Positioning a Book: Where Do These Stories Belong?

Ooligan Press does things a little differently. A debut author being published at a major publishing house might look something like this: a managing editor gives extensive feedback and queries throughout the developmental and line-level editorial stages in order to guide the author’s work in a specific direction, shaping the text with a very specific audience in mind; the cover and interior are designed by one or a few people who have likely only read the marketing plan and some excerpts; the design is okayed by the managing editor and presented to book reps and the author when finalized; the marketing and publicity teams work to promote the book in print, online, and radio media by paying for some ad placement and sending potentially hundreds of advanced copies to national reviewers.

At Ooligan, we have a tight budget but a wealth of talented, enthusiastic, and curious student publishers. Our company ethos is heavily democratic, and our reverence for our authors and their works is unparalleled. We have a team working on every step of the process: editorial, design, marketing, publicity, etc. This means that no single ego can dominate a book project, but it also means lots of emails, meetings, texts, and phone calls to stay on the same page about the vision and expectations.

The uniqueness of this company culture and the workflow strategies it requires are never more apparent than during the book design process, an exciting moment for any book and in my opinion especially interesting for short story collections like Siblings and Other Disappointments. As I mentioned in the last post, we accept submissions for cover concepts from anyone in the press, including the professionally trained illustrators and highfalutin digital geniuses (who can afford to be pretentious because they will own the world soon), but also the most novice of visual artists. With Siblings we went through four rounds of submissions, public review, and democratic feedback before narrowing the pool to three designs by three different designers. After each designer had the chance to talk about their idea and after a group discussion about Kait Heacock’s initial reactions and the strengths and weaknesses of each concept was had, we had a press-wide vote with paper ballots to select the winning concept.

So we have a cover concept selected and a great designer hard at work. But you can’t see it yet. For now, just revel in how neat the process is. Don’t worry. This will be worth the wait.

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