Publishing New York Times Bestsellers
Amanda Hayward saw an opportunity for something better.
An avid life-long fan of romance novels and fan-fiction, Hayward set out to write her own book trilogy. Like so many who aspire to create and share their remarkable ideas through traditional means, there came a day when Hayward realized there had to be a better way to publish - not just her own work, but the hundreds of other works she was discovering too.
“My husband was very supportive because writing kept me from shopping,” jokes Hayward. “The more involved I got in it, the more I discovered so many stories from other authors. There were so many creative people that needed a publisher with the guts to put their work out there.”
Hayward then decided to take her love of books beyond writing her own to an even bigger endeavor - starting her own publishing business, the Writer’s Coffee Shop. For Hayward, the defining difference for her imprint, and the difference that has since made the Writer’s Coffee Shop wildly successful, was the simple act of treating authors like real people, with real ambitions.
With a clear vision in mind and a few authors already on board, Hayward turned to Lulu.com and their tools for launching small to medium businesses to help her imprint get started. She’d be able to curate content while using Lulu’s fulfillment and distribution networks to expand her authors’ reach. It would ultimately be Hayward’s passion for the written word and the authors that create them that would make her new company excel.
“Lulu gave us the support and finances right up front,” says Hayward. “There were none of the same hurdles. The way Lulu prints is the way of the future. Print can be so expensive, but the print-on-demand paperback allowed us to not waste so much money. Social media really helped promote the books too and a few of the authors actually had a huge fan base already. The authors themselves promoting their works really helped.”
Soon Hayward’s business grew from 30 authors to 50 and the Writer’s Coffee Shop gained 35 staff members all over the globe, including the UK, US, Belgium, and New Zealand. Hayward met many of the employees online and has editors everywhere.
“A year ago we had more authors than editors. Now the biggest problem with having staff in so many places is never being able to switch off,” laughs Hayward. “There are always people going 24 hours a day due to the time difference but we have a really good team all working on different manuscripts at once.”
With the Writer’s Coffee Shop well on its way, Hayward noticed that the standard of writing from author submissions really started to step up. Some books, like E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey, came out of nowhere to become huge hits. When asked if Hayward ever thought she’d see her business become so successful, she’ll humbly reply: “Oh God no, but it is really cool to have your name up on the New York Times best seller list along with two or three different titles.”
Now the author submissions really started to pour in. Hayward's challenge quickly went from starting a company and hunting for authors to how to deal with so many stories - some 600 a month according to Hayward. Through it all, Hayward stays grounded and she still adheres to the guiding principles that made the Writer’s Coffee Shop such a great, personable company at the start.
“We still try to write back to each author and give feedback or some personal communication,” says Hayward. “It's crazy though, we went from not having a very full schedule, to having titles planned for release through 2014. I’m doing TV interviews everyday now, it doesn’t seem very real but it's fantastic and these are all good problems to have.”
So what’s next for Hayward and the Writer’s Coffee Shop?
“I want to do it all again,” laughs Hayward. “It's been wonderful. I never thought we’d be in this position. It’s been a lot of hard work, but I didn’t do it on my own. I’m very thankful for all the people who have helped. My dad always had a saying though: ‘If you think you’ve done the best you can and that’s it, then you might as well shut up shop and move on.’ You can always do better. We keep getting bigger and outgrowing what we’ve already done. Next, I’d like to expand the Australian market.”
When can we expect to read Hayward’s own book trilogy?
“I don’t know when my trilogy will be done,” chuckles Hayward. “The Writer’s Coffee Shop has become my life and I don’t mind giving up my hobby for something I’m really passionate about. We’re all readers. You know when you pick up a good book you can’t put down. Well, we keep coming across great books and we want to help get them out there.”