Publishing has come a long way since the days of the “Big Six” entirely dominating the market; now it’s the “Big Five”, with the merging of Penguin and Random House, and independent houses have dramatically risen up through the ranks. There are good and bad entities, as with everything, and Inspired Quill – the people who published my books – are more definitely amongst the former. And please believe me, I’d be saying that even if I wasn’t published by them.
IQ hit its fifth birthday in 2016, and I posed a few questions to its Chief Boxwallah – aka Managing Director – Sara Slack. I wanted to share her thoughts with a wider audience, so why not share it in a blog?
1) Tell us a bit about the background to IQ. Why did you decide to set it up as a publishing house?
IQ was actually a book review blog before it became the publishing house we know and love. While I was studying English at Uni, I figured if I had to read so many books, I may as well review them and post them online for people to see. During my Masters Degree, I won an entrepreneurship award. Initially, I wanted a site with premium content, but after hearing so many horror stories about the industry from authors I’d reviewed previously, I said “How hard could it be…?” – I’ve been finding out ever since!
2) Has the road been an easy one over the past five years? Are you where you expected to be?
That’s a really great question. First of all, it really hasn’t been easy! IQ has never been my full-time job. So working 9-5, editing in my lunch hour, coming home and working on IQ (when I wasn’t treading the boards with my local theatre group!) has had its ups and downs, certainly.
I’d actually say that everything but our profit margins are where I wanted them to be – and for a non-profit publishing house, that’s pretty good going! I always knew I wanted to promote skills development and host workshops in disadvantaged areas. While I haven’t done as many of these as I would have liked, I’m very pleased with the constant progress we’re making.
3) How have you changed the business over time?
One of the amazing things is that while IQ has changed over the past five years, it hasn’t strayed away from the very tight core mission that we’ve always had. That is, transparency, communication and skills development for our authors are at the core of what we stand for. I’ve added ‘representative fiction’ to that list more recently. And now, instead of focusing on workshops (which I’m very passionate about setting up down the road), I’ve just launched an online course with a really accessible price tag for authors and other creators – allowing us to reach a much bigger range of people interested in enhancing their writing skill and talent.
4) Tell us more about the courses; what are they and how do they work?
The course (more to follow!) comprise a series of educational (but not stuffy!) videos, along with some action-oriented PDFs. I see a lot of ‘information dump’ courses online, where the writer is expected to sit and make notes, but there’s no definite call to action. I’m a big believer in actually getting stuff done, which is how the writers who take the course can see immediate return on their investment.
5) What are your hopes for the next five years for IQ? What do you want to see?
The next 5 years for Inspired Quill are going to be even better than the last! We’re at a stage now where we know largely what works and what doesn’t, and with the arrival of the online courses, we can really start to push forward with getting our name out there in a much bigger, more qualitative way. I’d love to see some new authors join the cohort, and eventually even be able to pay a small team to work full-time on the business. Which, in small-press publishing, is pretty rare in itself…but we’ve got the determination!
If you’re interested in the courses that Sara is running (and there are some free offers going on, so be quick), then go over to their page here
In the meantime, Happy Birthday, IQ. Here’s to the next five years!