Inside the Editor’s Mind: Entrepreneur’s Handbook — Amardeep Parmar
An interview with the editor of one of Medium’s largest publications — his advice for writers, his selection process, his writing, and life outside Medium
Amardeep Parmar is the co-editor of Entrepreneur’s Handbook which is currently 6th fastest-growing publication on Medium with 187k subscribers. Entrepreneur’s Handbook is a publication dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed. It features founder stories, design articles, and startup deep dives, hard life experiences, advice, and creative thinking.
My first impression of Amardeep Parmar is that he does life right. He knows exactly what his priorities are and he lives them.
Allow me to illustrate.
After Amardeep had agreed to provide some answers to my questions over email, he had to push his response time back by a week. This was his message to me, “Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t get this back to you. My sister had a baby! I’m spending all my time playing with my new nephew.”
A few days later, I got another apology, “I’m sorry, I’ll get it done on the weekend. Work has been crazy.”
A couple more apologies followed and Amardeep was very apologetic each time, but in my mind — that’s doing life right. He made sure that his time went to his family first, then his job, then existing obligations, then a stranger for a non-urgent request.
Throughout our later interactions, it became clear to me that another principle that is at the core of Amardeep’s value system is that he prioritizes value over effort — something that has earned him the nickname of “the Anti-Christ of the publish every day movement” by fellow writer Ryan Fan. He has nothing against working hard but everything against working hard and dumb.
This strategy of quality over quantity has clearly paid off for Amardeep who has exploded onto Medium in 2020. He quickly became one of the most visible and fastest-growing writers, building a fanbase of 14k followers in just 12 months.
After spending five minutes with Amardeep, the reason he is so successful becomes obvious. Amardeep has lived life — he brings to his writing a unique combination of experiences and interests that only Amardeep can write about. You can read about self-improvement all you want but you can’t write about it like someone who has trained martial arts in Japan and read dozens of books on mindfulness. In his own words:
You won’t read anyone else who has been to ~50 countries, has a Karate black belt, danced at a national Bhangra competition, studied Economics, and works in Tech.
Perhaps what is most telling of Amardeep’s success isn’t the number of followers or viral hits he’s had. It’s the number of other writers that Amardeep has influenced. Just this week, I’ve read two posts by top Medium writers (here and here) that called out Amardeep as a writer that they respect. The other clear sign of influence is the number of people who have invited him to be a collaborator or a partner in their projects.
Amardeep’s unique insights and clear way of articulating feedback are what led him to be invited by Michael Thompson to be a co-editor of Entrepreneur’s Handbook and by Sinem Günel and Philip Hofmacher to be a moderator in their Medium Writing Academy. He also recently started a collaborative newsletter called Write Your Future with an unparalleled powerhouse of the top Medium writers — Michael, Sinem, Philip, and Zulie Rane which aims to help readers succeed and earn on Medium.
As I soon came to discover, interacting with Amardeep is often fun and always insightful. Fortunately for Medium land, Amardeep was kind enough to answer some questions and share his unique thoughts about being an editor, being a writer, and life outside writing (or what he calls his “pre-pandemic life”).
What makes an article stand out to you?
The intro has to grip me. I think what most people don’t understand is that the intro is like your advert. You need to make me want to read more. That’s where I ask myself, “Do I press the back button now or do I continue reading properly?”
What is your process for selecting an article?
I click on every article. From there, I’ll look at the headline. You can kind of tell who knows what they’re doing and who doesn’t by the headline. From there I’ll do a quick scan of the article to make sure there isn’t a lot of crazy formatting or loads of links to other articles. Then I’ll read the intro. If the intro isn’t strong, I might still skim through the rest of the article to see if there’s anything valuable there that I can work with.
Do you have editors supporting you? How are decision making and coordination conducted?
I share editor responsibilities with Michael Thompson. When submissions are open to new writers, I would see each article first and then send it on to Michael. If they are closed, I review articles on the weekends and Michael reviews them during the week. We tend to chat a lot anyway, so it helps with coordinating.
If research is submitted, is it checked and validated?
Most of the stats that tend to be used in EH are fairly common knowledge — so there’s less checking required in that sense. However, I do tend to check up on claims made by the author. For example, if someone says that they are a CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, I’ll definitely be checking to see if that company exists!
What is a rough percentage of articles accepted of the total submissions received?
Probably less than 10% for new writers and about 75% if we have already accepted you as a writer for the publication.
Did you ever have a story that left a lasting impression on you?
Maybe less a specific article but certain writers. Kevin Swan is one that comes to mind. The guy literally writes with his eyes! His writing always has an interesting perspective. Nick Wolny is another one. There are few writers where I read every word of their article but I find that I do with Nick because his writing is just so good.
