At the core of any successful publishing press lies something very important: a mission statement. This declaration of intent and focus is how a press presents their goals and values to the public. Not only does this serve as a guideline for the future pursuits and acquisitions of titles within the press but it provides authors with a guideline for potential manuscript submissions. General audiences tend not to follow specific presses and often aren’t aware of the mission statements of the presses from which their favorite books are published. Even so, there are trends within each press that are more obvious to their employees.
Ooligan Press currently states that it “aspires to discover works that reflect the values and attitudes that inspire so many to call the Northwest their home.” While many of our current and backlist titles include Pacific Northwest locations and themes, Ooligan has not exclusively published these types of titles in the past. One of the neat things about Ooligan is looking at the different books we have published over the years and how certain trends have evolved. Ask any current Ooligan student what they think our publishing trend is today, and they would probably say “water” due to the large number of books published about rivers, oceans, etc. However, not every student knows that we have published books about historical figures and other countries.
One of the earliest books published by Ooligan Press was Abraham Lincoln: A Novel Life by Tony Wolk, which was followed by Good Friday and Lincoln’s Daughter, both continuations of the Abraham Lincoln series. This unique trilogy combines historical facts with fictional characters and a time-traveling Abraham Lincoln. While these books were published between 2004 and 2009, Ruth Tenzer Feldman started the Blue Thread series three years later. Blue Thread, The Ninth Day, and the recently published Seven Stitches also have a common theme of time travel. Feldman’s books continue the Pacific Northwest theme while also emphasizing protagonist diversity in gender, race, nationality, and religion.
Between 2005 and 2008—prior to a stronger focus on the Pacific Northwest—Ooligan Press published four books about Croatia that spanned fiction, history, and poetry. These titles include The Survival League; Zagreb, Exit South; American Scream: Palindrome Apocalypse; and Do Angels Cry?: Tales of the War. Not only are these books unique in their locality but they also provide a cultural awareness of a country and its historical events that many Americans may be unfamiliar with. American Scream also stands out as a backlist title because of its side-by-side presentation of the original Croatian and English translation.
While this is just a brief overview of diverse backlist titles, they show a fascinating progression of the Ooligan Press publishing mission. With such a variety of backlist titles, it will be interesting to see what is published in the next several years.