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SPS-332: MiblArt: Cover Design During the War – with Julia Rozdobudko

Julia Rozdobudko works for Miblart, a book cover design company in Ukraine. She talks to James about how the business is dealing with the war, what resilience looks like for this business, and how the business is supporting the Ukrainian war effort.

Show Notes

  • Leaving Ukraine and landing in Germany as a refugee
  • What does the future hold for Ukraine?
  • What is DAS modelling and how does it impact book cover design?
  • How Miblart’s business model builds trust with authors
  • On the changing trends in book cover design

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

SPS-332: MiblArt: Cover Design During the War - with Julia Rozdobudko
Speaker 1: On this edition of The Self-Publishing Show.

Julia Rozdobudko: The market is over-saturated with the same photography and there are not a lot of new stock photos. So DAS modelling is improving and it's important that we have new faces and that we are not limited to what stocks can offer.

Speaker 1: Publishing is changing, no more gatekeepers, no more barriers, no one standing between you and your readers. Do you want to make a living from your writing?

Join indie bestseller, Mark Dawson, and first time author, James Blatch, as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success. This is The Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Hello, and welcome to The Self-Publishing Show, with me, James Blatch.

Mark Dawson: And me, Mark Dawson.

James Blatch: Mark Dawson, here we are, it's the calm after the storm, isn't it? I was kept awake till about 1:00 in the morning, we had the most amazing electrical show last night and I think you had it, whilst we were on a webinar talking about the fundamentals of self-publishing to a very responsive and dynamic crowd last night. We probably had about 500 or 600 people on at one point, which was great. We should say it was all a lot of questions about our 101 course.

Before we do anything else, we have extended it for this weekend only. So, that's it, closes up Sunday night. If you're listening to this on Friday, the 27th of June, your very last chance until the autumn to sign up for 101. We still have our COVID special 24 month payment plan to make it as affordable as possible if you go to selfpublishingformula.com/101. 1-0-1.

Mark Dawson: Very good. Yes, absolutely. A good webinar last night. Here comes my dog. If you hear things, it's extremely busy at the moment, I've got at least, I think, half a dozen vans in the drive outside over there. The dog hasn't had a walk yet. The barn is nearly finished.

James Blatch: I'm looking forward to very soon, certainly for people watching on YouTube, the sight of you being in the barn, which would be amazing.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, it's not impossible that the next, we're recording to today, it's not impossible that the next one, so probably going out in early June, middle of June.

James Blatch: 10th of June, yeah.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, 10th of June, might be from the barn. So, we'll see. We'll see. It's all looking very nice. But just final energy to push it over the line which is required today.

James Blatch: Final push, boys. Okay, good. Well, we've got a couple of other things to mention before our very special interview today. We are getting close to our limit on seats for Self Publishing Show Live 2022, which is at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in the South Bank Centre on June the 28th and 29th. But you can still grab a ticket, at least at the time of recording if not broadcast, at selfpublishingformula.com/spslive.

And with the extra capacity, because there's no COVID restrictions now at all in the hall, with the extra capacity, we have been able to offer some day only tickets. We know that some of you who work can only do one day, so you can do either the 28th or the 29th at half the price obviously of the cost of the two day ticket. All available there.

And you could just come to the party on the evening of the 28th. Looking forward to that. We've been talking about some of the logistics in our meeting just now and it's all very exciting.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. And there'll be industry people at the party. So, sponsored by BookBub, by Readsy and Draft2Digital. And they'll all have members of staff. Actually BookBub won't because they're not travelling, but everyone else will be there. Plus plenty of others, other people, Amazon will be there and a good chance to meet people. I hate networking, I don't like the word network at all, but it's a good chance to fill your little black book up with names and addresses.

James Blatch: Find friends.

Mark Dawson: Find friends, yes, exactly.

James Blatch: And if you want to look the part, you can even get the merch if you're watching on YouTube.

Mark Dawson: Oh, there we go. James is modelling the 2022 t-shirt, yes, very nice.

