Publishing Lizzie

I’d always wanted to publish a hardback, but never really got around to it with my own books and most clients choose paperbacks, mainly due to cost considerations. That was until I was approached by a lady called Rosey Messing, who had written a family history with a difference.

Most family history books are written from the third person, keeping strictly to the facts as known. Rosey had wanted to do something different with her family story after finding a letter written by an ancestor who had travelled from Ireland to Canada in the 19th Century. The letter from her ancestor inspired Rosey so much that she decided to travel the world meeting and talking to relatives. Before long she found herself obsessed with her research and knew she was uncovering a fascinating story.

Press cutting of Rosey Messing, author of Lizzie, at her book signing at County Press Shop in Newport, Isle of Wight.
Press cutting from County Press about Lizzie.
Advert for Rosey’s book signing at County Press. Lovely to see great support and coverage for local authors in Isle of Wight County Press.

When it came to writing the facts Rosey just couldn’t get the ‘voice’ of the girl out of her head and she soon found herself channeling her epistolary style as she wrote the story. Before long she found that pages of prose and dialogue and fiction had suddenly poured out into her word processor. She was mindful of keeping as best as she could to the basic facts of the story, as told by her ancestors and from factual accounts and records, but she isn’t ashamed to say some of her story is a figment of her imagination.

When Rosey had finished and read it many of her extended family all over the world were itching to read it and thought she should publish it. She came to me and we worked on a plan to publish the book as an exclusive hardback with a nice modern design twist on the usual family-history cover. When I read the story I enjoyed it and thought it would appeal to fans of historical novels so thought it would have wider appeal than just direct family or people interested in local history.

And the rest is history because it is now published and for sale and has actually been our best-selling book this year due to a large order from an American wholesaler. I was over the moon when I saw the royalty statement, which means a nice little earner for Rosey and Beachy Books.

If you fancy a historical read about a woman who makes an incredible journey to start a new life on the Canadian prairies then take a look at Lizzie by Rosey Messing on our website.

Big Repeat Order of Fairyland Fairytales

Last year I created and published a book called Fairyland Fairytales, which was a book commissioned by a lady from a Shanklin tearoom who wanted to compile a book of fairy stories written by children. She wanted the book for sale in her tea room and for all profits from the book to go to a charity of her choice each year.

I’m happy to report that another 100 copies of the book have been ordered for sale this year! This is the third book order now so it’s lovely to see a book completely selling out and being reordered and doubly satisfying when it’s for charity.

I Decided to Publish Your Book

I never started all this publishing malarky to do anything other than publish my own books. But, over the years I’ve learned a heck of a lot about writing, creating, publishing and selling books, along with all the ups and downs the process entails.

As the years rolled by I started to work with community groups and schools in helping them create and publish their own books. This then developed into publishing books for private individuals and becoming a mini-imprint boutique publisher I suppose. It has gradually grown and has mostly come through word of mouth, slowly establishing local contacts and establishing myself as a good solid publisher of books, all be it local books mostly because that’s what sells well around these parts.

I put out an story in the local paper and it got a great response and it was amazing to hear from a range of writers who had written books ranging from children’s poetry to local history books. I’m pleased to say the work seems to be rolling in but the trouble is I’ve not had so much time to write my own books. You can’t have it all!

Autumn Beachy Books School Book Club Launches!

Beachy Books School Book Club Blog Image

Beachy Books is happy to announce that we are becoming a bookseller and will now be selling the latest published children’s books alongside our own children’s books, direct to primary schools with our new Beachy Books School Book Club!

Every term we select over 50 children’s books to suit all primary school ages at great discounts from 10-40%! They range from the latest fiction bestsellers to exciting non-fiction and fiction that tie in with the school curriculum.

We know there are lots of places you can buy books but what makes us different is that the more books that children and parents buy from our book club, the more FREE books we supply to your school library!

