Inside Social Media at Ooligan Press

Most of us have some sort of feeling about social media. But whether we love it or hate it, there’s no denying that it’s an important way for authors to reach their audiences. At Ooligan Press, we have a set of best practices for supporting our authors and their books through social media channels. As part of the “Inside Ooligan” series, here’s a look at what the Ooligan Press Online Content Manager does for our books in production. As with many elements of book production, it starts earlier than you might expect—about six months before launch. Here are some of the key milestones and tools that we use.

Social Media Strategy Document (SMSD)

The SMSD is the customized go-to social media guide for each book. It is a combination of branding, marketing, communication, and author/illustrator information. The strategy document gives a timeline for different phases of social media engagement (announcements, awareness, pre-orders, launches, and sustainment). It also collects information such as the author’s social media handles, types of posts for each platform, who we think would love to read this book, and ideas for engaging with audiences about the title. We start on this document about six months before publication, and collaborate to keep it updated through the launch phase of the book.

Campaign Schedule

Each book gets its own focused set of posts, which we call a “campaign”. The campaign is coordinated with objectives for each phase as mentioned above. For example, about 120 days before the book’s pub date, we share a well-designed announcement post. That is the prompt to start posting weekly content about the book, to generate interest, and grow its audience in the pre-order months prior to launch. As we get closer to the pub date, the pace of posts will increase and we start looking for posts from the author to share. Some of the tasks are dependent on book milestones—for example, we won’t have an author unboxing video until the printed copies arrive. The timeline for the social media campaign is integrated into the Ooligan Press Production Timeline template, so that the book’s project team and author know what to expect.

Third-Party Scheduler and Bulk Upload Sheets

Ooligan Press has several goals with social media. We want to connect audiences to our books, share information about Portland State University and our program, support and engage with other regional independent publishers, and be a voice for increased representation in publishing. That’s a lot of moving pieces and varied content! So we use a third-party social media scheduler to help us stay on track. We are currently using Buffer, which allows us to schedule content ahead of time, and also provides some key analytics for different campaigns and types of content.

To ensure that our posts look good and are easy to understand, and to maintain some consistency with many different folks designing content, we have an established approval process for social media items. Like many organizations, we use Bulk Upload Sheets to organize draft posts. Our Design Manager and Copy Chief are then easily able to approve posts or suggest edits. Afterword, the Online Content Manager can find everything that needs to be scheduled in one place. The Design Manager also provides a color palette, fonts, and approved images to create social media content for each book (drawn from the cover). This helps everyone stay consistent with imagery and makes the book’s content easy to identify visually.

Engagement with Authors and Author’s Followers

One of the most important things that we do in social media as a publisher is to amplify and support an author’s own social media presence. We always ask authors to tag us, share photos, and be as present as they can in this process. It comes very easily to some authors and others aren’t so involved, but audiences are really eager to know who is behind these beautiful covers and they love to see “behind the scenes!” While actively working with authors, the Ooligan social media team holds giveaways of advance copies or other book-related swag, posts live from events, and answers questions and comments about the book. We have also collaborated with outside publicists that authors hire. This process doesn’t end after a book launches and we are always delighted to share and boost an author’s social media efforts.

All publishers want to generate interest and excitement about each of their books, and to help readers find the books that are right for them. Social media is a key piece of that effort at Ooligan Press. Take a look at our social media accounts to see these tools in action! What are the most challenging or important parts about this process? We’d love to hear from you.

The Ins and Outs of the Publicity Department at Ooligan

Like many Oolies before me, when I first started the graduate program in Book Publishing at Portland State University, I thought I would be most interested in editorial. In fact, besides being an editor, I didn’t really know anything about the other jobs that existed in the publishing industry. I had a lot to learn!

After learning more about the industry from different classes and through my work as a team member on Ooligan’s YA title, Love, Dance & Egg Rolls by Jason Tanamor, I discover that I had a penchant for marketing and publicity. I applied to a few different managerial positions, but I was thrilled to be assigned my top choice: Publicity Manager!

So, what is book publicity? And how does it work at Ooligan Press?

Here’s the basics:

What is Book Publicity?

