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Starting a publishing house during a pandemic – the story of Bulgaria’s Iliyana Benova

Photo: Facebook /Iliyana Benova

The social isolation we have been living in for a year and a half because of the Covid-19 pandemic has provoked many people to rethink their priorities professionally, and some of them have decided to pursue long-standing dreams. One such example is the story of Iliyana Benova who left her secure job as an editor in a publishing house to create her own business in this field.

"This step seems to have inspired me to think on a larger scale," Iliyana said in an interview with Radio Bulgaria. “The pandemic has really caused a crisis in book publishing, as well as in many other businesses. However, it managed to inspire publishers to expand their horizons, to modernize their websites and most of all – it has inspired readers to return to the paper books. Reading a book turned out to be one of the greatest pleasures you can have at home when you do not have the opportunity to go out or travel.”

There is always a risk of failure when you work for yourself, but at no point should you lose faith in your abilities. It is this, as well as the experience gained in several publishers, that gave a driving force to Iliyana Benova to dive deep in book publishing. But what is the element that distinguishes the new publishing house from all the others?

"For us, the most important thing is the satisfied reader, to whom we can personally pay attention and who will continue to be interested in our books”, Iliyana believe. “We try not to overlook even the smallest details, because they are what matter. Everyone wants to have a book that has a good-quality text and printing, as well as to feel close to its publishers.”

The increasing popularity of audio and e-books in the daily lives of readers does not bother Iliyana. Moreover, she herself takes advantage of them, but does not forget the paper editions, as well.

"I would like to believe that the different forms of reading are not in competition with each other, but rather support each other. Our first book - "The Drowning Kind" by the American writer Jennifer McMahon, is currently out only in print, but will also appear in electronic format. The important thing is to read, and in what format - this is the choice of each individual reader.”

The publishing house is ready with its work plan by the autumn of 2022. It envisages the publication of mostly English-language authors. Iliyana does not rule out the possibility that in the future they will deal with titles from children's literature, and also from Bulgarian authors. For the time being, however, they are pursuing the ambitious goal of providing their readers with between 6 to 10 new books a year. She believes that this is completely achievable, although it requires strong dedication and concentration on her part.

"My friend gives me moral support, but we rely on a serious team of external collaborators, with whom we work from the very beginning. We have translators, editors, page designers and graphic designers among them,” Iliyana Benova explains.

English Rositsa Petkova

Photos: Facebook /Iliyana Benova, AMG Publishing, jennifer-mcmahon.com

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