Discovering the Business Behind the Art Form

Few people ever look at a book and think of the marketing, metadata, contact lists, and galleys that went into making it, but there’s so much more to the creation of a book than just an author’s words. Very few consumers know how many rounds of editing a manuscript actually goes through, or just how many hours were dedicated to coding all the information that needs to be entered into a distributor’s website. In normal times, a book can take about two years to go from the acquiring stage to ending up on a bookshelf. But 2020 hasn’t been normal, has it?

It’s safe to say that this year, above many, is a hectic one for not only Ooligan Press, but the world. With COVID-19 in full swing in the United States and the surge of protests advocating for change in our policing policies, many are questioning the role those policies play in aiding our society. In response to the year’s events, Ooligan Press has chosen to implement a change in the way we acquire books to be representative of our nation’s populations. It’s a beautiful shift that all of us at the press are excited to implement.

But this isn’t the only change happening at our small, local publishing house. A new publisher has entered our ranks with fresh ideas, and a surge of new managers are at her side to help represent Ooligan the best we can. This occurs as we shift into a completely remote format, along with many other companies, making it difficult to schedule meetings and get books shipped on time or even printed. But still, the publishing industry is here, thriving and working to bring more words and art into the world.

As the Publisher’s Assistant, it’s my job to make sure all of the correct information is where it needs to be for the project managers, distributors, department leads, and publisher. I also handle multiple side projects such as the Oregon Author’s website and researching and applying for awards for our frontlist titles. Many hours of my day are dedicated to entering metadata, acquiring information for the publisher, and honestly just making sure the press is functioning properly. In some ways, it’s made me look at books in a much more technical light that can sometimes remove the passion behind it because now I see all the spreadsheets and emails that were sent to make it happen.

In a sense though, there is a sort of art and passion behind the dozens of excel sheets or legal documents. Ultimately, all of this is done to get that book in the hands of someone who has felt the same passion I’ve felt my whole life. Seeing books on the shelves of so many bookshops is what sent me to Ooligan in the first place. Holding books with beautiful cover designs and perfect grammar is what compelled me to move to Portland and seek out this career. Without the business of a publishing house, there would be no books that are also beautiful works of art.

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