James Blatch: Yeah, it looks great. And the baseball caps look amazing and they're going to be debuted at this year's show. But I think maybe you'll be able to get them in advance, but certainly you can go onto our website, selfpublishingformula.com, click on the merch banner and pick up your show t-shirt.

Mark Dawson: We should probably wear them when we go to Vegas, shouldn't we? We should all, me and you and John and young Tom, should all have matching t-shirts and caps.

James Blatch: Now I've got some bad news about Vegas, the Raiders have announced their schedule and it does not include a home game at any point.

Mark Dawson: That's a shame.

James Blatch: They're away two weeks in a row, would you believe?

Mark Dawson: Does happen.

James Blatch: So we won't be going to Raiders this time. In fact, I will be in Madrid next week, so if you happen to be in Madrid, in fact, at least one member of our community, Karen Ingles, has said to me, I'm in Madrid at the same time. So we're going to meet up there. And I know a few people are going to be there at that conference. Come and say hello if you are going to the conference. And you'll know what it is, it's the 20Books Madrid conference near the airport. Very glamorous. But I'm looking forward to that.

And I think, Mark, that's about it. So we can probably move on to our interview. We've got quite a lot recorded. Oh, you've got something else to say.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. One thing I should say about our conference, I think as this goes out, we should have online tickets available. So, as we did last time, we recorded, had a professional film crew in with multiple cameras, pro mics, it was all very, very nicely put together, edited quite slickly. And we sold quite a lot of tickets actually for that. It was very popular.

James Blatch: Yes. Well, it went us from making a loss to breaking even on the conference last time. So I'm quite keen that people buy these. They're $25 each, really cheap.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, $25 each. And all of the content will be included. So all of the presentations with the slides and all that kind of good stuff will be included. Do we have a URL for that yet?

James Blatch: Well, I'm guessing, I might be out of order here, we should have had this conversation before, that it's going to be the same page. You just will be able to click on a banner to buy just the live option, so that's selfpublishingformula.com/spslive.

As Mark says, this is not like the normal stream you see, slow res stream of a conference, this is a professionally produced version of the conference with its own production crew who are going to be there over the two days. It looks really good. Takes about a week to put together after the end of the conference, but it's there. And it's been a really, really useful course I know in its own right for people last year. So $25, can't go wrong, can you? And it could put us back into, I don't know if it'll get us to break even this time, it's been a very expensive conference to put on, but that's not really the point. Anyway. Good value I think.

Mark Dawson: Absolutely. Yes.

James Blatch: Are we ready for our interviewee?

Mark Dawson: Yes, we are.

James Blatch: Our interviewee was in Ukraine a few weeks ago with her family, with her children, her son and her sister. She has managed to escape the country on a train. She talks about that. But she's in Ukraine because she's part of a Ukrainian cover design company. Her name is Julia Rozdobudko, and the company, Miblart, I've learned to say, is a very well known, very well regarded cover design company, all based in Ukraine, all Ukrainians. Of course they've been massively disrupted by the war.

But funnily enough, actually their business side of it has not really because they got together very early on, planned how they're going to work around it, got the people who needed to be out out. Obviously a lot of the men have had to stay. And we talk a bit about that. We talk a lot about cover design and cover art. Here she is, here's Julia. Mark and I will be back for a chat off the back of this.

Julia Rozdobudko, you had to give me a little lesson on saying your surname, I hope I didn't get it too wrong, but you are very welcome to The Self Publishing Show. Delighted to have you here, not just to talk about Miblart, which we're going to in a minute, but because you are Ukrainian and you've been in the country as war broke out, and I'm delighted to say that you and your son, I think your son as well-

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah, and my daughter.

James Blatch: Are now, and your daughter are now in Germany.

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah.

James Blatch: I can't imagine what that upheaval's like, I think your husband's back in Ukraine.

Let me just ask about him first of all. What is he doing, is he having to fight?

Julia Rozdobudko: Now when the war started, he was just at home, he was with our kids and I was working. And then I got to the village so that I thought it would be safer. And he went to territorial defence, so he stays in the city, in the west, in Turnobyl. Not Chernobyl, but Turnobyl.

