Betsy Reavley is the founder and director of Bloodhound Books, a publisher turning the stagnant, existing publishing model on its head and breaking down historical stereotypes.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
Growing up I moved around a lot, living in Provence and Tuscany to Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire, where I am now based and work as an author and run the independent publishing firm, Bloodhound Books. I developed a passion for literature at a young age, writing and illustrating my first book when I was just ten years old. However, it was poetry that caught my attention as a teenager and helped to develop my love for the written word, which still drives me today. In my 20s, I settled in Oxford which is when I really turned my attention to writing and developed my own form of psychological thriller, writing my first novel, which undoubtedly set me on the path to where I am today.
Now I have five published books under my belt and have also expanded my career in the literary world becoming a publisher for independent authors. My husband and I founded Bloodhound Books because we saw an opportunity in the market for a digital publishing company that solely focused on helping unknown crime thriller authors. I predominantly focus on the creative side of the business, overseeing submissions and building relationships with the authors, to managing the team and directing our social media presence. With my husband Fred having a professional background in marketing our skills complement each other well in the business.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
In one word, no! I have always loved writing, but I never sat down and planned to make a career out of my passion. I don’t even sit down and plan my storylines before I embark on writing a new book, I let the plot develop along the way. Originally, I saw writing as a form of escapism from everyday life and it just naturally developed into the idea that maybe I could publish a novel, which in turn led to the idea of setting up a publishing company.
Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
Yes of course, both as an author and publisher.
When I started off it took me nearly two years to write my first book, and then having submitted it to various publishers more than 250 times, only two agents showed interest in taking the book on. I have come to learn that experiencing rejection is just a part of the industry, however, in the early days it does knock your confidence. It helped me to remember that some of the most famous authors, such as Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, suffered setbacks and that it is just part of the journey.
With regards to Bloodhound Books, neither Fred or I came from a publishing background so the whole experience has been a tremendous learning curve. I had never before considered myself a business woman so at first the idea of selling my company to prospective authors was very intimidating. You definitely need to be determined and willing to learn from your mistakes, so that your business can develop.
On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?
I don’t really stick to a set working pattern, but normally it starts with coffee and then more coffee, and ends with a chilled glass of wine. As an author I write as and when I can. You have to accept that some days the words just don’t flow and that on others you won’t be able to stop for five minutes. Also, with Bloodhound Books no one day is ever the same and I am constantly meeting with different authors and working on different projects. There are also the kids to sort out, whether I am working or not.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you ever had a mentor, or do you mentor anyone?
I think mentoring is a great idea and can really help to hone talent. I never had a mentor myself, but I loved reading Agatha Christie, Stephen King and Rosamund Lupton and definitely looked up to them. Part of my role at Bloodhound Books is to develop relationships with our authors and work with them on key decisions, offering guidance, so I guess you could say I act as a mentor. Take one of our authors, Liz Mistry for example- we both turned to writing as an escape from the daily struggles of suffering from mental health problems, and I think this mutual experience helped support her journey to date.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
I battled mental health issues in my young adult years and some of the authors I now work with at Bloodhound Books have faced similar struggles. Whilst there has been a greater awareness of mental health issues in the press recently it would be great to see companies doing more to promote mental wellbeing in the workplace, and help people who have suffered from mental illness get back into work, for woman and men alike.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
As a writer; Rosamund Lupton, a favourite author of mine, tweeted how thrilled she was when I commented on one of her books as being a favourite of mine. The fact that she had read one of my interviews, and then taken the time to recognise and comment on it was just incredible.
As a publisher; at the beginning of 2017 Bloodhound Books sold its one millionth eBook which was an amazing achievement for us considering the company had only been operational for three years at that point. Reaching milestones such as that are very rewarding indeed!
What is your next challenge and what are your hopes for the future?
More authors, more books and more success!
Bloodhound Books has grown rapidly over the past four years, representing over 70 independent authors and producing 20 international top 100 best-sellers. Now we are looking to grow the company further, expanding into America and then globally. Whether it is growing our collection of authors or searching for new hires there is always something new and exciting going on.