Independent book publisher Beachy Books has partnered with book-to-screen adaptation specialist Pendragon Works, which represents the independent publishing sector, and prominent production companies such as Free@Last TV, best known for Sky’s Agatha Raisin based on the successful M.C Beaton novels.
Philip Bell, publisher at Beachy Books, said, “To have the experts at Pendragon Works consider our titles to be ideal for adaptation potential is a real boost for us and the authors we represent. It’s already been an exciting challenge being involved in creating a pitch for our novel Ted’s Cafe by our debut author Roger Sanders, which has been a real creative collaboration that I hope will entice a production company and lead to success.’
Ted’s Cafe, published in 2021, is a contemporary novel about former journalist David Tanner and his three baby-boomer friends who all grew up in the same town and who regularly meet in the eponymous ‘Ted’s Cafe’ to discuss their life, loves and politics. It’s full of humour, pathos and real-life events that affect us all, reflections on society, local issues and surviving the retirement years.
Troy Hewitt, Co-Founder and Development Producer at Pendragon Works said, “Our mission is to bridge the gap between publishing and media. By streamlining the book-to-screen adaptation process, we help indie publishers compete with the ‘Big 5’ for dramatisation rights opportunities. We are loving working with Philip and the team at Beachy Books and are already actively developing multiple titles from their catalogue including Roger Sanders’ hilarious comedy-drama ‘Ted’s Cafe’.”
Roger Sanders said, “I’m thrilled that we have been given the opportunity to work with Pendragon Works on this exciting project, and I look forward to seeing where this journey will take David Tanner and his friends!”
News of this was recently published in BookBrunch.
Forest of Dean-based Beachy Books author K.M.S. Latham (pen name of freelance journalist Katherine Latham) will be celebrating the publication of her debut children’s eco-adventure called ‘Ink’ at Bristol Aquarium this half term Saturday 3rd June 10.30am to 3pm.
Ink is a tale of adventure, bravery and friendship. It is a chapter book that is ideal for children aged 7 to 9+ years and is full of atmospheric illustrations, and is priced at £7.99 RRP and published by Beachy Books.
Katherine will be signing copies of Ink at the launch event at Bristol Aquarium, so any visitors who pay for entry into the aquarium will be able to take part in Katherine’s free junk-modelling activities including junk jelly fish and bottle nose trash fish making.
Reflecting on her inspiration for the book, Latham said, ‘I’ve always loved myths and legends — wondering if there is some truth behind them. So little is known about the sea and the creatures that live in the depths. It’s nice to think there could still be so much more to be discovered. I’m also fascinated by traditions that go back beyond our collective memory, with secrets laid to rest with our long-forgotten ancestors.’
Katherine has written stories for as long as she can remember and now works as a freelance journalist who writes about science, environment and society for the BBC, the Guardian, The Week Junior Science + Nature and more. She felt compelled to incorporate contemporary issues in Ink such as sea polution and migration, commenting, ‘I write about environmental solutions — the ideas and inventions designed to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. I also write about people and how they might be struggling to afford to live, to work with nature rather than against it, or to lead happy safe lives, and how they are making changes for the better. I think the Earth and everything on it is such a miracle. People are feeling increasingly detached from nature and I think it’s so important to realise that we are nature, and everything is connected. I feel it’s my role to help people understand how to look after our planet, and to highlight the good work of the people who are making a difference.’
What was the inspiration behind writing Travel Takeaways?
It began with some particularly memorable past travel experiences that have stayed with me over the years in the form of vivid mental flashbacks and special impressions of places or personal encounters. The desire to hold onto those treasured moments that I ‘took away’ from my travels inspired me to retell each of them in the form of a short story or vignette in which I try to distil all the different elements of that particular travel experience.
Many of the tales involve seeing a rare plant or witnessing some wildlife event. Where did that urge come from do you think as it seems to influence what you write about?
I’ve always had an interest in the natural world, probably dating back to an early childhood fascination with the caterpillars I saw munching away on my father’s cabbage patch! Later, while living in Italy I developed an interest in the different species of wild orchid that I found growing in Mediterranean countries particularly around archaeological sites, where the chalky soil is to their liking. Back in the UK I went on to write and edit the newsletter of a local wildlife association in the city where I lived and worked. So it’s been an enduring interest in my life and one that has often been a theme of many of my travels—although not exclusively.
When did you first start writing with a view to publication? What inspired it all?
