge.

Our biggest upcoming task will put our creativity and marketing skills to the test: We are constructing sales kits that will get our distributor’s sales representatives excited and passionate about this collection. Stay tuned to hear what kinds of artifacts and collateral we include and how we articulate the literary eminence of Siblings.