A book publicist’s job is to serve as the liaison between the author and the media with the goal of acquiring press coverage for the book and/or author. Publicity is often defined as “earned media,” being something that generates attention without necessarily paying for it.

How Does it Work at Ooligan?

The Publicity Department is relatively new to Ooligan—I’m only the third person to hold the title of Publicity Manager! The Publicity Department is responsible for:

Press Kits

Press kits provide information to the media on our books and authors, which saves media editors time in research and preparation. Press kits should be easily accessible, have consistent messaging, be author-centric, and be kept updated like a resume. For more about press kits, check out this blog on The Anatomy of a Press Kit or this blog on How to Write an Effective Press Release.

Review Requests

Review requests are just that—requests for reviews! We send out review requests to different media outlets, bloggers, bookstagrammers, authors, and book reviewers. For more about review requests, check out this blog on writing review requests, or this blog on what to do about reviews!

Launch Events

Launch events can be held in a variety of ways, and there have been many different types of launches with Ooligan and our authors—from events at pubs and bookstores to virtual events! At Ooligan, our launch events are about giving the students and the authors a chance to celebrate together. To get an idea of how to plan a successful launch party, check out this blog, or for a look at what we’ve learned from a year of hosting virtual book launch events and some helpful advice from past Project Managers, check out this blog!


It’s Publicity’s responsibility to organize and apply for awards for all of our books! There are a few awards we generally apply to, like the Oregon Book Award and the Foreword INDIES, but project teams will also gather other viable options, sometimes based on things like genre or author identity. To learn more about the importance of awards, check out this blog!

Author Events

It’s also the Publicity Department’s responsibility to submit our authors for events such as The Portland Book Festival and The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) Fall Tradeshow. The publicity manager fills out submission forms and writes cover letters pitching our books and authors to be featured at these events.

IPS Updates

If our books or our authors receive any publicity—reviews, events, interviews, awards, etc.—the Publicity Department updates our distributor, Ingram.

Some Final Thoughts.

  • Publicity is about cultivating authentic attention for our authors and our books.
  • Something I love about publicity is that we’re receiving recognition and validation for our authors, our books, and Ooligan Press!
  • In a way, finding the right media outlets to reach the right audience can be a bit like matchmaking.
  • At Ooligan, we’re passionate about our books, so it makes marketing and publicizing them easy!
Bookshelf in background. Text in in foreground reads "Inside ooligan press: production schedules".

The Production Schedule at Ooligan Press

One of the most common questions we get about publishing is this: why does it take so long to publish a book? A typical production cycle for a traditional publisher is between nine months and two years. (The length of time can vary depending on the size of the publishing house and its staff, how far out the acquisitions calendar is planned, what type of book is being published, and many other factors.) Let’s take a look at what goes into that time, using our own production schedule at Ooligan Press as an example.

First, we need to find and acquire a manuscript. (You can read some insights about that process here and here. Acquisitions is an ongoing process at Ooligan Press; we publish four books a year, based around the academic calendar of Portland State University. Usually, our fall title is non-fiction, we publish one literary fiction in the winter, and then we have two titles in the spring—one YA and one in partnership with the Multnomah Library Writers’ Project. Of course, that schedule sometimes shifts, and like many businesses, we are still working to catch up and get back on track from the effects of the pandemic shutdown in 2020 and 2021.

Once we have our manuscript chosen, it goes into production according to a very detailed schedule. There are lots of different project management tools out there; at Ooligan, we use a template to create a shared spreadsheet for each title. The spreadsheet is coded with date dependencies and a “work-back” schedule. That means that every single task associated with the title (no matter how small) is listed and assigned a date for completion. It also means that we have a good overall view on how the tasks interface with each other, when each milestone must be met, and what happens if any of the puzzle pieces are delayed. At our press, we have identified about 230 discrete actions that need to be completed for each title across different departments, including Acquisitions, Editorial, DEI, Operations, Digital, Design, Marketing, Publicity, and Online Content.