How did you become an editor for this publication?
It was really a bit of a fluke. I had connected with Michael organically and he brought me into his writing community. I started doing edits for other people and eventually, Michael started sending me his drafts. I would be very thoughtful about the edits and I guess he liked my comments on them. At some point, he decided that he needed help with EH and asked me to join him.
Do you have a specific vision for where you would like to take the publication?
If you look at our publication rate, you’ll notice that we publish around three articles per day while other publications tend to publish much more. So, what we are really trying to do is create a space where followers know that they will be getting varied but only high-quality articles. We kind of want to be the Rolls Royce in comparison to the other publications in this space.
If you could give one piece of advice to people submitting to your publication, what would it be?
Read tons of our articles, get a good flavor of the different articles that we published. If you’re not a fan of the publication, don’t bother submitting because it’s likely that what you’re submitting won’t align with us.
What is the most common reason you reject an article?
What would result in an instant rejection?
Irrelevance. For example, people sometimes submit articles like “How I made $10 on medium.” I really don’t care. Or they might submit something with a business tint but offer no new insight whatsoever.
How much does the author’s profile/number of followers/writing history affect your decision to select their article?
I usually don’t look at their profile unless the first submission was borderline. Then, I’ll look into their other articles to get a sense of their writing. The only reason the number of followers matters is because people with large followings generally know how to write.
What is the typical response time for a submission?
We typically try to respond within a week for open submissions. For articles submitted by writers that have already been added to the publication, it’s generally within 2–3 business days.
Do you always leave a response? Should we follow up if we don’t get a response?
We always leave a response unless we missed it somehow.
How can writers make it easier for you?
Be interesting and relevant. It’s so obvious but it’s so overlooked. Make it something that the editor wants to read. Don’t just regurgitate something that has nothing unique to it.
What do you enjoy writing about?
I like writing about mindfulness but bringing my own unique insights to it. Lately, my writing has also been much more focused on entrepreneurship but there is sometimes an intersection of the two.
What is your favorite article that you’ve written that reflects who you are today?
That would be Ikigai: The Most Misunderstood Secret to A Happy Life. I think it's a very misunderstood concept and I feel that I can fill the gap in that knowledge. I think the variance in my experiences allows me to give unique insights into a topic and that’s the bit that people can’t copy. I feel that people can write about the same topics but they can’t write about it from my mind.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned as a writer?
The biggest lesson is that I don’t have to be like other people. I don’t have to be Tim Denning, or Thomas Oppong, or Nikolas Göke. They’re really good at what they do but what they’re not good at doing is being me. My advice to people would be — don’t want to be somebody else, try to work out how to be yourself. When you compare the advice from Medium top writers, you’ll find that they can say quite contrasting things because there is really no one way to becoming a successful writer. So, find your own path.
The other thing is to keep experimenting. When you start out, you’re probably not going to get it right straight away. If you’re not experimenting, you’re just doing the wrong thing over and over again.
What are your personal goals as a writer?
To understand through experimentation where I want to focus more on and what’s important to me. I’m trying not to look at the Medium stats at all and just see what I like writing about that gives me the most joy. Then, I might think about expanding it into a book though that’s not happening anytime soon.
Provide links to your mailing list/books/social media if you want to share it with readers.
Who are you outside of writing / What are you passionate about outside of writing?
I started writing just before the pandemic and it almost feels like that life has disappeared! I can’t even remember last year!
I think part of my personal branding is that I can’t easily explain who I am because I’m kind of all over the place and I like being all over the place! I guess I would say that I’m passionate about trying to live the right way. Holding to my principles and bringing positive change to the world — to my family, my friends, and my readers.
That’s kind of how the writing came about. I’m curious and self-aware about how things work — how the brain works, how people work, and how society works. So, I’m always learning and reading — not just book learning but learning about countries and people.
What is something about you that most people wouldn’t expect?
Probably my Bhangra dancing and that I’m a little attention whore!
*Here’s a special treat for readers! Amardeep in his full dancing glory!
The other thing is probably my British accent. People see my name and make assumptions about where I’m from.
What brings you joy every day?
I feel like I have a base level of contentment. It’s hard to explain. But I guess right now, it’s my baby nephew. I might not see him everyday but he just cheers me up. Even just looking at his photos makes me happier.
I also just like chatting with people. I spend so much of my time chatting with other writers online! That’s really been my world since the pandemic started and I’m curious to see what happens after the pandemic ends.
A big thank you to Amardeep Parmar for taking the time to share his unique philosophy on life with me.
This is part of a series of interviews with editors of Medium publications. Follow me if you are interested in seeing more. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com with your burning questions for editors or simply get in touch to say hi! I would love to hear from you.