The second week of MadeGlobal interviews continues today with CEO, Tim Ridgway.
Photo of Tim and Adrienne at Hampton Court Palace courtesy of Tim Ridgway © 2016
Thank you so much for giving us a sneak peek into the world of publishing! What made you decide to step into the publishing world?
What a great question, and probably the million-dollar one! I’ve been self-employed for a very long time, working in all kinds of industries. My educational background is in electronic engineering, of all things! When Claire, my wife, began working as a freelance writer, it didn’t take long for her love of history, and Anne Boleyn in particular, to take over our lives. It was then one of her “fans” who suggested we make a compilation of the top articles from her website, and to publish it in a book. We accepted the challenge – not really knowing what on earth it all meant! Now, when we take on a project, we like to go full-on, and the result was our first book, “The Anne Boleyn Collection”. It was a HUGE success. We sold well over 100,000 copies of this book very quickly. It was thrilling and scary at the same time. But, since it was so successful, Claire began work on her second, and then third book. All of them were big successes too.
How did this turn into running a successful publishing company, you might ask… well, when you’re successful, people want to join in that success. I started to have people ask whether we’d be interested in helping to publish their book too. We knew nothing about that either, but accepted the challenge, and grew from that point. We now have books by authors from the UK, USA, Australia, Netherlands, Canada. We’ve branched out and had a few books translated into Spanish. We’re having an audio book narrated. The list of things we now do in the book world is very long!
What does a day-in-the-life of Tim Ridgway, CEO look like?
Up early to get the kids off to school. Then a nice long walk with the dogs to keep fit. And then the rest of the day is spent in front of my computer screen, dealing with emails from existing and future authors, dealing with issues from printers, writing posts for the website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Creating marketing material for authors who are doing promotion of their books. Sending manuscripts to our readers, and then accepting those we want to take on. Keeping books moving through the production process from manuscript to launch and beyond. Oh, and recording videos each week for Claire’s history website! Keeps me busy.
What is one of the greatest challenges in your role?
Another million-dollar question. I’d have to say keeping on top of the number of streams of things we do while also living life. Emails seem to take an increasing amount of time, and that’s natural as we take on more authors to publish. My wonderful PA helps to take some of the pressure, but it’s always non-stop here!
I know that one of your greatest passions, outside of publishing, is music – so I have to ask – who are your favourite musicians/bands?
I play in a local rock band, which is a lot of fun and has recently taken us to playing in front of about 800 people. That was amazing fun! But I wouldn’t say that rock was my ideal musical genre. I’d like to play in a jazz band again (I used to play jazz all the time when I was younger). There’s no call for it near me though.
In terms of favourite bands – it used to be “The Ozric Tentacles”, who I absolutely adore. Fantastic bass player and all round great musicians. But as I’ve got older, I think my tastes have mellowed. I’m getting into “Everything Everything” at the moment. Again, they’re great musicians and song writers. Oh, I also adore Ingrid Michaelson’s songs. They really touch my soul. But the absolute favourite has to be Prince. So sad that he passed before I got a chance to see him live.
David’s harp, Beethoven’s piano, Benny Goodman’s clarinet, Jimi Hendrix’s guitar…history is filled with musical artists and their treasured instruments. If you could choose any famous instrument to play, which would it be?
What an interesting question! I can’t play harp, so that wouldn’t suit me. I do play piano, but the old ones really don’t sound as good as modern ones, so that wouldn’t suit either. I can play clarinet, but I don’t really like the instrument. Hendrix’s guitar would be amazing to try, but I think that actually, I’d prefer to hear him playing it! No, for me, it would be Charlie Parker’s saxophone. That would be so amazing to play. Just don’t have him listen to me while I’m doing it as it won’t be as good as him!
As a publisher, books play a huge role in your life. Are there any that you’ve read over your lifetime that have had special meaning or really influenced you?
I’m writing this answer surrounded by books – thousands of them. So yes, books do play a big part in my life. However, it’s strange that these days I don’t read as much as I used to. I have people to do the reading of the books we publish, so I don’t read much of them at all! It’s also ironic that the books I would list as influencing me are not historical at all, yet the books we publish are mostly in the history genre, both fiction and non-fiction.
