How to launch your own project

You have a great idea, and some buddies to help you get it off the ground. Now what?! The Skinny's Books Editor – and one half of indie publishing success story 404 Ink – shares her tips on getting your big plans moving in the right direction

Feature by Heather McDaid | 14 Sep 2018

1. Take the leap
In the case of 404 Ink, my co-founder Laura and I were talking about what we’d do if we set up a publisher, and got to the point of questioning: “What’s the worst that can happen? Let’s do it and see how it goes.” It’s easy to talk yourself around in circles, but ultimately, it might be worse to wonder what would have happened.

2. Ask for help
Is there someone working in the area you’d like to? Ask them for advice. Some will be happy to meet up for a coffee, others will answer questions via email. Find organisations who support your area; there’s plenty out there – Publishing Scotland (books), PPA Scotland (magazines), for example – and they’re there to help!

3. Do what you want!
It’s your chance to be your own boss, so don’t limit yourself. If you think you can do something or should, then go for it. Take advice where you can, but if you really believe in your idea in then it’s no bad thing to stick to it.

We were repeatedly told publishing our debut Nasty Women within four months of the idea was too quick, but we felt we could do it well. We ended up raising over £20,000 on Kickstarter, gaining support from the likes of Margaret Atwood and Ali Smith, it went on to be the bestselling book at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, rights sold to Audible, and more. Stick to your gut!

4. Stuff goes wrong, and that’s alright
It’s easy for something to go wrong and it can feel like the end of the world. It’s not, and the sooner you realise that the easier it will be to deal with. Everyone deals with stress, you just don’t see it. We touched on this in our blog ‘We are tired AF’ at the end of 2017.

5. Enjoy it!
It’s said a lot, but self-care is important. It’s your project, you’re working for yourself, and while there will be stress, if you’re not enjoying it then it’s okay to step back and reassess. Being your own boss and doing something you love is amazing – make sure you’re not working yourself into the ground, and that you’re enjoying it along the way.

404 Ink is the award-winning alternative independent book publisher run by two freelancers in Edinburgh. In two years they've published titles including Nasty Women and Hings and were the first publishers to win a Scottish EDGE award for business growth. Find more at and @404ink.