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34: Climbing a new ladder (Joanna Penn interview)

Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She spent more than a decade as an IT consultant, but is now much better known as a writer and independent publisher of thrillers and dark fantasy novels, an award-winning entrepreneur, a publishing commentator, and a podcaster and YouTuber. Her long-running blog, The Creative Penn, shares what she's learned and helps give authors the information and inspiration they need to get published. In this episode, we talk about...


33: Flexibility and community (Georgina Atwell interview)

Georgina Atwell is the founder of Toppsta, a community for reading, reviewing and discovering great children's books. Before that, she worked at Penguin UK, and also for Apple's iBooks team, which all gives her a unique perspective! In this episode, we talk about the importance of flexibility to a small business, how best to use Facebook and social media (and when to own your own customer relationships), and how writing and reading reviews gives a better experience than algorithms.


32: Metadata and markets (Laura Dawson interview)

Laura Dawson is a metadata expert for the media, entertainment and publishing industries, and the Founder/CEO of Numerical Gurus. After years working in and around publishing, she got involved with the International Standard Name Identifier. And, on the side, she ran The Solitary Chef, a book and website platform for people who live alone. In this week's episode, we talk about the ISNI and why musician and actress Lady Gaga has two while Brian May (Queen guitarist and astrophysicist) has...


31: Accidental publishers (Asi Sharabi interview)

Asi Sharabi is Co-Founder and CEO of Wonderbly. Before this successful venture into the world of publishing, he spent time as a researcher and lecturer at the LSE, worked at startups, and was MD of Sidekick studios. Now, of course, at Wonderbly, he leads a team creating highly personalised print books for children, starting with their original book Lost My Name. Asi describes Wonderbly as "accidental publishers" and is very proud to have become part of the publishing industry - even though...


30: In the global marketplace (Jo Bottrill interview)

Jo Bottrill worked for Nature, Taylor & Francis and Cambridge University Press before setting up Out of House Publishing over 11 years ago to help academic and educational publishers to develop, edit and produce their content. In this episode, we talk about how Jo grew his business from freelancing to being a global partner for major publishers and how he dealt with the challenges that that change in scale brought. And also about how building trust is crucial for success - both between you...


29: Making authors and building brands (Dominique Raccah interview)

Dominique Raccah is Founder, Publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks, which has over the years grown to produce everything from children's books to college guides. It is the largest woman-owned book publisher in the USA, as well as the largest trade book publisher in Chicago. Dominique has long been recognized as an innovator and was named Publishers Weekly's Person of the Year in 2016. Her writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and The New York Times. In this wide-ranging...


28: No-one wants a "quite good" book (John Bond interview)

John Bond is the Co-Founder of WhiteFox, a new breed of publishing services company. He set up WhiteFox after being Marketing Director at Virgin Publishing, Penguin and HarperCollins, and then MD at HarperCollins. In our interview, we talk about finding co-founders among your existing relationships, and about how it can take a lot longer to get where you want to be than you thought - but also that these mistakes and diversions can be important for learning what you need to say No to. And...


27: Protecting people from tech (Arthur Attwell interview)

Arthur Attwell is a self-described serial adventurer in publishing innovation, and has co-founded several publishing businesses, perhaps most famously Paperight, which enabled people in Africa to print out legal copies of books from local photocopy shops. Currently, he runs Electric Bookworks, using unique tech skills and open-source tools to build complex books in multiple formats simultaneously. In this episode, we talk about how Arthur's love of building machines (people, processes and...


26: Soppiness and profit (Justine Solomons interview)

Justine Solomons is a networker extraordinaire and Founder of Byte the Book, which helps writers and publishers to learn more about the publishing industry, and to make connections that will help them in their careers. In this episode, we talk about building a business on helping other people while also being clearly focused on making a profitable business. Also, how everything is sales, while scaling means learning to lean on other people and delegate work. "Our work is just a dream, until...


25: Working hard at learning (Michael Bhaskar interview)

Michael Bhaskar is the Co-Founder of digital publisher Canelo, author of the books The Content Machine and Curation, and also Writer-in-Residence at Google's DeepMind with the Ethics and Society team. In this episode, we talk about how Canelo tries to do things differently - not just the obvious "being digital" stuff but also using marginal gains to produce a large overall result, and how the economics work differently for small publishers, enabling them to work effectively with "mid-list"...


