When another lockdown was looming a few weeks ago, we knew we had to find a way to sell 'Lights on the Horizon' online. Being a publishing consultant who usually deals with authors, content and general commissioning and publishing tasks, I have never sold anything on a website. One day, determined that I would find a way, I installed Shopify and thought that it would be straightforward enough to integrate into my website. I am not a tecchie, though generally not too bad with figuring things out, but with proofs still ongoing, and last minute panic stations, I didn't have the time to really look into it, so my attempts didn't get very far.
When you don't know where to go, ask for help!
I like to solve things myself, normally, but time was ticking, and I had to concede that I just didn't have the necessary expertise in the area. And so I contacted the wonderful Nathan Erasmus of Gravy Media who designed this very website for me. He was involved in another project, so wasn't available, but, in turn, put me in touch with the fabulous gentleman that is Andy Smithyman. Enter: The Wizard of BOZ.
But really, I should hand you over to Andy, because he puts it far more eloquently! Take it away, Andy.
Andy Smithyman writes books and gives the odd talk. There's a rumour he's also a speech and ghostwriter, but he keeps those projects secret. He has an interest in social justice with a coffee-stained Masters Degree in Narrative Theory.
Always seeking imaginative ways to tell stories, in 2018 Andy fell down the rabbit hole, setting up a different kind of publishing company. This 'curiouser and curiouser' venture reimagines bespoke print through the lens of ethical production, distribution and promotion.
Andy's latest book is called PARADOX. This Fiction Social Thriller is a re-imagination of 'A Christmas Carol', set between the present day and Victorian Britain. Drawing upon how Dickens blended social commentary with fictional creativity, Paradox refocuses attention onto an inspiring movement of redemptive change happening all around us. But with a twist.
When he isn't writing or touring, Andy is a story-telling consultant to business and community ventures - but with a difference. This imaginative approach identifies and builds upon the central storyline running within the organisation. Drawing upon his eclectic years in the creative and business landscapes, Andy crafts a bespoke partnership for the client to achieve their goals. This collaboration could include content strategy and creation, project management, one-day workshops and long-term advisory roles.
Do you have a hero in your life you always wanted to thank? Give them the gift of 'Lights on the Horizon' this Christmas.
And... we're live! We've partnered with the amazing Andy Smithyman of https://www.bozpublications.com/lights-on-the-horizon, who already had a shop front set up on his website, and is kindly selling Lights on the Horizon for us! Yes, he's based in London, but the world's a global village, especially now. This way we can process payment online, and ship worldwide. I will fulfill ALL Irish-based orders from Co. Cork!
The books will land on 20th November and we honestly can't wait to show them to you!
So, flock on over, 'Lights on the Horizon' is available for pre-sale RIGHT NOW: https://www.bozpublications.com/lights-on-the-horizon. The books arrive on 20th November. In the meantime, please share, share, share, and pre-order copies for all your favourite healthcare workers, grannies, uncles - and your all-time hero you've always wanted to thank. https://www.bozpublications.com/lights-on-the-horizon
Thank you, your support means so much. If you tell just one other person about us today, we might just become a best-seller, and raise lots of money for healthcare workers over Christmas.
A great Christmas present at €24.95 + P&P - stories, poems, photos from the island of Ireland.
A huge thank you also to the amazingly talented Nina Cáit Gilbert @DesignBird for the design of our promotional materials.
Today I received the hardcopy in the post. Of the cover.
Now who gets excited about covers, you want to know?
Only pernickety publishing people, probably, of which, of course, I am one. And also, perhaps, some normal mortals, who find themselves (in a pre-lockdown-scenario, just roll with it) in a bookshop, choosing the perfect book for their significant other, or their friend, who is a bookworm, like them. Bear with me. Covers can be exciting. Especially when you jump, head first, into a charity project during a pandemic, not knowing what to expect, and it gains momentum, and more and more people jump on board, and then, suddenly, it's this much bigger thing, and you're doing a coffee table book and you need a cover! And you're normally used to dealing with the 'front-end' stuff, like authors and content and design briefs and suchlike, mainly in the educational sphere, and not in what's known as 'trade' publishing. But you want to do it right, and so, you have called in the advice of the experts, to sort through various paper types, thicknesses (120 gsm? 130? 150?) and finishes (matt, silk, chocolate?). And finally you decide on the perfect cover for the very first time, and so, it's a teeny tiny little big deal.
