Ooligan Press is a publishing house staffed by students in the graduate program in Book Publishing. Publishing three books a year and selling them in bookstores across the nation as well as online, Ooligan Press provides a hands-on experience that is not replicated in any other graduate program. Students participate in every step of the publishing process—from manuscript acquisition to editing, from design and production to marketing and sales—with guidance and supervision provided by expert faculty. Students take lessons from the classroom and apply them to real-world publishing challenges, resulting in numerous award-winning and bestselling books that span every genre.
Publishing Studio (WR 474/574) and Publishing Lab (WR 475/575)
In Publishing Studio and Publishing Lab, you perform the work of a real publishing house, from acquiring manuscripts to selling books. You gain publishing experience by participating in the various departments of a student-staffed publishing house, Ooligan Press. Departments include Acquisitions, Editorial, Design, Digital, Marketing and Sales, and Social Media.
Students in the graduate program in Book Publishing are required to take 8 credits of Ooligan Press–related coursework, which can be completed through any combination of Publishing Studio and Publishing Lab. Publishing Studio is a 4-credit course, while Publishing Lab is a 1-credit course; the two courses are identical in all ways, with the exception of the number of credits and, thus, the number of hours per week of Ooligan Press–related work that is required. For graduate students looking to enroll in WR 575: Publishing Lab, there is no prerequisite. For undergraduate students looking to enroll in WR 475: Publishing Lab, the only prerequisite is any 300-level Writing class. However, Publishing Lab is a prerequisite for Publishing Studio for all students.
Working at Ooligan Press
Many students find working at Ooligan Press to be one of the most rewarding aspects of the graduate program in Book Publishing. While working at Ooligan Press, you’ll apply classroom knowledge to real-world projects, utilizing both collaborative and independent work processes to build your resume, professional portfolio, and network of connections to the greater publishing community.
What is it like to be part of the student staff of Ooligan Press?
- Your voice is heard. The structure of Ooligan Press is different from larger publishing houses. In addition to being staffed by students, most major decisions are made democratically.
- You apply your skills to real projects. Ooligan Press publishes three books per year (with national distribution provided by Ingram) and also hosts at least two major events: Write to Publish and Transmit Culture. The success of the publishing house is dependent on student participation as editors, designers, marketers, and so forth.
- You participate in Project Teams and Departments. Students who work at Ooligan Press are screened by the Publisher (a faculty member in the graduate program in Book Publishing) and placed in Project Teams where they are involved in all aspects of a project, which is usually a forthcoming book (though sometimes it’s an event such as Write to Publish). Students are also participating in the work of Departments (such as Editorial or Design) according to their skill set, interests, and educational focus. These Departments exist so that students can discuss technical issues related to book projects or events and hone their skills in a supportive environment.
- You have the opportunity to gain management experience. There are two types of managers that work at Ooligan Press, and both are year-long positions.
- Project Managers: Students chosen to be Project Managers have the opportunity to supervise a diverse group of peers, leading and guiding a project through to its completion. Project Teams are created for each book Ooligan Press plans to publish. A Project Team includes one Project Manager and as many students (from a variety of Departments) as needed during each phase of a book’s publication. Project Teams working on a book project see that particular book through all the steps in the publishing process, from editorial to marketing and sales. Project Teams focused on events work from concept to execution. Managers for Project Teams are chosen by the Publisher from applications submitted by second-year students. Examples of responsibilities include creating a production schedule, assigning tasks to Project Team members, evaluating task completion, and budget management.
- Department Leads: This is a great opportunity to put your skills to work in a supervisory capacity, aiding other students working in Project Teams with their specialized project concerns. The Publisher selects Department Leads from the pool of interested second-year applicants. Department Leads have a proven skill set in a relevant area (e.g. editorial, design, marketing and sales) as well as the desire to supervise others. Department Leads operate similar to Teaching Assistants (TAs). They lead weekly meetings, help organize workflow systems, communicate with other Departments, maintain professional standards, and support the learning of fellow students.
Ooligan Press Department descriptions
The Acquisitions Department evaluates all book proposals, queries, and manuscripts sent to Ooligan Press. Department members decide which manuscripts to reject and which to pitch to the entire student staff of Ooligan Press. If there is consensus among the entire student staff of Ooligan Press to acquire a manuscript, Acquisitions Department members communicate with the author to negotiate the acquisition, answer the author’s questions, and deal with contract issues. Acquisitions Department members occasionally work with authors on developmental editing before pitching a manuscript to the entire student staff. There are two subgroups of the Acquisitions Department: In-House Project Development—responsible for the generation of manuscript ideas and locating an author or authors to execute them—and Submissions—responsible for culling projects from both solicited and unsolicited manuscripts. Both groups are careful to select only projects that align with the artistic and financial goals of Ooligan Press.
The Editorial Department edits all marketing material issued by Ooligan Press, including press releases, blogs, etc. They also work directly with authors to develop their manuscripts into final products; this includes developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Successful completion of the Book Editing course is required before joining the Editorial Department.
In the Design Department, students are responsible for designing the interiors and covers of all books, as well as all printed and web-based promotional materials for Ooligan Press books and events. Students work independently as well as collaboratively to bring projects from concept to completion in a supportive group environment with in-class critiques and constructive evaluation from local publishing professionals. When working on books, students learn the intricacies of book design and production in a step-by-step manner. Design Department members examine manuscripts for challenges and creative opportunities and then make choices (e.g. book size, typeface, cover design, overall “feel,” etc.) that will enhance the reading experience. Previous design experience or the successful completion of at least one design course (e.g. Book Design Software) is necessary to work in the Design Department.
The Digital Department is responsible for converting Ooligan Press titles into ebooks, preparing them for Google Book previews and the Look Inside feature on Amazon.com, maintaining the Ooligan Press website, and keeping up to date on the latest news about ebooks, e-readers, and the rest of the digital publishing world. As the publishing industry changes, this group helps Ooligan Press innovate while also keeping the publishing house in step with shifting industry conventions.
Marketing and Sales
The Marketing and Sales Department is responsible for engaging with the public on behalf of Ooligan Press. They create marketing plans and write the marketing copy for each book, which includes tip sheets, press releases, back cover copy, and author bios. Marketing plans include research on potential author events, appropriate awards, press/review media, and cross-promotional partnerships. They also plan launch parties, readings, and other events, and enthusiastically promote every aspect of Ooligan Press and its titles through networking and by positioning them in the rich literary community of Portland and beyond. The sales piece of the Marketing and Sales Department requires that students oversee all books that have already been published, from newly printed to backlist titles. Sales is in charge of writing and implementing sell-through plans, which are marketing plans that are carried out after a book is published. The Marketing and Sales Department also oversees Ooligan Press’s backlist, which means getting older books into stores, actively pursuing and establishing relationships with potential buyers, and planning and organizing projects that will increase the sales of older books.
The Social Media department is responsible for maintaining and updating Ooligan Press’s online identity and regularly engages with the online community through various media platforms. They update social media sites with the latest information pertaining to Ooligan Press’s books; promote, attend, and photograph events; organize and produce content for the Ooligan Press blog; and stay up to date with changes made to social media platforms. Ooligan Press is active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and on its own blog.
Want to know more about Ooligan Press? Visit the publishing house website, where we present a professional face to the world, including to readers, writers, and book industry professionals.