photo of full bookshelf with white arched text box reading "Inside Ooligan Press:), the Ooligan Press fishhook logo centered, white text box across bottom of image reading "The Project Team"

Inside Ooligan Press: Your Book’s Project Manager

After working closely with Ooligan’s Acquisitions department, you’ll build a relationship with your book’s Project Manager. The Project Manager is like a tour guide, chaperoning your manuscript through the publishing process. As various departments work with and around the manuscript, the Project Manager ensures things stay on schedule—or at least as close to on schedule as possible. The Project Manager doesn’t do it alone though; the book project team plays a critical role in getting your book into the hands of readers.

The team is responsible for crafting many essential documents. For example, with guidance from the Marketing department, the team creates the book’s marketing plan, which is the foundation of how the book will be promoted up to publication, during its launch, and for the approximate year after publication. This document also includes critical pieces of copy such as the back cover description, the author bio, and the book’s overall hook. The Project Manager is responsible for communicating the marketing plan to the author and guiding the team in readjusting as needed based on the author’s feedback.

As the marketing plan is implemented, the team is also responsible for creating the promotional materials themselves. Team members create social media posts, including copy and images, which Ooligan’s Social Media department posts across the press’s social media accounts. The team’s familiarity with the book—its subject matter, themes, characters, etc.—enables them to create meaningful and relevant social media posts. The team is like the book’s best friend; they’ve gotten to know the book well and want to see it be successful. The farther along we go into the book creation process, the more deadlines and tasks need to be juggled, so the Project Manager stays on top of communicating expectations about what deliverables are needed and when.

As the big day approaches, the team hones in on getting ready for the book launch. Think of your favorite book launch event. Maybe you loved it because of the free swag or the yummy snacks. Maybe the interview with the author was memorable, the questions diving deep into the who, what, and why of the book and its creator. Everything that goes into a book launch has to be planned ahead of time, and this is where the team and the Project Manager really have a chance to shine. Flyers and posters for the event, engaging questions for the Q & A, free goodies for the audience, and a space to actually hold the event—all of these things and more are the focus of the team and Project Manager in the months, week, days, and even hours leading up to the book launch. It’s normal to have a lot of questions as publication day approaches, and the Project Manager is still your go-to person to help you as the author before and on the day of your book launch.

After your book is finally out in the world, the hard work of the team and Project Manager continues to pay off as Ooligan posts about the book on social media and applies to book awards applicable to your book. Because Ooligan is a student-run press, the team and Project Manager will soon continue on their way, joining other book teams, participating in different classes, and graduating. Ooligan’s graduate program is only two years long, but in that time, each of us puts our heart and soul into making the books we work on the best they can be and helping our authors have the best publishing experience possible.

photo of full bookshelf with Ooligan fishhook logo centered. Arched white text box reads "Inside Ooligan Press" and straight white text box reads "Contracts and More"

Inside Ooligan Press: Your Manuscript is Accepted! Now What?

Note: This is part of the blog series “Inside Ooligan Press”, about how we take a manuscript from an idea to a professionally published book.

So, you wrote a killer query letter and submitted a proper proposal. You won over Acquisitions and we pitched your project to the press successfully, then we offered to publish your book: now what? For the sake of transparency and in an effort to demystify this crazy little thing called publishing, I humbly offer you an inside look at what you can expect when working with Ooligan Press.

Once you get notified that our pitch was successful, we enter into the contract negotiation phase of the process. We are a small, not-for-profit press that generally cannot offer author advances. However, authors are compensated for their work, receiving industry standard royalty rates for trade paperbacks based on cover price and units sold, paid out biannually after publication. The Publisher and author negotiate terms of the contract including dates and deadlines for revisions, the final manuscript and any additional materials, and publication, among other things. This process generally takes about two weeks, give or take, during which time it is encouraged that the author has a trustworthy individual review the contract with them.

Once the contract is signed, we will typically go straight to work with a light or heavy developmental edit, determined by the Acquisitions Editors when we evaluate your manuscript. As a teaching press, we accept manuscripts that are strong and show immense promise, but that offer learning opportunities for the members of the press. This includes the need for editorial work. Expect to do revisions! The Acquisitions Editors lead a team of editors in reading and analyzing your manuscript to determine what is working and what needs work based on our knowledge and experience. We craft an editorial letter full of our critiques, compliments, and suggestions for revision and deliver it to the author for review. We follow up with a phone call or video chat to discuss the letter if the author feels it would be beneficial to do so. The DE process takes about a month, sometimes more. Then the author gets to work on revisions, for which they also get about a month to complete, though timelines may vary based on the project.