James Blatch: Turnobyl. Yeah.

Julia Rozdobudko: Yes. And he stays there, he's in territorial defence. So they are watching if everything's okay, if there are now saboteurs in the city and if people are safe in the shelters and so on. So they have shifts and they of course are learning how to fight in case something comes to our city. But hopefully not.

James Blatch: Yeah. And we should say you're in the west of Ukraine, which obviously is being attacked. We know rockets are hitting it, but the Russian land offensive now seems to be concentrated in the Donbas region in the east. So that's some amount of relief for you.

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah. I don't worry a lot about the life of my husband. It's just hard to be apart obviously. And I just hoping they will not send too many rockets to our city because for now, our soldiers can eliminate lots of the bombs, lots of the rockets. But I don't know, you probably saw that some rockets landed in Lviv already, so you never know.

James Blatch: What's it been like moving to Germany? And what was that process like? Did you have to stage yourself somewhere else before you found a home?

Julia Rozdobudko: Well, my husband took me to the railway station because the railway station at Lviv was fall full. And we couldn't really know if I will get to the train because no one could tell us how many people are there or whether that's full or not. But I knew that there is every day comes a train that can pick up people. And I have a baby, she's now eight months and five years old son.

I took also my sister, 15 years old. And my husband drove us to this railway station. And it went really well because when they saw that I'm with a baby, they let me through, I didn't wait. And with this train, I got to Czech Republic.

And in Czech Republic, there were volunteers that have offered a stay for a night. I stayed for a night with kids. And then we went to Germany because I have a brother here. And then went to my brother in Thuringia, Ilmenau. He could provide a shelter for some time. But unfortunately I couldn't stay there because there was not enough room, not even one room. So we stayed there for a while.

Then I started looking for some long term, maybe a few months stay. I found a great family in Bonn. So now I am in Bonn, and I live in one room with my kids and with my sister. And then one more boy came that is friend of my sister. And he is without parents. So I now have four children.

James Blatch: Right. I imagine your sister helps out a bit as well.

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah. She helps out. She's 15, so she can help with the baby. It's really good that I wasn't alone, with two two kids, it would be too hard.

James Blatch: Are you all in one room?

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah. I mean, without a boy, the boy lives in another family and I, my kids and my sister live in one room. Yeah.

James Blatch: Yeah. Gosh.

Julia Rozdobudko: I like it.

James Blatch: It looks lovely. And it's safe, isn't it, for you?

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah, it's safe. That's the most important thing. I have thought a lot because it's really hard to leave my husband and he cannot see the kids. And the little one grows so fast and that's really hard to see. And maybe he will study here in Germany. He now learns German, he knows German already. But he needs a little bit higher level to study in university so that he could come and we can be together. Because we really don't know how long it will be.

James Blatch: When you think about the future, what are your thoughts on what's going to happen?

Julia Rozdobudko: I believe we can fight back. I believe we can return our lands. I believe that we can return Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea. I know people who have lived there. I know people who had to leave their homes eight years ago and now they need to leave Kyiv again. And that's really painful for me.

I think these people deserve to get their homes back. And I think that Ukraine should win this war definitely because we have paid already a really big price for just wanting to keep our land and just wanting to protect our people. That's really terrible.

James Blatch: Yeah. Well, that's great to hear. And you might know that I follow military matters and write about that, so it's been one of the two big revelations. One is that the Russian war machine is nothing like as effective as we thought it was. And probably even Putin thought it was, he was probably being lied to. It was disorganised and their logistics were awful.

And secondly, the sudden and dramatic resolve of the Ukrainian people was a sight to behold. So, that combination does give hope. I mean, it's already driven the Russians to limit their ambitions now.

Our heart goes out to you. You look incredibly together and calm and sounding calm, Julia, but I'm sure it's been utter turmoil for you. So you have our love and support and hope that things work out and you are back in Turnobyl. Is that right?

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah. In Turnobyl.

James Blatch: Turnobyl. Not Chernobyl, but Turnobyl.