My absolute top book of all time – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I love it. But I know that none of the rest of my family like it at all. So, I guess it’s a bit like my taste in music – a guilty pleasure that I’ll just have to enjoy on my own!
What advice would you give to fledgling authors looking to publish their books?
There’s so much advice that pops into my head, it’s really hard to know where to start or what to put down. Above all, have confidence in yourself and your writing (and yes, I know that is hard for many authors). Write your book to the best of your knowledge and ability. Pour your heart into it. BUT be aware that for publishers, there are certain genres which will sell, and others which won’t. If you want to have someone do the actual publishing for you, you need to think deeply about the topic you want to write about, and whether the rest of the world is interested.
Get someone to look at your writing quite early on. But don’t ask for them to tell you how great you are. You should be asking “I’ve written this, and I want you to be honest and tell me all the places where it could be improved”. Being told you’re great doesn’t help you. Criticism is the way to learn.
Grow a thick skin and keep on. It’s tough to be an author. You have to market yourself, pour out your inner emotions, your vision, and your hard work in to a vacuum. You need to know that people won’t like what you write, that people can be hurtful, that you’ll get bad reviews and get knocked back. If you accept that when you start out, you’ll be better prepared for it when it happens.
In all things in life, it’s who you know, not what you know. Start immediately to get into the radar of those who will be helpful to you. Connect with local writing groups, national groups, international societies. Make friends with publishers through their social media (and if they ignore you, move on as that’s the treatment you’ll get when you’re published too!). Start a book club. Get blogging on your OWN website. Befriend other authors in your genre (by being helpful, not creepy!). Contribute. Help others to grow and you’ll grow too. Then, when you’re ready to launch your book on the world, this will all come back to multiply and amplify what you’ve done.
And my final, really important point, is … DO NOT get sucked into the world of vanity press. I see so many people’s finances ruined, hopes broken, spirits destroyed because they thought that they needed to pay to get their book published. YOU DO NOT NEED TO PAY TO BE PUBLISHED. If someone is telling you that you are an amazing author, and all you need to do is to pay $2000 to get it onto the market, you’re being conned. Don’t do it. Wait. Find a publisher who wants your work. Or learn how to self-publish properly (though I’d also say that this is not as good as having a publisher!). Just don’t fall into that trap. It’s too easy to be fooled.
MadeGlobal specializes in historical publications, both fiction and non, are there any other genres you’d love to see submitted? Any person or era in particular you’d like to see a book about?
We’re starting to realise our limitations. Obviously, I’d love to publish all the amazing manuscripts that come past my desk, but there are only so many that will survive in the real world. So, no, for now I’m quite happy that we’re helping historical authors to get out into the world, and that’s a great community to be involved with. I suppose I’d like to have an amazing book about Henry VII turn up in my inbox, or John Dee, or Jane Grey. Fiction or non-fiction, I’m not fussed!
There has been some chatter online lately about dwindling book sales across the board, with many authors expressing some anxiety. As someone who is in the industry, what would you say to encourage them to keep writing?
There’s not just chatter. It is a full choir singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. There is no question – book sales are down. I have my own theories as to why this is, backed up by our experiences with our authors. I feel that Amazon have been a victim of their own success. They’ve stuffed everyone’s kindles with free or cheap books that most people won’t ever have the time to read. This is then compounded by modern technology of the 24-hours-a-day information that we are all subject to. People have less time to read and more books than they could ever read.
What does that mean for an author? Well, it means that you book needs to be REALLY gripping, and REALLY well written, with an AMAZING cover design. It also means that you’ve got to work harder than ever to let people know you exist. You can’t just publish a book and expect even a single person to read it these days. You’ve got to work your backside off!
Finally, a question I ask everyone…If you could invite 5 people, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would you invite?
Ahhh… who indeed! I’d like to chat with Mahatma Gandhi, my grandfather Douglas Thompson, Napoleon Hill, Henry Ford, and my all-time hero, Richard Buckminster-Fuller.
For more information about Tim Ridgway and MadeGlobal publishing, visit http://www.Madeglobal.com
Don’t forget, the contest for Claire Ridgway’s course on Anne Boleyn continues! Please leave a comment below describing your 5-person dinner party guest list!