This week we spoke with Miranda West, Founder and Publisher at the Do Book Company.
Give us your elevator pitch…
I set up and run the Do Book Company – an independent publishing house based in East London. We publish a collection of inspirational ‘how to’ pocket guides and launched in 2013 with our first five books.
Now explain it to your Mother in Law.
We publish a range of paperbacks – 14 and counting – designed to make it easier to Do stuff. Written by experts, the collection divides into two categories: Smart working and Slow living (broadly speaking, business and lifestyle). The first group of titles is aimed at the creative entrepreneur inside us – helping to improve the way we work and achieve our professional ambitions. The ‘slow living’ range offers a counter to our switched-on status and encourages us to disconnect through new learning and practical application, e.g. baking a loaf of sourdough bread, making jam or chutney, keeping bees or growing veg. They encourage sustainable living – and nothing quite beats the joy and satisfaction of having made something with our own hands. The common thread to all books is positive change.
What inspired you to start the Do Book Company?
Professionally I had reached a point where I was ready for a new challenge. Starting my own business that harnessed the publishing experience I had gained working in-house for nearly 15 years, made most sense at the time. The inspiration was watching a Do Lecture online then approaching the founders that day asking if they’d considered publishing books by their speakers.
Who’s the team behind the Do Book Company?
It’s miniscule: myself and Anya who works three days a week. That said, I have a dedicated team of freelancers: book designer, cover designer, copy-editor, proofreader, indexer. We are represented to the UK book trade by PGUK (Publishers Group UK) and are distributed by GBS. We also have distribution in Australia, the US and Singapore.
What’s your top tip for getting a project off the ground?
Keep chipping away. The whole is comprised of a gazillion parts. It’s not until you get going that you really appreciate the enormity of any project that starts from ground zero. That can be daunting so just keep it moving forwards. Slow and steady.
Also accept now that you will always care more about your project than anyone else on the planet. So manage expectations on that front. In other words don’t wait for someone else to provide encouragement and tell you to start. Your belief and vision is the secret ingredient that will make it happen.
What can we expect to hear from you at our From Zero to Hero event?
Specifically I’ll be talking about audience. Who we publish for – first and foremost – and why that’s important from a commissioning perspective. Also how I brief authors to write with a specific person in mind – rather than trying to write for everyone. For something as broad as ‘audience’, in my mind this is quite a defined area.