After helping a coaching client write and launch a book, Sharon Critchlow found herself fielding requests for help from other authors. Sharon talks to The Industry Leaders about how she managed to create a successful publishing business, and have a career in accounting, despite having left school struggling to read or write.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I am a coach and a published author. When a coaching client wanted to write and publish her book, my partner and I decided to help her. We took her through the process and held a book launch to get her book noticed. From that event, we had enquiries about publishing more books. We now have a publishing business specialising in thought leaders who want to create "your book as your business card" to support their business. We also publish inspirational books and compilation books. As a writer and speaker myself, it is a road I have travelled personally, so it is something I have a lot of experience with in terms of what topics will sell and how to present them.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I mentor potential writers to help them to plan their book and look at how their book will interact with their business to bring in more work or raise their profile. I enjoy helping thought leaders bring their business books to life. As I spent over 20 years in financial services and accounting, I am that critical friend who makes sure their book is as brilliant as they are. I proofread most of our books personally to ensure the book flows and challenge authors if I feel additional content or explanation is required. I also coordinate editors, proofreaders and designers and walk our authors through the process.
What gets you excited about your industry?
I love that modern technology has allowed smaller publishing houses like mine to showcase the amazing thought leadership in our community. I get a real buzz from our compilation books as well, where people write a chapter and share their life experiences as it is often the first time they have seen their words in print. It means that people can give hope, inspiration and support to others which is really important in our current times.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
I can remember my aunt once saying that often it doesn't matter what you do, it's more important to try something. I think that is certainly true as fear of failure can prevent you from fulfilling your potential. Many first time authors I meet are afraid that people won't like their book, and I think it's more important that you give it a go.
What, or who inspires you?
Whenever I run out of ideas, I go outside. I love the sea, the sounds that come with it and that salty breeze. It is the perfect reset for me, and I often get my best ideas when walking alongside the seashore. I tend to lose myself in that place, and it gives my logical brain a rest.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I read a lot!! Forums, blogs, journals, literary festivals, and social media keep me informed of changes to the sector. I talk to other publishers and the rest of my team, who are industry professionals. I also have to research items for clients, and my curiosity often leads me to find out more than I really need to!
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
One of the most challenging things I have overcome was leaving school struggling to read and write. By the time I got glasses at age 17, classic routes to higher education were closed to me, but I chose a professional qualifications route and qualified as an accountant at age 23. I will never forget how liberating it feels to be able to read. It really can change your world.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Five years ago, I sold my shares in a business in search of a more rewarding and rounded life. I wanted to contribute to the world. I now publish books, give talks and provide workshops on wellbeing topics and I sit on the Regulatory Board of the global accounting body, ACCA. I have the life I chose.
However, something is missing.
So, the money would be spent mooring a superyacht next to Brad Pitt so I can do all of those things whilst making friends with my new neighbour!
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I love music, so it's gigs, vinyl records and check-ins on social media with the bands I follow. I also enjoy gardening and the big outdoors. I can often be found wandering the country lanes and seashores of Devon singing folk songs. My adulation of the sea, folk music and my love of a good story makes me wonder if I might have been a pirate in a past life!
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
There is still some social stigma around self-publishing which prevents some people from sharing their thoughts or stories with the world. My wish is for that to end. When someone reads your work, and it inspired them, they don't care how it was published.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
There is a group of three books we have published called The Bounce Back Journey series. So far, 63 people have shared amazing stories of bouncing back from adversity in their lives. They are totally inspirational. These books' profits support The Social Passion Project, which gives free mental health awareness training and other wellbeing support to individuals and businesses.
How should people connect with you?
Twitter @DYBpublishing @sharoncritchlow
*Ever wondered what kind of leader you are? Take our free quiz to find out.
**Looking to level-up your leadership skills? Check out our article on the best self-help books for business leaders and entrepreneurs. Thetheindustryleaders.org participates in Amazon's Affiliate Links programme. So, if you click through the highlighted links and buy a book, we may earn Amazon commission (we hope that's a win-win!).