Julia Rozdobudko: Turnobyl. Yes.

James Blatch: Hopefully in months, not years. But fingers crossed. Well, stay in touch about that as well. But should we talk about happier things? Should we talk about business and book covers and we'll talk about an organisation called Miblart.

Julia Rozdobudko: Yes, that's right, perfect.

James Blatch: You'd better describe Miblart to us.

Julia Rozdobudko: Miblart is a book cover design company. We have six in-house designers and project managers, marketers, business development manager, and two founders. We have a person who writes content for our blog also. And we are all really happy to work together and to produce so many beautiful covers. So we create custom photographic covers as well as illustrated covers. And some of our designers actually already learned DAS and working and creating DAS models for the book covers.

James Blatch: So better explain what DAS is.

Julia Rozdobudko: DAS modelling is just a technology with which you can create faces and people and also environments. So it's not photography, it's not illustration, it's freedom modelling.

James Blatch: So you don't need models, as in humans in photographs, you can do it without that.

Julia Rozdobudko: Yes.

James Blatch: Is it a Ukrainian company?

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah, it's a full Ukrainian company. All our people are in Ukraine, in two cities, Lviv and Turnobyl. Now, most of them are staying in Ukraine and working despite of the sirens we hear all the day. Of course, if there is a siren and danger, they go in shelters. Then they come back home and do the work.

Actually I wonder how it works too, but our people continue to work. At the first day of the war, we had an urgent meeting and our founders had said that, I mean, they were really supportive, they say that who cannot work, I mean, of course cannot work, they will receive the money paid. Who wants to go and fight, can go and fight. Who can work, will continue to work.

And of course that all the revenue we have, we will give up, we will give the military, Ukrainian army. Because it's just the most important. And that I guess was the biggest motivation for all of our designers and all the other people to keep working, because everything we make, that's how we can help. Because not everyone can fight. And I know that many of us also do volunteer work together, help together, things for the people who fled.

James Blatch: So, the company at the moment is being run to help the Ukrainian effort?

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah, that's true. And I was surprised how our designers managed to do that, and project managers. But we are really keeping a great score and we have great results. I wouldn't say we have produced less covers or something, so we're just keep keeping work.

James Blatch: Okay. So tell me about the design process. From an author point of view, what does an author need to do to commission it, what information do you need?

Julia Rozdobudko: That depends on whether the author has the idea already or not. Because we have several order forms that they can fill out. Author can go to the website and choose the package that he needs. For example, photographic cover design or illustrated cover design. And the process is a little bit different.

But first of all, that's filling out the creative brief. And then our project manager would be contacting the client and maybe asking some more questions if there is not enough information. And then the order info goes to the assigned designer who is most skilled for the project. And then designer creates a book cover within five business days. But now it's 10 business days because of the war. So of course we need more time to make it.

And the designer creates the cover, sends it to the client. And the client can take a look and say if they want to change something or maybe another concept or something like that. We offer unlimited revisions. And then it goes back and forth until the client is happy.

In most cases, it's actually one, two revisions until the final result. And then we send the final files when the client is happy.

For the photographic cover design, we don't take any deposit. So a client gets watermarked files, and when the client is happy, then we send an invoice and then client gets final files without watermarks.

James Blatch: Okay. So I've got a couple of questions. So one is unlimited revisions, this sounds to me like a dangerous thing for a company to offer in this field. Because whilst most people might ask for one or two, I know every cover designer tells me that they get fairly regular clients that it can be quite difficult and it can go on a long time.

Julia Rozdobudko: That's true. But I would say the percent is very small of the people who require really lots of revisions. But we continue working. We try to figure out what's wrong and what should we do. We try to communicate and find the best solution. And if it really isn't working out, I mean, sometimes it just doesn't work out. Sometimes.

So sometimes we offer, for example, another designer, because we have six of them. And we can offer another style of designer if that's necessary. Or we can just say goodbye if for both sides it doesn't work, we can just say goodbye and not take any money for this.

