Nicola Martinez is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Pelican Book Group where she is blessed to work with a group of talented authors and staff.
I’m so pleased she agreed to an interview. This month, I’ve talked to publishers who have started their own companies. How many of you have thought of doing the same thing? An intriguing idea, but a lot of work is involved. Work, prayer, and a learning process, every step of the way.
I hope you enjoy reading Nicola’s answers to my questions. Feel free to ask questions in the comment section. And check out the websites given on each of these interviews. Some of them contain guidelines for you to submit your query letters or manuscripts.
Betty: Why did you decide to start your own publishing company?
Nicola: Starting a publishing company was a desire I had many years before Pelican Book Group came to fruition, but ultimately, I see Pelican as a ministry–a way to bring the Gospel to people in an entertaining and approachable manner.
Betty: How did you begin? (Research? Study? Jump in and learn along the way?)
Nicola: I have to say I began by “all of the above.” I always do a lot of research of the market specifically and of business strategies in general–even today. But when it came down to it, I did rather just “jump in.” But, I didn’t just jump in without any relevant skills. I acquired many skills through a series of life experiences that seemed unrelated at the time because Pelican wasn’t even a thought back then.Through different employment opportunities, I learned hands-on about bookkeeping, taxes, business management, customer and employee relations, advertising and marketing, branding. Years before Pelican Book Group, I was self-employed and owned both a print shop and a Christian bookstore, so I got a taste of that part of the industry from graphic design to production, to retail. I’m a published author, and spent many years as an editor–first for a newspaper and then for a book publisher before Pelican Book Group launched. And, then there’s the fact that I’m a mother, so we know how to do everything, anyway, right? I could go on and on, but ultimately, a lot of what I needed to know was floating around in the vast, sometimes seemingly empty, expanse of my brain. God prepared it all and then pulled it together. (Well, He’s still pulling it all together. We are a work in progress.)
Betty: What are some of the obstacles you have encountered?
Nicola: The greatest obstacle I’ve encountered–and one I think every small publisher and indie-author has to face–is that of discoverability. Reaching readers (and convincing them to purchase one of our stories) when there are so many titles published each day is a constant battle (So if you’re so inclined, please do “shout about us from the rooftops!”). Then, there are always the “normal” obstacles of technical glitches, personal illness, encountering the unscrupulous, etc. All-in-all, however, I think we’re pretty blessed that things run as smoothly as they do. We put out approximately four titles per month utilizing a very small staff. We have a process, we put out quality stories, and the obstacles, I give to the Lord to deal with. He’s better at that than I am. (although, sometimes I do have to scream and pout for a minute. We call it “Whiny Tuesday.”)
Betty: How do you stand out from other small publishers?
Nicola: I’m not sure how to answer that question accurately. I don’t try to stand out–just to stand firm. Perhaps other Christian publishers try to do the same, and if so, Pelican isn’t really standing out from those others. In standing firm, though, I do my best to uphold the Gospel in my life, business, and in the books we publish (I believe there’s a trickle-down to living for Christ: Our books can’t witness to the Truth, if I, as an individual, am not doing so in my own life); so I try to keep my focus on what He wants, not what I want. I believe the rest — the standing out from others, garnering readers, etc. — follows all that and will happen naturally as God wills it.
Betty: Everyone always likes to share their horror stories, so let’s go another way. What has been your greatest blessing since you started your publishing company?
Nicola: There are so many blessings, I’m not sure I can pin-point a “greatest.” Working with talented authors and staff is a huge blessing. If I didn’t have excellent, moral people to work with, I’d probably go insane. Then there’s the awesome blessing of hearing from readers who feel blessed themselves by our books, and of authors who are realizing a dream by being published. And, of course, there are untold and countless blessings that come from the peace of knowing we’re doing something for Him and because of Him.
Thank you so much, Nicola Martinez, for participating in my interview. Readers, you can find more information about Nicola, her companies, and books at these sites:
Pelican Book Group (website)
Straight to the Books – see what they have available!