Ich Bin: Emma Hayley, founder Self Made Hero

‘I’m honoured to work with some incredible authors and artists’

'One's darkest hours can be one's most precious of gifts, even if it doesn't feel like it at the time'. Photo: PR
‘One’s darkest hours can be one’s most precious of gifts, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time’. Photo: PR
Emma Hayley launched the King’s Cross-based Self Made Hero in 2007, after spotting a gap in the market for “high quality graphic novels”. Her background in publishing, following a postgraduate diploma in journalism at City University, London, has seen her work as a journalist, film PR and editorial director. Since launching her own company, her focus has shifted to the business and entrepreneurial face of book publishing, while she remains hands-on in commissioning new titles. She was named UK Young Publishing Entrepreneur of the Year, as part of the British Book Industry Awards 2008.

Where would you like to live?
I live in London Fields in east London, and I work in St Pancras. The Regent’s Canal connects the two, so most mornings and evenings I cycle along it to get to and from work. Such a beautiful route. I don’t think I’d want to live or work anywhere else.

What is your greatest life achievement?
From a young age, I had an entrepreneurial instinct and always wanted to create my own company. I founded Self Made Hero eight years ago, an independent graphic novel publisher. I’m very proud of the quality of our books, and honoured to have the opportunity to work with some incredible authors and artists, and a brilliant team. I feel it’s an achievement to have built a unique company from scratch, and to have gone from strength to strength even in such a rocky economic climate.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
It may sound naff, but I would say that it’s the realisation that one’s darkest hours can be one’s most precious of gifts, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.


What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
Living in London is great, but if it’s important for me to make more time being in nature. More walks in the park, or visits to the countryside would be a definite improvement.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Listening to U2.

Where do you hang out?
Granary Square at lunchtime, especially when the sun’s shining.

What has your career taught you?
My career has taught me that you should always go for it, even if you’re uncertain of the outcome. If you try and fail, it’s better than not trying at all. Jodorowski’s “Dune” is a great example of this.

Finally, what are you working on right now?
We have published a book called “The Sculptor” by Scott McCloud, who is an American creator. He arrived today from the US and we are busy getting ready for his UK tour. He’s giving a talk at the British Library this Friday and it’s a sell-out. I’m so excited to have him over here promoting his amazing new book.

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Find out more about Self Made Hero here

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