But I would say that it's worth it. Because most of the projects are finished quickly. Most of the projects don't require many revisions. And if we need to spend some more time with some people, and it's a bit harder to get there, it's okay. Because with this model, we can have trust with our clients. And many clients and many new clients can know that they can try and it's okay if something doesn't work out. And that we're ready to work until it's perfect.

James Blatch: That's very laudable. And it sounds like a good way of running the company.

In terms of the photography then, so if people do want photographs, you use presumably the same stock image companies that everyone uses, Shutterstock, et cetera, do you?

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah, Twenty20, NeoStock, Shutterstock, Deposit Photos. We use several stocks and of course use photography, but we also always change it a lot. Because we want the covers to be unique. Of course some faces are repeating because they are stock photos, that's why we started to do DAS modelling to avoid this repeating faces.

James Blatch: And the DAS modelling, the price implication, I guess, is that people will pay extra for the photographs because they're paying for that licencing? Or if they chose a DAS model that's modelled internally, they wouldn't have to pay that extra royalty?

Julia Rozdobudko: No, at the moment, the designer decides that. So we take a creative brief description of the character, if a character is needed in the cover design. And then the designer looks for the possibilities in photography sometimes. And the designer decides if he wants, for example, to create DAS. But in most cases you really cannot say. So for now we work like that. Some of the book covers are made with DAS modelling and some with book covers. And maybe in the future, we will divide it in the packages, but for now we're just not ready to divide it. We are just mixing it together and trying what works best for this project.

James Blatch: And how much does it cost?

Julia Rozdobudko: The ebook cover cost 150, photographic design.

James Blatch: US dollars? Sorry.

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah, US dollars. And ebook print cost $200 US, and that's for photographic/DAS modelling. And DAS model is like a bonus because we're learning it still. And I think in some cases when the designer sees he can do that, he does that. But we call it photographic cover design because we are not ready to make a separate package.

And also there is illustrated cover design. Then the price depends on the styles because we also have six illustrators who work in different styles. And the price depends on the style. So it starts with 390 and then goes up depending on complexity of the project.

James Blatch: Now, in terms of what the author wants, some authors I think in my experience they really understand the role of the cover and how important it is to match your genre, meet reader expectations. Some authors don't. And we see that in some of the examples that get posted into the group, they want to fill the cover with their story detail.

Do you work with authors to steer them towards what you think will be a more commercially successful cover, even if the author doesn't necessarily come with that idea?

Julia Rozdobudko: Yes. In most cases, authors propose their idea. And if the designer sees that it's not really a good fit and he wants to change it, and he offers an alternative concept. And he can also make two versions, for example, to show, or he can slightly mock ups or so.

So in most cases, yeah, we try to speak. In some cases, authors really are set up on their idea. And we can of course create it. Also a lot of authors say that they trust us. And that's just an idea and you can create what you like. And it goes from there.

We try to educate our clients through our blog. So our writers write articles about book cover design, the fonts, et cetera, the colours, how to come up with ideas. What should you take into account when you think about a cover concept. So we try to educate our clients and educate everybody, try to prepare the information so that others can understand what works and what not. And of course, if the designer sees a better idea, he can tell it and we can discuss it with a client.

James Blatch: It can be a tricky conversation, can't it? But do you prefer it when somebody comes along and says, I've written a military thriller, it needs to have this aircraft on the front, but from that point onwards, I leave it up to you. Or do you prefer somebody to come along saying, I think the aircraft should be here, I'd like a figure there, and a hangar here from 1965.

Which one would you prefer?

Julia Rozdobudko: I think all the designers would prefer an author who will come and say, I trust you completely, please create a cover as you see. And of course, in this case we just want a little bit more information because it's really a tricky part. I personally think that author and designers should work together more because author knows what kind of message he wants to communicate. And what kind of feeling should the book cover evoke. And the designer knows what will fit for the market and what can be actually implemented.

So I think it's important that in the creative brief that author describes more about the key messages, the key elements of the book, the characters. And when we have enough information, then I think it's really good when designer has some creativity and can create a cover that will fit the market.

