An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

I don’t just mean rest — I mean taking some time away from the business to review where you’ve got to, how you feel about it, and where you want to go next. It means looking at your strategy and really investigating whether it’s still working. It’s creating a new path, even if you use the original map, and then rising to the next challenge.

As a part of our series called “Making Something From Nothing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily E K Murdoch.

Emily E K Murdoch, USA Today Bestselling Author of historical romance. Her background in academia has led to studying in the Bodleian Library, designing exhibits at the Yorkshire Museum, and researching for Ian Hislop/BBC documentaries. With over fifty books published, she now writes full time.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I was born and raised in South East England, in a home that respected learning and understanding greatly. My parents encouraged me to read widely and to be creative, and from a very young age I knew I wanted to be an author. Though there isn’t really a particular career track for being an author, history and literature became my obsession. I studied History and English at university, and then a Mediaeval Studies MA because I just couldn’t leave academia with a little more knowledge! I was always writing as a child, and I completed my first novel at twenty one.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Tomorrow is a fresh day, with no mistakes in it.” I might have quoted that slightly incorrectly (!), but it’s by L. M. Montgomery, the author of the Anne of Green Gables series. I’m the sort of person who just has bad days sometimes, nothing seems to go right, and those are the days that I take off creative work, do admin and almost nothing else, and try again tomorrow.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I adore the podcast “Witch Please”, an intersectional feminist literary podcast focused on the world of Harry Potter. It’s easy to feel like reading becomes ‘work’ when you are an author, and this is one of the podcasts that has helped me lose myself entirely in a fictional world.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. Can you share a few ideas from your experience about how to overcome this challenge?

I think firstly you have to be certain that this is an idea that actually works. I know that sounds daft, but it’s easy to get lost in an idea that you become obsessed with, stuck in an echo chamber of your own making. Checking in with other people to sense check is always a good idea.

Then I’d recommend considering whether you are willing to dedicate the next few years of your life to this. Are you willing to eat, sleep, live, and breathe it? Are you happy to leave all other ideas behind and focus on this entirely?

And thirdly, consider what you may have to give up to achieve it. For example, being a full time author has been a dream of mine all my life — but I knew it wasn’t just going to fall into my lap. I worked a full time day job for 8 years while writing on the side (about 80+ hours a week) to get there.

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

I mean…is it a terrible problem if someone else has thought of it?

Okay, stay with me. Obviously you don’t want to be plagiarising — it’s a common fear in the creative world, and most people who are worried about it are likely not to fall into it, by definition. But one idea can be executed in a thousand ways.

Take my books as an example. How many Regency romances are there about bluestockings who fall in love with dukes? Hundreds. Thousands. Perhaps tens of thousands.

But every single one of them has been expressed differently. Explored differently. Imagined differently.

And that means there doesn’t have to be a gatekeeper saying, “Sorry, that’s enough bluestocking meets duke books.”

If it’s a good idea, then there will be people desperate for it. No one decides not to found a chocolate company because there already are hundreds.

For the benefit of our readers, can you outline the steps one has to go through, from when they think of the idea, until it finally lands in a customer’s hands? In particular, we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it.

The creative world is often missing in conversations about entrepreneurship, but at the end of the day, I create a product, package it up, and people buy it all over the world.

So I’m going to approach this as a digital entrepreneur.

First, I have an idea — usually in series, because I want to have a good experience for the reader as they go through the set. Then I outline, plot, and then write the book. Obviously it’s far more complicated than that, but it would be an entirely separate interview to go in detail! I have a course specifically for authors that is designed to help speed up this process.

Then the process goes in one of two directions. If I am self-publishing, I’ll need to commission a cover, work with an editor, then a proofreader. Then I get the cover and manuscript back, and I format them into a digital version that Amazon and other online bookstores require. After upload, I can start selling.

On the other hand, if I’m sending the book to my publisher, then I’ll send it over to them, and they are wonderful enough to do the rest of the process.