If you want your school to take part please get in contact by emailing schoolbookclub (at) beachybooks (dot) com.

At present the scheme is only running for UK schools on the Isle of Wight but we do hope to expand it out to other mainland schools if there is demand.

To view our latest Beachy Books School Book List catalogue click here or see the School Book Club menu at the top of our website.

Beachy Books publishes your books!

Beachy Books Publishes Your Books Blog Featured Image

Do you need help getting your book published?

We can help with all aspects of publishing, providing creative and editorial services to help you get your book published.

Over the years Beachy Books has worked with charities, community groups, schools and private individuals to help them publish their own books for a range of causes.

Beachy Books is not a traditional publisher, so if you think you have the next ‘Great’ novel or celebrity autobiography then try a big publisher instead.

Beachy Books specializes in shorter print run books for specific needs. For example, a fairy story book written by children to raise fund for charity, or a book commissioned by a primary school to give to parents of children about to join, or using grants to teach community groups how to publish their own book of personal stories.

We do charge for publishing services to cover design, publishing and printing costs.

We can help you self publish your own books under your own name or publishing label, or if I feel the book sits well with my list I can publish your book under the Beachy Books or Beachy Community Books imprint.

We can print your books at cost prices so you can sell them for profit or use them how you wish and authors can keep all rights and copyright.


Beachy Books Review of the Year 2014

Santas Cat by Philip Bell Copyright 2014

It wouldn’t be Christmas without me looking back over the year and thinking how little I achieved, but realising I did some amazing things and then summing it all up in a blog post. Did I achieve all the things I set out to do? Did I do things I never expected? What were the successes? What were the fails?

I’ll start by reading what I wrote last year, however I notice that really that’s a 2012 review and after writing my 2013 resolutions I didn’t then write a review of 2013. This must have been because at the end of the year I was so busy trying to publish Jack and Boo’s Dinosaur Island! And I also notice that I only managed to complete one of my five resolutions. Hey ho, better one than none.

As a blogging year, it was my most pitiful yet, with only a handful of blogs published. The truth is, blogging is my least favourite form of writing. But, I still felt the urge to communicate with you all, and I thought an interesting way might be via a podcast. I almost gave up on the idea because I realised it would take too long, until one day I had the stupid idea to just record the nonsense churning around my head during my daily walks in the country. The result has gained a small but appreciative audience. The podcasts are about my thoughts on writing, my current projects and other topics on the writing life. I haven’t a clue who it’s really aimed at and I admit it is a touch idiosyncratic, but it’s all you’re getting for now. I hope to continue podcasting in the new year, so If I’ve piqued your interest then listen and subscribe here: Beachy Books – Beachy Rambles Podcasts.

Most of my time this year has been taken up with continuing my successful Beachy Books Community Book Publishing Projects, which enabled me to work with some amazing people from my local community and help them create their own community books, while having loads of fun and hopefully imparting some skills I’ve learned along the way.

The projects resulted in 4 amazing books, which I have now published under a newly created community imprint Beachy Community Books.

The books are Your Journey Into Ryde, Over The Bridge to Gunville, Freshwater Reflections and Animals Never Judge Me. I also published Addicts’ Anecdotes, a community book from 2013, via this imprint as our first community book.

All of the community books have sold at least 100 copies, most hundreds, and one, Freshwater Reflections, 700 copies! After costs, all profits go back to the groups who created the books to support their own causes.

During the delivery of my courses I was also observed by OFSTED and they gave me a GOOD rating, which is good, I think.

Unfortunately, due to the community book projects taking up so much time, we (the wife and I) failed to create another Jack and Boo children’s book this year, and also shelved a number picture book projects we had planned due to lack of time to dedicate to them. Perhaps a new book will surface in the new year if we get time…

I did manage to finish a short-ish children’s chapter book. I thought it was amazing. I loved it. Then I read it to my children. Their reaction was lukewarm. I have decided to shelve it for a bit and return to it another day. It took me ages to finish but I just don’t think it has the X Factor. Bit gutting really, but I’m just not feeling any love for it. I may be able to resurrect it one day. But if I don’t, it was just another step along the way.

