Last week I quizzed Darren Laws, founder of Caffeine Nights Publishing, about what it takes to set up a successful independent publishing house. This week we discuss how to balance the roles of writer and publisher.
Identify the various skills required
“The roles needed for writing and publishing are very different, almost polar opposites. Writing is very insular by its nature,” says Darren. “Publishing is all about creating relationships in the real world rather than the virtual world inside the author’s head. Authors give birth to their babies and have to let them go to the publisher to rear and help make successful children and adults.
Darren points out that each independent publishing house requires a different skillset from their publisher, but agrees that “there are specific skills which are required whatever publishing house you worked for. Communication is a great asset. I talk to a wide variety of people in publishing from authors to buyers to journalists and app developers. Likewise, authors also want to communicate, though primarily with readers.”
“The pleasure of reading and supporting a great novel are both primary interests to the author and the publisher,” says Darren. “Our joint goal is to bring the best possible version of a book to market and to work collectively to those ends. Both require discipline, creativity and the ability to work whatever hours are need to get the job done.” Continue reading
When I met Darren Laws in 2008, he was working in PR but already had high hopes for a literary career. In the first instalment in a two-part series, I pick Darren’s brain about what it takes to get a new, independent publishing house off the ground.
Value your writing skills
“It was actually my writing skills which enabled me to get into public relations in the first instance,” Darren says. “I am pretty much an autodidact by nature. Never academic but always fascinated by learning about the various industry roles I have worked in over the years. I’m always wondering what I’m going to do when I grow up – I’ll probably never know the answer to that but writing and creativity has been at the core of everything I’ve done. I had long embarked on a writing career when I moved into public relations, so it was natural to continue writing through that period. PR itself offered some great writing challenges which I loved.”
In the early years Darren ran Caffeine Nights in the evenings and at night (hence the company’s name) while spending his days working full time as a public relations manager. “The job was excellent, offering the chance to work on many great and diverse campaigns in the UK and abroad, but the agency like many others really suffered during the last recession following the banking crisis,” he says. “The downturn lead to a dramatic reduction in staff at the agency I worked in and while I escaped the first round of cuts I wasn’t so lucky second time around.” Continue reading