The Unglamorous Truth of Being a Publisher’s Assistant

Working at Ooligan Press is an amazing experience: the people are wonderful, the work is challenging, and the books we’re publishing are exciting. But sometimes (just sometimes) during the happy frolic through book land, there is frustration, boredom, and papercuts. Our work may not be the flashiest—mailing books, filing copyright, wrangling volunteers, and digging through old files—but we find solace in knowing that it’s the little things that allow Ooligan to keep publishing great books.

One of our main responsibilities is the archives project, which happens to be the great bane of our existences. Ooligan students have done so much good work over the years, and while we have the physical result, the book, all those design files and marketing pitches and edited documents are hidden away somewhere in the dusty corner of the computer server. With the help of the project managers, we are working to ensure that no important work is lost going forward. And like Nancy Drew, we will investigate the whereabouts of those old missing files. Our goal is to solve this mystery by the end of this term.

In truth, archiving the history of the press is a fascinating process. Ooligan Press is constantly moving and adapting, and it is inspiring to see all the hard work that Ooligan alums have put into our books. It’s also fun to observe how the publishing world has changed, especially in the marketing methods that are used. For example, book trailers used to be a part of YA marketing campaigns, but now publishers no longer use them.

Here is the unglamorous truth of being a publisher’s assistant: it’s pretty glamorous—you just have to work hard. Every job requires hard work and dedication. If you decide not to do a task because you don’t think it is glamorous enough, that just means more work for somebody else. We are all participants in this process, and we all need to do our part. That includes working on the archives or helping with conferences. As the publisher’s assistants, we help with conferences such as PubWest (which begins on February 9) and WordStock (November 11), where we help set up the Ooligan table and wrangle volunteers.

Some of the PA projects, such as the archives, can seem like responsibilities that are easy to slack on. But they’re not. By slacking on a project or putting half the effort forward, we would be adding work for ourselves later on, or even the next PAs further down the line. Our projects are not about the short term, they are big-picture projects that require quality work. Ooligan is about group work, emphasis on group. We all have to put our best effort forward and not rely on a few individuals to pick up the slack. Be glamorous and work.

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