End of the Year Blog 2021 — Annus Fertilis

Annus fertilis

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.

July brought bounty in the form of a non-fiction title called The Bounty Writer: How to Earn Six Figures as an Independent Freelance Journalist by Andrew Don, a veteran journalist who tells how he achieved success in this memoir-come-writing guide to successful independence. Now, don’t we all want that! It’s been great to work with Andrew and his professionalism has shone through during the promotion and marketing of the title.

Grandpa's Dear Old Girl - Front Cover

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.” 

Charles Bukowski
“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

2020 – A Year of Publishing in the Time of Coronavirus

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!

Lynne was our first author to be signed on the new imprint and it’s been so much fun working with her as we really share the the same passion for rhyming books and comical illustration. I especially loved interviewing Lynne Hudson about her inspirations and background. We have already got some wonderful reviews and sales are progressing well. In spite of the pandemic, Lynne managed to arrange her own brilliant book signing in her home town of Weston-super-Mare at an artisans’ shop called the Weston Collective, just before the start of the second lockdown!

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.

Thingamanose by Lynne Hudson

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.

The first author to be published on our Beachy Books Partner Publishing imprint was Anna Southwell, who lives in the Isle of Wight. She is partially blind and writes all her children’s stories on a typewriter (you can read more about Anna in our interview). It was pleasure to be able to publish the 1st book in her Oliver Gruffle – Secrets of Harmony Haven series, The Runaways, just this December and we were blown away when BBC Radio Solent interviewed her live on the radio on publication day.

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.

Oliver Gruffle – Secrets of Harmony Haven – book1: The Runaways by Anna Southwell

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.

Happy New Year (ya’ filthy animals!)

Philip Bell, Publisher, Beachy Books.

Happy New Year and a Glance Back at 2019

And so, that was Christmas and I find myself writing this at the eve of another year, the eve of another decade no less. I can honestly say I have mixed feelings about 2019, and that’s not even going on about politics but on a personal level, those close to me have really suffered and it has been a very challenging time, but professionally, for Beachy Books, it has been very promising…

I noticed from looking back at my blogs that I hadn’t written a round-up of the year since 2017, which was the eve of a personal life crisis that sank Beachy Books for a while, but following a lovely encounter with my past and a blossoming new love my muse returned, and like Aladdin I resurfaced from the depths before I drowned and I found a renewed love of books, and writing, and publishing. So, I began to formulate a plan to relaunch Beachy Books and really really make a proper go of it all…

I’d learned a few things over the years, had some highs and some lows, but following a few submissions from talented writers and illustrators I became inspired again and relaunched (I also podcasted about it). So now, I have a base on the Isle of Wight and in Maidstone, Kent, and I am gaining more and more clients and new authors on the Beachy Books imprint. It’s exciting times…

Considering I really only fired up the publishing engines again mid-year it has been my most successful year so far. I measure this in terms of the amount of books published and recording my fastest ever sales.

I kicked off summer with the publication of our first poet, the lovely, literate, Sandy Kealty, with The Mermaid is Unimpressed, which received some wonderful reviews and she has been growing fans week on week through her relentless gigging and performing at open mic nights all over the UK. I’m very excited to tell you that Sandy and I have been working hard to get her new volume of poetry ready for publication in Spring 2020, which will be titled: The Mermaid Rides Again!

One of the highlights of the year was getting Sandy a slot reading at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival 2019 where we had her book on sale with Blackwells and also a very funny night out at the Author & Speaker dinner after, where it was fascinating to talk to publishing folk and meet some literary celebs like Alexander McCall Smith. I was gutted not to meet Alan Titchmarsh though as I wanted to give I’ve him a personal copy of Personae Vectenses: Isle of Wight Notables (Alan is one of the notables!) that we published in October.

Personae Vetenses has been our most popular and fastest selling book ever. The manuscript was sent to me by an ex-Islander earlier in the year and has been his labour of love for around 12 years and contains over 240 fascinating short biographies of people connected with the Island by birth, or having lived there, who have all had a wider impact on society.

In fact, our local wholesaler has ordered 4 separate batches of PV and has been stocking bookshops all over the Isle of Wight. I am truly humbled by the success of the book which really was a pleasure to work on. It vindicates all the hard work that went into design and typesetting, not to mention editing work and drafting! It has been a thrill to see the sales figures go up and up so thank you if you were a buyer or seller.

This year has also seen me work with a local talented children’s writer and illustrator called Shirley Adams who wanted help self-publishing. It has been an absolute pleasure helping to create her rhyming children’s picture books The Hungry Fox and Penny Feathers to great acclaim and reviews from children and parents. Shirley has already grown in confidence from performing her work in public and is now regularly doing reading and craft gigs at local events in libraries and bookshops, while working on new titles that Beachy Books will help publish next year.

