Odsburg: A Community Collaboration

Managing a project that involves a lot of creative collaboration can be difficult. You have to make sure your author’s voice is protected and their opinions listened to; you’re charged with juggling hard production deadlines while managing a team; and you also have to coordinate with other departments and people whose ideas about the book may not always align with yours. But despite the myriad visions for one project, all the people working on it have something in common: they want the book to succeed.

From the beginning, the goal for Odsburg was to make this book unique, successful, and as beautifully odd as the story it contained. We all had similar ideas about where this book should end up; getting there, however, was an entirely different matter. The first step: distilling the plan for Odsburg from a cloud of ideas into a series of actionable items. This meant placing it directly into the hands of the project team, who would start fleshing out the details of how exactly we would make this book happen. For many months, my team and I worked to produce items for design, sales reps, and social media that we thought would best encapsulate the unique and surreal voices found within this book.

Here at Ooligan, even when items are assigned to one person, it doesn’t end there. Collaboration extends to all departments, then contracts back to the project team in waves. We learn publishing skills first and foremost, but collaboration is a close second, as all projects feed into all departments. Odsburg has been a challenge for Ooligan because it’s such an intricate story, and we wanted to reflect that uniqueness not only in its narrative, but also in its interior design and its promotional materials. Because of this, we had a lot of juggling to do as we created plans and made decisions for the book, then collaborated with department managers to ensure we were all on the same page. Luckily, my peers are a talented, good group of folks who are as invested in Odsburg as I am, making the communication and email chains a little easier to handle.

Most people I’ve talked to about group projects profess to absolutely hate them—and for just cause, as it’s incredibly difficult to work with strong and diverse minds. Yet sometimes the best thing for a project is collaboration. Other perspectives, thoughts, and critical eyes can bring innovation, security, and momentum to current projects. Ooligan managers and our project team have worked hard to keep communication lines open around Odsburg, and the results of that collaboration are evident in how rich and sophisticated the book is turning out to be. Now that I’ve graduated from this program, Odsburg is in the very capable hands of its new manager, Ivy. She already knows that Odsburg‘s foundation is rooted in community, and she knows how to keep that seed growing as the book moves out of her hands and into the hands of readers who will love it.

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