And so, in the closing months of the year I have wrapped up my community book projects and finally had the time I was craving to go back into the study, close the door and start writing again. I discovered a half finished manuscript in the loft, which I haven’t been able to shake from my head so I’ve resolved to finish it in 2015. I don’t want to reveal too much at the moment, except that it’s not a children’s book. Of course, that’s not to say it won’t be childish. Only time (and my 2015 review of the year) will tell if I finish a publishable draft.

I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas in 2014!


A Snowy Day Off School

Sledging on Isle of Wight photo by Philip Bell Copyright 2013

On Friday the long predicted snow finally fell on Isle of Wight. To be honest it was bad timing for me because I had to cancel several book project sessions due to my children’s school being closed. Needless to say my kids were very happy to have a day off school to use sledges that had been gathering dust in the loft.

So I trekked out in falling snow and a brisk wind  in search of a big hill, dragging my children behind on sledges. Unfortunately all the big snow-topped hills around us seem to be owned by people, so we headed to a gentler hill along a footpath. I was initially worried about the narrow slope with a fence and brambles either side, but my kids ignored the danger and leaped on and slid away and before long epic snow fails and laughter ensued.

My kids building an igloo photo by Philip Bell copyright 2013

Eventually the snow seeped into our bones and made us cold so we trudged home and draped our gloves and socks on radiators and sipped hot drinks. But no sooner had I thawed my children begged me out into the white stuff again. In our back garden my daughter found a plastic box and started to make snow bricks. My son had the idea to make an igloo with them. Presently I got involved and soon I was making the bricks, while my daughter collected snow and my son placed snow bricks in a circle. As we played, we discussed a range of topics from how the inuit traditionally constructed their homes in the ice (and still do when off hunting), the nuances of good brick laying and how to make an arch that stays up. It was clear we were not experts in any of these topics as we had a number of collapses, then we ran out of daylight and energy and didn’t quite finish our igloo, but the learning and fun on the journey was invaluable.

I don’t think it was such a bad thing that the kids had a day off school. I think they learned more about the world on our snowy day off school. And even if they didn’t learn anything we all bonded and had a good laugh.

It reminded us all of a similar happy time a few years back when we made our winter children’s book Jack and Boo’s Snowy Day.  We hope our fun and learning captured in the book will inspire you and the kids the next time you wake to a snowy day.

Beachy Books Wins and Fails of 2012 and New Year Resolutions for 2013

It’s New Year’s Eve 2012. Jeez! Where did that year go? I thought I might have a look back over the year and ponder the next…

Looking back at my Beachy Review of 2011 and a brief look ahead it might be worth seeing if any of my bold 2012 New Year Resolutions actually came to fruition:

“1) Publish a new Jack and Boo book”

Ah…er… well I didn’t actually publish any new Jack and Boo books – or, indeed, any books!

To be fair that was actually due to a change of strategy after I’d made this resolution.

I felt I hadn’t marketed and sold our existing books (or my skills!) enough and really wanted to explore different ways to sell, promote and market our books. And these are some of the ways I attempted this…

I promoted our books in local schools and worked with children to help them create their own story books and got them thinking about nature and wildlife mentioned in our books – Jack and Boo visit Holy Cross School and Poetry and story writing at Hunnyhill Primary School. I really enjoyed visiting schools and I hope some of the children were inspired. I seemed to get a good response but it would have been nice to have official feedback from the schools and perhaps photos of finished books or comments from the children. I would advise authors to try and get feedback on-site before you leave as teachers are busy people.

I did a few author interviews discussing my writing and some of our books – Author Interview on and Interview for IOW Makers and How would you describe your book? and The Next Big Thing Blog Hop – Jack and Boo’s Snowy Day and finally here Stork Press Twenty Questions.