What a shame there's no such thing as a chocolate cover. But I can assure you, this is the next best thing!
And here it is. It's black and shiny and impossible to photograph, at least if you're not a professional photographer, which, clearly, I am not. I have to say it's better than I'd ever hoped. The paper is good and sturdy, which are, of course, supply chain publishing terms, and don't at all sound like my grandmother's appraisal of my German winter boots when I was 11.
The contrasts and grey scales look perfect. Another step closer to paradise. I will keep you updated, so if you haven't yet, subscribe to my newsletter and every time I blog about the book, you will get an update in your inbox. Right, where's the chocolate?
From Andrew W. Tinney, whose initial idea sparked something in all of us, to the paramedics, friends who brainstormed and provided socially distant tea, cake and of course, wine, to my patient daughters who stuck with me when I was late with dinner or a film, yet again, to the actors on the photoshoot, to the photographers, the bookshops, the printers, coordinators, and administrators and techies, to those who were simply there with advice, or a shoulder, when things were, or weren't, going to plan. And not forgetting the publishing professionals who believed in taking this on. I couldn't have done it without you!
As we find ourselves in another lockdown in Ireland, we know that good news stories are the thing that keeps us all going. We are about to launch our online pre-sales for 'Lights on the Horizon', and I will post the link here as soon as it's live, so please like and share far and wide, and perhaps even consider investing in a copy as a Christmas present for someone - perhaps someone in the health sector, our heroes, who are the reason this book became a reality. And while this is happening in the background, I'd like to ask anyone who has contributed in any way to the book not to be shy: I'd like to get a bit of an idea why you got involved in 'Lights on the Horizon', and, with your permission, do a little feature on you on this page. I've created a very short survey (5 questions, including name and email, so I can get in touch with you) and if you could fill it out and then hit the "All done" button, it will make its way to my inbox. I think it will also be interesting for other people to hear why you got involved, so it would be great if you'd complete the survey. If surveys are not your thing, just email me: email@example.com. Thank you and take care! Niamh x
I always seem to have news on a Friday!
Apart from the fact that we went to print today, Friday 16th October, I can also announce that we have a new bookshop on board: Charlie Byrne's Bookshop, Galway. For those of you in Galway, you probably already know where they are, but here are their details, just in case: You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone them on: (091) 561 766. Their website and Facebook pages are: http://www.charliebyrne.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/CharlieByrnesBookshop/. Support your independent bookshops and pre-order a copy of 'Lights on the Horizon' now.
As of today, we have four independent bookshops on board. Pre-order your copy now. All proceeds go to frontline workers in the HSE, and NHS NI.
As of 11:25 on Friday 9th October, I am delighted to announce that two bookshops have agreed to sell "Lights on the Horizon" for us:
Kerr's Bookshop Clonakilty and Bookstór Kinsale.
Thank you to Trish, Heidi and the team in Kerr's who have will take pre-orders, effective immediately. Feel free to contact them on +353 (23) 883 4342 or email email@example.com. Click here for opening hours.
The number for Bookstór Kinsale is +353 (21) 477 4966. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And as of 11:50 on Friday, 9th October, we now have a third bookshop on board: The fab team at Philip's bookshop in Mallow. Philip's are also taking pre-orders so ring them on +353 (22) 42471 or email them: email@example.com.
Go on, go on, go on! Christmas won't sort itself - and it's for a great cause!
RRP is €24.95. A bargain for a beautiful coffee table book of poetry, prose and photography from all around Ireland.
I am thirsty. The drink of choice is, of course, tea, not water. So, off I go to make a cup of tea.
