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!

woman wearing glasses at computer

Why Would You Want To Work For Someone Else’s Publishing Company?

With an ongoing global pandemic, it is no surprise that many individuals are looking into options that allow them to work from home. In the publishing industry, freelancers are common and many publishing companies even contract freelancers for specific projects or needs. With the added appeal of making your own schedule and essentially managing your own business, why wouldn’t you want to be your own boss?

Employees who are hired as full-time workers of publishing companies usually have several benefits in doing so. For many individuals, the structure and financial security of the nine-to-five office job is preferred; not to mention, many of these jobs allow for health insurance, paid time off, matching retirement plans, and so forth. These employees are often paid hourly or salaried pay and don’t have to deal with the added responsibility of keeping track of and withholding their own taxes from their income. While freelancers do have the option of hiring an accountant or bookkeeper to keep track of that side of the business, working for a company has that built in the structure of the business already.

Even with all the benefits of working for an already established publishing company, according to a blog from Udacy (a technological career training site): Statista data projects that in 2027, 86.5 million Americans will be freelancing and be 50.9 percent of the total workforce. The draw is not only due to individuals and companies pivoting due to the COVID-19 demands that began in early 2020. That same Udacy blog states that the numbers have been steadily increasing over the past decade or so. For many, a huge draw is being able to be in control of their own work/life balance. There is, no doubt, a level of freedom that comes with which clients and projects you take on, how many you take, what kind of work you take on, when you are able to schedule appoints—both personal and professional, when and where you work, and generally being able to call the shots on your career and professional life.

While it does take a lot of “behind-the-scenes” work to network and find the work and the clients in order to sustain your financial needs and make ends meet, many individuals are drawn to the challenge and the desire to learn all aspects of what is essentially running their own business. Many business and entrepreneurial start-ups happen as a result of freelancers who start with the vision of what they want their careers to look like and build from there.

When it comes down to a decision as to whether or not freelance work is right for you, it truly varies from person to person. Take stock of your career goals, look at what you want out of life and what is important to you. Many individuals are able to do some combination of contracted, employed, and/or freelance work. If you are wanting to do a bit of both, just make sure to check with your employer to make sure that any of the projects you take on are not considered a conflict of interest. Otherwise, do what works best for you and your work/life balance and professional development.

Spines 101: Why Book People Should Care About Ergonomics

Today’s consumers crave to feel understood, and that includes readers. Although the romantic image of Elizabeth Bennet with her back against a tree, bent gracefully over her favorite book, may be what we all hope we look like when we’re reading, the reality is more likely to include a) a contorted body in an armchair, b) a desk and a head leaning heavily forward on one hand while the other hand maintains pressure on the open book, or c) some version of reading in bed, where way too many muscles are unconsciously engaged. Whatever your usual reading position, you have likely experienced the feeling of frustration accompanied by the thought, I’ve been reading in this terrible position for two hours and am fairly sure I now need physical therapy. Most often, pain develops in the cervical spine, which is the place—like the spine of your book—holding everything together. How can we promote a positive book culture when reading is associated with a negative physical experience?

Assuming the publishing world were to accept responsibility for leading the movement in ergonomic reading solutions to save spines everywhere, a few points need addressing. First, we need to be aware of what the field of ergonomics looks like today. Ergonomics in the workplace and home offices, as well as in mattress and pillow design for sleeping, have dominated the conversation thus far. Second, we should identify the relevant tips and products that could be useful for readers. Although this may seem obvious, readers are unlikely to think they are doing harm to their spines unless they become the targeted audience. Third, we must innovate. We need to work for the reader in the design department. My focus is on the neck pain that 13 percent of Americans are experiencing right now (according to my main resource for this post, a blog by physicians called Spine-health). Other health concerns connected with reading for long periods of time, whether in print or digital format, include eye fatigue, insufficient blood flow, and improper breathing. By recognizing these issues and addressing them to the best of our ability, we can ensure reading moves into the future as a healthy activity.

Design solutions to neck pain associated with reading range from prioritizing reader comfort and accessibility in regular decision-making to creating brand-new product features, digital services, and partnerships that support the reader. Is the book wide enough to be held open without strain? Would a spiral-bind or Coptic stitch binding allow the book to lie flatter? To give advice on reading positions, could publishers create a free insert or digital tool connected with the sale of their books? The question I want to highlight, however, is this: Is the text readable from a healthy distance? In this area, ebooks hold an advantage with the option of increasing text size. Printed books should be designed with readability in mind for all, rather than just printing extra-large text versions that can cause embarrassment. This simple solution could allow readers to prop their books up at eye-level, on their knees, their dog, a pile of pillows, an angled desk, or, gasp, a reading stand. While the world has been shocked by the effects of “text neck” on our youth, the unhealthy habit of flexing the neck forward to read and respond to messages on a cell phone, avid readers have been dealing with the same condition for centuries. (Seriously, check out Nature’s Potent Methods, circa 1899, page 538). Watch the Spine-health video describing the effects of text neck, and you’ll understand why it’s preferable to keep just one bowling ball balanced over your shoulders.

Publishers need to make themselves experts on the reader in order to stay in competition with Amazon, other used booksellers, and all the free material available on the web. We cannot ignore the physical condition and habits of the reader. Showing people we know what issues make it difficult to read as much as they would like, then providing advice and design solutions, will help readers to feel good about investing in businesses that put their interests first.