Growing Collaboration in Publishing

Frances: While siblings are always a disappointment, your friends are not—especially when you get to work with them. And at Ooligan Press, we have been increasing the amount of projects we collaborate on, so being able to successfully work with others is a key part of the program.

There are two publisher’s assistants, so obviously we are partners in a lot of our duties and work very closely together. Although there will never be a definite answer to how to work perfectly with others—because every person is different and has their own work habits—the two of us have managed to find methods to successfully work together.

For Melina and I, communication is key to our workflow. If there is a task that one of us is worried about, we help the other one out. If there is a week where I’m slammed with homework and need help completing my PA tasks, I know I can ask Melina for help, and vice versa. Communication has helped the two of us create an atmosphere of respect. That atmosphere has led to the two of us being more honest with each other about our strengths and weaknesses. When we mail books, I always ask Melina to write the address down because I am self-conscious of my handwriting.

Melina: And I am always happy to do so. Writing out addresses isn’t a big deal for me, but knowing it is an added stress to Frances, I make sure to take care of it for her. For my part, I get overwhelmed by too many customer service–type emails, but responding to those is something Frances excels at. While she manages the two larger email accounts, I manage the two smaller ones and the voicemail system. We have divided up these tasks both to suit our skill sets and to minimize our stress.

But this collaboration is not just between the two of us; we have noticed that collaboration is becoming essential in all departments at Ooligan. There are two PAs, two Write to Publish managers, two acquisitions managers, and two editing managers. Dividing up the work not only takes pressure off of individual managers and helps Ooligan continue to thrive, but it also allows the emergence of new and better ideas. Having a partner means being able to think bigger because there is someone there to tell you if you’re crazy or if you’ve hit gold. You have more time to go over things with a fine-tooth comb, improving the quality of your work. And having a friend by your side simply makes the work more fun.

The most important part of working together is understanding that you do have to work. We have a partnership, and it is important to be reliable and do your work. It is always a concern that working with your best friend can ruin your friendship, but luckily the only con that we have found is that we get easily distracted by other things, like coloring books and tacos. Especially tacos.

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