Dreams Coming True is a Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).
Welcome Dawn Carrington, editor-in-chief and business manger at Vinspire Publishing, to Dreams Coming True! Tell us a little about yourself, Dawn.
I, along with three partners, began what was then called Vintage Romance Publishing in 2003. We didn’t launch until February 14, 2004. All four of us came from very different backgrounds. Two of us were already published in fiction, one was a poet, and the other a customer service specialist. We were all friends and unique women that brought something special to the drawing board.
When did this creative dream begin? Vintage Romance Publishing, which later became Vintage Reflections Publishing before finally seguing into Vinspire Publishing, debuted on February 14, 2004. Our website went live at 6:00 p.m. that evening, but the dream because in October 2003.
How did this publishing company get started? Ebooks weren’t really all that popular yet in 2003, but my partners and I had an interest in getting into the digital arena because I had already been published electronically. I can’t think of one aha moment. It was more a series of “let’s think about doing this” that finally became “let’s do this.”
What makes your company stand out from the crowd? Vinspire Publishing is a family friendly publishing company, but I think what really makes us stand out is how we treat both our customers and our authors. We encourage interaction and treat folks as we would like to be treated. And we aren’t afraid of saying “We’re sorry; we made a mistake.” Then we correct that mistake.
What are the goals and intentions of your company? Now that Vinspire Publishing has almost reached its ten-year market, we are focusing on expansion. Our roots are firmly planted, and we are well-established in the industry. I think, now, people believe we’re not going anywhere, which makes authors more comfortable about submitting to us and readers more apt to buy from us.
2014 is going to be our biggest year ever as we’re increasing the number of book releases, and we’ll be moving into our new offices as well.
How does your publishing company create community? The biggest way is that Vinspire Publishing gives back. When we first started, we donated a portion of our proceeds to a domestic violence shelter here in the area. Since that time, we’ve branched out into other charities, including child abuse prevention programs. We’ve helped needy families nominated by our authors. We give to food banks year round, and we donate books to local libraries. We always wanted to show that any business can help a community regardless of the size.
Many have creative ideas but trouble following through with them. What advice would you give to creative types who start projects eagerly . . . but then enthusiasm drizzles off? Create a plan and stick to it. A lot of time the enthusiasm goes by the wayside because the individual loses track of where they’re supposed to be going. You have to have a plan that shows you step-by-step how to build on your dream. You’ll adjust the plan as you go along, but the basic road map stays the same.
Describe the behind-the-scenes effort of your business. Where do the ideas come from? How many are involved in the process? Does each contributer have a specific role? Right now, there are twelve people working behind the scenes with Vinspire. However, we’re about to hire two more acquisitions editors and another office assistant. Everyone does have their specific roles from the editors to proofreaders.
Behind the scenes varies from day to day as would any business. There is focus on marketing, editing, accounting, cover design, calendaring, and exploring new avenues. There are conference calls, e-mails pinging back and forth, and so much more. During the normal course of a business day, we’re all hustling to make sure deadlines don’t get missed and our customers and authors are happy.
What’s been the hardest part about getting it off the ground? Definitely the learning curve. Starting a publishing company has been, without a doubt, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. Even after all the training, reading, learning, you learn that nothing beats experience. Ten years later, I’m still learning. The day we stop learning is the day the company stops growing.
What have you learned? How much I truly don’t know and how much I still need to learn.
I’ve learned that this business isn’t for the faint of heart. You have to have a tough skin to be able to reject an author’s book that they’ve poured their heart and soul into then turn around ten minutes later and praise another author for his or hers.
I’ve learned that marketing and promoting never stops and that the market is constantly changing so we have to change with it. But our core values stay the same.
Have there been any unexpected surprises? Oh, plenty. You quickly discover that handshake agreements can’t be trusted as they once were, and that’s unfortunate. But that’s what contracts are for.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about starting a publishing company? That anyone can do it or that it’s easy. I’ve had people express interest in learning how to open a publishing company, but once they see how much work is involved, they quickly lose that interest. It’s not a get rich quick scheme.
What are some ways you promote your business? We promote a lot through social media, advertising, and networking. I think word of mouth is one of the best ways to spread the news about a business, and I’m constantly talking about it everywhere I go. And we encourage our authors to do the same. We’re blessed to have a great group of authors who want to share the word about all of the books in our catalog.
Creating something is one skill. Marketing and promoting it is an entirely different skill set. How has that gone for you? Shocked by the amount of work marketing takes? Or pleasantly surprised? I knew marketing was going to take a lot of time and effort when Vinspire started. I’m fortunate in that I like that creative aspect of running a business. Thinking of new ways to reach more readers is always on my mind, and, you can ask our marketing director, I’m constantly sending her e-mails with new ideas, some of which don’t always come to fruition. For me, in order for marketing to be successful, you have to enjoy it. If you look at it as a chore, it will show in your efforts. So we try to focus on positive, creative ways to share our books.
Any marketing mistakes you would avoid? I don’t know that I can name any specific mistakes because I believe if you don’t try something, you don’t know if it will work. Have there been things I’ve tried that haven’t worked? Of course, but I don’t believe they were mistakes. What might be a miss for Vinspire could very well be a hit for another publishing company.
What social network has worked best for you? Right now I’d have to say Twitter, but we’re growing our Facebook Fan Page so that could change in a couple of months.
What advice would you give someone else who has a creative dream like yours? Do the research. Educate yourself. And as I mentioned above, have a plan!
Where do you see Vinspire Publishing in five years? I see Vinspire being at least twice the size it is now, if not bigger, with an easily-distinguished brand. We want to be here for a very long time, and the only way we know we can succeed with that is if we treat our authors and readers right. So I see us still learning in the years to come, too.
How can we find your creative dream come true? Our website is ww.vinspirepublishing.com.
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Good news!! I’ll be on tour January 15th through the 20th to various locations in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Check out the details here. I’d love to meet you!!