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. He is also the owner of a new publishing company called New Paige Press. His new company has just released their first book. I was lucky enough to get an interview with him.
Amanda: Jay, thank you for taking time out of your day to answer a few of my questions for this interview. I know that writing has always been my passion in life. It’s clear to see that it’s important to you as well. Can you tell myself 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 college, I started my own marketing agency. I taught myself how to use Photoshop and picked up pretty quickly. I gained some notoriety for my command of the program and wrote 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 reading 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. The amount that I could make would be limited along with the elongated time span. With my background in business, I got some investors together. I then launched my own children’s book publishing company, called New Paige Press. That way we’d be able to make 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 is owned by another company I started called Sequel Media International. PuckerMob is honestly in for some rough waters. This is a tough time for digital content publishers. Facebook is making it harder to reach audiences. We need to be more creative. New Paige Press is in its very early stages – I think there’s a lot of potential. 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. My reasons I wrote my children’s book was more because I saw a need in the marketplace. My 5-year-old daughter has cerebral palsy. She can’t walk or talk yet, although she tries hard to do both, that doesn’t bother her. 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 Nobles, I’ve noticed that most of the books that are available for/about kids with special needs are books that I would never feel comfortable reading to my daughter.
Parent written books often tend to be passion project looking for an outlet, and as such, they come off as depressing while making the disability the main focus. This creates a poor reading experience for the intended audience. 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 when they’re given the right care, love, and attention.
Amanda: 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 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: 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 is right now.
Jay: Creative arts are much more difficult than they sound. 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!