Meet Laurie Cooper, owner of the Author Coaching and Digital Marketing Agency, Pub-Craft. Laurie began Pub-Craft in 2013 after working as an author’s assistant for one of her mentors; she fell in love with the industry and was ready to go for it! Pub-Craft has grown a lot over the past five years, and we’re positive that can be attributed to Laurie’s can-do attitude. No matter what the task-at-hand may be, she’s always willing to roll up her sleeves and learn something new! You’ll love her ambitious spirit and full career path journey.
Tell us about your business.
Launched in October 2013, Pub-Craft is a digital marketing agency specializing in author development and book promotion. Pub-Craft offers advertising and coaching services to promote, assist, and inspire over-extended, do-it-all authorpreneurs.
THE EARLY DAYS
Describe your childhood in one word.
Describe your childhood personality in one word.
When you were a little girl what career did you dream of having “when you grow up”?
I wanted to move to a small town and open a gift and tea shop. I imagined myself like a magical shopkeeper, akin to what people might think of if they’ve seen the movies “Chocolat” or “The Good Witch.”
What was your first job?
My first job was babysitting. I love kids. I was so excited to babysit that, at 13, I enrolled in a Red Cross Babysitting Certification course and then created business cards with my parents to put in neighbors’ mailboxes.
THE LEARNING YEARS
Where did you attend college? What’s your degree?
I attended Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario for Combined Honours in Global Politics and Communication Studies, with a Concentration in Image, Politics, and Persuasion and a Minor in Law. I then went on to complete Graduate Studies in Marketing Management at Ottawa’s Algonquin College.
What was your first job out of college?
My first job out of my undergrad was working as a part-time barista at an allergy-conscious specialty cake shop in downtown Ottawa called ThimbleCakes. Its origin story, vintage prettiness, and delicious cakes drew me in and appealed to my inner child’s little shop dreams.
List your jobs until you started your own business.
- Video Store Clerk
- Live Marketer at Sens Games
- Salesperson at Claire De Lune
- Salesperson, Fashion Consultant, and Informal Model at Sears
- Public Relations Manager for Fashion 613
- Communications & Scheduling Officer at Ottawa City Hall
- Communications & Policy Intern at Oxfam Canada
- Barista at ThimbleCakes
- General Manager at ThimbleCafe
- Author Assistant
- Started Pub-Craft (worked full-time on Pub-Craft for 3 years)
- Went back to school for graduate studies in Marketing Management and worked part-time for Pub-Craft
- Women’s Fashion Copywriter
- Supervisor at Starbucks
- Completed Graduate Studies but continued part-time at Pub-Craft
- Project Consultant
- Project Assistant at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)
- Communications Manager at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) as well as Director of Pub-Craft
THE ENTREPRENEURIAL YEARS
What year did you decide to start your own business?
While I always imagined starting my own business in some capacity, I decided to take the leap in October 2013.
Why did you decide you wanted to start your own business?
A friend of mine’s Mom, Opal Carew, was an award-winning erotic romance author. Her son introduced us when he and I were in first-year university together. Around September 2013, Opal gave me the opportunity to be her author assistant for a month or two. Opal became my mentor in many ways and introduced me to many lovely authors and players in the industry. I loved it and thought, “I can do this!” I wanted to help more authors and manage my own time. I started Pub-Craft a month later.
How is your business different today than when you first started?
When I first started, I began as a virtual assistant working mainly with romance authors. I called my business Pub-Craft: Virtual Assistance and Creative Consulting. As I learned more and delved further into publicity, it became Pub-Craft: Virtual Assistance & Promotion Management. Now, after 5 years of working with authors, hiring contractors as needed, helping over 100 authors hit the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Lists, expanding to serve all genres, and hiring my best friend, Marissa Caldwell, to work with me as the Manager of Pub-Craft, we are called Pub-Craft: Author Coaching & Digital Marketing.
What three lessons have you learned running your own business?
- Remember to KISS (Keep It Simple Silly). Find your niche. Specializing in romance at the beginning was something I didn’t see coming but made a lot of sense for me! I loved it, had a wonderful mentor, and it helped me focus my brand and make a name for myself. If you try to do too much, you dilute your brand, and your messaging will confuse your audience.
- Your support system is crazy important. I treasure my family and friends. They have always been there for me with creative ideas, words of wisdom, and sometimes just a hug. There will be hard times when you wonder why you ever thought you could do this to begin with. A loved one to tell you “it’s all going to be okay” and to just “make the plan, work the plan” makes all the difference.
- Mistakes happen. What’s important is that you learn from them. I prepare as best I can to avoid making mistakes, but they happen when you’re learning. I’m Canadian, and we deal with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) regarding our personal and business account taxes etc.… I had a lot to learn when I started and people kept telling me “Be careful, the CRA has no sense of humor” to which I’d reply, “Really? They laugh at me all the time.” I’ve messed some things up for sure, but I seek guidance from those who know more and take advantage of learning tools and resources.
What’s next for your business? Top 3 goals.
- Having recently launched our online Author Coaching services this past July 2018, and moved further away from virtual assistant work, our next goal is to consult with and onboard authors to help achieve their dreams and create their ideal author career.
- We’ve had a lot of success with our digital marketing and multimedia services. I’ve loved making on-brand videos and analyzing analytics to measure the success of a campaign. We’re always learning more in this rapidly developing industry, and are excited to explore more media and analytics tools to develop new digital marketing and online advertising services.
- Pub-Craft’s Manager, Marissa, has been my constant support and dearest friend since we met in first-year university 2008. Despite her Law Degree and all previous plans, she decided to take a huge risk and develop Pub-Craft with me. I would have been lost without her. One of my goals will always be helping Marissa’s dreams come true the way she does mine.
