by Meredith Maslich
We have a banner we hang up at events that says “Discover the Possibilities in Partnership Publishing.” When we first designed the banner a few years ago, we thought of it just in terms of our partnership with our authors, which is the core of our publishing and business model: the full engagement of our authors in the publishing and marketing process for our mutual success.
But lately I’ve realized the meaning has broadened as we’ve steadily built important external partnerships, and I realized that those types of partnerships are as much a manifestation of our core principles, as they are necessary for our growth and success. These alliances are definitely making us stronger, more robust, and in many cases, more fun. Which in turn lets us be better partners to our authors.
And as I’ve reflected on our growing list of business partnerships, and my excitement, it made me wonder about the traits of a good partner. And whether or not I was doing everything I could to be the best possible partner. I always start with the obvious and contract based things like fair division of labor and revenue, mutual respect for each other’s goals and needs, and transparency in processes and activities.
But there has to be more, right? There is always more, and it’s the more that can make the biggest difference.
I realized that for me, it’s not just about distribution contracts, or promotional agreements. It’s about family. I see my authors as family, and I want to carry that over into all my partnerships. Which led me to thinking about community building, and how to support and connect with partners outside of the narrow sections where our companies overlap. And our modern communities are built primarily on-line.
I’m always so touched/excited/moved when someone likes/shares/retweets something I’ve put out. Was I returning the favor enough? Am I a good citizen of this social media world?
And honestly? I can do better.
Most of my community consists of other entrepreneurs, writers/artists and small business owners. In other words, people like me. And I know for me, it’s so easy to get so consumed by your own work and goals that it feels like there AREN’T ENOUGH HOURS IN THE DAY for your own stuff, forget about anyone else’s stuff! But eventually it starts to feel really lonely. And overwhelming. And like I’m just shouting into an echo chamber, and OMG DOES ANYONE EVEN CARE WHY DOES IT EVEN MATTER? (that’s not just me, right?)
And what always makes me feel better, re-invigorated, and re-inspired is stepping away, and turning my attention to something or someone, else.
I immediately feel less lonely. Less overwhelmed. More energized. More inspired. Every. Time.
So I’m going to try to do more of that. I’m going to make a focused and conscious effort to share my platforms, and my resources with my community and my partners. Because it matters. Even if the only impact is letting them know that someone noticed their efforts.
And obviously I can’t write a whole blog post about supporting my partners without then INTRODUCING you to my partners!
Launch Workplaces – This partnership has eliminated one of my biggest, ongoing headaches: finding event space. We have so many ideas for workshops, and book events but often shut down by a lack of affordable space in the DC area. And then I met Mark, who blew my mind. Launch Workplaces is a shared work environment created specifically for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. But they give new meaning to the term “flexible work space” because there are pretty much no rules. In my first conversation with Mark, the owner, I started carefully outlining some of my ideas, offering lots of caveats and re-assurances about professionalism and he cut me off and was like “Do whatever you want, as long as it’s engaging. And legal.” (Important caveat, because, you just never know). And I’m not gonna lie. I was a little overwhelmed at potential. So I’m starting small with a Lunch&Learn on June 7th at their Gaithersburg location. But we’ll probably do it again at the Tysons location. And I’m cooking up an idea for August that involves tea, cupcakes, and a book release…. And another even for September…
Grubb Road Book Festival – On June 26th, 2016 after years of going to festivals organized by other groups, we’re holding our own! We’re partnering with SFWP– another indie publisher in the area, and The Daily Dish, a fabulous restaurant in Silver Spring, MD who has been a wonderful supporter of writers and small presses. I’m really excited about this inaugural festival and excited to see what other partnership opportunities might result!
Sparkle&Snark – This is a partnership with Jessica Leigh Coaching. We’re building a lifestyle company for authors that offers retail products tailored to the writing and publishing lifestyle, as well as a series of e-courses and workshops. Possibilities Publishing provides the publishing and writing expertise, while Jessica provides strategies and skills and science about goal setting and motivation and achieving your desires. I think this is a really exciting and dynamic partnership that will yield positive results for a long time to come!
Ladybird Tea – This is our newest partnership and started as a quest to have a line of tea to offer through Sparkle&Snark, but it’s rapidly evolving. Ladybird Tea is a small woman owned start-up, much like we are, and when we met to discuss a custom-made Sparkle&Snark tea, we connected so well that we decided to find more things to do together. Things like limited edition tea blends to promote book releases, and “Books&Tea” events. If you’re a tea lover (and really, what goes better with books than tea?!), then keep an eye out for lots of exciting things to develop from this partnership in the next couple of months.
A Kind Voice on Books – This relationship started when their then host was JB Lawrence, became one of our authors and started having our other authors as guests on the show. The show has had other hosts, and are now our first stop for scheduling interviews for our authors. AND now Jessica Lyons and I are doing an occasional show on Tuesday mornings on the topics related to writing and publishing. We’re really excited for the different creative ways that this relationship can grow going forward!
Do you have other ideas for partnerships that would be a fit for us? Or thoughts on how to be good partners? Let me hear ’em!
Meredith Maslich is president and CEO of Possibilities Publishing Company. She is also on the faculty at Story District, where she has been teaching the art of storytelling for almost 10 years.