Me and my illustrating wife attended our first literary festivalBeachy Books goes to The IOW Literary Festival and I did a little writer-in-residence spot Jack and Boo go to The Needles Old Battery.

I launched Beachy Books Training and Beachy Books in Residence with great (modestly small but promising) success, but I had a bit of a fail with an idea to get other fans of our books to sell them with my Beachy Books Seller Scheme. I did it because I wanted to try it out and some people had suggested the idea. I didn’t advertise it much but I didn’t have much of a response in any case. I think I need a bigger catalogue of books to make this work, so I aim to try again in the future.

We got some lovely reviews of our winter book Jack and Boo’s Snowy Day, which has helped promote the book and Jack and Boo brand on the web. Thanks to all reviewers!

I completed an epic task (with the help of my fabulous mother) of contacting loads of independent bookshops to tell them about our children’s books. It took ages and as a result we got some great feedback from booksellers and some bookshops ordering, so it was worth the effort.

Oh and even though I didn’t blog about it the most rewarding promotional activities I did were talks to local groups where I read out our books and talked about how they were made. I sold more books at these two events than any other!

“2) Publish a new fiction book for children that’s nothing to do with Jack and Boo (shock!).”

Er… well, yes, as I mentioned above, I didn’t do this either. But I am working on a number of children’s books. I have a picture book idea about half-way through and a novel-length project on the go. My issue is, do I publish these under Beachy Books or go in search of a publisher. I’m still not sure, but it all depends if I think my finished stories are appropriate for a particular publisher’s list. I think a healthy mix of traditional publishing and self-publishing is the future. I do love indie publishing but it’s such an uphill struggle if you want to even attempt to compete with the “establishment”. The pros and cons of indie publishing are a big subject and I’ve learned loads, so I’ll follow this up in a future blog post.

“3) Commence an exciting publishing project with a local primary school.”

I did this one! Hooray! Read all about it: Beachy Books and Newchurch Year 5 children publish a book for Reception. This project lead me to be awarded some grant money from the local council to deliver 3 book publishing projects working with community groups in 2013: Beachy Books Awarded Community Book Publishing Grant.

“4) Jack and Boo wild walks for the 2012 Isle of Wight Walking Festival.”

Did this one too! See here Spring Wild Wood Walking Festival Walk! and I also did the Autumn Walking Festival but it was wet and there was a poor turn-out. Next year I’m doing guided walks with activities. The idea came from me working with a local school to take the children out and challenge them in a wood. They had a great time, their parents got involved and they (and I) learned a few things: Wild Wood Challenge – Learning in Nature.

“5) Start Project X (not even I know the exact details of this).”

I cannot remember which one of my many projects was Project X to be honest but this was alluding in general to brand new writing projects that had nothing to do with Jack and Boo or, in some cases, not even anything to do with children’s writing. In that department I had a good mini-success and more projects are on the boil.

“6) Save the planet.”

I’m still working on this. I like to think a book can change a mind, so I live in hope.

“7) Tweet!”

Any of my followers on Twitter will be aware I continued to tweet, often inappropriately and at times when I should have been doing other things.

My 2013 New Year Resolutions…

See, I did do a few things I said I would. I think it’s much more likely I’ll get something done, achieve a goal or meet a target if I write it down. And sure, they’ll be lots of things I won’t get done in the time I said I would, and they’ll be some things that won’t go so well or even fail in a most spectacular way, but that’s all part of trying to be ambitious and successful. Or did I just expect far too much of myself or set impossible targets?

So, with that in mind these are my 2013 New Year Resolutions

1)  Deliver 3 exciting Community Publishing Projects working with local groups on Isle of Wight.

2) Following my successful pilot of some private Beachy Books Training courses I aim to offer and deliver training courses on various subjects, such as blogging, twitter, aspects of writing, publishing, and creating presentations.

