Into the Invisible World of the Publisher’s Assistants

The role of Publisher’s Assistants seems vague in the world of Ooligan because a lot of our work consists of managing metadata, cataloging keywords for search engine optimization (SEO), and inputting BISAC codes for all of our titles, just to name a few of the fun things. We also help other department heads, project managers, and (most importantly) the publisher with a lot of back-end tasks and fulfill certain requirements for getting books, well, published! This blog aims to uncover the mystery behind how the PAs help the rest of Ooligan.

Metadata is data that describes and gives information about other data; in this case, the other data refers to Ooligan’s titles. This includes review blurbs, marketing copy, back and front matter, and high-resolution PDFs of the front covers and any illustrations. Ooligan uploads metadata for our titles to Ingram’s CoreSource. Ingram distributes print and digital wholesale orders for Ooligan across the country, so inputting metadata into CoreSource allows Ingram to precisely target Ooligan’s titles to potential buyers.

The most important items of metadata that PAs enter are SEO keywords, which improve the discoverability of our titles. SEO keywords are what a potential customer would possibly type into a search bar when looking for a new book. The number of relevant keywords assigned to a book on CoreSource increases the book’s visibility by a great degree.

For example, keywords for our April 2020 title Iditarod Nights by Cindy Hiday include Cindy Hiday, Hiday, Iditarod, Alaska, winter, snow, ice, mountains, trails, adventure, suspense, romance, outdoors, nature, wilderness, mushing, musher, dogs, dogsled, sled, sled dogs, huskies, love, relationships, PTSD, Portland, Nome, Anchorage, and Pacific Northwest.

With these keywords assigned to Iditarod Nights in CoreSource, wholesalers searching for books about Alaska, a new romance book set in Alaska, or the Iditarod in general can find Ooligan’s book and recommend it for purchase.

Compared to the precision of SEO keywords, BISAC codes cover broader categories. For Iditarod Nights, the BISAC codes are FIC027260 FICTION / Romance / Action & Adventure, FIC00200 FICTION/Action & Adventure, and FICTION / Romance / Sports. Hundreds, if not thousands, of books fall under the romance category, but categorizing a book benefits marketing efforts all the same because using the most apt BISAC codes and SEO keywords increases the likelihood of a reader finding our book! Metadata, SEO keywords, and BISAC codes all contribute to the marketing and sales of a book and, depending on the intended audience for a title, adapt to reflect the target audience’s sensibilities.

We also coordinate with Ooligan’s other department heads and project managers to gather all of the files for each book we publish to store in the digital archive for later reference. With so many moving parts and a rotating cast of team members, it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of everything that goes into creating the physical and ebook versions of Ooligan’s titles. For archival purposes, we gather all of the following files—and then some—from editorial, digital, design, marketing, social media, and outreach/project development as well as the project managers:

  • Pitch documents
  • Final word manuscript
  • Style sheet
  • Full XML file
  • Cover Images: hi-res front cover .tif and .jpg (in CMYK and RGB)
  • Final print interior and cover files
  • Galleys: interior and cover files
  • EPUB files
  • MOBI files
  • Contract file
  • Marketing plan
  • Social media strategy document
  • Scanned print publicity articles
  • Captured (screen captured or otherwise) web publicity
  • Awards document

That’s a lot of documents to wrangle! Publisher’s Assistants also round up copies of each new title published and submit them to the Library of Congress archive and copyright offices.

Outside of these ongoing metadata shenanigans, PAs collaborate with department heads, project managers, and help the publisher on special projects throughout the academic year as needed. One of the many joys of this position is the wide range of interesting tasks we get to do that keep changing and evolving.

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