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.
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 :)
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.
But over the past two weeks, a subtle change has taken place.
'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.
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!
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
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.
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: http://buff.ly/2lNDtFI
Hope to see you there!
It's just been confirmed!
I'll be talking all things interactive fiction - why it's important, why readers and writers love it, and how to write it yourself.
Organised by fellow writer and superwoman Lauren Shannon, I'm looking forward to connecting with the local community in Tokyo.
We did it!
Our Indiegogo launch campaign for
Who Ate The Cake? was a
The journey has begun. We're so excited to get the book into the hands of young readers to help them grow curious, and to encourage them to think about how and why they make decisions.
A JUMBO thank you to all the backers!
We’ve reached 123% of our target with 7 days left before the campaign ends!
It’s incredibly humbling and exhilarating to have support from backers across the globe, including countries such as Germany, Ireland, Taiwan, Thailand, China, US, Singapore, Japan, UK, Canada and Australia.
To all supporters, thank you. Our journey is just beginning!
For those who are interested in supporting or know people that may be interested, it's not too late! We have 7 days left!
It's just over two weeks since we launched! We're 46% funded with 14 days left. A big thank you to all the new backers and a continuing thank you to the existing ones.
In our funding race against time, we're neck and neck. It's exciting, and nerve wracking, and this week, we're going to speed ahead! Please share the link with parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, librarians or friends and encourage them to support.
In a series of 3-8 minute audio bytes, we discuss the appeal of interactive fiction, challenges and tips for writers, morality and interactive fiction, how interactive affects decision making in real life and the business of running an indie publisher.
“Full confession here - I’m a geek.”
“All of us writing for You Say Which Way … we’ve all had moments when we’ve realised writing the story has challenged us at a deeper level to think about what our deep-seated beliefs are … about how people should be, and how they should react.”
More tracks will be uploaded shortly. Click here to listen
Why you want to own your ISBN
If a print on demand service is listed as the publisher, books can only be printed and ordered through them or their distributor - eg. Amazon.
With my own ISBN, I'm listed as the publisher and so can take the same edition of the book to another printer if I wanted.
An ISBN is basically a unique, global identifier for your book. So if there are two books with the same title, each book will have a different ISBN to identify it. If a book is re-released as a new edition (eg. with a foreward or to commemorate an anniversary) it has a different ISBN to identity the new edition.
You don't have to have an ISBN to publish a book. However if you plan to sell it through Amazon or bookstores you do.
ISBNs are assigned to publishers by different agencies in different countries. If you're self publishing, you can also apply as an individual however you would list yourself as the publisher (as you're funding it, and therefore essentially acting as the publisher).
Where a publisher is based (or operating from) is the country where you apply for an ISBN, not where the book is printed.
For example, I'm an Australian author, my publishing company is based in Hong Kong, and my book is printed and shipped through Createspace (based in the US but with printing houses in different countries).
So I apply for my ISBN in Hong Kong because that's where my publishing company is legally estabalished and operates out of.
Side note: In Australia, for 10 ISBNs it costs AUD $139 (includes a off registration fee of $55). In US it costs USD $295. In UK, £144 (includes registration fee). In Hong Kong, it's free.
If you're self publishing through Createspace, they can assign your book an ISBN for free. However it means that Createspace is listed as the publisher, not you.
Does this matter? It does to me.
If Createspace is listed as the publisher, books can only be printed and ordered through Amazon. With my own ISBN, I'm listed as the publisher and so can take the same edition of the book to another printer if I wanted. For example, I can print the same edition of the book through Ingram which is what libraries and bookstores order through. I would buy my own ISBNs even if I had to pay 300 USD.
FAQ on ISBNs: http://www.isbn.org/faqs_general_questions#isbn_faq20
Why you should have your own ISBN: http://writenonfictionnow.com/should-you-buy-your-own-isbn-when-you-self-publish/