Interview with Ziggy Hanaor from Cicada Books


Image belongs to Cicada Books

Remember when I wrote about all of the awesome arts and crafts books that I found a couple weeks back? Well, I felt so inspired from visiting the Cicada Publishing site, that I wanted to learn more about how it got started. What I learned is that the publishing company is a one-woman show, run by Ziggy Hanaor, 35, who lives in London. I contacted Ziggy to learn more about how she started her own publishing business, and this is what she had to say.

After working for book publishing companies, what inspired you to start your own?

I had my older daughter, and wanted to work flexible hours. A friend of mine came to me with a great idea (for Graphic Europe), and after a bit of research, I realised it wouldn’t be that complicated to do it on my own. I tiptoed into it with one book a year for the first couple years, and once I got a bit of confidence (and space in my life) I stepped it up a notch.

What is the best and scariest part of starting your own business?

It took a lot longer and a lot more money than I initally expected to make it into a functioning business. There were definitely moments when it felt like a pointless and fairly stressful moneypit! The best thing  is being my own boss and not having to compromise on the way I think a book should come together!

What made you choose the art and design genre?
I sort of fell into this genre. I started out working as a script editor in television, and wasn’t happy. I decided to make a career shift, and got an internship in Black Dog Publishing, an art and design publisher. As soon as i got there I realised it was what I had been waiting for. I’ve always been surrounded by visual people – all my friends went to art school, I’ve always felt comfortable in the art world –  but I’ve always been a words person. This brought together my two primary interests.

How many clients do you have? Did they come to you or did you seek them out?

I don’t really have clients, per se. Occasionally if a book idea interests me, but I don’t think it will sell strongly enough, I’ll partner with someone financially on a project, and in those circumstances it’s more of a client relationship. But usually I find people (or they approach me) with ideas, and it’s more of a collaborative relationship – working the book up together in as equal partners. In these instances I would say it’s about 50/50 – half the time people approach me, half the time I think of an idea and approach people who I think would be appropriate.

What books are you reading right now?

To be honest between looking after my kids and running my company I don’t read that much. Mostly I read the New Yorker.

What motivates you every day?

Making beautiful books that I think will sell. Thinking up new ideas for books that I think will look beautiful.


Image belongs to Cicada Books

What are you working on next?

For some reason I’m going through an ‘illustration’ phase. I’ve got some awesome books lined up with some great illustrators – Fiona Biddington, Lucy Dalzell, Merlin Evans, Rebecca Elves and Annu Kilpelainen (all female – not deliberate but a happy coincidence). We’ve got some illustrated journals, a colouring book, an architectural wallchart…. it’s going to be great!

Where do you hope to see your company go?

 It’s quite lonely and stressful doing it all on my own, so I’d love to be in a position to employ a few more people to share the load, and take on more projects than I am currently able to do.

What do you do during your off time (if you have any)?

Look after my kids!

Who would be your dream client?

Oh I don’t know really…. I’d like to work with some big museums, and do some pure art books. I’d like to work with textile designers – I’m interested in textiles at the moment.

Image belongs to Cicada Books

Image belongs to Cicada Books

Do you do everything by yourself, or do you have people working for you?

I work with my designers, Studio April, and I have help on things like foreign rights, but for the most part it’s just me. Hopefully that will change in the next few months.

What advice do you have for people who are wanting to start their own company?

Make sure you have plenty of time to devote to it, and be patient. Sometimes it takes a while to make sense.

Has book publishing changed what you read or the way you read?

I read less. I read and edit all day, and find it hard to read as a means of entertainment (unless I’m on holiday and completely switched off work).

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Other books, exhibitions, popular culture…. anything can spark an idea.

What is a normal day for you? First thing you do when you get up?

Get the girls ready for school, go to the office, don’t quite manage to get through everything on my list, pick the girls up, take them to swimming or the heath or wherever, make them dinner, put them to bed, watch TV or work depending on how much I didn’t manage to get through earlier, go to bed. Pretty prosaic!

If you want to see what Ziggy Hanaor and Cicada Books are all about, feel free to visit their site and/or follow them on Facebook. I’m hoping to keep going with this and I would love to talk to some more inspiring and awesome people who have taken the big risk by starting their own company. If you know of anyone who fits this, please let me know. I would like to keep it along the lines of creative businesses, but I’m open to anything…as long as it’s legal…I’m a mom now. Check out more inspiring people on my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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