But sometimes it's actually a lot of our authors actually can come and they already know what they want. They already done research. They already set up on their idea and that's actually most of them are pretty good. And so we work from there. I would say that.

But our designers also do research, always do research. And if it completely doesn't work, we always say.

James Blatch: How's the company doing? And when did you start? And how's it's growing?

Julia Rozdobudko: We start in 2015. And now it's been seven years. We've grown a lot because we started from a really small Ukrainian company. And we had only 10 people in the team and now it's over 20. And we continue growing, we continue adding new services. We also offer formatting, logo and branding. We have a logo designer. And we continue doing what we can do, because for example we don't want to do editing because we are not natives. But we can do design and formatting. So that's what we do. And we grow. And I would say it's going really well for us.

James Blatch: And it's owned by two people, did you say there were two founders?

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah. Two founders. They are Ukrainians from Turnobyl. And we are always in touch and they are super supportive. Because every meeting we have some ideas what to improve. Every meeting we have some ideas for maybe new services or the process change to make it more effective. And they are always super supportive and we can really create a lot of things.

And we have a creative director also, and we hadn't had a creative director at the start and now we have. And it really helps a lot because now we can brainstorm the ideas more. And creative director can help with the concept if it's very complex. And creative director also invest a lot of time in skills improvement of our designers so they can learn more techniques, and so that we always have a diversity in styles and in genres that we can do.

James Blatch: Your founders are hands on, they run the company, or they sit back and do other companies now as well?

Julia Rozdobudko: No, they actually are very engaged in Miblart. And yeah, we have also created Get Covers and a part of the team is also engaged in Get Covers. But Get Covers had another designers. But yeah, they work on two companies, Get Covers and Miblart.

James Blatch: What's the difference between the companies?

Julia Rozdobudko: Get Covers has junior designers and they invest less time. It's for more affordable designs and more simple designs. And yeah, the main goal is to make book covers as affordable as possible. Miblart tends to also create affordable, but also very, very quality covers. So the designers at Miblart have years of experience and they invest much more time in the design than the designers at Get Covers.

James Blatch: Do you notice a lot of trends and changing fashions in book covers, what worked five years ago or two years ago even, doesn't work today?

Julia Rozdobudko: Well, yeah, trends are changing. Not very fast, not every year, but they are changing. We can see more silhouettes in the designs. And I love that very much. Because then you avoid this many similar faces on the book covers. Also, I like how bold and large fonts are right now on many covers. Of course it has worked for all the genres, but for many it works. And I guess this trend was already, but it came back.

And the cover with minimalistic style, nature inspired covers are also very trendy. I think maybe due to Covid also because we all want to see more nature, more outdoors. Also the very creative titles, interrupted titles and the titles combined with pictures are also very trendy. Drawn typography is also very good. We have actually drawn some typographies, some covers and it's really fun. And it's really creative because you don't need the font, you can draw it.

James Blatch: So literally drawn by a designer? Like a monk in a Bible in the Middle Ages, hieroglyphics or whatever. Calligraphy.

Julia Rozdobudko: It can be fun. And also, it can be also drawn as three branches for example. We had a cover recently that a title is made of three branches. It's drawn by our illustrators. It's also great custom typography. And yeah, of course it should be noticeable on Amazon. And it's really complex task to do. But when it works, then it's wonderful.

James Blatch: Of course, it's got to work in thumbnail as well, hasn't it?

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah. Naturally. And DAS covers, as I said, the market is oversaturated with the same photography and there are not a lot of new stock photos. So DAS modelling is improving and it's important that we have new faces and that we are not limited to what stocks can offer.

James Blatch: Do you do your own photography as well?

Julia Rozdobudko: No, we have thought about that, but not yet. Maybe.

James Blatch: I know it's tempting for cover designers to have a connection with a photographic studio. Because you can search and never get quite what you want. We certainly had that with my first cover. If you're watching on YouTube, that the figure there, all the stock photos were the wrong clothing, like second world war, and this is 1960s. It's really difficult to get the right image. So in the end somebody had to dress up and we took that photograph. And of course that's me if you look carefully.

