Community Outreach to Find Hidden Gems

Ooligan Press receives many unsolicited submissions through our Submittable from authors all over the world looking to get their books published. Despite the traffic our Submittable receives, however, there are times where the works we have received do not provide the press with the manuscripts we need. This is where community outreach comes into play.

As a teaching press, it is important for Ooligan Press to acquire all different types of manuscripts to provide students with a variety of learning experiences. Our submissions tend to be cyclical, with certain types of books coming to us in groups. For example, the holidays and new year often bring about an influx of novel and memoir submissions as writers wrap up their goals for the year or designate getting published as a New Year’s resolution.

These submissions are always welcome, but we are not always looking for literary fiction or memoirs at any particular time. These holes in our manuscript submissions call for some boots-on-the-ground work from the acquisitions department.

Community outreach can take many forms, such as attending book festivals or author workshops. One of our previous events, Write to Publish, was a great way for the acquisitions department at Ooligan Press to receive submissions; the event featured a panel for authors to pitch their books to the acquisitions managers. Some of our published books came directly from this event. However, in today’s digital and pandemic-ridden world, all of our efforts have been taken online.

Social media is a powerful tool for all sorts of marketing and promotion, and so this is often our first strategy to reach both readers and potential authors. One form of community outreach we’ve been experimenting with in the acquisitions department is #PitMad, which was discussed in our previous acquisitions Manager Monday blog post.

#PitMad is a great way to see what authors are putting out into the world, but maintaining a presence in local and regional writing groups can allow for a more personalized connection with writers, and can help you engage with posts and pages regularly to improve your industry awareness and author accessibility. Participating in local author’s guilds and writing workshops can also connect you with authors who may be new to the publishing world and are not sure of the best way to reach out to a press.

Additionally, community outreach from a lesser-seen portion of the press can help to humanize a publisher, making it more accessible and relatable to not only potential authors, but also the press’s readership. Often, the publishing industry can seem somewhat cold and hidden from the public. The inner workings aren’t always seen, and increasing community outreach and publicity in various areas of the press can help add personality and transparency to the organization.

Ultimately, additional submissions may require more time to work through the slush pile, but it’s a small price to pay to find the perfect author and book for your press. And making an effort to improve community outreach from the editorial, design, and acquisitions departments of the press will humanize an industry that can often come across as an unfeeling machine that doesn’t see the smaller authors and readers who are ultimately the heart of the industry.

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