Many publishing tasks begin as soon as a title is chosen for the book, nearly a year ahead of the publication date. Long-range tasks include marketing and publicity, which start in earnest about nine months ahead of publication; cover and interior design, which must be done about ten months before the publication date after all editorial tasks are done; and metadata entry, which occurs at least nine months before publication. All these different jobs are needed to support the actual production and distribution of each book. It’s possible to compress some of these timelines, particularly if a publisher is working on a book that is particularly topical or time-sensitive. But many of these necessary items are external to the publisher, and can’t be expedited.

By the time we are four to six months out from the “book birthday,” most of the production tasks are done and the files are being prepped for printing and e-book production. Lead times for printing and shipping books have been steadily increasing in the past few years and it’s crucial that we build in a cushion of time, in case of misprints or shipping errors. In the remaining time, we continue to work on publicity, planning the book launch, and conducting a social media campaign. This is also typically when a book project team transitions into working on a new title . . . and the cycle continues.

Book production is complex, with many small but critical tasks, and many dependencies that add up to many months of work. As a student-run press with a different “staff” each term, using a standardized shared production calendar helps keep us on track over the long process of bringing a book to life.

A man and woman standing on either side of a stand-up board filled with sticky notes.

How Authors Can Help Market Their Book

The process of getting your book published with Ooligan Press can feel both exciting and nerve wracking in equal measures. To demystify some of the process and help our authors understand what the process will look like, let’s talk about what happens after you’ve received the great news that Ooligan Press has acquired your project. So what’s next?

After your manuscript has been accepted by Ooligan, following our democratic pitch process, your first point of contact is with the two Acquisitions managers. In the following weeks after the contract negotiations have completed with the publisher, you work with the Acquisitions managers in the first stages of editing your book. At this stage, you’ll also be filling out Ooligan’s author questionnaire, which will be an incredibly useful tool when it comes to implementing the marketing strategy for your book. Depending on the scope of your project, you may do two rounds of developmental revisions before sending your completed work back to the Acquisitions managers to review.

Once the hand-off from Acquisitions is made following your revisions, your first point of contact will primarily be with your project manager (PM). Your PM has a team at their disposal to assist from the beginning stages of the production cycle, all the way to until its publication. For example, your PM will track down potential contacts that may be willing to write a blurb or a review of your book. At this stage, it’s very helpful to share any ideas that you may have with regards to said contacts, such as other writer friends or people with a social media presence. Additionally, you’re free to share with your PM your ideas about the marketing strategy for your book. If that sounds scary, fear not, and read on!

So, how do you become your own book’s best advocate? While your PM and book team are here to help you, it definitely doesn’t hurt to be present in your book’s marketing strategy. And while it helps to have a platform established for you to utilize, it’s perfectly alright if you don’t. What if you aren’t comfortable with social media? Like anything else, flexing your social media skills takes practice, and it’s a skill that can help you in the long run. To get some ideas, do some light research on some of your favorite books and see what their marketing copy looks like. What about their authors? What do their social media profiles look like? Start small and work your way up to feeling comfortable posting. Aim to have a balance between posts related to your book and everything else.

As Ooligan gears up to prepare your book for publication, so should you be gearing up on social media to get the word out about your book. Make sure to engage your audience in any way you can, whether it’s by striking up a conversation or posting about interesting topics that relate to your book.

Another great tip is to look to your immediate community. You don’t want to just be shouting in an oversaturated market. Your local community is a great place to find people to support you. One way is to look into local writer groups or other community groups specific to your area. If you’ve got a book about great hiking spots around Portland, for example, you’d search out relevant groups that could represent your target audience. It’s good to brainstorm at this point, and if you get stuck, your PM is a good resource for coming up with some ideas of who to reach out to.

You can also shout out other authors. For instance, you can promote other authors, who in turn will show appreciation for your buzz by promoting your book right back. That way, you’re also building a network of other authors who can help you get connected to other bookish people, or people who would be interested in your book that might not otherwise hear about it.

Lastly, make sure you are genuine. Insincerity can be sniffed out from a mile away, and you know your book better than anyone. Don’t doubt your own expertise and get out there! Don’t forget to have fun along the way, too. Publishing a book is an exciting process, and you almost have your book in your hands!

a hand holding a gold-tasseled, black mortarboard graduation hat in front of a university building

The MFA: Helpful in Getting Published?

