So you want to be a publisher? A Masterclass with Bobby Nayyar


Working for big companies can be good. You have bigger budgets for marketing cool authors and a regular pay cheque. They are efficient. But they can also be machines. Bobby Nayyar, former graduate trainee at Faber and marketer at Little, Brown, gave us his advice at last week’s MA Publishing Masterclass on how to take creative control by setting up your own business.

With technological changes in the industry, especially since 2005, the barriers to entry for new publishers have never been lower. According to Bobby, understanding print is the key – printing groups like St Ives plc. and CPi offer a wide range of options, so short digital runs can now save expensive warehousing costs.

Working in-house in marketing, Bobby learned how all aspects of the publishing process moulded together, and in 2009 he set up Glasshouse Books, now Limehouse Books.


He shared his experience in a list of the top five areas to get right:

1. Finance
Lots of businesses start in a recession; people want change and have time to make it happen. Getting the money is a challenge. Beside the banks, there may be wider funding available through grants, sponsors or business partners. But the cash that flows may have to be from your own well. Bobby was able to borrow his start-up cost of £10,000 from family.

2. Logistics
‘How would you move Mount Fuji’? You need to know your supply chain and work out your distribution options and trading terms, from credit period to cash collection, discounts, sales commission and returns. Oh – and don’t forget the VAT on e-publishing turnover! Limehouse use Turnaround Publisher Services.

3. Legal
Protecting yourself and your assets is essential; from copyright to contract, taxes, and terms and conditions.
What kind of company do you want to incorporate? How do you register your trademark? You need to answer these questions and pay attention to the small print. For example, Glasshouse had to change to Limehouse after a company registration search.

Without taking care of the business above, Bobby stresses, you don’t get to do the creative stuff i.e. the fun points on the list:

4. Creative
Now you can go for it. Swap your book keeping hat temporarily for your creative cap. Content, branding, building a community of readers and purchasers – this is why you’re in business, and why you’ve got to get 1-3 right.

5. People
You. Your network. Your customers. You are the ‘Managing Dictator’; marshalling finance, logistics and legal. You are also the CEO – the Creative Enthusiastic Organiser.

Thanks to Bobby for the advice – though having set up two businesses myself, I have to say a business plan at the start is another essential to help turn sand into concrete blocks.

To see how Mr Nayyar’s latest gamble has paid off, check out his poker publishing hand.

He ended his lively session with a poem by Charles Bukowski – ‘So you want to be a writer?

For more tips from Bobby, check out this post from his blog, ‘The Year of Publishing Dangerously‘.

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One response to “So you want to be a publisher? A Masterclass with Bobby Nayyar

  1. Pingback: Publishing Now: The Golden Age of Innovation | Kingston Publishing: inspiring future publishers·

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