During development, your title may change. Sometimes it is necessary to tweak the title, or change it altogether, but not always. Acquisitions Editors must consider best practices for title generation and consider whether yours is appropriate for the genre and market, the literal and connotative meaning of the words or phrases used, and whether it encapsulates or represents the content found within the book. If we feel a change is necessary, we provide the author some alternative titles to consider and deliver them with the editorial letter. While the author’s input is taken into account, the final title is decided upon by the editors.

While we are hard at work developmentally editing your manuscript, you will be completing Ooligan’s Author Questionnaire: a document that will be used by all departments to produce and promote your book. While this questionnaire is lengthy and can feel slightly invasive, the author can of course choose which questions they will and will not answer depending on their comfort level.

Upon delivery of the revised manuscript and questionnaire, the author is then introduced to their Project Manager: the person who will see the project through the rest of the way. They are responsible for keeping the production of your book on track and are your primary point of contact for questions and concerns after acquisition and development.

Your manuscript will undergo copyediting by a team of editors, led by Ooligan’s Managing Editor. Depending on the needs of your manuscript, this may be a light, medium, or heavy copyedit. We use The Chicago Manual of Style as our primary style guide. This process may take one to two months depending on the time of year and the current stages our other titles are in. The author then receives the edited manuscript and reviews and implements the editorial suggestions, for which they typically get a month to complete.

While these editorial processes take place, your book’s dedicated project team, led by your Project Manager, has already begun their work crafting the sales hook, back cover copy, and so much more. They work with the managers of each department, Acquisitions, Editing, DEI, Digital, Design, Marketing, Publicity, and Social Media, to create a master plan to produce a quality book and launch it into the world. But wait, there’s more.

Be sure to check out future installments of this blog for a look at more stages of the production and promotion process at Ooligan Press!

photo of author getting book signed by Ann Patchett in 2016 at Powell's Cedar Hills location

A Look at How the Pandemic Impacted Book Events

The COVID-19 pandemic certainly changed the world when it came knocking on our doors in 2020. Things we didn’t expect to change did, while other things like in-person gatherings stopped altogether.

Before the pandemic, I attended author events monthly, sometimes weekly. I went for various reasons, mainly under the umbrellas of personal and business purposes. I’d refresh the webpage daily to check for anything new. Seeing the whole next month’s events released, it’s like Christmas coming early. I’d often see favorite authors of mine, so I’d attend solely to gush and get my book(s) signed. Other times while I’d see someone like Celeste Ng, for example, who is wildly popular for her title Little Fires Everywhere, I’d also see an opportunity. Being a part of the Powell’s community means that you have endless possibilities to meet all types of authors: big and small. With the release of Little Fires Everywhere, I got two books signed and hosted a very popular bookstagram giveaway. And there were the times I attended purely for selfish reasons, like when Ann Patchett came on her Commonwealth tour. Authors don’t just travel anywhere, and I was lucky Powell’s was on her tour.

Powell’s Books has slowly gotten back to in-person, though only the Burnside and Cedar Hills are hosting events based on their events calendar. Hawthorne is already the smallest store, and the staff would have to reappropriate the middle grade section in order to hold events there. Not only is losing sales potential harmful for business, but I can understand why, with the new norm of being COVID-19 conscious, they’d choose to avoid hosting the public in a small space. But for the downtown (Burnside) and Cedar Hills locations, events are back, and out of the twenty-six book events in April of 2022, ten were hosted via Zoom, and sixteen were in-person events. Powell’s went virtual with their authors early on, but it wasn’t entirely virtual last year since they started welcoming people at one of their locations.

While Powell’s is the Madison Square Garden of book event “arenas,” Broadway Books in NE Portland is a charming little shop run mainly by its owners. Their May 2022 calendar boasts two in-person author events and an all-day anniversary party sure to be packed with fun and book-related sales. Broadway books weren’t hosting events much of the pandemic and recently started up again in March 2022.

It’s hard to say how the pandemic will change the future of book events. As it stands, the occupied seats feel less, and some people are still wearing masks, cautious of sitting for a period of time near others. Comparing the in-person versus Zoom events, it didn’t seem to matter where an author lived or was traveling from to determine the type of event; authors were traveling from Maine to the Burnside location, and authors who had to travel much less joined via Zoom. For Ooligan Press, our first in-person event was in April 2022. We had a great turnout with a mix of people wearing masks.

During the height of the pandemic, we learned to adapt in many ways. And I, for one, am very glad to see that author events survived. There might always be a hybrid option for people, but giving accessibility will always be a great thing for a couple of reasons, like not being able to attend due to location or being autoimmune-compromised. Author events have historically been exclusively for book lovers in the vicinity of the hosting bookstore. With COVID-19 came many hardships and accommodations, but with resilience and great technology like Zoom, we can all hear from our next favorite author whether or not we’re nearby.

Ann Patchett author signing

Photo of Rachael Renz getting books signed by Ann Patchett at Cedar Hills Powell’s location