I did other stuff too, mostly behind the scenes, building the business, making contacts, planning for 2020 and beyond. At one point my whiteboard didn’t have any white left, plastered with so many ‘todos’ I just felt a bit overwhelmed. I transferred it all to some nifty spreadsheets and priorotised it all, giving myself more achievable and realistic aims and deadlines… well, that was the plan, but I’m sure I’ll miss a few more deadlines because next year’s publishing schedule is already looking very busy. This is due, in part, to an event I organised at a local library where I offered publishing advice to the public. I met some very interesting writers and have now read some very promising manuscripts, one of which was a 70,000 word document on a very interesting non-fiction subject which I hope to publish in the future. More news on that in time!

A nice end to the year was joining and being accepted into the Independent Publisher’s Guild (IPG), which I will blog about in the new year. I also have some other exiting news that Beachy Books is going to be traditionally publishing a children’s author and illustrator (previously published) for Christmas 2020, as well as taking on more authors on the imprint.

I have more exciting news, but I’ll save it for the new year, but it has something to do with London and Books… To be honest, I am still a little dazed from Christmas and felt I had lost my way a bit these past weeks, however writing this blog has reminded me how much I’ve achieved in a relatively short time and perhaps I should stop being so hard on myself and celebrate my successes more so I can build on them…

I hope you have had a successful year and at least achieved some of the things you set out to achieve. But if not, never fear, there’s always next year.

Happy New Year from Philip Bell of Beachy Books!


Beachy Books Publishes First Poetry Volume — The Mermaid is Unimpressed by Sandy Kealty

I’m pleased to announce that Beachy Books has published the first new book on our rebranded imprint. Poet, performer and musician, Sandy Kealty, is hoping to make a splash with her first book of published poetry called The Mermaid is Unimpressed.

The Mermaid is Unimpressed is filled with 29 poems that Sandy has written over a lifetime of writing, as she explains:

The collection is taken from work over 7 years or so, which is taking my story through various stages of my life. It was long overdue to put a collection together. I feel that what I’ve been doing before is a bit ephemeral. To me, the performance I did was for the here and now, and then I’ll go away and do a performance for somebody else. But I like little poetry books. It’s time in my life to put together some of the work that other people have been enjoying over a period of years. I’ve chosen the ones for ‘The Mermaid is Unimpressed’ that I feel best tell the story.

Sandy has been writing since, in her words, ‘she was knee-high to a grasshopper’ and later started to perform her poems as a way of rebuilding her life following a tragic personal incident:

I started reading my poems aloud, seriously — as seriously as you can read my poems! — when I was living in Whitstable, around the 1995, after my first husband died. I needed to reconstruct my life. And I did it through dancing, singing and writing poetry. And then when I came to the Isle of Wight, I did an Open Mike at Quay Arts. This is where I felt particularly comfortable, fitted in and found friends.

Her influences are poets from the 40s to 60s, those who write in a direct style. She likes A E Houseman’s A Shropshire Lad, John Betjeman’s Summoned By Bells and Welsh Incident by Robert Graves. Sandy explains why:

It was poets who wrote with strong observation and utter clarity. I’m not one for mucking around. I don’t like obscure poetry very much. I don’t really like to spend hours working out what the hell they were talking about, it’s not me at all! 

It was an absolute pleasure to work with Sandy on publishing her book of poems and also lovely to work with another creative on the Island, Shaun Cuff aka The Constant Doodler, to do the fabulous cover that Sandy really loved:

The cover needed to be eye-catching. I think Shaun has made a most fantastic piece of work of that. The doodle is one line carried around. The mermaid’s expression is just right — I’ve felt like that at times, I truly have!

Sandy and I learned so much on the journey to publication and I am very proud of this book, and it seems Sandy is too from what she had to say:

It hasn’t been at all frightening. It’s been joyful and splendid good fun! It’s come out as we had planned. I like the feel of it in my hand. It’s the right size. It’s a lovely texture. It invites me to open up and have a look to see what’s inside! 

Well, I don’t think I could have summed it up better. If you’d like to find out exactly why the mermaid is unimpressed then you’ll have to buy the book.

The Mermaid is Unimpressed by Sandy Kealty – published by Beachy Books

The Mermaid is Unimpressed is available to order from bookshops, and can be purchased online, worldwide, at retailers such as Waterstones and Amazon.

If you’re on the Isle of Wight it is currently available in Babushka Books in Shanklin and IW Traders in Newport.

More details on The Mermaid is Unimpressed page.

Beachy Books Resurfaces!

I am a bit excited. Why? Because I’m relaunching my publishing baby, Beachy Books, with a new look, new authors and new books. 