Each year, over twenty thousand writers apply to one of the 350 MFA creative writing programs available in the United States. The MFA curriculum presents writers with opportunities to hone their craft, workshop with other writers, and receive mentoring from faculty. What’s more, many aspiring authors see an MFA as their golden ticket to being published. In fact, in a study of some Oregon MFA students, 84 percent said that getting published was either “important” or “very important” to their program goals.

But does an MFA actually increase writers’ chances of getting published?

In 2017, Lit Hub released an article called “MFA by the Numbers, on the Eve of AWP.” The data, which appropriately reads more like a poem than a data set, includes this witty but thought-provoking statistic:

    Estimated number of books sold by Danielle Steel, best-selling author alive: eight hundred million.

    Number of MFAs held by Ms. Steel: zero.

Danielle Steel isn’t alone; other prolific authors without an MFA include George R. R. Martin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, Colleen Hoover, and Nicholas Sparks, to name a few.

Are these authors, prolific though they are, anomalies in the world of published authors?

Last November, the National Book Foundation (NBF) presented the 73rd National Book Awards. As per their mission statement, one of the NBF’s goals is to “celebrate the best literature published in the United States.” The authors recognized by this prestigious literary award are the best of the best, masters of their craft. Is this level of mastery achieved through the rigors and experiences of an MFA program? Probably not; of the ninety-two winners of the National Book Award since 2020, only twenty, or 27 percent, have an MFA.

Another metric comes from the ongoing research of D. A. Hosek (himself a published MFA graduate from the University of Tampa). Hosek’s data includes authors published or appearing in the notables sections of the last four issues of five prize anthologies. Of those 5,459 published authors, 2,804, or 51 percent, are confirmed MFA students or graduates. While this percentage is higher than National Book Award winners with an MFA, it is still incredibly low, especially considering that one of the main goals of most every MFA program is to help students become published authors.

These numbers, while not comprehensive, still make a compelling case: having an MFA doesn’t help a writer get published.

So what is an MFA good for?

Poet Arielle Greenberg makes this argument:

    I’d be thrilled if we lived in a nation . . . where people gathered in local cafes and plazas to recite great verse and breathe it in, but the truth is, in America, this happens primarily in the classrooms and reading series and conferences and living rooms of MFA students, alumni, and faculty—and for this we should be thankful.

Similarly, in a 2021 survey conducted on some current and alumni MFA students in Oregon, becoming a published author accounted for only 32 percent of student responses. The next highest goal was building a “community of writers,” a goal reflecting Greenberg’s idealistic vision of literary gatherings.

Still, if the goal is to become a better writer, having an MFA might not be the way to go. It certainly doesn’t directly increase writers’ chances of getting published or, once published, receiving an award as prestigious as the National Book Award.

In his book On Writing, Stephen King advises writers,

    You don’t need writing classes or seminars any more than you need this book. . . . You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.

The real learning, King goes on to say, happens “with the study door closed”—not in an MFA classroom.

Two women on a picnic blanket, one reading, on a fall day

5 Books about Strong Women, by Women

On June 24, 2022, Roe v. Wade—the legislation that allowed women’s access to abortion as a right in healthcare—was overturned. Since then, communities of women—with and without uteruses—have been scrambling for ways to support one another during these bleak times. For some, especially for those who feel the impact of the overturn in our personal lives, a good story with a strong woman protagonist to ignite the fire within and remind us of the strength that we possess is just what we need. Strength comes in many forms and this book list explores many of them.

For this list, I am presenting to you five books about women, by women, so that as we explore these forms of strength, we too are supporting fellow women.

    1. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This beautiful creative nonfiction book is written by writer and scientist Robin Wall Kimmerer who is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. In this breathtaking book, Kimmerer’s ethereal prose braids stories of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the science that surrounds us in our everyday lives, and the never ending offerings that plants have within their medicinal properties. A delicious treat.

    2. Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur

This autobiography takes us back to the 1970s when political activist and Black Panther Assata Shakur—godmother of Tupac Shakur—finds herself in custody after a tantalizing battle with the FBI and local police. She was incarcerated for four years before flimsy evidence led to her conviction. Assata’s story is unlike anyone else’s and her personal account of the Black Liberation movement of the 1970s will teach you the strength of Black womanhood and motherhood and the reason to fight for police abolition.

