It’s time for another interview, this time with entrepreneur and Pubslush co-founder Amanda Barbara.
In a nutshell, Pubslush is an innovative crowdfunding platform that connects writers, readers, and publishing industry professionals from all over the world in an effort to help authors gather the funding and following necessary to successfully produce their books. I was really excited when I discovered Pubslush, as it takes the already-democratizing effect that self-publishing has had on the industry and puts even more control in the hands of writers.
As with my interview with Chris Guillebeau, I was particularly interested to pick Amanda’s brain due to the fact that she is involved with both publishing and entrepreneurship–two subjects that are strongly connected.
Enough preamble. Let’s get to the interview.
What drew you to the realm of publishing and literature?
My Mom and I founded Pubslush together because we were shocked that authors like JK Rowling were repeatedly rejected before being published. To us, this pointed out a flaw in the publishing system, and we wanted to create a platform that would help give authors the means to get their work validated by the crowd, rather than by a few editors. Our mission to create a more democratic publishing process led me to discover that there are really so many amazing authors out there with stories that should be told, but they often have little to no means of getting their work out there. Being able to help educate these authors on best publishing practices, while giving them the tools to publish, is what keeps my passion for this industry alive.
Everyone knows that publishing has changed dramatically over the course of the past decade or so. Have you recognized any changes that were unexpected? How do you foresee it changing in the future?
The ability to be globally connected from your living room and the rise of social media now gives all kinds of artists the opportunity to connect directly with their audience and this, along with the rise of digital publishing, is what’s changing the publishing game. Along with many other creative industries, the changes we’ve seen are natural to the progression of technologies and the rise of the Internet.
The biggest change I foresee, and something that’s already coming to fruition in many ways, is self-publishing becoming a respected route of publication. There was a stigma against self-published authors for a while, but I think that’s simply because authors who were self-publishing weren’t putting in the time, effort or money. Now, many are, and I’ve seen countless self-published books that could proudly stand beside books from any of the big 5 publishers.
Do you find any similarities between writers and entrepreneurs?
Writers—at least writers who hope to publish and have their book reach a broad audience—have to be entrepreneurs. This is true whether you’re self-publishing or seeking a traditional publisher. If you’re ultimate goal is to sell books, then your book is your business. You need to put forth the same effort and provide the same attention to detail and marketing and branding efforts that any entrepreneur would for their business.
What are a few ways writers (or anyone else) can make their crowdfunding attempts more successful?
This very much ties in with treating your book like a business. The biggest mistake any person attempting a crowdfunding campaign can make is to think they can create a campaign and people will be attracted to it. That’s not how business works, and that’s not how crowdfunding works. Creating a marketing plan and strategically employing that plan is essential to success. Crowdfunding, like publishing a book, isn’t easy, but then again, nothing that’s worth it ever is.
A few of my favorite quick tips for crowdfunding successfully are:
- Have 5-10 close friends and family support the campaign on Day 1 to build momentum.
- Sending out personal messages makes all the difference, so take the time do so.
- Expand your network by connecting with bloggers who have a similar audience as you.
What are the biggest challenges you face as an entrepreneur?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced with my own company was verifying our concept. We’re trying to do something that’s relatively new to the industry and that no one has ever done before, so convincing people the worth of our platform took a while. However, the more success stories we have, the more people are looking towards us for their own projects, so this is a hurdle that felt really good to overcome.
Can you think of any experiences you had before going into business that helped bolster your abilities as an entrepreneur?
Growing up I was the oldest of four girls and I think this has helped me to be a confident leader. As typical as this might sound, being confident is so important in business. You have to be confident in yourself and your goals.
What do you think is the most important skill a writer can have in her toolbox?
Passion. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a skill, but I’m going with it. The book industry is tough and I think what will help an author persevere through it all is the passion they have for their book. Also, passion is contagious and if others can tell how much you put into your book, they will be more interested.
What about an entrepreneur?
Passion is equally as important as an entrepreneur. My team and I are constantly being told by others they can tell how passionate we are about what we do, and it gets them excited as well. Other than that, though, I think the ability to network is important. The saying “it’s all about who you know” is pretty accurate, so it’s important to know people!
“Burn-out” is a very real problem for both writers and entrepreneurs. How do you keep yourself from running out of steam?
Well, at the risk of sounding redundant, my biggest advice is to do something that you love. Writers, I know writing can be very difficult at times, but at the end of the day you should still be in love with your book. Maybe you won’t be in love with what you wrote that day, but that’s okay, as long as you still feel the passion for your project you did in the beginning. Entrepreneurs all start on their journey because something is driving them. I think the “burn-out” feeling comes when they lose site of that thing that motivated them in the first place.
Do you have any key pieces advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs?
Take a vacation now, while you can because once you get started expect a lot of sleepless nights.
What’s the one book that every entrepreneur should read?
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
How about every person, regardless of entrepreneurship?