MichelleLovi headshot300200Michelle Lovi, founder of Odyssey Books always wanted to have a portable business.

“My goal from the very beginning was to have a business that I could do from anywhere,” says Michelle, who started her business in Canberra and moved to New Zealand in 2018 on a 12-month trial.

“I wanted to be able to work from home as an independent business so that I could travel and live anywhere.

“Fortunately, digital disruption in the publishing world has allowed that to happen: I don’t have to have storage for all my books; I can print on demand; eBooks and audio books are another type of technology that is allowing us to create and distribute content without actually having any logistic or storage issues”.



Michelle believes one of the great things about the publishing world at the moment, is that it is very flexible and allows publishers like her to work with authors all over the world. And the publishing world is not alone. Michelle suspects there are an increasing number of creative businesses popping up that are ‘digital by design’, allowing people who are dissatisfied with their day-to-day jobs to have a side hustle that allows them to explore their passions and create something.

Odyssey Books is both a traditional publisher using a royalty publishing model like Penguin and the other big publishers; as well as offering a self-publishing option for those people whose books aren’t a good fit for Odyssey Books.

“I want to help people realise their dream of having a published book, for example they might want to publish a children’s book but Odyssey Books doesn’t publish this genre. I can still help them self-publish their children’s book and get it out there,” says Michelle.

When it comes to managing a digital business, Michelle maintains that trust is crucial.

“I spend a lot of time in self-publishing forums and you hear about so many instances where authors are let down because they went for a very cheap option only to find the undercutting supplier either couldn’t deliver what they promised, or it was someone’s side hustle and they were not qualified to deliver the service in the first place.

“The area of Intellectual Property is especially fraught, authors think that they have paid for something and then they only get the finished product and not all the source material. This means if they want to make changes to something they are locked into that supplier and if that supplier disappears then they have to start all over again”.


Michelle believes it is therefore very important to take the time to build trust.

“I give away a lot of free advice, but I find people appreciate someone who is generous with their time and knowledge”.

Odyssey Books are all about adventure and journey and development whether it’s a personal journey or a physical one.

Michelle says she loves fiction because you really get to explore those themes and ideas, but she is also starting to branch out into non-fiction.

“I’m publishing stories about people who are making a difference in the world, I’ve just published a book by a humanitarian aid worker who went back to the places he had been 10 years ago to see what was working and what wasn’t. I found that really inspiring.

“I am also publishing a book on conservation in New Zealand later this year and publishing one profiling ten climate change scientists and people who are actively working to make change in environmental policy.

“These are the stories that I really want to put out into the world. There is not enough of it being done - there’s a lot of talk, but not a lot of demonstration of people actually doing things.  We need to highlight their efforts and really celebrate what they are doing.”


While it is easy to self-publish fiction, many of Michelle’s self-publishing clients are publishing non-fiction books and these are a little more challenging when it comes to layout. According to Michelle, these are businesses that want beautiful professional looking books because it is an extension of their business and they need it to look good.

“I still like to keep the balance 50/50 in terms of traditional and self-publishing. Self-publishing is a much shorter turn around whereas traditional publishing is very long tailed. It can take years for a book to find an audience and start seeing the sales that will recover the initial investment that I put in in terms of my time and the money to produce the book,” says Michelle.

“There is no such thing as an overnight best seller; a lot of work goes into the books that people read and love and share”.

“It is all baby steps, but last year we had some books represented in Frankfurt and this has now attracted the interest of other agents and publishers overseas”.

Michelle’s tips for authors:

“I recommend that people do as much as they can themselves and then hire professionals to help them with the bits that they can’t. It’s also important to have a contract in place that stipulates who owns what, who is responsible for what, and what is going to be delivered because without that it is easy to have things fall apart”.

About Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre
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