It’s long overdue because a few years ago, following a personal traumatic storm, I sank, 20,000 leagues under the sea. At least it felt like that. Over the years Beachy Books became a home for barnacles and it started to rust and rot. I didn’t think I would even find her again because it was rather a nasty storm, no real weather warnings, and with no GPS I wasn’t quite sure where she had submerged…

I’ve been hoping I had the energy to resurface for some time now, after being contacted by authors that had heard about me and seen the quality of the books I had published previously. This was heartening to me as I realised that all the years of publishing books without much success or income had finally paid off. Not so much in monetary terms, but in an earned good reputation from just being professional to work with and from having a body of great books. I’d like to think the majority of my relationships with authors in publishing their books has been positive with both author and I having learned new things on the voyage.

I’ve always loved the process of helping authors turn manuscripts into published books (some in turning ideas into manuscripts!) and this burning desire hasn’t really left me. So, with the help of loved ones who have given me back my muse, air has flown into my ballast tanks and Beachy Books has finally resurfaced. 

I’ve been publishing books for over 10 years now, as well as also writing my own books, getting published traditionally and also enjoying self publishing. I’ve had some successes and many fails along the way and in some respects I feel I’m still swimming in the ocean, might never reach land. But this time it doesn’t feel like I’m paddling with arm bands — more carving through the waves in a powerful front crawl. Well, perhaps not all the time, but I feel a renewed confidence in myself and my talent as a writer and publisher.

And what books am I publishing, you ask? Well, anything I really like, to be honest. Over the years I have published local history, children’s books and community and one-off books for organisations, and now I am pleased to say I’m pushing into new areas such as poetry, fiction and short stories. The bottom line is… if I publish your book on the Beachy Books imprint it will be good quality, whatever the genre.

I am now also offering a range of services to help the entrepreneurial self-publisher, such as editing and cover design, alongside my publishing imprint, which some books I receive are more suited to. This works like partnership publishing, where author and I collaborate on a book, with heavy input and direction from myself and also marketing and publicity. Every client is unique and every book is different, so each project brings new challenges and outcomes. I’m getting excited just thinking about reading new work that authors will send me this year…

I have a school of new authors onboard and some fantastic books on the Beachy Books imprint coming out in 2019, and more planned for the following year. I welcome you to the beach party if you’ve only just discovered Beachy Books and I salute you if you’re a long-time crew-member and thank you for your support and encouragement over the years. 

If you want a book published, from a novel, to a local history, or a special one-off charity book, or a community project, or anything bookish, then please get in touch to see how you can join our shoal.

Simply email philipbell@beachybooks.com

And I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the greats…

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” 

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

2017 – A Year In The Publishing Life of Beachy Books

That went quick. The year, gone, never to be relived. It’s been quite a year at Beachy HQ and it’s become customary now for me to round it all up in a blog, take stock of what I’ve achieved and set some goals for 2018.

I didn’t get into publishing for any other reason than to publish my own books, so it is still a surprise to me that I now help others publish their books. It kind of developed over the years from working on community book projects and then word got around and people approached me to ask to be published on the Beachy Books imprint. I’ve been so busy this year that for the first time in ages I’ve had to turn clients away.

I finally published a book I’d been working on during the end of 2016 called Celebrating Together, a book featuring photos taken on the first Isle of Wight Day in 2016. It was a mammoth job. The biggest photo book I’ve ever put together and my first hardback book, all in glossy colour. It turned out very nice so I hope it’s selling well.

It was only a year ago that I advertised my services to the public. The story worked for me and I got several jobs from the coverage.

A lady who wanted to publish her book of family memories on Amazon got in touch, which got me be back into creating books for Amazon’s KDP platform. I do sometimes use it for my books, but it doesn’t offer hardbacks and they don’t have many paper options. It’s great for standard paperbacks and ebooks though and because it’s Amazon, they prioritise stocking the books under Amazon Prime.

It’s great for standard paperbacks and ebooks though and because it’s Amazon, they prioritise stocking the books under Amazon Prime.

I often do little jobs for clients I’ve worked with in the past or those on my imprint. I was asked to edit and reprint another order of Your Journey Starts Here books for primary schools, and also another order of  Fairyland Fairytales

I published several books on the Beachy Books imprint this year including a local history book called I Remember Hill Lodge, Freshwater and a family history with a twist written in the 1st person and fictionalised here and there called Lizzie. We also published a children’s poetry book called Grandma’s Roller Skates and Other Silly Stories. All of the books have sold well for the authors so I cannot want more than that.

I was commissioned by Carisbrooke Castle Museum oral history department to work with children at the Island Free School to create and publish a book called Step Back In Time, a book of recorded memories from retired residents living on the Isle of Wight.

I’ve also been commissioned on a project called Hidden Heroes where I’ve been working with local primary school children to generate ideas for a children’s book about 7 historic characters connected with the Isle of Wight. I’ve also worked with local Island museums and researched and written about each hero. I’ll be revealing more about my Hiddn Heroes book in the new year.

