Interviewing the CEO of New Paige Press
Today is going to be something a little different, and I really hope you all love it. I was able to sit down on the phone with the CEO of a company called PuckerMob by the name of Jay Miletsky who is also the owner of a new publishing company called New Paige Press. His new company has just released their first book, and I was lucky enough to get an interview with him.
Amanda: Jay, thank you for taking the time out of your day to answer a few of my questions. I know that writing has always been my passion in life, and it’s clear to see that it’s yours as well. Can you tell me and my readers a little bit about yourself?
Jay: My pleasure. Actually, writing has never been a big passion of mine. It's something I've always been pretty good at, but I can't say I've ever LOVED writing. When I graduated from college, I started my own marketing agency, and I taught myself how to use Photoshop. I picked up pretty quickly (this was in the early days when Photoshop was first launched). I gained some notoriety for my command of the program and was asked by Pearson Publishing to write a book on how to use it. That sold pretty well, so I wrote a few more. As my agency grew, I switched and started writing books on branding, marketing, and social media. It was only recently, as I've read a lot to my daughter, that I gave any thought to writing a children's book.
Amanda: So I was apart of the KickStart campaign that helped fund your newest project, New Paige Press. I know for myself that was an insane opportunity. What made you want to start the company?
Jay: When I wrote my children's book, my first thought was to seek out a traditional publisher. And I found some agents that were interested in helping me. But by then, I had already written 11 business books for traditional publishers and knew that it takes them forever to get books out, and the amount that I could make would be limited. With my background in business, I decided instead to get some investors together and launch my own children's book publishing company, called New Paige Press. That way we'd be able to make more and have more control over the quality of the books and the timelines.
Amanda: Where do you see New Paige Press and PuckerMob heading in the near future? How is 2018 shaping up to be for these companies?
Jay: New Paige Press and PuckerMob are completely separate entities. PuckerMob, which is owned by another company I started, called Sequel Media International, is honestly in for some rough waters. This is a tough time for digital content publishers, as Facebook is making it harder to reach audiences, so we need to be more creative when it comes to how we can increase our traffic. New Paige Press, on the other hand, is in its very early stages - I think there's a lot of potentials, but we have a lot of work to do to get consumers to find and buy our books more easily.
Amanda: What made you really decide that writing and having a creative outlet that people of all ages can take advantage of was something you wanted to do with your life?
Jay: I never really thought of it that way. The reason I wrote my children's book was more because I saw a need in the marketplace. My daughter has cerebral palsy, so although she's 5 years old, she can't walk or talk yet, although she tries hard to do both, and in the meantime is a very happy little girl. One of the reasons why I believe she’s made the cognitive progress that she has is because I’ve read to her virtually every night since she was born. And although I’ve already read her anything that’s on the shelves at my local Barnes and Noble, I’ve noticed that most of the books that are available for and about kids with special needs are cringe-worthy, and I would never feel comfortable reading them to my daughter. They often tend to be passion projects by distraught parents looking for an outlet, and as such, they come off as depressing and make the disability the main focus. This not only creates a poor reading experience for the intended audience, but it alienates the wider market - the reality is that parents of developmentally typical kids won’t buy a book with a protagonist in a wheelchair on the cover. I wanted to do something that was far more subtle - write a book that has a positive, hopeful and meaningful message to families of kids with disabilities, but at the same time provide a story and characters that could be enjoyed by a wider market. My book, “Ricky the Rock that Couldn't Roll" does that - it never mentions a disability, and never shows a wheelchair, gait trainer or any other equipment, so developmentally typical kids see it as a story of perseverance and friendship…while parents of kids like my daughter immediately recognize the parallels to their own stories, punctuated by a message that highlights my belief that these kids can prosper in their own way if they’re given the right care, love, and attention.
Amanda: Many schools today are getting rid of their writing and art curriculum if they haven’t already. My school got rid of the Creative Writing class in my sophomore year, and I was devastated as were many others. Why do you feel this is happening, and what can we do to change it?
Jay: Art and writing programs at schools have been coming under fire since I was in grade school. I doubt that will ever change. Budgets are what they are, unfortunately. Perhaps students could do fundraisers or seek out other options to help raise the budgets to keep the programs alive and well.
Amanda: Here is your chance to say one thing that you have always wanted to say about the importance of the creative arts that you wish people knew.
Jay: It's a lot harder than it sounds! It's easy to daydream about having your name on the cover of a book, and to see that book on the shelf of a bookstore...it's a whole other thing to actually do it!