As anyone who knows me will tell you – I’m not the tallest of people. I’m pretty much 5 foot exactly, maybe a smidge more on a good day; but, as my mum (also small) always says – ‘you don’t get diamonds as big as house bricks’.
This week’s love letter is in praise of small – specifically small independent publishers.
Small is great.
When I first dreamt up Bumblebee, one of the first things I did was contact a friend who is a poet who I knew had some connections in the independent publishing world, to see if he thought the idea had legs. I knew that I wanted Bumblebee to send out unusual books that you might not ordinarily come across – but whether independent publishers would be interested, I had no idea. My friend did think the idea had legs (hooray!), but he also had some advice: ‘You need to contact The Emma Press’, he said: ‘Emma will help you’.
So I did. I emailed the idea to Emma at The Emma Press, and she got back to me with such a positive and helpful response that it encouraged me to forge ahead and get things off the ground. In fact, Emma’s response meant that it was all so remarkably simple, it seemed madness not to do it. Emma supplied me with books for the very first Big Bees month and then again for this month (Postcard Stories 2 is one of hers), and I hope there will be many more Bumblebee months to come that feature her books.
Since that first email, I’ve sent similar messages to a number of other small indie publishers and every single one has come back to me enthusiastically and supportively. Ruth at Old Barn Books (publisher of this month’s Busy Bee book How to Bee, and Christmas Mini Bee hit Little Hazelnut) has helped me with age ranges, advised on content and got books into the post to me in record breaking time; Greet at Book Island (publisher of this month’s Mini Bee, the very beautiful Virginia Wolf) has offered me thoughts and advice about everything from from Children’s Mental Health week to the power of Twitter; and Tom at Penned in the Margins gave me some excellently timed advice that helped save Christmas! All in all – small independent publishers are a wonderful bunch.
What’s very lovely about them is that as absolute experts in their field, they could just dismiss an email from a small business like me – but they have all immediately welcomed Bumblebee and treated me as a collaborator and colleague, not as a newbie. They have offered help when they can see I need the advice, but also appreciated the skills and thoughts I bring along with me from a different industry. They’ve cheered me on, helped me out, made recommendations and solved my problems.
They care deeply about what they put out into the world, about who they work with, and about supporting the amazing imaginations and abundant talents of their writers – they are the real truffle hunters searching for wonders.
They may be small, but they are fierce, proud, wise and BIG of heart.
I still don’t feel I know very much about the publishing world – and I’m sure (like all industries) it has both good and bad eggs, but I feel pretty lucky to have fallen in with such a nice crowd. So thank you to my new publishing friends, for helping Bumblebee to fly.
And please, dear reader, may I ask that when you’re next in need of new books, you look up these brilliant indies and buy direct from them if anything catches your eye – because small is magic, and Jeff Bezos already has enough in the bank.
Lots of love,