And to top it all I have just secured a writing job for a local employer, which is proving to be challenging and rewarding. All in all a great year in some respects. I hope I continue to have success in 2018 and that I can find inspiration again to start a new novel.

Happy New Year!

Publishing Hill Lodge for Freshwater & Totland Archive Group

It’s always a pleasure to work with a client I’ve already published before, so when Pauline Tyrell from Freshwater & Totland Archive Group (I’ve published their first book called Freshwater Reflections) approached me with her new local history project it was an easy decision.

Press cutting of I Remember Hill Lodge, Freshwater book signing advert in IW County Press

Pauline was captivated by Ellen Victoria Jane Stevenson’s personal journal of her life and family at Hill Lodge, a grand Georgian house in Freshwater, Isle of Wight. Ellen’s journal was donated to Freshwater & Totland Archive Group and when Pauline read it she thought it should be published along with her story, research and photos, all for posterity. The book was edited by Caroline Dudley, another member of Freshwater & Totland Archive Group, who was a fantastic editor to work with.

I Remember Hill Lodge book launch at Freshwater Library, Isle of Wight
Press cutting from IW County Press about I Remember Hill Lodge book launch at Freshwater Library, Isle of Wight

‘I Remember Hill Lodge, Freshwater’ has now been published and is selling well in retailers around the Island including IW County Press shop, The Cabin, F R Frise, Co-operative Funeralcare, Dimbola Museum and Gallery as well as direct from the Freshwater & Totland Archive Group website or via links on our website.

If Ellen’s story sounds interesting then have a look at I Remember Hill Lodge, Freshwater: Memories of Ellen Victoria Jane Stevenson 1892-1992 on our website, which has links to online retailers.

Publishing a Children’s Poetry Book

Cover - Grandma's Roller Skates and Other Silly Poems by David A Ballard ISBN 9781999728304

Beachy Books started publishing children’s books so I knew it wouldn’t be long before I published other people’s books. A song writer and poet, David A Ballard, came to me with his rhyming poems for children and asked if I could help him get it published. His friend Christian Hennessy illustrates the book and has helped promote the book. The pair had one of Waterstone’s most successful book signings earlier in the year and the book is selling well.

The book is called Grandma’s Roller Skates and Other Silly Poems and is available to browse on our website.

Press cutting from IW County Press about the Grandma’s Roller Skates Waterstone’s book signing

Press cutting on launch of Grandma’s Roller Skates


Step Back In Time

I often get commissioned to publish books by businesses or organisations for specific purposes. These books may not go onto wider sale in the shops or online. Instead I am funded to print a batch for a specific purpose to give away or sell for charity.

One such commission was from Carisbrooke Castle Museum Oral History Department in collaboration with Isle of Wight Council Heritage Education Service and the Island Free School. The project was funded by a Young Roots grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project was to publish a book of recorded memories from local retired people on the Isle of Wight. The memories were al recorded by children from the Island Free School. It was all part of a integenerational project where the children would work with the oral history team and the retired people to show them artefacts and record their responses to these objects.

I was asked to come into some of the session at the Island Free School and introduce the children to the idea of creating a book full of photos they had taken and edited highlights of the recorded transcripts. Over a number of weeks I helped two groups of children put together an outline boo and curate the content into different themes such as seaside memories, leisure and wartime. More importantly the children came up with a great title for the book: Step Back in Time – A collection of oral histories of older people living on the Isle of Wight.

There wasn’t time for the children to create the whole book at school so I took their outline and designed and typeset a full book full of wonderful memories and images. Funding provided for a print run of copies for a book launch at the Island Free School so that copies could be given to the children and the people who had taken part in the interviews.

It was a rewarding project to be involved with and I think the final colourful book was received very well.

There is more information and transcripts from the interviews on the official website for the project and also you can look at a digital copy of Step Back in Time – A collection of oral histories of older people living on the Isle of Wight.

Helping an author publish her Island memories on Amazon KDP

I was approached by a local lady called Jo Cooper who had written her childhood memories of living on the Isle of Wight during the 1950s.

Her problem wasn’t so much with writing the book, but formatting it correctly to publish it herself on Amazon. Really there is only one solution for self publishing direct to Amazon – Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

I’ve published an ebook autobiography (Animals Never Judge Me) for a client before as well as publishing my own short stories via KDP As well as ebooks, it’s also very easy to then go on and create a full printed paperback. That’s what Jo wanted – a real paper book of her memories that she could sell locally.

I worked as a publishing consultant for Jo and helped her format the book correctly for upload to Amazon as well as advising her on the cover. It was a fun project and after a few drafts we had a correctly formatted manuscript ready to publish.

If you are interested in Isle of Wight memories from the 50s then check out jo’s book called ‘Isle of Memories: Snapshots of a childhood on the Isle of Wight in the 1950s and 1960s’ on Amazon.