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!


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