24: Finding the business model (Nina-Sophia Miralles interview)

Nina-Sophia Miralles is the Founder of digital culture magazine Londnr. She is a writer and editor with a focus on arts, culture and lifestyle, served as Head of Partnerships and Special Projects for the Society of Young Publishers in 2017, and has received awards from The Hospital Club and the Young Stationers. In this episode, we talk about how a side-project turned into a full-time business based on providing writers and journalists with a paying market for their writing, with a clear...


23: An agent's journey (Fiona Spencer Thomas interview)

Fiona Spencer Thomas is a literary agent and book publicist who works with a range of authors on both fiction and non-fiction. In this podcast episode, she talks about how she got started as an agent, what a literary agent does for her clients, and how her own passion drives her choices. It was interesting to talk about striking the balance between creativity and nit-picking attention to detail - between helping writers create better books and handling the fine points of royalties and...


22: Crisis and opportunity (Kate Wilson interview)

Kate Wilson is the Founder and CEO of Nosy Crow, an award-winning child-focused, parent-friendly publisher of children's books. Kate has an extensive pedigree in publishing, but her decision to start a publishing company has its roots in a professional crisis that she's turned to a comprehensive victory! In this episode, we talk about the need to know yourself as a Founder, and to surround yourself with people who will complement your strengths (and weaknesses), and about how even...


21: Nearly writing, nearly working (Chris Meade interview)

Chris Meade is a newly-minted Doctor of Nearlyology (not, as I mis-spoke in the introduction to the podcast "Director of Nearlyology"!), as well as running If:book, which among other things supports the New Media Writing Prize and the Dot Awards. We talk about what he means by "nearlyology", the differences between running a for-profit business and a charitable company that is primarily funded by grants, and the relationship between thinking and doing. But most importantly, the nature and...


20: Top down or bottom up? (Nancy Roberts interview)

Nancy Roberts took time off from a successful career in publishing to work out what she really wanted to do, and how she could continue growing. Her answer to that was first Business Inclusivity (consulting with publishing companies to help them understand and improve their diversity and inclusivity) and recently Umbrella Analytics (providing hard data, comparison and analysis to back this up). In the podcast, we talk about how Nancy took the opportunity afforded her by an MBA to reflect on...


19: Getting inside someone's head (Emma Donnan interview)

Emma Donnan is a ghostwriter, and in this week's podcast we explore the often-overlooked and important work that ghostwriters do. In Emma's case this grew from her work as a journalist, and she sees her work writing memoirs as an extension of that - discovering and spreading stories that from extraordinary people, as well as from ordinary people who have important stories.


18: Don't listen to the doubters (Justo Hidalgo interview)

Justo Hidalgo co-founded 24symbols 8 years ago, and this 'Spotify for Books' contender is still around and successful. In this week's podcast, we talk about how books really can compete against Angry Birds, the importance of continuing to provide ways for people to easily find and read books, and of balancing your work and home life. In the episode, Justo mentions several great business books in passing so I thought I'd list them here for you. Hacking GrowthAmazonKoboScaling...


17: Focus on the problem (Bec Evans interview)

Bec Evans is Co-Founder of Prolifiko, the digital productivity coach for writers that uses persuasive technology to help people achieve their writing goals. She's also worked as Head of Innovation for Emerald Group and as Centre Director for Ted Hughes's historic house and grounds, and the writing courses that were held there. In the episode, we talk about finding a problem you're passionate about, and embracing the fact that your solution to that problem will change. Being a Founder means...


16: Lead the market (Emmanuel Nataf interview)

Emmanuel Nataf is the co-Founder and CEO of Reedsy, a marketplace for authors, editors, designers, marketers and more to come together and form teams to get books published. In this interview, we talk about Emmanuel's belief in leading the market - coming up with new ideas and solutions rather than just asking what people want. Also, how he founded a business to save his own mental health, picking the right home country for your company, and finding networks to help and support you. In the...


15: Discovering and repeating success (Tom Chalmers interview)

Tom Chalmers is Founder and MD at the Legend Times Group, and also founded IPR License (now sold to the Frankfurt Book Fair). In this week's episode, we talk about finding your way to success in publishing with a combination of serendipity and deliberate reflection, using market comparisons and data to focus on the areas where you have the greatest chance for success. And don't be put off by the craziness of your ideas!