As young Oolies, we typically cut our teeth as members of a book project team. From week to week, depending on where the book is in the production cycle, our responsibilities might differ widely and utilize a full range of publishing skills, such as editing, design, and lots of marketing research and outreach. Often this means stepping outside our comfort zones, and it sometimes means not knowing what the hell is going on.
If we’re lucky, the project we’re working on will be at a stage of production that coincides with our natural publishing proclivities; although we all gain exposure to the entire production process, most of us end up specializing in one aspect of the industry. As this year’s editing department lead, I feel lucky to have been involved in almost every editing-related phase of our latest release, Rhythm in the Rain—even before my tenure as a manager. Rhythm in the Rain was the first project I worked on, and my first assignment was to transcribe interviews that the author, Lynn Darroch, had conducted as part of his research. Shortly thereafter I was able to jump right into developmental editing on the earliest iterations of the book. Unlike most books we publish at Ooligan, Rhythm in the Rain was an idea pitched and commissioned by some of our own student staff members. This allowed me and the other Oolies involved in the editing process to watch the book take shape from scratch and to see the impact of our feedback over time.
When I started managing the editing department, we were in the midst of copyediting the manuscript, and over the next several months I coordinated and often participated in fact checking, seeking permissions for text excerpts and photos, revising front and back matter and cover copy, typecoding, some of the interior design work, and proofreading both print and ebook files. When I add to that the editing activities we did within the project team, I realize I’ve been engaged with the gamut of editing tasks on this book for about sixteen months, so it feels amazing to see the book finally enter the world.
In addition to Rhythm in the Rain, two other manuscripts have passed through my department for copyediting, typecoding, and proofreading. Typically students on the book’s project team take care of these tasks, but since I look over their work and do a last round of proofing before a book goes to print, I have the unique opportunity to get close with all the amazing work we publish. In many small presses, the editor wears many hats, but it’s rare to be directly involved with so many phases of the editorial process. This breadth and depth of experience in the editing department captures what is so unique about Ooligan and what is so enriching about being a department lead at the press. As the current managers prepare for graduation and a new crew applies to take over our positions, I feel a dopey sentimentality and sincere excitement for the experiences they’ll embark upon over the next year.