    3. Heartbroke by Chelsea Bieker

Bieker is Portland State’s very own MFA graduate who debuted with her book Godshot last year. While her debut had a very strong female protagonist, I’m recommending her short story collection, Heartbroke, in this article. Why? Because this story collection hosts a variety of strong women who come in all shapes and sizes. From a houseless mother in a shelter to teen girls in an online game that plays on their fate, and even a sex phone operator who chases around a cowboy in the pursuit of a better life, this is an enthralling collection.

    4. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

In The Poet X, Dominican American poet and author Elizabeth Acevedo introduces Xiomara Batista into the world—and I must say, my life has been better ever since. In this novel written entirely in profound poetic prose, Xiomara finds refuge in her own poetry while navigating through a tough teenagehood where the church is law and her Mami’s word is God. Xiomara encompasses all the strength I strive for in life.

    5. The Dragons, the Giants, the Women: A Memoir by Wayétu Moore

Last but not least, Moore’s creative memoir The Dragons, the Giants, the Women shares the gripping details of when the First Liberian Civil War broke out and how she and her family escaped. This book leads up to the life she has built for herself here in the United States and shares intimate details of the strife that she overcame in between. If you are ever second-guessing the power to behold in a woman who faces crisis, this book will convince you that Moore, and women like her, can achieve anything that is possible in a show of true resilience.

Artist copying a sketch

Who is Responsible for Plagiarism?

In literary news we often see scandals of plagiarism:

As a topic that has been brought up to each and every one of us in school as morally unsound and academically criminal, why do we then so often see this issue in the publishing world—one that is centered around creativity, originality, and authenticity. Who, in a field that is so ripe for plagiaristic opportunities, is responsible for catching this act before that piece of writing is published—or republished, rather. Is it the author’s duty not to copy/paste or is it the publisher’s duty to make sure they are checking that the writing has not been recreated without credit before publishing it?

Like most ethical questions, it’s a large gray area, but I think the clearest answer is both. All parties involved are responsible for making sure plagiarized work gets stopped in its tracks. The author needs to make sure they are not stealing content and if borrowing from a source, must then cite that source properly in order for it to be clear to their readers where this information or work originally comes from. They need to make sure they are not taking credit for someone else’s work. This is the first opportunity to stop plagiarism. The next opportunity is with the editors and publishers. Though a level of trust would ideally be involved between authors and editors that the work being presented is the author’s own, it is always important to check the content that is being put out for the sake of all involved: the editors, the publishers, the writers, and the original creator of the content. It’s part of the publisher’s job to make sure what they are putting out does not infringe upon other creators and their hard work. In this way, there should be many moments in which a piece of work is being checked for plagiarism so that it doesn’t slip through the cracks. However, just as we have seen in the sources above, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes plagiarized work slips through the cracks. So, how can we do a better job of preventing this?

To help stop plagiarism, the first thing to do is understand what it is. Plagiarism is taking someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own (Merriam-Webster). This can look like a word-for-word recreation or paraphrasing. Even though it has been reworded, if the message is the same, the idea has been stolen. Once you have cited your source though, you are no longer plagiarizing. All it takes is one quick line with the original creator’s name, even a small parenthetical or the added use of quotation marks, to communicate to your readers the origins of this idea and to clarify that you are not taking credit for it.

For publishers, fact-checking is a fundamental part of the job and there’s even the option to hire a fact-checker who specializes in just that. There are also plagiarism checkers available such as with Grammarly,, or more refined options to help speed up the process by using algorithms and databases. We have lots of technology to help us, especially with the internet being so expansive, and it can feel like finding an exceptionally small needle in a very large and ever expanding haystack.

Lastly, a good rule to help better understand when you no longer need to worry about plagiarizing is the common rule that if the information can be found in three or more sources, then we can consider it common knowledge. However, when in doubt, it is always safer to cite your source just to be careful. An extra added line on where you got your knowledge never hurts.

Plagiarism won’t completely stop unfortunately. However, we can hold others accountable when they plagiarize, educate them so they know how not to do it to begin with, and be sure to always double check the work before presenting it as our own.