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I Started a Publishing Company During a Global Pandemic

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by Michele McAvoy, Publisher, Blue Bronco Books and The Little Press —

Michele McAvoy

Publisher Michele McAvoy explains how and why she started her own publishing company during a pandemic.

I did it. I started a publishing company during a global pandemic.

Am I a risk-taker? Well, I don’t jump out of airplanes, I don’t drive fast, and I only moderately invest in the stock market. I would say that I am fairly conservative when it comes to my lifestyle.

So, why would I start a publishing company in the midst of a global pandemic when millions of people are losing their jobs or being furloughed (including myself and my husband)? Because if there is anything I can believe and trust in, it’s myself. I believe and trust in my know-how, my determination, my ability to connect with people, and my innate instincts.

I’m not a stranger to difficult times and the ability to see through the storm and emerge—different but stronger. My father was shot and killed when I was 26 years old; I had two high-risk pregnancies; I’ve been through miscarriages, job losses, and overall depression and anxiety. And guess what? It turns out, for all of my barely 5’3”, 120-pound frame (give or take a few pounds), I’m pretty freakin’ strong and formidable.

But that doesn’t answer the question: Why did I start a publishing company during a pandemic? Short answer: Why the heck not?

Flashback to months before the publishing company launch (March 2020) and the pandemic closures in New Jersey (where I live) (also March 2020). I had an introductory conversation with a life coach. Her initial question to me: If you could do your heart’s work, what would it be? Her philosophy: If you do what you love, you can make money and never work a day in your life. My answer: My dream was to work in books. I wanted desperately to make books my life’s work, from selling my own manuscripts for publication to starting my own traditional publishing company where I could help others realize their publication dreams. Important to this dream was the name of my publishing company, a name that honored my late father and itched my brain every night before bed: Blue Bronco Books.

What was I waiting for? Well, for an easy $4,000, the life coach was going to help me get into the mindset to realize my dream. For some people, $4,000 may not be a lot of money. But with shaky job stability in my day job, I couldn’t, in good conscience, invest that money for myself to find myself. (I have two kids, mortgages, and many other bills to pay, as I’m sure you do as well.) I hung up the phone on our initial consultation and sat alone in my home office. Just me. My computer. My law degree on the wall. My published books on the shelves. My beautiful children in picture frames on my desk. I was surrounded by my accomplishments.

All the evidence that I needed to support my dream was right there in that room with me. A room that I had made. It turns out that I didn’t need a stranger to give me the confidence and mindset that my father would have freely provided had he been alive.

All I needed was to reflect. To remember. To reconnect. I needed to reconnect with myself and to what made me excel in my academics, as an attorney, and what allowed me to emerge through the various storms in my life. I needed to remember that I am capable, smart, and stronger than most. I knew this because I had been tested my whole life, and I had passed. I was not an imposter; I was simply a woman with a dream that was attainable if I let it be.

On March 1, 2020, during a global pandemic, I hit “send” on the press release, and Blue Bronco Books was born. I announced it proudly to a world struggling with uncertainty. Because, frankly, it’s in the dark moments when our strength and determination have a chance to shine. After all, you can only see a star in the darkness of night. And the darker the sky, the brighter the star.

We all have our moments. Our moments of self-doubt, fear, imposter syndrome. Do we need life coaches to see us through and help us to realize our dreams? Perhaps. But maybe, for some of us, maybe for you, we have already been through enough storms and have had enough success to realize our own self-worth by simply remembering. Remembering our capabilities, our strengths, or our passed loved one who would proudly stand in the stead of our self-doubt, as they always had, to allow our stars to shine bright.

Storms will always come. I’m old enough to know that now. But what I also know, with complete certainty, is that whatever your dream, it will never come to light if you do not give it a try.

Michele McAvoy is the publisher at middle-grade imprint Blue Bronco Books and its parent company The Little Press. She is also a published children’s book author and the creator and host of an inspirational kidlit podcast “My Messy Muse.”

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