Before I retired, I had published academic papers relating to my professional specialism. That required a different style of writing to creative nonfiction, of course. I did dabble in writing fiction when I was much younger but rarely completed anything. As my interest in natural history developed, I had several articles published in wildlife magazines, so I was always engaged in some kind of writing. Then the idea of writing up my travel memoirs as a collection of snapshot stories with an immersive flavour came to me soon after retiring. I wanted to create hard copy of my travel memories primarily for my own pleasure. The members of a local writing group I joined encouraged me to go further and publish them for a wider audience to enjoy.
What travel writers have inspired you?
A book called Contact! by Jan Morris, which was a collection of micro literary snapshots from her own travel experiences, planted the seed of the idea for Travel Takeaways. Long before that Bruce Chatwin’s book, Songlines, also fascinated me enough to read twice. I am a great admirer of all of the writings of the late Dervla Murphy, a very intrepid female traveller. I should also mention Colin Thubron, William Dalrymple and more recently, there are emerging travel writers I enjoy such as Kapka Kassabova.
Do you still have the urge to travel as you once did?
I still have the urge to travel but it’s not necessarily driven by the same level of stamina, nor perhaps is the urge quite as strong as before! Interestingly, from what I see elsewhere in the travel genre, I think the pandemic has shifted the focus away from travelling to far-flung places to a more introspective curiosity about what is unfamiliar and interesting in our own backyard. So, it doesn’t matter whether it is near or far. Travel is largely about searching for new experiences but in the process, we explore our own identities through the mirror that travel, or the unfamiliar world we encounter, holds back on ourselves. I think travel can help us to discover how we manage out of our comfort zone and understand a bit more about who we really are.
What positive takeaway will readers get from reading your tales?
I would like readers to feel that they are there with me in the narrative present as I retell the stories, soaking up the atmosphere, immersed in the place, culture or personal encounter, and experiencing what I experienced. To this end, I am trying to recreate an evocative reading experience from which I hope the reader can take away an interesting and thought-provoking armchair travel experience too.
What are you working on next?
I adopted a rescue cat at the start of the pandemic—she came with a fair amount of emotional baggage, a strong will, and a name that reflected her volatile character—’Marmite’. The next book is about our life together as I learned about cat psychology and tried to develop some cat counselling skills, and she learned to manage an inept but well-meaning human companion. It’s a light-hearted and humorous book that should appeal to and resonate with any cat lovers out there.
What events are you doing to promote your book and where can readers hear you speaking about it?
I have an exclusive book signing event at Waterstones in Newport, Isle of Wight between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday 1st Apri 2023. Following the official launch of Travel Takeaways on 3rd April, I have several talks lined up for various interest groups on the Island. I’m also co-presenting with a fellow writer at the Cowes Fringe Festival (26th to 28th May) on the path to publication with book readings and an exploration of the different ways to approach writing. I am active on Twitter and Linkedin and publish occasional guest blog posts here and there.
What is your favourite place where you live on the Isle of Wight? Does it inspire your writing?
I don’t have one favourite place on the Isle of Wight but places that offer wildlife interest are high on my agenda. I enjoy wandering around some of the Island’s cemeteries especially those with a light touch management system in place—those are the ones full of spring flowers, including wild orchids, as well as insect life, birds and small mammals. East Cowes cemetery is one example. I also enjoy a slow paddle in my kayak along the creeks of the western Yar, again for the wildlife it offers. The island’s natural environment inspires me indirectly with lots of ideas. I have only published one article specifically about the island. It was called ‘A Garden for All Seasons’ and appeared in an issue of the English Heritage Volunteers Magazine.
Beachy Books has acquired ‘Arresting Beauty’ by Isle of Wight author Heather Cooper, an historic romance novel based on the true-life story of Mary Ryan, the maid and assistant of pioneering Victorian portrait photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.
Publisher Philip Bell acquired UK and Commonwealth excluding Canada publishing rights from Sarah Such at the Sarah Such Literary Agency. Arresting Beauty will be published by Beachy Books in the UK in hardback and e-book on September 30th 2023.