I fill up the kettle. While I'm filling it up, with the other hand, I open the dishwasher and I start emptying out some mugs. Then realise that the water levels in the kettle are higher than my 'boil only what you need' mantra. I pour some into the roses. They need some watering anyway. And pruning. And some general TLC which I sadly don't have the green fingers to administer. They may not make it. I put a teabag in my mug. Then remember that I forgot to fill up the dogs' water. I get the dog dish out of the utility room. And realise that the washing machine has finished spinning. I empty the washing machine, and decide to fill it up again with this morning's stripped bedclothes, and switch it on. I open the window and go back into the kitchen. 'Make a U-turn', says the SatNav in my head. I return to the utility room for the forgotten dog dish. I eye the overflowing ironing bundle but think it's wiser to leave it. Must not interfere with such a carefully constructed dome. Anyway, 'Niamh' + 'irons' are not words you will often find in the same sentence. Unless, of course, you're talking about Jeremy. But that's another story which I will tell some other time. I go outside with the dog dish. The dogs are jumping around me. I adjust their blankets and spend five minutes rubbing their heads and letting them jump all over me, delighted at how excited they are to see me. Then realise it's not me they want, but their breakfast. I grab their dishes and go inside to fill them up. I'm really thirsty now and regret having gone outside in bare arms which sport three new scratches. I barely get the badly trained Bichon-JRT-crosses to sit and they wolf (dog?) down their food. I remember that I was making tea. I go back inside, and check my email while the kettle is boiling up again. I reply to the project team. Someone once said one should only boil the kettle once, for a fuller flavour. Impossible when you have dogs, and a house and you're working from home. I put a teabag in my mug and start adding the water. Problem is, there was already a teabag in waiting.
Oh well. It will be an extra strong cuppa this time. It's probably exactly what I need.
I honestly have no idea how I did it. I have a big mug which I got from one of my really lovely friends, and I rediscovered it during lockdown. It is chipped and blue and just the perfect size for an extended cup of Barry's goodness. It's still in the dishwasher. I decide that it can stay there as I am about to go on a zoom call.
So, I drink my first cup of tea of the day out of the wrong mug and somehow, I survive.
Possibly, because I switched off the camera.
Because of the upside-down-ness of the last few days, I decide to bake. Baking is always an excellent way of making sense of the world. And, failing that, eating the only sensible thing left in the world: Cake. So, yesterday, I decided to try out an apple cake recipe saved (probably to the wrong folder) from Dunowen House, who has been posting CakeMonday recipes since the decline of a new age (also known as COVID). Thank you Kela, I can confirm it was delicious. Here are the results. For once, it was baked in the correct oven, at the correct temperature, in the correct oven dish. I've decided I'm a Hobbit and I'm having elevenses. Happy Wednesday.!
Thank you everyone for their votes on Facebook, LinkedIn, and various messaging apps. It was a close race. Final tallies will take place tomorrow and I will share the results here and on social.
* Watch * this * space! *
How will I get into bookshops? Which cover will we choose? Who knew that the discounts charged by some are 53.5%? How on earth will I organise a tail lift?
I still don't have the answers to some of those questions. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. But for now, it doesn't matter. Because now, the barcode has arrived. I worked out how to get one, and to realise that before I get a barcode, I need an ISBN. This is the kind of stuff our print geniuses usually look after. But this time around, I decided that I needed to be the one to do that. I had already called in way too many favours from way too many people. And I wanted to learn.
Give me author contracts. Ask me to write copy. Tell me you need a content plan. Need a story written - give it here, Malfoy. Need a publishing plan? Want me to translate something into English, German, even French? Devise a flat plan? Discuss how to translate a curriculum into a textbook? Write activities? Absolutely no problem. Wine and dine an author? No, that's a bridge too far. Ha, only joking, that's the best part!! But... page gsms? Flaps? Jackets? Spines? You lost me at hello. However. This project has opened more eyes and pushed to more limits than most things I have done in my publishing life. And one of those things was to work out how to obtain a barcode. Not a big deal for those who know. But for those who don't, it's a little daunting. And now we have one. So we're another step closer to publishing this book. Eureka!
Yesterday was 7th October. We had our first zoom call on 7th August. We have come so far in just two months.
So here it is. Drumroll for the ISBN and bar code for "Lights on the Horizon". This makes it feel a whole lot more real. Watch this space.
Oh, and if you're a bookshop, or know anyone who has contacts, let me know. I'd love to get our book into as many independent bookshops in Ireland as possible. And sure, how I'll actually physically get the books to the bookshops is another day's work. And another night's worry.
I can reveal now that the wonderful Kerr's Bookshop in Clonakilty will sell our book for us. Kerr's is taking pre-orders now. Ideal Christmas present. (023) 883 4342.
