Building a Business Based on the Life You Want to Lead

Running a business and living the lifestyle you want can be seen as mutually exclusive. Maintaining the right balance, while meeting the changing goals of both, can be seen as a talent. But shifting focus away from the bottom line can lead to a better outcome, professionally and personally. Two entrepreneurs share their ongoing journey toward mastering this art.

Excerpt from XRDS article by Chris “Akiba” Wang and Jacinta Plucinski.

Read the full article here.

Since starting Zoot Publishing, I've learnt a lot about myself, writing, and the realities of being an author and running your own business. As a business owner you need a diverse stack of skills - above and beyond the skills you need to create your book or product.  You need marketing, sales, distribution, shipping & logistics, operations, finance, legal and HR. 

You also need a lot of time, energy and motivation to learn it all this whilst also trying to keep your head above water.  It's scary, fulfilling, exhilarating and demoralising all at once. And because there's always so much to do, it's easy to lose sight of things that are important to you .  

In May this year, Akiba and I wrote an article for XRDS magazine published by ACM (Association for Computing Machinery). In the article we talked about how most business plans prioritise business goals over lifestyle goals, and how we're trying to do the opposite. We discuss the journey that got us to this point, the specific ways we're doing it in our respective industries, and the challenges we still face. It's not easy, and at (many) times it's stressful, but it is worth it. 

The article was selected as a featured article, and we're were honoured to be included in this issue along with other contributors like Limor "LadyAda" Fried of Adafruit, Nathan Seidle of Sparkfun, Joi Ito of MIT Media Lab, and Jie Qi of ChibiTronics.

Although the issue is behind the ACM paywall, authors can upload their articles to their website. It's a fairly long article (3000 words), so grab your beverage of choice, get comfy and enjoy :)

Read on ... !

Posted on November 7, 2017 .

Rediscovering the joy of writing whilst waiting for a typhoon

Writing is fun because when I write, I get to make up stuff. I get to imagine new worlds and people, and their stories. And sometimes, just sometimes, people even give me money for doing it. How cool is that?!

It's Sunday afternoon, and I'm sitting by the window, waiting for the typhoon to come.

It's been raining for the past 2 weeks, and while earlier in the week, I wanted nothing more than to be outside, somehow today it's ok not to be.  It feels right to be indoors with a glowing heater and blanket around my legs whilst outside it's wet, cold, and grey. Perhaps because there's a typhoon on the way, and it's so deliciously melancholic.  Around midnight, Typhoon Lan will hit. It's a category 4 typhoon and I'm not sure what to expect. I'll pack a bag just in case. 

In the meantime, all this wind and rain is making me reflective. Why, in the last two weeks, have my thoughts towards how and what I write become kinder? 

The reason is when it comes to writing, I load myself up with pressure before I've even picked up a pen, or opened my laptop.  There's pressure to come up with ideas that are unique, gripping and insightful, to create characters that ring true and aren't cliche, to tell stories that are moving and worthy of a literary prize, and to write fast and frequently.

It's paralysing. 

But over the past two weeks, a subtle change has taken place.

Posted on October 22, 2017 and filed under Conferences.

What Harry Potter has to do with the Japan Writers Conference

'There’s a scene in one of the Harry Potter movies. Hagrid invites the students to come up and meet a really terrifying critter. “All right, then,” he says, “Who’s first?” All the students take a step back, leaving Harry standing alone in front of the group. That’s kind of like how I fell into the job.'

This October 8 and 9 is the annual Japan Writers Conference. A melting pot of free talks, workshops and readings, the event brings together a community of writers, publishers, and lovers of literature to share their knowledge and celebrate words.

Whether it's the ins and outs of writing horror, poetry, interactive fiction, memoirs or first lines, exploring the pros and cons of small presses, learning how to be a writer and an editor, or landing a newspaper column in Japan, this year's lineup has something for everyone. We'll be doing a session on interactive fiction on Monday Oct 9 at 2pm. So if you're in Tokyo, come down and say hello,  Programme details here.

We sat down with John Gribble, one of the organisers, to learn what Harry Potter has to do with his involvement, what he finds surprising and challenging about running the conference, and what he's working on now. 

Posted on October 2, 2017 and filed under Workshops.

Talking distribution and logistics with writers

Distribution and logistics is not something you usually associate with being a writer. But nobody reads your book without it!

So last Thursday myself and Chris Akiba Wang ran a workshop on the subject for Tokyo Writers Salon. We talked about margins within the supply chain, how distribution deals are structured, logistic options, and how to decide which one is best for you.

Even if you decide not to do all this yourself, knowing this is part of the process of getting your book out into the hands of readers is worthwhile. We were surprised at the level of interest and all the questions coming from a writer who's onto her second novel, a small press founder and short story writer amongst others!

We were surprised at the level of interest and all the questions!

Big thanks to Lauren Shannon for arranging, and everyone from Tokyo Writers Salon who attended.

Our next session is on Marketing. Stay tuned for more details!

Upcoming Workshop: Book Distribution & Logistics:

This Thursday Sept 28th, Akiba and I are presenting part 5 of our series Publishing Your Book: A writer's guide to the publishing industry and printing process!

Distribution & Logistics:  Nobody will read your book without it!

7.30pm - 9.30pm
Thurs Sept 28th 2017
Shibuya, Tokyo

RSVP on Meetup here! 


Most people spend a lot of time on writing, crafting and making sure their printed book turns out well. But industry veterans know that fulfilment and logistics, or how you get your book from the factory to your customers, can make or break a business.

Books are complex items for logistics because they have a low selling price and are usually heavy. This means that if you're not careful about logistics, shipping your book can cost more than printing it.


New workshop series starts on Thursday!

A writer’s guide to the printing process and the publishing industry is Zoot's new series of workshops with Tokyo Writer's Salon.

The first session held this Thursday March 16th in Shibuya, discusses an important question all writers need to consider. Which route to publication is best for you - traditional or DIY?

We’ll discuss how to decide which option is best for your writing, the advantages and disadvantages of both, and whether you can believe the hype around these two different channels.

Held monthly, the series will cover editing, book design and layout, getting your file print ready, ebook creation and publishing, offset printing and manufacturing, distribution channels, shipping and logistics, marketing and the future of publishing for writers.

Cost 1000 JPY, RSVP via meet up:

Hope to see you there!

Posted on March 11, 2017 and filed under Author Talks, Workshops.