Based on true historic events, the novel follows the extraordinary story of Mary Ryan, who was found begging on Putney Heath at the age of ten by the celebrated Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Julia takes Mary into her magnificently bohemian household, to be trained as a maid and educated alongside her own sons. When Julia decides to move to Freshwater in the Isle of Wight, to live close to her great friend Alfred Tennyson, Mary—clever and rebellious—finds herself uncomfortably poised between two worlds—that of a servant girl in one, and in another, artistic assistant to Julia and befriending the likes of Tennyson, battling class and attitudes of the time to fulfil her own goals and perhaps even find love.
Philip Bell said: ‘I’m so excited to be publishing Heather Cooper’s latest novel as I love her writing. When I first read the story, through the authentic voice that Heather has conjured for headstrong Mary Ryan, I was immediately transported into her world and incredible true story of finding her own voice alongside her artistic and eccentric mistress, Julia Margaret Cameron. I also have a very special connection with the Isle of Wight where I used to live and still publish many Island authors and books.’
Heather Cooper said, ‘I am so pleased that Beachy Books has acquired my novel Arresting Beauty, particularly as Beachy Books has a special connection with the Isle of Wight, and this book captures a moment of Island history during its extraordinary Victorian heyday when Julia Margaret Cameron, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and their dazzling circle of friends lived and worked at Freshwater Bay. I am very much looking forward to my association with this exciting independent publisher.’
Independent trade publisher, Beachy Books, is excited to announce it has signed an exclusive partnership with US-based DropCap. who will now represent the trade publisher’s foreign translation rights around the world.
Philip Bell, director and publisher at Beachy Books, based in West Malling, UK, secured the deal at the London Book Fair in April 2022 as he goes on to say. ‘I was excited and nervous as it was our first London Book Fair and my meeting with DropCap was the first one of the first day. But I am very pleased to report they were so friendly and enthusiastic about our books, and I thought they would be a perfect rights partner. By the end of the fair they had agreed to take us on and over the last month we have now signed contracts and our titles are already for sale around the world. It’s a dream come true!’
DropCap, based in Minnesota, United States, have decades of experience in rights selling and book publishing and combine this with efficient rights management technology that speeds up the whole rights buying process.
Monica Meehan, VP of Business Development and Rights Director at Dropcap Inc., says, ‘DropCap are delighted to be partnering with Beachy Books in representing the foreign rights of their lively, informative, and most charming collection of adult and children’s titles!’
Beachy Books is a small, author-friendly, trade publisher that focuses on publishing a select range of children’s books, adult fiction and non-fiction, while keeping print runs to small, sustainable volumes and printing in the UK where possible. Philip Bell is also a published author by Walker Books, has extensive experience in self-publishing his own range of successful children’s titles, and in offering publishing services to individuals and businesses for over 13 years.
‘This deal with DropCap marks another big step in our growth and commitment as a publisher in offering exciting opportunities to our authors to better represent their work around the world and provide welcome extra income and royalties,’ says Mr Bell. ‘We are very excited that DropCap will also be representing our forthcoming titles, the first being a non-fiction title by former Royal Marine, Andrew Rigsby, called Sabre Prattling: The Language of the Battlefield due out September 30th 2022.’
If you are interested in foreign translation rights for Beachy Books titles please look at our catalogue and then get in touch.
UK trade publisher Beachy Books has announced it will be exhibiting at their first London Book Fair where they will be selling rights in their next tranche of new titles for 2022 and beyond with the first by former Royal Marine Andrew Rigsby called Sabre Prattling – The Language of the Battlefield, a guide to the everyday words and phrases that originate from the language of the battlefield, for Autumn release.
‘We are very excited to have signed Andrew as he is a published author, and his military experience brings a unique perspective on the subject. He writes in an authoritative and entertaining way and his book is ideal for the gifting season and as a useful reference for writers,’ says publisher, Philip Bell. ‘We are very much looking forward to selling rights in this title along with others at our first London Book Fair as part of the IPG stand.’
It’s a pleasure to welcome these newly signed authors to our Beachy family. Katherine and I have been in touch over the years since we were both published together by Walker books and it’s special that I get to publish her story, and it’s a pleasure to welcome Julie Watson to our new imprint with her new collection of travel stories that will inspire people to travel in challenging times.’
‘Beachy Books is an author-friendly publisher who pays royalties quarterly and has fair contracts,’ explains Mr Bell. ‘We are a small company but work collaboratively with our authors which feels like an extended family. We are very pleased to announce another three authors to the fold and excited about the possibilities in selling rights.’
