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Publishing Tips from Russia’s First Business Woman — Anna Dostoyevskaya

Illustration by Laura Callaghan

When you search Anna Dostoyevskaya online it is without a doubt her famous husband’s name, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, that is the center of attention. Titles like “Anna Dostoyevskaya on the Secret to a Happy Marriage,” and “Writers and their Wives” are amongst a few articles that tell us the significant influence that Anna had on the prolific writer — but there is so much more left unsaid about this creative, entrepreneurial and fierce woman who can teach us the importance of branding and a few keys to business success.

From a young age, Anna’s desire was to financially support herself and in pursuit of this she went to college to study stenography (a type of short-hand which was radical during the early 1880's). At the time, Fyodor was in deepening financial debt and needed to write a book in 26 days. Anna agreed on an arrangement to help him transcribe his dictations using stenography and indeed they achieved the seemingly impossible of finishing the book. He also fulfilled his end of the agreement and payed her 50 rubles or the modern equivalent of $1,500.

However, by the end of their time working together, Fyodor had fallen deeply in love with Anna — her independence, disciplined work ethic, and most of all her empathetic understanding of him. She too had grown to love the once miserable writer who seemed transformed by her. In due time, the two were married and living together in pure bliss, but Fyodor’s financial instability was still burdening the family — Anna decided to take matters into her own hands.

“She single handedly revolutionized the publishing industry and brought her family out debt by turning her husband into Russia’s first self-published author.”

To achieve this, she meticulously studied the current publishing industry, researched vendors and distribution channels, and created a personal brand around Dostoyevsky as a national writer and philosopher that is still relevant to this day.

Anna Dosteoyevskaya is a true entrepreneurial woman with a drive for independence, a strong belief in the power of personal branding, and most of all a love and passion that drove her to these successes.