3) Work with schools and community groups to offer my services to them.

4) Publish a new Jack and Boo picture book under Beachy Books – This WILL happen, I promise.

5) Complete a new picture book and either publish under Beachy Books or send to another publisher.

6) Finish a workable draft of “the children’s novel”.

Happy New Year All!

What are your writing resolutions?


The Next Big Thing Blog Hop – Jack and Boo’s Snowy Day

I’ve been tagged in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop by fellow writer Helen Hollick. Her website is and her blog hop post is here and she writes historical fiction and pirate-based adventure. Helen reached the USA Today Bestseller list with her novel The Forever Queen in 2011.

I’ve been instructed by Helen to tell you all about my next book by answering these questions and then I’ve tagged 3 other writers who will tell you about their Next Big Thing. So here I go…

Jack and Boo's Snowy Day

What is the working title of your next book?

I’m working on several new books and all have working titles but I don’t want to jinx any ideas before they are ready. But the book I’m promoting at the moment is our children’s Christmas book: Jack and Boo’s Snowy Day.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

One day a few years ago I woke to find the world covered in snow. The book is inspired by going out into the snow with my children. There’s a surprising amount of nature around in the depths of winter.

What genre does your book fall under?

Children’s picture book for ages 3-7 that will entertain both toddlers up to children in primary school year 3 or so. It’s written in poetic prose with references to wildlife.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ha! I wish! Er… I’d love my own children to play the characters as they are the inspiration for Jack and Boo.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Follow Jack and Boo out on a wildlife adventure in the country playing in the snow and seeing how wildlife survives the winter. But I think the opening lines inspire more:

Snow-bright light behind
the curtain wakes us early
to a crisp white world
silent free falling
paper tissue flakes
sledging down
powder white hills
blackbirds startle
spring from branches
sprinkling dusty rain.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I prefer the term, independently published – I really did do it all myself. Well, with my wife, who illustrates and our children who inspire! With Jack and Boo, I like doing it myself, being in control and keeping it alternative.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It all actually happened very quickly. Probably not more than a few weeks for the first draft and then as it goes into the design I revise it, which is one of the advantages of doing all the stages yourself.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

A parent and teacher who came to one of our book readings compared our books to “Charlie and Lola” as she said they captured the play and imagination of real children. But they are so different in visual and written style, combining real photos, illustrations and poetic prose. Any person who wants to be inspired by nature will love Jack and Boo’s Snowy Day. I believe our Jack and Boo books are totally original. But I would say that.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My children, my life experiences. Jack and Boo’s Snowy Day is our third Jack and Boo book, and, to some degree, having feedback from an existing fan base helped influence our next book. I actually made a rough draft of the book in 24 hours, following our day out in the snow, and published it as a quick eBook. It got a great response so I thought I’d make it our next published Jack and Boo book.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Many children’s picture books are tedious to read over and over at bedtime (not that it’s just for bedtime!). We hope Jack and Boo’s Snowy Day will be a pleasure to read over and over by adults. It’s also challenging reading for key stage 1 early readers and a great teaching resource for poetry and seasonal themes. Oh and it’s got wildlife to spot all through, and a spotter guide and family ideas of things to do on a snowy day. Although it’s based on UK scenery and wildlife we’ve had many people buy it for children in America, Australia, Europe. I could go on…

Our books are available on Amazon and other retailers. Find out more, have a look inside and buy Jack and Boo’s Snowy Day – the perfect Christmas gift to inspire a child to learn and play in nature.

Here are some lovely authors I’ve tagged to tell you about their Next Big Thing!

Love struck, rom-com writing Louise Gibney‘s blog

Zombie mad, short story writing Jody Neil Ruth‘s blog.

School for Supervillians writing, children’s author Louie Stowell’s blog.

My thanks to Helen Hollick for Tagging me in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Facebook: Twitter: