Gray background with a Venn diagram that has three circles overlapping. The logos for each app (Goodreads, Storygraph and TBR - Bookshelf) are in one circle of the Venn diagram. The name that corresponds to its logo is below it.

Two Alternatives to Goodreads

Bookworms unite! Keeping track of your to be read (TBR) pile has never been easier. It all comes down to picking the right app(s) for you and your reading needs. It has never been easier to access apps that allow you to do all those things and much more.

A very popular go-to option for book tracking is Goodreads. Goodreads is popular for a lot of readers because they can sync their Kindle e-readers or account to the app and keep track of books being completed as well as access to any Kindle notes and highlights. Other enjoyable features include: reading challenges, personalized recommendations, want to read lists, reviewing books with star ratings, and tracking progress while reading. Goodreads is available on IOS and Android.

While Goodreads is still a fan favorite amongst the reading community, there are other options that have similar features plus extras. The first alternative is Storygraph, which was created and is owned by a black woman. Storygraph offers users the ability to import their Goodreads data to avoid having to manually upload all books, reviews, and ratings. Storygraph also offers features such as: mood based reading statistics, a yearly reading and page goal, ability to update information on books (the ISBN, the format, upload a cover, etc.), various graphs based on reading habits, option to mark a book as did not finish (DNF), buddy reading without spoilers, and reviewing books with star ratings (including half stars). The creator of Storygraph is constantly making updates to make the app as user-friendly as possible. Storygraph is available on IOS and Android.

The other alternative is TBR – Bookshelf, which was designed to allow the user to create their own book collection within the app. While this app is more individually focused, users can still set yearly reading goals, have reading statistics with charts, and import their Goodreads data. Unique to this app, users have the capability to annotate their books with notes, which is a popular feature for many readers that annotate their physical copies. Also, specific to this app, users can create knowledge quizzes to help with remembering the content of the book they had read. TBR – Bookshelf is available on IOS.

While these three apps have a wide variety of pros, there are also some cons to consider when selecting one that best suits your needs. Goodreads can be difficult to navigate when getting started and it does not offer personalized data in the form of infographics. Storygraph is a newer app so it has yet to gain enough popularity to compete with other book tracking apps that have been around longer. Storygraph’s community connection is limited; users can see the people they are friends with and following but finding others outside of that requires a little extra effort. TBR – Bookshelf lacks community connection as well, since it is more focused on the user curating their own libraries (though users may wish to share their libraries with others).

No matter what you may be searching for in a book tracking app, there is something for everyone. Whether you want an app that is simple with high community presence, user-friendly with graphs for all of your reading moods, or helps you fulfill your librarian dreams, keeping track of your never-ending TBR pile is easy with so many options.

Ooligan’s Archive: The Hidden Final Step of Publishing a Book

Publication day has finally arrived. Our project teams, managers, and department leads have spent the last twelve to twenty-four months shepherding your book through all the critical processes necessary to turn a manuscript into the product readers pick up off the shelf. The book has been edited, proofread, designed, marketed, posted about on social media, and submitted for awards. Onto the next project, right?

Not quite.

Welcome to the hidden final step of publishing a book: the archive! If you’re an author, you can probably relate to the feeling of having forty slightly different drafts of the same manuscript on your computer, all with the promise of ‘final final FINAL’ version tacked onto the end of the file name. It’s no different here at Ooligan. In fact, we have an entire shared drive full of a book project’s various components in all their original, edited, proofread, edited again, and finally finished forms. In 2022, a few brave Ooligan students worked closely with our publisher to formalize the process of preserving files in a way that was organized and easy to browse. This led to the archive checklist, a way to ensure we had all the materials we needed to keep a book project accessible after publication.

Ideally, archiving takes place within a month of publication so that all the project team members are still around to furnish the necessary documents. This is more important nowadays than ever before because of policies Google enforces for file storage. If a student graduates and lets their account go inactive, Google will begin to delete content from accounts that have been inactive for two years. For Ooligan, the consequence can be losing years of institutional knowledge and project materials.

To get a sense of the enormity of Ooligan’s archival process, let’s take a peek at how we go about archiving the design files. These materials are the most difficult to replace and often the first files we try to collect. A book has much more than just the cover and text files. There’s the files we send to the printer, the files we upload for print on demand, and the files for the advance reader copies. The front cover alone is saved in several different formats: print-optimized, web-optimized, and two different high-resolution versions. The same can be said of the full jacket files. We also have to consider any images or assets that went into the creation of the cover or interior. For example, the font on the cover of Love, Dance & Egg Rolls was created by the designer, so we archived the font files with the cover files. When the design portion of the archive is populated, you end up with something like twenty different files in three different folders. And of course, you need the original packaged file in case you need to make any changes, from correcting typos in the text to adding a blurb or award information to the front cover.

The other reason it’s important to start with design files is to get them out of the design drive, which is often stuffed to capacity because design files are so large. Our design managers are constantly fighting to stretch that 1 percent of available megabytes left in their drive before Google’s threats win out and we aren’t able to create or save new files at all.

When I took over as the Operations Publisher’s Assistant, I had no idea how much time I would spend acting as a detective, tracking down missing files. It’s at times tedious and overwhelming, but a necessary part of our process. Archiving as a practice preserves and honors the hard work we put into publishing books at Ooligan. It allows us to stay connected with our history, our challenges, and our triumphs. But it also guides how we move forward, serving as a foundation for us to continually investigate and improve our processes.

Scrabble tiles spelling Order and Chaos

Staying Organized as a Publishing Professional: The Inbox Zero Method

It can be difficult to stay organized as a publishing professional. At Ooligan Press, we publish four titles throughout the year, and each title is at a different point in the publishing process at any given time. With multiple ongoing projects, dates, and deadlines to keep track of, it can often feel overwhelming.

Personally, I have found a lot of success in the “inbox zero” method as a way to stay on top of everything. This term, coined by productivity expert Merlin Mann, refers to the act of keeping your email inbox as clear as possible in order to stay on top of your tasks. Googling “inbox zero” will provide you with many different articles, lists, and recommendations on the components of inbox zero and how to achieve it. My version of this method, which is a very very simplified version of Mann’s suggestions, is to try to have very few emails in my inbox at any given time.

I think of the inbox zero method as a way of Marie Kondo-ifying my email. In her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Kondo talks about how clutter in our home can lead us to feeling mentally cluttered, or weighed down. On the flip side, a clean, organized, clutter-free space will help someone feel mentally clear. Kondo believes that a clear space is innately satisfying and, while I’m sure this isn’t the case for everyone, I strongly agree.

I have found that a full inbox makes it difficult for me to focus on what I need to work on. A full inbox of more than ten emails clutters my brain and leaves me feeling scattered. To fix this, I sort my emails into folders as soon as I complete any/all tasks associated with that email. That way, the only emails remaining in my inbox relate to tasks I have yet to complete or projects that still require action from me. If a minor task is required of me, such as filling out a google form or answering a quick question, I try to complete that right away so that the email does not sit in my inbox very long.

If an email is in regards to information that I should know but does not directly correspond to a task that I need to complete, I file it away in an email folder. I almost always file an email into a folder rather than deleting it. I have a folder titled “2022-2023 Projects” and sub-folders for each book Ooligan Press is currently working on. I also label and color-code the emails remaining in my inbox according to what book they are in relation to.

While I also rely heavily on my master schedule that outlines the dates and deadlines for each of our books, I have found this method to be extremely useful. It sounds simple, but prior to using the inbox zero method, I would often forget to complete small admin tasks or to follow up on an action item. This method helps me limit distractions that hinder my productivity and it helps me keep track of what is actually needed from me and what I need to prioritize.