You have set up and run your own boutique publishing company: how did this come about?
Through lots of hard work! My background is in design and photography, but I also have experience setting up businesses, so I combined all my skills and pulled in help where needed. We have slowly built up the company to where it is now, but we still have a long way to go!
What sort of books have you published so far? Do you specialise in a particular area?
Because of my design background, most of the books we publish are illustrated coffee-table style books. We are active in the area of cookbooks, art and lifestyle books, and we also have a small but growing children’s picture book list, as well as some poetry. We decided these were our areas of expertise, which aren’t affected by e-books. We set up Beat Books to help those that want to publish novels or books that don’t quite fit the Beatnik list.
Do you have a favourite book you have worked on?
I don’t have favourites – that would be like being asked to name your favourite child! But the best projects are where everyone trusts each other to do what they’re good at. This year has been fun. I’ve loved working with Jordan Rondel (The Caker) and The Game Chef crew because they completely trusted me in terms of the creative direction for the books. Other standout books are Who You Are is What You Do by Heather McAllister, the Ripe Recipe books and Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick by Courtney Sina Meredith. Sometimes books come to us all ready to go. For instance, I Am Doodle Cat is the complete creation of Lauren Marriott and Kat Patrick, but I loved the process of spotting a good idea, publishing it and taking it the Frankfurt Book Fair. It has recently won the best children’s book award at the PANZ Book Design Awards.
The publishing industry is in a state of flux at the moment, both here and in New Zealand. What opportunities does that create for publishers? And challenges?
As we grow, we’ll be able to fund more exciting book projects that would normally have been scooped up by the bigger publishers. I think the fact that we’re approachable and still here can only mean good things for Beatnik moving forward. I don’t actually think things are in such a state of flux as people interpret. Recent Book Scan figures show that book sales have increased, and e-book sales have plateaued. I think there is a place for e-books (wonderful for travelling) and a place for printed books. Personally I love having a break from screens, and I don’t want to read a book to my son at night from a screen when he should be in wind down mode. And the other thing to remember is that there is a natural cycle of growth and fall in any area of business, so the ups and downs of the publishing world are no different from any other business. We set up in 2007 and published our first book in 2009, so I’ve only ever known ‘challenging’ times. I’m not in a position to hanker for the ‘good ole days’.
Where is Beatnik Publishing heading: do you have a vision for the company over the next ten years?
We will keep building our publishing list and taking local talent to the world via the Frankfurt Book Fair and selling rights around the world. And I am very keen to continue building a creative community around us. This is a core value of our business that we foster creative collaboration with the talented people we are fortunate to work with.
Are you also a writer or illustrator?
I’m an illustrator, photographer, designer, artist, mother and a business owner!
Sally will be appearing on the Publishing vs. Self Publishing Panel on Sunday 16 August, 11am-12.30pm in the Raglan Town Hall.