Julia Rozdobudko: Oh, that's wonderful. Actually we did some photos in the office when we were back in the office. Yeah. I also posed one time because there was not a right image, but it's really fun.

James Blatch: We've both been immortalised on book covers. There you go.

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah.

James Blatch: Our claims to fame. Good.

Do you think the war in Ukraine is going to change things in terms of the way business operates in Ukraine? One thing I think has happened is there seems to be a bit of a spotlight on Ukrainian businesses, which is great. Have you felt that?

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah, I found that I'm actually very surprised of how Ukrainian people can be united. How can we be together. How can we help. But also it's really a psychological shock, because the world is for many of us, for Ukrainians, is black and white now. Because you need to pick sides and the war brings the best and the worst in people. And some people do their best, they help constantly. And they sacrifice their time and efforts and everything. And some people of course also can do worse things. And so the world is really psychologically hard, but I think it will filter the society a lot right now.

And also I see how my friends are helping. I see how my friends want to help the economy. And me too. I see how many businesses are not giving up. Many business owners are not giving up. They move into west Ukraine and they try to keep up and try to go and to keep working because it's very important so that our economy doesn't shut down. Because a lot of damage has been made and of course years to recover will be needed. And I think it will be better than before when it's won.

James Blatch: Yeah. It's that thing about war. War is not clean cut and clear, it's messy and nuanced and horrible.

Julia Rozdobudko: It's more horrible than I could ever imagine. When I learned about war when I was in school, I could never think that I will actually live in war and I could never imagine how really horrible is that. In all cases, there is nothing good about war. I could never imagine how hard it is. I could never imagine how many lives will be lost. Of course the most horrible thing that people are dying. Many children are without parents. Many parents are without children. Married people live apart. And many people can never go back to their home because their home is destroyed.

And it's not only materialistic things. It's not only about money. It's about memories, childhood memories, and it's all gone. And also what's really hard is that there's so many lies out there in the internet. It's really hard when your people are killed, and when it's not only photos in the internet, you have people you know there. And they're telling that's the truth that the Russian soldiers did really kill these people, really raped these woman and really did horrible things.

And then at the same time, you can go to the internet and you can listen to what they say in Russia. And how they turn it upside down. How they say we did this to our people, and it's really psychologically horrible to listen to. And you need to, you said I'm really together, and I'm really together, I'm a stress resistant person, but sometimes it's really hard not to cry about it.

James Blatch: Yeah, of course it is.

Julia Rozdobudko: But we need to hold together. We need to be resistant to this propaganda. We need to be resistant to these lies. We need to not be aggressive because that's what they want. And we need to live our lives and help our economy. We need to help our people. And that's why I don't allow myself to just cry or to say how bad things are. Just doesn't help.

James Blatch: Well, I guess you discover things about other people. We also discover something about yourself when these things happen. And you are doing exactly the right thing, keeping this company going, keeping your focus on that, it's the best thing for the future.

For the record, in this part of the world, and I think in the United States and the whole of western Europe, nobody believes a word Vladimir Putin says about anything that's happening in Ukraine. We are very, very well aware of that misinformation that does the rounds.

I see it by the way on my TikTok stream, Russians come in and say stuff. And you just think, yeah. People jump on them quite quickly.

I can't remember in recent times, there's always a bit of controversy around conflict psych in the Middle East and so on, but I can't remember such a clear cut well of support for one country that's clearly on the wrong side of this. So, that's the case.

Julia Rozdobudko: And the world reaction is actually very interesting because I know many people who really want to give weapons. They really want to stop all this. And many people who don't want to give weapons because they are against war. We are also against war. We also don't want to fight. We also don't want to kill. But what do you do when you know that it's not just that they will come and say, okay, you are in Russia now, here is our people and you can live your lives. We wouldn't want that as well. But they will not just do that, they will kill us. And that's not a matter of war, it's a matter of surviving, it's a genocide. I don't know how to pronounce that.

James Blatch: Genocide. Yeah.