Philip Bell has been in publishing over thirteen years, following a positive experience successfully self-publishing his own series of children’s books, and later becoming published by Walker Books. Along the years, Beachy Books has helped authors, businesses and community groups achieve publication. As well as founding a POD partner publishing imprint, in 2020, the Beachy Books imprint was rebranded to become a traditional trade imprint focusing on adult, non-fiction and children’s books, and now it’s fledging list is growing year by year with the help of professional distribution and sales.
I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve 2021, a year that personally for me I would describe as annus horribilis, having lost my dear mum to the ravages of cancer in April. She gave me my love of the written word and passion for books. She also left a storage unit full of books (which I’m going through box by box). There’s no easy way to follow that news and it has taken its toll on me, for sure, but I am truly thankful I have a lovely partner and family around me that have helped. I’m healing, day by day, whatever that means. Also, I am grateful that my hard work to create Beachy Books gave me a disciplined focus of ‘work’ to distract me and keep me alive through some very very dark days.
It is a comfort to know that my mum was proud of my writing achievements in the past and was so happy I had started my own publishing company. She was always my favourite cheerleader and encouraged me in everything. I still hear her voice in my head and I speak to her every day. One of the last things we talked about was how Beachy Books was doing and I proudly showed her some of the latest books we had published.
I truly miss her and want to honour her memory by making Beachy Books a success and continuing to grow steadily in 2022 and beyond. But before I do that, it’s been a sobering exercise to take stock of another publishing year. Looking back, I know feel like, perhaps, I can lightly pat myself on the back, because I was surprised at quite how many books we published—six in total! Not bad for a very small publisher, considering how much work is involved in each book and when most of the work is done by me (and our authors of course), along with a handful of excellent freelancers and family help. On top of that, I have helped a few independent authors publish their own books and worked on several design/typesetting projects throughout the year. I’m proud of how much we have achieved in such a short space of time. To be positive, it’s been a productive year—annus fertilis.
What we published in 2021
It seems such a long way back to think of how the year started, coming out of the back of the lockdown coronavirus year, where we had just relaunched our ‘Beachy Books’ imprint as a traditional title list, alongside our existing Partner Publishing imprint and author publishing services.
Early on into 2021, we moved house and business location to my birth county of Kent, but we still have close connections with the Isle of Wight where Beachy Books was born.
After successfully kicking off the imprint with our first title in 2020, a children’s title called Thingamanose by Lynne Hudson, I quickly had to make new contacts in the publishing industry to get us into the book supply chain. After initially having our books on wholesale with Gardners Books, who were so helpful in getting our books to customers all through lockdown in 2020, I eventually found a fantastic book distributor. I had been searching for one for most of 2020 and coronavirus didn’t help, so it was a very happy day when, after all the dead ends, false starts, and rejections, we signed with Combined Book Services (CBS), also based in Kent. We also secured sales representation with veteran book sales agent, Chris Moody, of Bang the Drum, who now represents our list and help us sell into booksellers and wholesalers. The experience of having both of those industry professionals helping us has been fantastic and it finally feels like we are really making progress now.
And so, out of the traps first in March 2021 on our Partner Publishing imprint, was a delicate volume called Travel Mementos: Personal Stories about Faraway Places by Julie Watson, which contains some beautifully written true tales of some of the adventures of the author around the world. It seemed the perfect antidote to lockdown blues when travel to exotic (or even not very exotic) places seemed so far away. It was exciting to publish this little volume of imaginative tales of armchair travel tales and it’s been a pleasure working with the author who works so hard to promote her book and writing.
In April, it was a pleasure to publish what has become a fantastic seller for us—Pon My Puff! A Childhood in 1920s Isle of Wight by Peter Stark Lansley, which started as a manuscript that had been found in a suitcase by Charles Lansley, the late author’s son, who painstakingly edited and annotated the title. We had been in contact for some time, so it was a joy to finally see it published and it’s lovely the book has been popular with readers, and a lasting legacy for Charles’s father.
We published the second title by our talented author/illustrator Lynne Hudson in May called That’s My Cat! The story is a rhyming, comical picture book about a mischievous cat who seems to be owned by several neighbours at once, until he’s found out! That’s My Cat! was a fun book to work on because Lynne Hudson’s illustrations are so entertaining, and it was great to work on full colour picture book. It’s doing well, but due to covid, a proper book launch was not possible, so we hope to give this title a reboot in 2022.
