empty chairs around a conference table

What the Heck is Happening?

Having a job while being a student has always been the norm for me. I have done many jobs, some of them full-time while trying to get through each term, and I learned many things from those jobs that I can use in my everyday life, like speaking to someone in my “customer service” voice to get things done or hide my annoyance. However, this is my first in-class, for-credit job that has everything to do with me being able to graduate at the end of fall term 2022.

The hustle and bustle of a new job is always hard to adjust to and can be quite overwhelming. Rarely do you find yourself with people who actually teach you, who walk you through things properly, and who have a range of knowledge about the job, not just what they do individually. But, and stay with me here, what if those people existed? And you actually learn what you are supposed to do rather than making it up as you go?

The art of book publishing has always been an elusive pipe dream, mostly because I never really understood what happens and what the process really is. No, it’s not just sending your book off to the company and being told yes or no and having the book immediately go to print, which is what my naive mind thought. Here are a couple of things that the team has taught me, and what I get to do for the book we are publishing:

  1. The world of book publishing isn’t just about publishing books. Marketing, networking, designing, editing, and creating digital content are just a few of the things that happen for a book being published. It’s not just about putting the words on paper and sticking it in a few bookstores. A lot happens behind the scenes, and a lot more happens behind those scenes!
  2. Each manuscript is read by multiple people before it even goes to development. Your fate is never decided by just one person. In fact, everything is checked and double-checked before a manuscript goes to development.
  3. The lingo! I have been learning abbreviations and terms from day one. When I sat in on my first meeting, I was learning a brand new vocabulary, and to be honest, it was thrilling! At one point my manager stopped mid-sentence, realizing I had no idea what was happening, and went through every term she just used so I could understand. And now, learning as I go, I find myself using these terms when I talk about my day with my friends and family, and I also have to stop and explain these terms.
  4. The most important thing I have learned is that your team is everything. Everyone there pulls their weight and more because each person understands the importance of the job. Having deadlines and assignments while also having to be flexible with each setback is pretty difficult, but as a team, your goal is the same and everyone knows it.

I was assigned to a team that was in the beginning stages of the process and was working to find ways to promote their book, and it has been such a great learning experience with the grad students. As an undergrad still trying to figure out what she wants to do, this has been a great term.

table at Frankfurt Book Fair

What It’s Like to Study Book Publishing in Germany

When I stepped onto the plane headed to Stuttgart, Germany, I had no idea what to expect. I already had a little experience traveling in Europe, and even lived in England for a few months, but Germany was completely foreign to me. I boarded the eleven-hour flight with only a couple months worth of Duolingo practice under my belt and a passion for experiencing new cultures. I had no idea that the next few months would be an incredible adventure I would never forget and that would open me up to a whole new world of book publishing.

Germany is home to one of the most important book markets outside of the US and China. It publishes tens of thousands of new titles each year and sells thousands of foreign translation rights to countries around the world. I couldn’t comprehend the scale of importance and dedication of the publishing industry in Germany until I witnessed it myself. Unfortunately, it can be very easy to miss the significance of publishing in foreign markets when it comes to living here in the US, especially since only about 3 percent of all books published in the US are translated works. Studying in Germany made me realize just how important these translated works are and how severely lacking we are in this area.

In Germany and the rest of the world, rights and licenses are sold back and forth between publishers regularly; Germany buys and sells titles from Spain, France, Russia, China, Poland, Italy, and more. In the US, publishers are mainly focused on selling rights to these countries rather than buying from them. This creates an imbalance when it comes to the spread of ideas and culture through literature, and it only further contributes to the ignorance that many of us Americans have when it comes to cultures outside of the US.

As I learned more about the book market in Germany and around the world, mostly due to the Rights and Licensing course I was able to take as well as a trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair (the largest trade book fair in the world), I became more and more interested in the exchange of culture through the selling of foreign rights. Before leaving for Germany, I wasn’t sure where in book publishing I would end up. My time at Ooligan had given me an opportunity to work in editorial, marketing, social media, and more, but I didn’t know if becoming an editor or marketer was the right path for me. However, learning about foreign markets and rights selling has opened me up to a whole new side of publishing that I never thought about before, and I am now considering a career in foreign rights after I graduate.

My experience in Germany taught me many things, including how to make friends with people when you don’t speak the same language. I met people from all around the world, explored different cultures, learned some German, and developed a new global view when it comes to book publishing. I can now truly appreciate how essential it is to bring a more international perspective to publishing here in the US and how bringing more translated titles from around the world to our publishing markets is vital to fostering understanding and empathy within American readers. Studying publishing in Germany has given me invaluable insight that I will cherish forever, and that I can now share with my fellow classmates and the next generation of book publishers to come.

The words "fight today for a better tomorrow" written on a cardboard sign held by someone in a crowd

Remembering Michael Munk, Author of THE PORTLAND RED GUIDE

One year after his passing, Ooligan Press remembers and honors Michael Munk, author of The Portland Red Guide. The Portland Red Guide explores the history of social dissent, labor movements, and leftist politics in the City of Roses, illuminating stories and struggles often overlooked in your average history textbook. Like his book, Munk’s life and writings were intertwined with Portland’s political history.

Born in Prague in 1934, Munk and his family fled the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, arriving in Portland in 1939. His alma maters include Hillside School, Lincoln High School, Reed College, and the University of Oregon, where he earned an MA in political science. In the 1950s, Munk was involved in a variety of leftist political activities including opposing nuclear testing, fighting against the firing of Reed College professor Stanley Moore, and serving as vice president of the Young Democrats of Oregon.

Munk was forced to leave Oregon by the federal government in 1959. He moved to New York where he continued his education and earned a PhD in politics from New York University. Over the next twenty-five years, he taught political science. Munk retired early and returned to Portland in the 1990s.

In a 2016 interview with Ooligan Press, Munk shared how retirement gave him time to further explore his interest in radical history and why the City of Roses was an ideal place to do this.

“The idea of doing it in Portland was inspired by living near the birthplace of John Reed. My idea was that in the same way that all the conventional historic sites related to the dominant narrative of history are considered to be inspiring places (Mount Vernon, etc.), why not try to stimulate people by introducing them to sites that evoke a different side of history?”

The Portland Red Guide was published in 2007 and a second edition was released in 2011. The first edition of the book received considerable praise, as highlighted on its page at Powell’s City of Books.

“Michael Munk is the Lewis and Clark of Portland’s radical past, leading his readers on a voyage of discovery through a long-lost and wonderfully evocative historical terrain. I only wish the Red Guide had been around in the days when I was one of those Portland radicals he writes about with such knowledge (and affection).” — Maurice Isserman, author of If I Had a Hammer: The Death of the Old Left and the Birth of the New Left

The book includes maps and walking tours, bringing a strong sense of physicality to the exploration of Portland’s political past.

“Going to these addresses can bring to mind what has gone before and perhaps, encourage more resistance today. I had no idea so much has happened in Portland. And reading the names of people who struggled and whom I worked with brought up lots of memories.” — Sandra Ford, former wife of Black Panther Party leader Kent Ford.

Beyond this book, Munk’s writings were published in the Oregon Historical Quarterly, the Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Science & Society, Portland Monthly, and Reed Magazine.

As reported by the Oregonian, Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission president David Milholland expressed last year that “Mike Munk will be missed, and his enthusiasm and influence will be a guiding force in creative and historical circles far into the future.”