For anyone with the mid-week blues I have got a real treat for you. I interviewed the fabulous Chella from Honeybee Books in Dorset, who, once upon a time, took me under her wing and introduced me to the world of publishing. I caught up with her to find out all about how her business is going and her personal favourites books.
Tell me all about Honeybee Books. How did you come to start a self-publishing business?
I started the business as an amateur writer and keen reader myself, and I knew that seeing your work in print was a fantastic motivation, whether you wanted public recognition or just a personal keepsake. I could see that digital technology meant that this could suddenly be achieved really affordably and there was no need to be like the old ‘vanity’ publishers, many of whom just took advantage of clients for financial gain.
Why shouldn’t people self publish and share their artistic endeavours? Musicians who play in pubs are not called ‘vanity’ musicians just because they don’t have a record deal, so why are we so snooty with books? I didn’t think it should be that way, everyone deserves a change to share their creativity with the world.
Working within the self-publishing market, what trends are you seeing?
It’s certainly become much more acceptable, even admired, for authors to start out as self published. There are a growing number of authors who find real success this way, but even for those who aren’t after fame, it’s such an achievement to hold a book you wrote in your hands. I think mainstream publishers have been slow to see the potential of helping people self publish – there really are very few businesses out there doing what Honeybee Books does unless they’re charging a small fortune.
What is your favourite book that you have published and why?
My favourite book is probably a children’s book called ‘Do You Dream of Dinosaurs?’. Living on the Jurassic coast it was nice to work with a local artist and author on a really challenging project – Sally is such an amazing artist and the finished product was something I’m really proud of.
Also who was your favourite client and for what reason?
Now that’s a hard one. I don’t know if I could say a specific person. I think it’s probably the clients who I feel I get to collaborate with, those who realise that book design is a skill and value my creative content.
What’s the most famous book you have published? Are there any of note that deserve notoriety?
I don’t think any Honeybee Books are very famous, though many have had moderate acclaim. Personally I think the comic “Dogalogue’ by the journalist Gill Capper is a fabulous read, and the fascinating history of the Serpentine river by historian Louise Foxcroft, who has several commercially successful books published conventionally. ‘Serpentine’ was a pet project of hers, but really deserves a read.
If you were going to publish a book about any topic in the world what would it be?
The need for change to be built on new ideas and not just tacking things onto old one…
What does the future have in store for yourself and Honeybee Books? Are there any upcoming titles you’d like to shout about?
I’ve published some great local history books this year about WW1 because of the centenary. Brilliantly researched and well-written, they are truly a credit to the authors and community groups who put them together. New and coming soon books are usually found on the ‘Our Books’ page of our website, so have a browse and see what takes your fancy!
Drawing on your own experience, what would you say are the current trends in the self-publishing market, and what advise would you give to those looking to put their work out there?
Now is the time to self-publish! There really hasn’t been a better time to start out as an author on your own. I would advise people to think carefully before going down the ebook route, it may be cheap but it takes serious know how to sell yourself online, and I find people usually make more from good local sales of a print book which they can promote in person.
Many thanks to Chella for taking the time to answer my questions! Check out Honeybee’s website HERE to learn more.