And no, it wasn’t my halo. Those of you who know me, know that any attempts at angel-hood would be futile at this point. Plus, angels don’t wear boots.
"But...", I hear you cry.
Why was there an ambulance? A blue blanket? Full protective gear? And Cadbury’s Twirls?
Why did the instigator later have to appease the concerns of a concerned citizen, who’d seen the flashing lights and heard the sirens?
Lights, I tell you. It’s all about the lights.
“Lights on the Horizon”, to be precise. What we were doing on that early Sunday morning, in this strange new world we find ourselves in, with all the bad news, and the grief, and the silence, and the worry, was to collectively find a way to make others’ lives perhaps a little brighter. Because we all need a little cheering up these days, especially as we find ourselves on the almost-brink of lockdown. Again.
It’s timely, actually. Because this story begins during lockdown. But don’t worry. None of us want to cast our minds back, really. Most of us just want 2020 to be over, thank you very much. Most of us are thinking that Christmas might just be the highlight of this abysmally badly scripted year. Though deep down, we want Christmas to be over, too, with all its twinkly lights, presents, and home-baking in isolation. We’ve had a lot of that these last few months.
With “Lights” came a vision. What if we could raise even more money, while creating something beautiful?
A visual version of this time capsule of these troubled times? We just had to do it.
But before we started, we had to ask the very man who brought this idea to life: Author and playwright Andrew William Tinney – Author . Andrew had the idea, and Andrew brought all these authors north and south of the Irish border together in the first place. And with his blessing, we were going to take it to the next stage. He agreed.
And so, phone calls were made, and one by one, publishing professionals far and wide were assembled. Who gave their time, and expertise, so generously, and absolutely free of charge.
Tess, our amazing editor, whose meticulous attention to detail, ideas and aura of calmness brought us through many a stumbling block. Ailbhe, who totally “got” the project from the word Go, and whose beautiful designs and fonts brought our project to life! Rosie , our brilliant Supply Chain mind, whose knowledge of gsms (don't ask!), spines and jackets opened up horizons I never knew existed – and I don’t mean fashion!
And then there were the dozens upon dozens of individuals who have supported, encouraged, phoned, zoomed, emailed, messaged, massaged, poured wine, and cups of tea, and showed their support in so many ways. I will thank you all properly when the time comes.
And then, there were those who turned up on that bright and almost summery Sunday morning; a perfect setting for an impromptu photo shoot, only brought to life the Friday before. Because, you see, we needed pictures. We had already assembled a few Ireland-based photographers already. Some had donated fabulous pics (thank you Esther Moliné and Clonakilty Distillery).
We wanted this book to be authentic. The stock image sites are all well and good, but it’s hard to find a picture of an elderly woman and an Irish ambulance, or a young boy who sees an angelic vision of a paramedic. No, again, not me. The amazing Teresa McShane did a far better job at standing in for those roles, as did the extremely talented David Dodog, who had accompanied his Mum, the incredible Anna Dodog, @Wild Dream Photography , on this photo shoot, and was happy to roll with everything we threw at him that day.
And now we’d like to ask for everyone’s support. I know times are shite. I know money is tight. I didn’t even mean for that to rhyme. We have a GoFundMe page. https://www.gofundme.com/f/lights-on-the-horizon And with a bit of luck, the book will be available in time for Christmas. I will let you know when and how it will be available. We are still fine-tuning the logistics.
But please do watch this space. And when the time comes, maybe you could buy a copy of “Lights On the Horizon”, a memento of these troubling times, and how we all got through it. It will be beautiful. And it can sit on your coffee table, or in your car, or on your bookshelf, or under the bed, in time to come. And you will have done something for a great cause, and you will have supported our incredible frontline staff who have kept this country from collapsing during this horrible pandemic.
So please spread the word far and wide. Share, share, share. We’re doing this on a bit of a shoestring, and need to find the last few Euros to be able to press print.
Oh, and what about author Louise O’Neill, you ask?
Well, last week, Louise gave us another huge lift, when she took the time to write a few lines in support of our project. Thank you, Louise! You have no idea how much we needed that last week.
Thank you for taking the time to read.
And thank you for all your support.