Crib Sheet #66: Red Hill Publishing’s Sally Collings.

publishing consultancyThinking about what you could be doing successfully?  Think again.  Sally Collings, Brisbane-based author and publisher, shares her thoughts on why what you could be doing successfully differs quite a bit from what you should be doing to find success.  Watch her story in the video below, too.

What business did you start up?

Red Hill Publishing. We’re a Brisbane-based book packager and publishing consultancy and we describe ourselves as ‘The Book Creators’. I also ‘create’ books under my own name: I’ve written four books, the latest being Parenting with Soul (released by HarperCollins Publishers Australia in April 2011.)

What motivated you to do it?

I left the World of the Regular Pay Check when my first daughter was born. Not a planned move, but around the same time both my parents died and I was blown away by the emotional landscape I was in. Once I was able to think about work again, I needed flexibility and I couldn’t imagine being an employee once again, so I started taking on freelance writing and editing. It kind of grew from there: my husband has great skills in management, marketing and design, so we decided it was a marriage made in heaven (in more ways than one) and teamed up to start Red Hill Publishing.

How many children do you have, and how old are they?

Two girls aged six and just-about-to-turn eight.

How long have you been running your business?

In its present form, two and a bit years – but we were working on various publishing projects under various guises for about four years before that.

How long did it take you to start becoming profitable and/or successful, however you choose to measure success?

The four years ‘pre-Red Hill’ were crucial to work out what we were good at, what makes our heart sing, and what hole in the market we should be filling. It’s really been the past six months that we have got those things nailed. Like most business owners (most people, really) there are plenty of things we COULD be doing successfully; we have had to work out what SHOULD we be doing and how to fulfill that vision. For me, success is being clear about what I do, enjoying what I do, and having people asking me to do it. Money coming in the door helps, too.

How did your family react to you starting your own business?

My two girls take enormous pride in showing people the books that mummy and daddy make. Especially the ones I have written. They are my best ambassadors! I suspect some of my adult relatives think we’re kind of nuts to take the risk of running our own business: my family doesn’t have a particular bent towards entrepreneurialism. But I’d like to think they get a bit of a thrill when they hear our books mentioned in the media or see them in bookstores.

Easiest part of your job?

Coming up with new ideas for books. The tricky thing is working out whether I should write them or find someone else to do that part. Sometimes I need to step back and let the right person step in.

Hardest part of your job?

Preparing to do talks at writers’ festivals, schools and community groups. I get the jitters big time, but I’ve come to see that it is all about energy and getting revved up, as I do get great feedback for my talks.

What skill would you most like to improve?

Dealing with conflict. Both in my work life and personal life, I really hate it. But I’m learning to embrace the rage … and see that negative emotions can be used to fuel positive actions!

What tools or advice do you wish you knew then that you know now?

I still wish I knew how to read a balance sheet …

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?

Writing books. It was an ambition that I buried because I didn’t think it was realistic, so now I get a kick out of seeing a book with my name on the cover.

Can you recommend 3 essential websites for moms in, or going into, business?

Women’s Network Australia :: I gained a lot from the networking and resources they offer

Spirituality & Practice :: for when you need an uplifting thought to transcend the chaos

The Book Designer :: if you’re looking to publish books independently or want to know more about how publishing works

Favorite part of a typical day?

Getting to my desk in the morning. Kids are dropped off at school, coffee freshly made, my to-do  list beckoning me – the day is full of possibilities!

And a few more questions, considering that American Express should be featuring more mom entrepreneurs…

Childhood ambition? Back-up singer in a band.

Time of day you get the most work done? Early morning.

Last purchase? MacBook Air – sleek!

Favorite book or magazine? Currently Geraldine Brooks, Caleb’s Crossing

Inspiration? The ocean.

Least likely to… my taxes.

My life…..never ceases to interest me.

Sally Collings


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