Welcome to an update with Ellie Levenson from Fisherton Press. I first became aware of this lovely children’s publisher a little while ago when they did a KickStarter campaign to publish the great book, “The Election”, and I’ve been so pleased to see them going from strength to strength, and have recently bought a copy of their latest, “Pop“. So, when I first interviewed Ellie in November 2013, things were quite different, with just the one book out. By January 2015, it was all starting to take off, and everything has expanded since then, including her family (I have huge respect for people who work around family commitments and love hearing about how they cope, as so many self-employed people and small business owners have the same issues around juggling family and work). Last year, this was where Ellie wanted to be now: “Hopefully with a few books published, learning what works and what doesn’t, refining our processes, sticking to quality not quantity, perhaps even turning a profit…” Let’s see how Fisherton Press and Ellie herself are doing …
Hello again! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Our initial interview was a little longer than a year ago and I have had a third child since then. I now have three kids under six so achieving anything beyond making sure everyone is fed, dressed and entertained is a challenge. But we managed to earn back our start-up costs and make a (small) profit last year and this year we have launched three new books, bringing our total to six.
Great news! What has changed and what has stayed the same?
I have scaled down my plans – three new books a year seems manageable – more doesn’t at the moment. But our aim to create books for children that adults also enjoy reading has stayed the same.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I have learned a few things. That celebrity endorsements on social media sell more than any other form of marketing, That my initial plans to mostly work with journalists and media types who are good at their own PR was right, as it doesn’t matter how good a book is if the creators are not out there selling themselves. And that sometimes you just need a stroke of luck for your marketing to hit the right desk at the right time – that is what happened to us when a City Council ordered over 3,000 copies of our book The Election after receiving a targeted email at the same time as having to spend a pot of money on promoting voter participation. Although good luck comes to those who work hardest of course and I did spend many, many hours finding the right names and email addresses.
Any more hints and tips for people?
Work with friends, and make friends with those you work with, but don’t let friendship cloud your business judgement, And also make any decision you want to alone but always get material for publication proofread!
BONUS NEW QUESTION: What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?
I don’t know about other small business owners but I would like to ask other publishers how they manage not to check their sales rankings obsessively.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
More of the same and hopefully with foreign editions of some of our books.
I really do like the books from Fisherton Press – they’re very inclusive without being aggressively pi and holier than thou about it, and cover lovely and interesting and important topics. I wish Ellie and the Press the very best and can’t wait to see what comes out next.
You can buy the books direct from the Fisherton Press website as well as from bookshops and online sources. Fisherton Press and all of the books can be found at www.fishertonpress.co.uk and they are on Twitter and Instagram, too.
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.