Welcome to another Small Business Update – this time with Bob Fowke from publishing company YouCaxton. I first interviewed Bob in 2012, and he updated us on his progress in January 2013 and January 2014. At that point, this is where he wanted to be by now: “We hope that our name will be known for quality at a national level. It’s going to take more than a year, but I’d love YouCaxton to be thought of as the Rolls-Royce of self-publishing – and, incidentally, we just published a biography of Charles Rolls and it’s selling very well”. A good link there, and amazingly for the interviewees, he does seem to be in the position he wanted to be – so many people have changed direction, moved their focus or just found the market has pushed them in a certain way, so this is quite a rarity! Let’s see how Bob is getting on …
Hello again, Bob! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Almost exactly, I would say. We’re gaining a good reputation by dint of hard work and through taking endless care of our writers, and we’re becoming well-recognised in our field. We’ve published some wonderful books and there’s more in the pipeline. There’s a real thrill when something worthwhile comes across my desk.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
It’s been incremental. The website has developed consistently and we’ve been able to take on more work – steady growth in other words. The biggest change is that we’re starting, tentatively, to act as publishers for one or two very specific books. We intend to make use of all three publishing models: publishing, co-publishing with authors and self-publishing by authors.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I’ve learned a lot about book design – even though I’m not the designer. It’s a subtle art.
Any more hints and tips for people?
It’s always the same. If you’ve written, or want to write, a book, by far the most important thing is to make every effort to write a good book. There are a lot of books out there and it’s not easy to stand out from the crowd. Publishing may have changed but this simple but hugely demanding requirement remains the same. The big danger with self-publishing is to publish prematurely. Take your time and don’t publish before you’re really ready and make sure you have it properly edited.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
A bit bigger and slightly more diversified – with a Rolls-Royce of websites and superbly experienced editors and designers able to give the best service available. We still aim for quality above quantity.
Sounds like a good plan for me – slow growth and refinement of your business offering is a good way to go. And although I don’t work with YouCaxton, I can certainly echo Bob’s exhortation to wait a bit and let that book get as good as it can before publishing. One of my clients is on his seventh set of re-writes at the moment, and I know that process of refinement in his book is going to make a better book, just as Bob’s refinement and polishing of his business is going to make a better business.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.