But of course, it doesn’t stop there. Getting the book into the hands of readers means finding the readers. I have a newsletter, multiple social media channels, a website, and take part in multiple promos. My publishers run ads, book promos, and more.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started Leading My Company” and why?

  1. You have to have passion but also organisation.

I always think that the best companies have a visionary and an administrator at the top. You need a big picture vision, an idea of where you’re going — but you also need to know how to get there. If you’re naturally leaning towards one, make sure you don’t neglect the other.

2. Good days will follow bad for no known reason.

It can be so frustrating to feel like you’re on a roll, but then everything just seems to tumble down. It’s not you. Honestly. At least, sometimes it is but most of the time, that’s just the randomness of the world. Allow yourself to wallow. Dust yourself off. Then keep going.

3. Holidays, vacations, and weekends are precious.

One of the challenges I found, as the only person in my company for so long, was rest. Rest, it turns out, is way more important than I thought! I didn’t have 2 consecutive days off in…eight years? And it was burning me out. Setting aside time to relax, switch off, and spend time with loved ones — and alone — is absolutely vital if you want your business to grow long term.

4. Never trust someone offering the world.

It’s so difficult to know sometimes who to believe when you’re out of your comfort zone, but trust your gut. If something seems to be too good to be true, then it probably is. Really question, and don’t worry about being too intrusive. If someone gets defensive if you probe into their promises, then their promises probably aren’t worth much.

5. Review, reset, and rise.

I don’t just mean rest — I mean taking some time away from the business to review where you’ve got to, how you feel about it, and where you want to go next. It means looking at your strategy and really investigating whether it’s still working. It’s creating a new path, even if you use the original map, and then rising to the next challenge.

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

I know this probably sounds silly…but check that no one else has patented it before you! Intellectual property, patents, things like that — you want to make sure that you’re not accidentally treading on the toes of someone else. Even when these things are completely coincidental, you don’t want to be landed with a lawsuit. Most people don’t think of that!

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

It really depends on their experience. If you have experience, theoretical and practical, then it might be that you can start off alone — but there’s never anything that can be created completely in isolation. You’ll always want to look to collaborate with experts in other fields.

But if you have no experience, or you’re not one hundred percent sure that you are the best person to go alone, then ask for recommendations and referrals. You want to be certain that who you work with has already succeeded at what you are asking them to do.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

Well, I’m not a financial advisor! I bootstrapped: it doesn’t take a huge amount of money to start off as an author, but you still need to invest. Working with editors, formatters, proofreaders, cover designers, setting up a website…

It all costs.

But there will obviously be plenty of other launches that will require significant investment, and for those who don’t have ready money, venture capital may feel like the only option.

But it’s not — there are grants, bursaries, small investments, fellowships, support from creative industries or charities. You can take out a loan. You can crowdfund.

Venture capital might be an option, but it’s often difficult for people from marginalised backgrounds to be taken seriously by big faceless corporations. That’s why some of these alternatives, especially if combined, may make all the difference.

Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I’m really passionate about helping others up into the world that I’ve managed to enter. There weren’t any authors that I could ask advice from when I was young, and it was almost impossible for me to imagine what an author did every day, or how I could make it a part of my career.

So I’ve worked with Arts Emergency, an award-winning mentoring charity and support network. Our Network members share opportunities, contacts and advice, to offer work experience to young people who want to work in the creative writing industry. It’s actually been fascinating for me, I think I’ve got just as much out of it as my mentees have!

You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

More reading.

I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but I believe more reading will make the world a better place. More compassionate. More interested in the world around us and the people around us.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I’d love to meet Dolly Parton. What a heroine she is! Everything she has created in the world has brought joy, and her dedication to getting children reading in America is truly inspirational.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Making Something From Nothing: Emily E K Murdoch Of Authorpreneur On How To Go From Idea To Launch was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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