Wake early. Drink coffee. Open laptop. Close laptop for dinner. After dinner, I just surf sites looking for inspiration and ideas. Repeat. I run out for meetings that I always try to have in a park or coffee shop, if I can.
Beth Wareham spent 15 years in the commercial publishing houses of New York City as a publicist, director of publicity, editor and publisher before leaving to launch children’s author Sandra Boynton’s app The Going to Bed Book. She has edited Temple Grandin’s Animals in Translation, two editions of Joy of Cooking, cookbooks by Bobby Flay and Al Roker, the mega-bestsellers of Dr. Mark Hyman and Geneen Roth’s Women Food and God. She is CEO of ShadowTeams in New York City.
Where did the idea for ShadowTeams come from?
After watching the collision of old world publishing with the new world order, I stepped back and looked for what was missing. I saw some self-published writers succeeding and many others not succeeding. What was the difference? Platforms for self-publishing churned out cookie cutter books, riddled with errors, that looked even worse than big box publishing. So, we immediately put together teams of editors, copy editors and designers to produce beautiful, error-free books based on the best publishing practices. Editing is a finely honed skill.
Teams come together and break apart, as needed, and are based on what the author requests. We are worldwide and we get things accomplished in a nano-second.
Most self-published authors have more tech knowledge than whole departments of marketers, so we leverage every part of their activities, if we can. We also help writers develop, give them a fine editorial mind to play off, and become better at what they do. Write.
What does your typical day look like?
Wake early. Drink coffee. Open laptop. Close laptop for dinner. After dinner, I just surf sites looking for inspiration and ideas.
Repeat. I run out for meetings that I always try to have in a park or coffee shop, if I can.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Any idea that gains traction in my head soon goes into the “stupid questions” phase. I start asking people who I believe might understand the idea questions, often stupid. As I progress in the “stupid questions” phase, I do a lot of research. Is the idea out there? In what form is the out there? On what product is it used? Is it easily describable – a sentence or less? If all of these activities don’t dissuade me, I work on how the idea translates into a better product for everyone.
Ideas are also hugely important because one is born of one problem but actually ends up solving another. It’s always a surprise.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Washio! UberX! I love these apps that make living simpler. People need more time to be human beings.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Since my first professional training was as a publicist, I don’t miss deadlines. I let nothing pile up. Use it or lose it works.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My worst job was as a Vice President for a large New York corporation. Even the paycheck didn’t compensate for that experience. I had just never seen that many people not getting anything done in my life.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’d skip the corporate nonsense and learn what I needed to know about the industry in a different way.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Devour the news. Read the business pages. Watch BBC. Log onto Politico. This is about your mind and stimulating it. Also, the more you know and understand about the world, the more you’ll know your customer. The more you’ll make connections between what you do and how it fits into the large picture. You’ll also be a lot more fun to talk to at parties. That matters too.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Our main strategy could be described as OPEN. Publishing has changed enormously in the last 5 years. We are looking at new structures – embedding film in books to offer an alternative ending or moving and simplifying a book’s index into front matter – that could change what we think when we think the word “book.”
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My first two failures as an entrepreneur happened because I thought someone else would help me do it. Successful partnerships abound: That’s not what I’m talking about. Inside myself, I wasn’t completely committed. Inside myself, I wanted handholding. I wanted someone to weep with if I failed.
Quite frankly, the word “entrepreneur” has a brave quality about it and I wasn’t brave enough yet. I now know that’s is all part of the arc – you’ve got to know when you’re ready to be an entrepreneur.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I want a bar where you can get your dog groomed. Everyone can watch it through the glass as you have a few beers. If someone opens it, call me.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
A member of the Jackass cast asked me out. I wanted to go because he had also starred on “The World’s Stupidest Criminals.”
What software and web services do you use?
What do you love about them?
Twitter is home base. Everyone laughs at me, but I do so much business on twitter and switch to email only if details get lengthy. Everyone I need is there and by God, they have to keep it short.
Instagram is interesting because I want to learn how to make visual jokes. I’m used to the verbal kind.
I look at Facebook for the babies.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
West with the Night by Beryl Markum.
She wrote this book in 1938 while working as a bush pilot in Africa. It’s a beautifully written love song to a life of wonder, exploration, risk and joy.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I fell hard for the wondrous minds of quantum mechanics – Bohr, Heisenberg, etc. Is it science? Is it philosophy? Is it just magic?