Monthly Archives: October 2011

Global Book Deal Is Write Move For Students

An international project will see budding authors from the University of Derby write a book published through a top overseas publishing house and distributed throughout the world.

A literary fiction by third-year BA (Hons) Creative Writing degree course student will be published for sale in UK and USA.

India-based ROMAN Books – which supplies works of fiction and literary criticism to major booksellers in America and the UK, such as Amazon, Waterstones and Barnes & Noble – will work with writers to develop their book for commercial sale.

The unusual arts deal has been developed by the publishing house’s founder Suman Chakraborty and Prof. Jason Lee, Head of Film and Media with Creative Writing and Professional Writing at the University of Derby. The project is supported by the British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur (YCE) programme, which aims to promote a professional network between creative entrepreneurs in India, UK and internationally to inspire and facilitate the sharing of best practices, skills, provides access to resources and market and offers professional development opportunities.  

Once the book is ready for publication Mr Chakraborty will visit the University of Derby to give a guest lecture to aspiring authors, on how publishing houses can encourage new writing talent.

Profits from the venture will be used as capital for next year in order to make this Indo-British project a regular event for University of Derby students.

Aanchal Sodhani, the Project Manager of British Council India’s Cultural & Creative Economy Unit, added: “We were happy to support this project through the Young Creative Entrepreneur grant as we found the skills development aspect of the project particularly interesting – that is, to develop the skills of new writers to understand market requirements, audience needs, marketing and promotional aspects, selling of rights and thereby becoming ready to be published internationally.”   

Professor Jason Lee said: “Every writer has the dream of seeing their work published. Having the opportunity of working closely with writers, editors, and a publisher backed by the British Council, is a fantastic opportunity for Derby University students. Internationally, it also reveals how the University is further establishing its global presence in the cultural and creative industries, through the work of its own students and academics.”

Mr Chakraborty added: “We work primarily in the overseas market—mainly in UK and USA. We have a team of sales representatives working in the UK where we work with the market leaders of the book industry. Our titles are regularly featured in the largest British book-industry magazine, The Bookseller. This collaboration with University of Derby strengthens our bond with the United Kingdom—thanks to the British Council YCE initiative which has always remained an extremely encouraging part of my career as a creative entrepreneur.”

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Five essentials investors look for in Creative Businesses

Following are the five essentials that creative entrepreneurs should focus on when approaching investors as highlighted during a recent pitching session with UK investors

1. Clarity of thought: Clearly articulate the core business idea focussing on what it aims to achieve. During the organic growth of the business, there is a tendency for the idea to expand and diversify which the entrepreneur feels compelled to cater to. However, it is essential to regularly re-focus to develop a growth strategy that is clearly in line with what the business had essentially set out to achieve.

2. Market knowledge: Clear understanding of the target customer and size of market the business is catering to. Does the market already exist or are you creating a market for your product or service? Is it a niche or mass market? If it exists, concentrate on one or two markets at a time while expanding your business. Know your competition well and their market share. The organic growth of your business can be the most sustainable option.

3. Team: Investors are always sceptical about one-man / woman businesses which are how most creative businesses are structured in the initial years. Build a team based on individual competencies which match with role requirements within the organisation’s structure. Clarity about roles and responsibilities, one’s ability to delegate is essential for smooth operation especially when you’re thinking about scaling up.

4. Building your brand & positioning it: Identify the core strength of your business and continuously reinstate that amongst your customers. Your existing customer base is crucial to your growth as word of mouth promotion is the most basic way to build your brand. Be clear about where you are now and where you would want your brand to be going forward. Collaborate with bigger brands to position yourself amongst the bigger players. Network and nurture relationships with those who will be your natural brand ambassadors.

5. Valuation of your business: Move away from only focussing on the qualitative analysis and success of your business. Focus on numbers and financials instead. This is essential as it will determine how much money you can ask for. Conversely it will portray the strength of your ability to get high enough return on investment for the investor.

For creative businesses, VC and private equity should not always be seen as the only source of investment as the rate of return is the highest when dealing with them. Please understand that they are business people who but naturally want to make the most of their investment. Government grants & schemes, banks, philanthropic institutions and foundations, corporate houses, family run businesses, and the quintessential ‘family, friends & fools’ are suitable options too. In each case, you will need to define a ‘hook’ and pitch your idea differently. If you’re profitable, plough that money back into your business and you may not need to look for outside investment. If you’re still keen to work with a VC, it might help to get them to mentor you instead. It is a good way for making them understand your business and see its growth. Their understanding of your capabilities & strength as an entrepreneur also helps to build a level of confidence & trust that is mutual. In future the same mentor can become your potential investor!

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