Sunday, 31 December 2017

In the words of Tori Amos, a pretty good year

This time last year, Kelly and I had only recently taken the reigns of a publishing company.

Britain's Next Bestseller, the imprint of Live It Ventures LTD, the only publishing house out of 65 literary agent rejections that was interested in publishing Hellbound, my debut novel (I know a publishing house isn't a literary agents, but I didn't even get through the doors of the publishers!)

We had no idea what to do, we're nurses after all, but with the opportunity having arisen to publish Stephen Sayers first crime thriller within a three-week window, it seemed like a good time to be thrown in the deep deep end and see if we could swim. We wouldn't have chosen to do it that way, but you don't 'alf learn quick!

Fortunately, for our lives and business, BAMN was a success and Stephen was very pleased with it, a success to the point it was recently turned into an audiobook by Audible with the same narrator as L.J Ross!

Murielle Maupoint trusted Kelly and I enough to sell us her company, an offer that was both humbling and scary. A million thoughts were openly discussed between Kelly and I.

What if the authors are really unhappy with Murielle's decision?
How would we encourage new and unpublished authors to join us?
How would we manage a website?
What do we do about managing Amazon orders?
What if someone has a printing query?
How do you print a book?
What the hell is CMYK?
What in chuff's name is bleed?
How do you manage taxes?
I have no idea what a trim size is!
What the hell is pre-flight in Adobe and why do you need it?
Typesetting? That's easy. We can do that ourselves! (right!!!)

The list went on and on. Give Kelly and I an infection or an ischaemic leg and we'd be on fire (not literally, though that sometimes does happen). Give us a book back then and we'd be on the gin.

So, long story short, business deals are concluded, we have a Companies House registration and our first author; a Mrs Katie Budge with her lovely story, Percy the Pigeon.

We thought a children's book for our real, first book of 2017 would be an easy way to settle in.


Children's books are quite difficult and expensive to produce.

However, nice little learning curve about book sizes and the aforementioned CMYK and Percy flew very nice onto Amazon.

After that, we published books for Steve Wraith, Joey Pyle Jnr, Alan Robson MBE, Lucinda Lamont, Donna Maria McCarthy, Robert Enright, Charlotte Teece, Christine Grange, Peter Mann, Ocean Hillfon, Tosh McIntosh and Gilly Black, Sharon Hope, someone called David McCaffrey and Martin Marriott.

Every book was an honour, a challenge and a lesson. A few mistakes were made, I am not proud to admit (by me; Kelly does the financial side and there are never mistakes as she used to be an account. I was bought an Amazon Echo in order to for her to remind me of things. there is now one in all but one room in the house. It's like having Kelly... but everywhere!) but fortunately, we have the most wonderful, understanding authors and with them being corrected as quickly as possible, everything turned out okay (sorry, not mistakes; an educational opportunity).

But now, facing the end of 2017 we know more than I ever dreamed possible about publishing and given the fact that 2017 broke in a very mysterious way for us, BNBS and Live It publishing was a blessing. Maybe things happen for a reason...

Alongside the BNBS titles, we inherited the Live It titles, a fascinating range of self-help and inspirational books, all of which we recently re-acquire the ebook distribution rights for. These titles are amongst the many plans we have for 2018.

We sold 1668 e-books this year. Nowhere near the million that the lovely and talented Betsty and her husband sold this year with their company Bloodhound Books (which is fantastic by the way and has some of the most amazing authors), but not bad considering we started 2017 with little knowledge and no money to speak of.

In total, since it's conception in 2014, BNBS has sold 99516 ebooks, not counting the Live It titles nor paperbacks. If that figure didn't include free book promotions over the years... this time next year, Rodders.

But Murielle, Helen, Kelly and I didn't and don't do it for the money. We do it because it is a privilege. Kelly and I got to donate books to two charities this Christmas; Zoe's Place and Main; books that the children would enjoy. The looks on their faces when they were given books... your books... was indescribable and encompassed anything else you might receive from a business.

A good rule of thumb we started out with was surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are and that was what we did. We had the privilege to work with Karen Chilvers and Noelle Holten a.k.a Muffin and still have the joy of working with Lisa Eddom, Julie Timlin, Maxine Groves, Siobhan Marshall-Jones and most recently, Peter Mann who has many years of experience behind him when it comes to P.R. Add in the support from Tracy Fenton, Sarah Hardy, Emma Mitchell, Gordon McGhie and so many others and you have an exceptional melting pot of so many talented people who are excellent at what they do.

We have learnt and learned so much from them all and they are what makes and keeps Murielle's ideology of Live It and BNBS of being a family.

Some authors attended book events, we took Live It/BNBS to Comic Con in Birmingham (a feat we are repeating next year in London), we have forwarded names to the Edinburgh Book Festival, entered some titles for competitions, have an American domain name to launch sometime next year, have some amazing titles up for release in the first quarter of 2018 and so much more (spoilers!).

It has been a fantastic year for us, learning and working alongside you all. We always expected a few unhappy people due to the direction we took and that's okay. We never expected it to be straightforward and easy, but we knew it would be fascinating and never dull, exactly as it should be.

Thank you for being patient, thank you for trusting us with your most precious works and thank you for being the amazing people that you are, bloggers, readers and authors alike.

And thank you, Murielle... for everything.

Here's to a wonderful 2018 for you all!!

Goodbye to 2017... a pretty good year.