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.

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!