September saw the publication of a new children’s chapter book in a larger format called Grandpa’s Dear Old Girl by Felicity Fair Thompson, an experienced writer and tutor who has also published her own titles, so knows how challenging it is to write and sell a book. It really was a pleasure to publish Felicity’s wonderful adventure story of a girl who helps her grandpa, the last lighthouse keeper, save fishermen in peril at sea. The story was fun to typeset and edit, and seeing Carolyn Pavey’s wonderfully atmospheric illustrations in the final published book brought a great smile to my face. It was also fun to work with new printers on this project and learn more about the very competitive children’s book market.
Lastly, and by no means, least, in November—following several rescheduled publication dates due to various factors including production and supply chain issues—I was relieved to see our first fiction novel on the trade imprint published called Ted’s Cafe by Roger Sanders, a wonderfully timely story about retirement, friendship and Brexit, all set in the year leading up to Covid hitting our shores. And before Omnicron had had a chance to take effect, we managed to arrange a fantastically successful book launch at a library on the Isle of Wight, where all the copies on the table were sold. It was a relief to see the novel being stocked and ordered by bookshops all over the UK despite the supply chain problems and delivery delays that have hampered the book world.
Hopes for 2022…
Funnily enough, I have not personally met all our authors face-to-face, as either distance or covid has prevented face-to-face meetups, so video calls, telephone and emails have sufficed, but it will be exciting to finally meet authors in person in 2022, covid permitting.
I am truly thankful to all our authors, publishing partners, retailers, booksellers, experts, freelancers, friends, family, partners, children, and, of course, our wonderful authors—without them all we would not be able to publish our books.
Beachy Books is a very author-friendly publishing house, and we look forward to working with you in 2022 and in signing-up new hopefuls from the mountain of submissions we are currently working our way through. We want authors from all backgrounds, minority groups and from diverse backgrounds. No matter what is sent, no matter who its from, we judge the work on its quality alone.
For the next year, I personally hope for annus mirabilis, rather than annus horribilis. I hope to see my children as much as I can, spend quality time with my lovely lady and my friends, keep in contact with old friends, and read a few more books for pleasure (I read so many for work, I often don’t feel like reading at the end of a publishing day). I have already started a new daily exercise routine and I even bought myself a skateboard, a retro one from the past as I used to pop an ollie or two, back in the day, so no need to sign up for a gym membership that will not get used come February. On the creative front, I hope to paint, just for fun, as I dipped my toe this year and really enjoyed it. But, I’m most excited to start a new writing project of my own again. It’s true, my muse certainly left me several years ago, but I am getting those tingling feelings back and a new writing idea is starting to form in my mind. In any case, I am just excited to just keep learning more about publishing and improving the quality of books we publish. For myself, for the memory of my mum, I’m going to work very hard and make 2022 a memorable publishing year for Beachy Books.
From all at Beachy Books, I wish you a Happy New Year. See you on the other side. I’ll leave it to those now gone, who have made their mark on literature, to sum up the new year.
“New Year’s Eve always terrifies me. Life knows nothing of years. Now the horns have stopped and the firecrackers and the thunder… it’s all over in five minutes… all I hear is the rain on the palm leaves, and I think, I will never understand men, but I have lived it through.”
“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier'...”
Alfred Lord Tennyson
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.”
from Moby Dick by Herman Melville
In a nutshell, what inspired you to write this book?
I figured that after nearly 40 years in journalism, 30 of them freelance, or as I like to call it, independent, I might have something to say about operating successfully. Having cracked the six-figure earnings ceiling—a rarity for a non-celebrity freelance. I thought others might pick up some tips about how they might be able to earn big, too.
Why should anybody read this book rather than any other on the subject?
My book is passionate—a story of determination and survival. I am told it is an inspirational read. I do not have a monopoly on career wisdom. However, no one has my perspective. My book weaves the gripping autobiographical story of my career with practical lessons on how others can earn big, too. Of course, it’s not always just about the money—but hey, it helps. We all have bills to pay and mouths and lifestyles to feed. The Bounty Writer tells the story of how, debilitated by lifelong anxiety and depression, a stammer that dogged my life into early adulthood and severe hearing loss, I nonetheless enjoyed a successful journalistic career. So if I can do it, with all my issues, why not you?
Your biggest inspiration, the thing that drives you, your muse, if you will?