What’s your strongest skillset that’s help you succeed?
Self-direction and persistence. When I don’t know something, I look it up. I have taught myself so much and continue to do so every day. My greatest resource is me, and if I can gather the information and learn it and use it, then the world around me is full of opportunity.
In this journey, who have been your three most supportive people?
- Marissa – I think that goes without saying at this point! She is my best friend, cheerleader, voice of reason, travel buddy, joint speaker, shared-board pinner, inspirational quote-giver, and the person I marathon Once Upon a Time, Gilmore Girls, and Tinkerbell movies with.
- My Father, Stephen. My Dad is always there for me, even if it’s just so I can phone and tell him what’s on my mind until I remember “I can do this myself!” He drives me crazy sometimes, especially when he gloats over winning table tennis. Clearly, I drive him crazy sometimes too, but I can always go home and count on a hug, some really good food (it always tastes better!), a sounding board, and sage advice.
- My Mother, Kathy. While my mom passed away before I could show her the official logo design I had commissioned for Pub-Craft (she loved that kind of thing), she inspired me to start my own business. She knew I had been thinking about it, and in September 2013, she sent me a special email entitled “Personal Oracle Message” that read:
“Start your own company and blaze your way to success. You are TALENTED SO CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS WELL: WHAT FUNDAMENTALLY INTERESTS YOU, provides personal pleasure and has an IMMEDIATE availability of prospects that can help pave your financial path. Invest in yourself and make a work plan that involves you being very productive, whatever that means based on your business model. You can truly do this if that is the goal. Go after what you want. Spend some time in the library researching in your area of interest and then gather your thoughts into your employment plan. Read, read, read. Talk to folk who have something to offer you. Watch YouTube Videos that inspire. Read targeted blogs & magazines. Keep the ‘fake it til’ you make it’ uppermost in your mind. You can be successful. Don’t hesitate. GO FOR IT!”
It was and is great advice.
THE BUMPS IN THE ROAD
Have you had any hardships or setbacks in your business or personal life?
Since I started my business in 2013, my Mom passed away suddenly in 2014, and I got a concussion through an accident in 2015 that left me unable to work on my business for 7 months. Marissa stood by me through all of that as well as my returning to school for a year to pursue graduate studies.
How did you overcome it or did it make you stronger?
Those setbacks were devastating, to say the least, and overcoming them would have been impossible without Marissa and the loving support of my family. I believe it made me stronger. Marissa and I both love inspirational and quirky messages, she always reminds me of the quote, “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” – Anonymous
ALL ABOUT YOU
Did you always dream of owning your own business or was it a surprise on your career path?
I always dreamt of it in one way or another. The trouble usually is that I want to do lots of things! I have ventured down a few different career paths, and even now, while still running my business (with help, of course!) I work full time as the Communications Manager for a non-profit that specializes in international conflict data and analysis. Having many things on the go has always made me happiest.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I have a pesky need/want to monetize my hobbies! Then, my work is my hobby! That said, I like playing video games when I can, particularly Overwatch, Raft, and Overcooked recently. I spend time with family and friends whenever possible. I love to swim and read.
Tell us about your family.
I’ve already said quite a bit about my Mom. She was a United Church Minister as well as an entrepreneur at heart, forever coming up with new and creative business ideas. My Dad and brother are IT guys, a Technical Account Manager, and a Software Developer. They are always there for me when I need tech support – thank goodness! I’m proud to say my older sister is an RCMP Officer and Jazz Musician and my younger sister is a University Professor and Manager at a public accounting firm. You can bet that I ask for help from the little sister all the time! I try to reward her kindness with mainly Suzanne Brockmann books whenever possible – I hope it’s working.
Describe your career path to-date in one word?
Does “Hot-Mess” count as one if it’s hyphenated? Let’s go with ambitious.
MS Society of Canada
Age you’d like to retire at?
Somehow, I don’t imagine that I will ever fully retire. I need to think more about this one!
Travel location on your bucket list?
Hawaii (T.J. Michaels is an author friend of mine who lives there, look out lady, Marissa and I may be incoming!)
Introvert or Extrovert?
Night owl or early bird?
Neither! I like a good afternoon. But let’s say early bird.
Favorite podcast, YouTube channel, or blog?
Jordan B Peterson
Favorite business book?
This is a really hard question, but the one that first came to mind was ‘YOUTILITY: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype’ by Jay Baer
Favorite business tool?
Canva and Google Analytics
3 female entrepreneurs you admire.
- Opal Carew – New York Times Bestselling Erotic Romance Author. Opal writes happily ever after erotic romance that pushes beyond traditional sexual boundaries. She creates characters who grow and evolve, questioning their boundaries and not letting fear of what people may think of them stop them from pursuing their hearts. I’ve watched Opal pursue her passion through rapid industry changes and the rise of self-publishing, near burn out, cancer and the loss of loved ones. She is amazing and an inspiration.
- Clionadh Raleigh – Founder and Executive Director of the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). ACLED is the highest quality, most widely used, real-time data and analysis source on political violence and protest in the developing world. Practitioners, researchers, and governments depend on ACLED for the latest reliable information on current conflict and disorder patterns. I believe Clionadh and her team are making a difference with the vision that better data lead to better policy.
- Marie Forleo – “An entrepreneur, writer, philanthropist & unshakable optimist dedicated to helping you become the person you most want to be.” Marie lovingly inspires, encourages, and enables entrepreneurs to do anything. I know her work has inspired many friends of mine and is currently making a big difference in Marissa’s life.
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