Julia Rozdobudko: Genocide. It's really, really needed right now to protect ourself. And we need these weapons because they will not stop. And they're not people who want to stop, they want more land, Putin wants more land.

But from the start, I thought that's only Putin, and I couldn't believe that actually civilians, Russians, support that. No, that's not true. I couldn't believe in that. And after, because I understand Russian, I speak Ukrainian, and I understand Russian, because of many things that I've heard personally, we can hear it all in social media, and we can understand that it's not only Putin, it's the whole nation. And they actually want this, the majority.

James Blatch: Yeah. Well, they're being fed a very particular set of lies in fact. It's such a difficult time for you. I'm full of admiration that you ... Certainly you're carrying yourself with confidence and calmness, which I think is very, very admirable. Who knows how any of us would react in the situation and what you've been through. We wish you the best, Julia.

Julia Rozdobudko: Thank you.

James Blatch: I mentioned Miblart a few times quickly at the beginning. We should spell it out and let people know exactly where they can find it.

Julia Rozdobudko: You can find us, just Miblart.com. You can Google Miblart. You can also find me, Julia Rozdobudko, it's not easy to pronounce my name as well, on Facebook. But I guess I know many people have heard about Miblart already and you can just, yeah, say Miblart, write down miblart.com and find us on YouTube, on Twitter, on Facebook, all social medias.

James Blatch: M-I-B-L-A-R-T.com.

Julia Rozdobudko: Yeah. That was easier for you than for me. Thank you so much.

James Blatch: That's okay. Well, Julia, look, thank you so much. We'll definitely have you back on soon. We wish you all the best personally, which is the most important thing for you, your colleagues and your family and your friends over the next few months. And yeah, let's stay in touch and we'll do what we can.

Julia Rozdobudko: Thank you so much.

James Blatch: There you go, Julia Rozdobudko, and we wish her the best, and her colleagues.

I'll tell you what, Mark, we sometimes think we have problems, how busy we are and the logistics of running our company, but can you imagine your country suddenly being plunged into a war with an aggressive neighbour, but keeping your company going and keeping all those people employed?

Mark Dawson: Well, I can actually, because Oksana, who's beneath me right now, our guest and her son from Ukraine, are also trying to continue to run their company. Her husband's in Kolomyah, which is near the Lviv. And they're still trying to run their company in very, very difficult circumstances. From their perspective, it's impossible to get fuel at the moment. So I know he queued for four hours the other day to get petrol and wasn't able to. So I don't know how you run a pharmacy business when you can't deliver your medicines. So yes, incredibly difficult.

And one of the things we found in the pandemic was, an online business, be that what we do with courses and conferences, or with selling books online, it is fairly resistant to disruption. And so it's great to see Miblart continuing to offer work to designers and have covers created for authors. And long may that continue. So, good for them. And I'm thinking of them and everybody else.

James Blatch: Yeah. And we remember of course Anthony Iron, who we had on the podcast a few weeks ago, on the show a few weeks ago-

Mark Dawson: Anton.

James Blatch: Yes. Anton, who sorry?

Mark Dawson: Anton.

James Blatch: Anton Iron, sorry, yeah. What did I say?

Mark Dawson: Anthony..

James Blatch: Anthony. Okay. Anton Iron. Who's also in Lviv. And I saw him posting on social media a couple of days ago, saying that you may as well be in Kyiv to be in Lviv for the amount of rocket attacks and missile attacks that are happening. Missile attacks I should say probably in Lviv.

Our thoughts go out to them. And we are very happy to support and help Julia by featuring Miblart on the show today and wish them well.

Right, that is it, Mark. We have busy schedules ahead of us today. That's it for the course. Don't forget you can hopefully still get tickets for the live show. Be lovely to see you in London in June. It's going to be glorious. Of course, June's always glorious in London. Obviously in Wimbledon, never rains there. Selfpublishingformula.com/spslive. That's it I think, thank you team behind the scenes. All that remains for me to say, is it's a goodbye from him.

Mark Dawson: And a goodbye from me. Goodbye.

James Blatch: Goodbye.

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