My biggest inspiration is my fear of destitution. It has always driven me. After my mother died of cancer when I was 14 my life spiralled out of control. I was desperate, did not have a secure roof over my head, suffered addictions and mental health crises. I vowed to myself that I would not just survive but succeed. My determination never to be that desperate, lonely, bereft 14-year-old again is what has driven me, as have the love I have for my wife and two daughters.
What’s your view on how journalism is today, the current state of play? How do you think it will develop in the future? I’m guessing it’s one industry where AI and robots will not take over? What about foreign competitors, freelancers offering their services for peanuts?
I frequently fret about journalism today. I hate lazy journalism and cliched journalism. How many times have you seen reporters on news programmes describing scenes ‘like a battlefield?’ Ugh! Really? Are they all like battlefields? Have you ever seen a battlefield? How many times do you see news programme presenters who present like they are more important than the story?
I despair of politically biased reporting. I hate the fact newspapers have reputations of being right-leaning or left-leaning. A reporter’s job is not to reflect their own bias. It’s different if they are writing an opinion piece, but no news story should report anything other than the facts. No newspaper or news programme should distort news to reflect their own bias. The internet is what helped send my earnings stratospheric, but I never used the internet lazily.
I detest the way many experienced journalists do not sufficiently scrutinise what they are reading on social media and what the PR industry feeds them. However, I believe that principled journalism in democratic countries will out, because a ‘free’ press is vital in democracies.
AI and robots will never replace intrepid, driven, passionate reporters. God, I hope not!
Freelance journalists who offer their services for peanuts are the enemy of freelancing. They make it difficult for all the professional independents out there. I’m not fond of cliches, apart from this one: ‘If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.’ Precisely!
If you hadn’t earned six figures doing this, would you still have done it all? What I mean is, was it something that found you, or did you find it?
Journalism was never about the money. It was about being the best journalist I could be and being principled. I feel journalists have a great responsibility. I felt that when I entered the trade and I feel it today. But we are mere humans and we all have material aspirations unless we are saints. I am not. And so, I discovered I could earn really well and worked towards a dream of semi-retirement in a beautiful location and that is what I have achieved.
I found journalism rather than the other way around. I had to do something with my love of the written word and my ability to communicate articulately in writing. I stuttered even into my mid 20s, although I learned to control it, Ed Balls-style. As a child, my fear of stuttering meant I didn’t put my hand up in class or, when I did, my failure to spit the words out met with cruel laughter from classmates, and one teacher, who said: ‘Spit it out Don!’ The only way I could get the teachers to recognise I had a brain was to hone my writing skills. I also played various musical instruments, despite my deafness, and won over one teacher who was mad about Music Hall.
Do you need qualifications to do the job? Or is real world experience, working your way up the ladder, enough nowadays?
I am a great believer that academic achievement, in itself, should not be the be all and end all of getting a great job in journalism. Intelligence, drive, moral scruples and a glimmer of potential are more important. If someone can demonstrate they can express themselves concisely, have a nose for a story, enthusiasm and a passion for truth—that, to me, should carry more weight than a degree. Of course, if you’ve been on a specialist course in pre-entry journalism, that speaks volumes for a person’s focused direction, but I believe in people and not degrees.
Your one top tip for a beginner getting into this business?
Don’t become a journalist unless getting a page-one by-line gives you more of a thrill than sex or adding up a column of figures.
Why did you want an independent publisher?
I am an independent. I believe in independence. I have always lived independently. I’ve written prolifically about independent businesses. Independence is in my blood. I wanted a publisher who would care about my book as much as me—not one of the giants for whom I had written something niche and was one of many in a huge stable of clients. I wanted personal contact, someone I’d work well with on edits and proofing and who had my kind of work ethic. Beachy Books felt right.
What’s the next book you are working on?
I don’t want to give too much away at this stage, but I am writing a novel at the moment about a dog—think What Dreams May Come meets Lassie. You’ll just have to wait.
Funniest ever piece of writing/journalism you have ever written?
I used to write for a hairdressing magazine called Hairdressers’ Journal International in the days when it was a weekly magazine. I wrote a couple of Christmas pantomimes—one based on The Lion King (Haircuna Haircutta) in typical Crackerjack Christmas panto style. It just flowed from my fingers and I cried with laugher as I wrote it. That someone wanted to pay me for it was the icing on the cake.
Philip Bell would like to thank Andrew Don for his time in the interview. If you like the sound of Andrew’s book then you can find out more and buy it by selecting the cover below:
Independent book publisher, Beachy Books, based in Kent and run by published author, Philip Bell, has grown up! Director and publisher, Philip Bell, is happy to announce a new significant development for his publishing company with news of their first professional book distribution partnership with Combined Book Services (CBS) of Paddock Wood, in Kent.
Philip says, ‘I am so happy to have secured book distribution for my traditional titles through CBS. It’s such a big deal for a small independent publisher. Previously, through Covid lockdowns, we were self-distributing, which is very hard work, but now I’m confident CBS will be able to supply all retailers and get our lovely books into shops when they are open again!’
CBS will be handling all trade orders for books on the Beachy Books imprint, which has been rebranded to reflect a varied publication schedule by cherry-picking interesting authors and genres across picture books, original contemporary fiction and well-researched non-fiction.
Of course, book distribution is nothing without sales, so it’s another first too for Beachy Books to also have secured professional sales representation from Bang the Drum sales agency, headed by experienced publishing industry sales director, Chris Moody, who will be handling all UK book sales for Beachy Books.
Speaking of the news, Philip says, ‘Chris has been like a mentor to me, helping in so many ways as we grow as a publisher. He’s worked for some of the biggest publishers including HarperCollins and Egmont, so I’m very grateful he also wanted to represent Beachy Books and get our books in front of booksellers.’
It’s just been an incredible journey so far for Beachy Books, which started ten years ago to self-publish a series of children’s books. Since then, they have helped many authors get into print.
But it wasn’t until 2019 that Philip got serious about publishing, following a life-changing event, ‘I had a marriage breakup, and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. It took some time to rebuild my confidence again and I wondered what I was going to do next, but I just kept coming back to my passion — books, writing and publishing! So, I rebranded Beachy Books and rose from the ashes with a new traditional imprint, alongside our other publishing models, to publish all the amazing manuscripts I was being sent. My goal was to create an author-friendly publishing house to publish a wide variety of quality books. And now, with help from CBS and Bang the Drum, and news of the pandemic easing and bookshops opening in April, 2021 is certainly looking beachy!’
It’s been a year of the unprecedented use of the word “unprecedented” and the majority of us probably didn’t realise what a year it would turn out to be, but isn’t that life! It’s one of those world-changing events where everybody on the planet has felt what it’s been like to go through the experience, all be it, filtered through each of our own world views and personal circumstances. I for one have really missed seeing my children as much (teens now) but I’m grateful for my lovely partner and her hilarious sense of humour that has got us both through some low days. It goes without saying that I’m sure we are all looking forward to putting this year far behind us!
And what a year it has been, one that we decided to relaunch Beachy Books and ensure we can create even better books and provide an even better service to our clients and authors.
And so, the year began with excitement in the air as I foreshadowed in my 2019 yearly roundup blog, I was very excited to be attending and exhibiting at the London Book Fair 2020 in March, alongside the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) stand, had loads of meetings booked with booksellers, distributors and other publishing industry folk to hopefully gain knowledge, make contacts and do business… but, alas… it was cancelled, along with all other public events as “the coronavirus” swept across Europe and hit the UK. I was gutted. I was in the middle of incorporating Beachy Books, trying to get book distribution sorted, gain sales help, along with all manner of other issues I hadn’t realised I’d have to get my head around to have a hope of doing what I’d always wanted to do: Make Beachy Books a professional and valid business in its own right, work at it full time and start to publish a list of books under a traditionally published imprint, alongside my other work in helping people get published.
I found some solace in recording a few podcasts this year, one before the eve of lockdown, and an isolation special where some of my brilliant authors and poets on our list recorded poems and I read out stories. I had hoped to podcast more this year, but due to a combination of being too busy and not feeling so inspired during my walks it scuppered my hopes. I have some plans to reboot the podcast next year and attempt to make it more interesting, get others involved and attempt to make it more content-rich instead of just me rambling on about myself. Watch this space but don’t get your hopes up too high!
I admit at times throughout the crisis I was ready to jack it all in and I became very stressed and exhausted. I was working very long hours and most weekends just to keep things going. Because of various factors I was not eligible for any kind of government help apart from business loans which I steered clear of; instead I invested my own money into the business to keep things going and was so greatly helped by reaching out to the generous folk in the publishing industry such as the IPG, and my contacts with other professionals, who offered me so much support and help with the business and steered me in the right direction.
