Ooligan Press, Portland State’s student-run publishing company, has recently unveiled a new project that gives students and readers a behind-the-scenes look at how books are made. The project, called Start to Finish, connects the creative product of the author with the collaborative work of the student publishing team, creating a real-world narrative about the publishing process.
Ooligan Press, Portland State’s student-run publishing company, has recently unveiled a new project that gives students and readers a behind-the-scenes look at how books are made.
The project, called Start to Finish, connects the creative product of the author with the collaborative work of the student publishing team, creating a real-world narrative about the publishing process.
By visiting the Ooligan Press website, readers can track a book’s evolution from acquisition to publication through student blog posts as each step of the process is completed.
“Each book we publish has an epic story of success behind it that exists totally separately from how well it reads or how well it sells,” said Jonathan Stark, the PSU publishing student who conceptualized Start to Finish.
“It’s the story of book publishing and all of the unexpected trials students pass [through] while learning how to make that happen. So the point of Start to Finish is to tell that story, for each book, from the perspective of the project managers who get to be with a book for each step of the way,” he added.
Aside from bringing readers behind the scenes, students at Ooligan Press who are tracking the progress of their work are given an opportunity to learn more about their own strengths and weaknesses in project management.
“For students, the benefit of Start to Finish is that it forces them to reflect on their own processes as budding publishers,” said Director of Publishing Per Henningsgaard.
“It forces them to think of their own actions as part of a story, and from there they can better evaluate whether or not their actions are positively contributing to that story, or if perhaps their actions are simply a distraction, a waste of time,” he added.
Many readers give little thought to the amount of energy and dedication that goes into making a book, so an inside look into the world of publishing could help the transforming industry, according to Henningsgaard.
“At a time when people are debating the value of the publishing industry, Start to Finish performs an increasingly valuable function,” he said. “It reminds us that each book has a story that goes beyond the words o[n] the page. The act of publishing is itself a story, one that is different for every book, and one that deserves to be told.”
Katie Allen, a student in the Ooligan Press program, detailed her experiences completing the production schedule of Close Is Fine, by Eliot Treichel, on the Start to Finish blog.
“[C]reating relationships with so many wonderful people and watching our efforts be turned into something truly beautiful has been such a rewarding process, and everything I’ve learned and experienced through being a project manager has reaffirmed for me exactly why I’m in this industry,” Allen wrote in her final entry.
“There’s no greater feeling than holding that matte-finished book in your hands and thinking, ‘We did it.’”
Ooligan Press has several projects whose progress can be tracked in real time on the Start to Finish blog at ooligan.pdx.edu/start-to-finish.