Tell us a little about yourself and your career
I live in Burke, VA, where I share a townhouse with my computer nerd fiance, and a cat who’s official name is Sylvester but who we mostly call Cat or Mr. Meow Meow. He seems cool with it as long as we feed him on time. I’m easily bribed by coffee, or if it’s something really big, cupcakes will do it. I started Possibilities Publishing Company in 2012, and then in early 2017, I added in our children’s imprint – Thumbkin Prints, and our self-publishing imprint -Eaton Press. Apparently I thought just running ONE publishing company was getting too easy, so I had to mix things up a bit. It made for a bit of a crazy 2017, but now as we move into 2018 I feel like I’m finding my footing again and I’m really excited to see this year brings.
Possibilities Publishing is actually my second entrepreneurial effort. After I got out of graduate school with my masters in Organizational Management I started a management consulting company focused on helping non-profits. It was a great experience but it was also exhausting, so after about eight years, I closed shop and took an admin job, while I regrouped and decided what was next. Once I settled on publishing, I realized it was a perfect fit – structured enough to appeal to my Type A personality, but with lots of opportunity for innovation and creativity. Just a few months ago, I was able to quit that day job and devote my time completely to running and continuing to grow Possibilities Publishing and it’s imprints, which was a goal I’d set for myself about 3 years ago.
How does your community of women you surround yourself with support you?
I’m not sure I can even count all the ways the women in my life support me. Without planning it this way, the majority of the writers I represent are women, and almost every strategic partner or vendor we work with are women. Probably the most important thing they provide me is space to talk – about work, about life, about whatever needs to be talked about. Some of the women I now count as friends started off as professional connections, which I love.
I have women I can ask to meet me for coffee so I can brainstorm new ideas or vent or process mistakes I’ve made, and women who will jump on board when I ask for help with an event or executing a new idea. And I have to call out two key women – my best friend since we were 12 who I can call at 11pm on a weeknight with one of those “Am I crazy or is this a thing?” questions, and my mom, who introduced me to feminism while I was still in diapers, and continues to be a sounding board in all aspects of my life and work.
What advice do you have for writers who want to get published?
The very first thing is that if you’re looking at getting published, then you should also be thinking about marketing and selling your book. Publishing should not be the final stopping point on your writing journey. Getting published is a transition point, but there’s a whole other world that you enter when you cross that threshold and transition from writing to being a published author. If you aren’t interested in what comes next, if you just want to be able to say that your book is published and exists in the world, but you don’t want to do anything else with it, consider self-publishing because otherwise you’re going to be asked by your publisher – whether you work with a small indie publisher like us, or a big traditional publisher, you’re going to be asked to participate in marketing your book by your publisher so we can get a return on our investment in you and your book. But that transition from being a writer into being a published author is a hard jump for many writers, it requires different skills and knowledge than writing does. So approach it as such and seek to gain those skills and learn strategies to succeed in the post-published world.
Second, work with a professional editor. This is non-negotiable in my view. It will be a game changer for your book and worth every penny. I promise.
Third, make sure you’re picking the path to publishing that is the best fit for you. Self-publishing has gotten a bad reputation, but that’s changing and many very talented writers have had great success from self-publishing. Indie publishers are a good fit for some authors, but not all, and not all small presses are the same, so do your homework and make sure you’re picking based on the best fit, not what you think you “should” do.
What do you wish you could go back and tell your younger self re: your career aspirations?
Don’t fear failure. Do your best to succeed, but failure is inevitable, and that’s where the biggest lessons and leaps forward come from.
Be patient. Things tend to happen as they should. Not every idea is ready to be implemented the second it forms. If things are falling into place, or something doesn’t feel right, take a breath, take a step back and stop pushing. 99% of the time it will happen when and how it’s meant to.
You are not defined by your work. Sometimes you just need a paycheck, and there is no shame in supporting yourself or your family. Just because you’re cleaning houses or answering phones, that doesn’t mean you are less than the person who owns the house or who you’re transferring the calls to. It doesn’t mean you aren’t also smart, funny, talented, driven and creative. See the above advice and know that you’ll get back to doing work that fulfills you when it’s meant to happen. Don’t waste energy feeling bad about yourself.
Stay open to new possibilities and be brave enough to take a leap to follow them. Those are the game changing moments.
What is your career-related mantra?
“These goals aren’t going to accomplish themselves! Let’s get to work.”