It is often difficult to sustain enthusiasm when working on books that won’t be out for some time, so it was a blessing when I started to get so many enquiries and submissions from authors, who found themselves furloughed or enjoying retirement, with lots of time to write and send us it all! Beachy Books has been inundated with submissions this year, so much so that we had to temporarily flip the closed sign on the submission door until the new year to catch up with the backlog.
Alongside business shizzle for Beachy Books I had the pleasure of helping a handful of authors to self publish, including our most senior client ever, at over 90 years old, who we helped to publish a hardback personal memoir about his amazing life. It was also great to once again work with the fabulous Shirley Adams (who I’d helped in 2019 to publish The Hungry Fox and Penny Feathers) to publish a new picture book she wrote in response to a child who contacted her with an idea on Facebook: I Want To Be Small Not Tall.
It was a dark few months for a while, battling with the isolation of lockdown, separated and missing my children, but I was very lucky to be living with a lovely and funny lady and together we battled through the madness, entertaining each other while both working long hours from home, and popping out for the regulation exercise walk-a-day during the first lockdown. I admit, I didn’t actually have my first Zoom call until a few months back, as most of my work could be done by emails and the occasional phone call with authors and clients.
Reflecting back, I realise I’ve had to wear so many “hats” setting-up or rebooting many aspects of my business, learning new skills and making new contacts. One day it was learning how to setup royalty runs, another day it was dealing with book distribution problems — of which there were many in the early days of the pandemic with bookshops suddenly closing and the whole book distribution network disrupted. Fortunately my great printers and distributors continued to run all through the pandemic, improving services day by day, and of course we all know bookshops did an amazing job of providing books to customers via collection and deliveries.
I had a bit of a blow when I had to ditch a distributor early on in the year after they just all went into furlough. I had barely signed-up with them, but luckily Gardners Books kindly reached out to us and helped get our first traditionally published children’s book on the rebranded Beachy Books imprint all stocked and ready for sale into the book supply chain: Thingamanose by Lynne Hudson – a silly, comically illustrated book that is a bridge-gapping book between picture books and chapter books, a longer picture book/part comic book that is written to appeal to slightly older children than pre-school kids. It was a thrill to see the book listed in The Bookseller Buyer’s Guide – another first for us!
Alongside the publication of the paperback of Thingamanose, another milestone for us this year was to commission and publish our first ever audiobook, where we worked with a wonderfully talented voiceover artist called Amy Putt, who did a brilliant job of creating voices for all of Lynne’s characters in the Thingamanose audiobook available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes.
We are very pleased to announce that following the success of signing Lynne, we will be publishing more of her writing in 2021, including a classic 32-page colour children’s book with a cat as the hero. Alongside Lynne Hudson, we have also signed three new authors on the Beachy Books imprint more of which we will post about early in 2021. And we are in early talks and drafts with more authors for 2022 and beyond (it’s weird thinking that far ahead!)
It’s also been busy over on our Partner Publishing imprint, which we have rebranded and defined more in terms of the service we provide and our royalty structure. In a nutshell this is a part-pay, part free marketing and sales imprint alongside the Beachy Books brand. We are excited to have already signed five new authors/poets, with another author soon to join the fold.
As a result we had one of the biggest spikes in visitors to our website and the book has had the fasted online sales in a single month that we have ever had! A fantastic success for author and publisher we think and we are looking forward to publishing more of Anna’s series in 2021 and beyond.
It’s been a pleasure to work with all our authors this year from contract issues to helping with editing and working on early designs of covers. We would also like to thank some of the fabulous freelancers we have worked with from editors to artists including the illustrator of the Oliver Gruffle books – Joanna Scott, and marketeer and publishing hopeful, Amy Butler, who is helping Beachy Books and gaining some experience. (Read her guest post on our blog about rhyme in children’s books).
We really do have a lovely variety of books due out next year and beyond and I’m already getting excited thinking about them all. Details of the authors and books on all our imprints will be revealed in an upcoming blog for books in production and scheduled for publication (which we refer to as “still at sea”) in 2021.
My head is spinning after such a busy year so it has been a relief to close shop over Christmas to recharge and just do nothing (apart from write this blog), but I think the rest is well deserved after this crazy year. Myself and all at Beachy HQ wish you a happy new year (it’s got to be better than 2020!?) and look forward to seeing you all on the other side when we roll the shutters up once again.