If I Were a Bee , Dolores Keaveney

Writing.ie | Magazine | Writing & Me

Dolores Keaveney

I live in Mullingar with my husband John. I have three children, and five grandchildren.My grandchildren and the bees are my inspiration.

If you had said to me four years ago that I would become an author and illustrator of children’s books, I would not have believed you. So, this really confirms my belief that you never know what is around the bend.

I am an artist not a qualified illustrator, and I like to paint in strong vibrant colours and I think this adds greatly to my books. I love painting and it is a great way for me to chill out and to relax and to express myself in my paintings. Flowers are my favourite item to paint and I have made this my painting choice.

I have been painting for the best part of 40 years. My first art lesson was in early 70’s when I attended night class in Mullingar under the guidance of our very own gifted artist Anna Marie Leavy. She was such a great teacher and when finished our group went on to form the Lakeland Art Group and I painted with this group for 25 years. I branched out on my own and have been painting miniature watercolours and painting on slate for the past 10 years. I have to say Anna Marie was a great tutor and she gave me an excellent foundation for watercolour.

Before I started to write I was a qualified holistic therapist and a Reiki Master with a small business in the holistic side of work, but this only lasted one year. I missed my garden and the outdoors and I decided to take a break for a while.

I am a member of Belvedere Bee Breeding Group in Mullingar and I love to go there to learn about the bees and what amazing insects they are. It is a great hobby and teaches how to be cool calm and collected when you have to open a beehive full of 45,000 bees and take a frame in your hand.

It was during this time and out of the blue I awoke one night with lots of poems in my head. I sat up and wondered what it could all be about. I got my pen and paper and wrote them down. They were poems about bees and I had no idea where they were coming from but I went with my intuition and felt inspired to write down these poems.

I had lots of paintings of flowers completed and I took the poems and the flowers and put them together and I had the makings of a book. It was a small picture book with simple little rhymes about bees.   I called it If I Were a Bee.  Each poem explained how the bee would travel to a flower and collects up nectar and pollen, and takes it back to the beehive and turn the nectar into honey, and feed all the little bees with the pollen.   It also explains about the beehive, how they make combs with lots of wax and also about pollinating the blossoms of the apple trees.   If I Were a Bee was in a rhyming sequence and it buzzed and flowed as you said the poem.

Where do I go from here I thought?

I had heard of a web site called www.blurb.co.uk  that is ideal for illustrated books, and proceeded to make my own little book and publish it to myself.   The day I got my first little book was just an amazing experience for me. I had this small book in my hand and I was very pleased with my efforts. I showed it to some of my friends and they suggested I submit it to a publisher.   I did submit it to a few, and I got the usual reply, ‘very pretty but not our line’. I had been reading a lot about self publishing and I then decided to self publish this book. It is quite expensive at the start but I had some money which I could have used to go on the holiday of my dreams, but instead, I decided to use it to self publish my very first book.


I took the book to a graphic designer here in Mullingar, he laid it out and made the fonts more children friendly and colourful and I printed 2000 copies of my very first book. I am now on my second reprint. The year was 2008 and it was a very special year for me, it was the start of my self publishing career.

I submitted this small book to libraries throughout the country and was delighted when they took in into stock and booked me to read at the Children’s Book Festival.   For me this was a great achievement to have your book in the libraries and to be able to read it to small children and to explain about the bees.   The children loved it.

To date I have self published 5 books and I am working on another at the moment.

I launched my first book  If I Were a Bee in May 2009. My second book Jenny the Little Brown  Hen was launched in August 2010. I applied for and received a grant from Foras na Gaeilge to translate Jenny to Jenny an Chearc Bheag Dhonn which was launched in April 2011.   I also launched a spiritual book in August 2011, which is for everyone young and old alike calledEarth Angels Are Everywhere; Are You One?  

I have compiled, illustrated and just launched my 5th book called Beelicious Recipes with Honey in April 2012 and this is a first cook book for boys and girls.   My granddaughter Ellie has written some of the recipes and this adds great charm to the book.  My grandsons Greg, Mal, and Will also contributed to the book with their cooking of the recipes along with little Ali.  All the recipes have been tried and tested many times by my grandchildren.

I have two distributors: Eason and Argosy. I have been lucky to have appeared on Nationwide RTE. I have many wonderful reviews for my books from Siobhan Parkinson, Manchan Magan, Benji Bennett, Mary Arrigan, Mary Esther Judy, and many more.

The following is a kind of a roadmap for anyone who intends to self publishing. This is the route I took with my self publishing and I hope you the reader finds it helpful.

  1. Write the book
  2. Find money to self publish
  3. Edit Book
  4. Decide to Publish or Self Publish
  5. Apply to Nielsen for ISBN
  6. Design front cover of book.
  7. Get book typeset
  8. Print mock-up
  9. Edit Edit Edit
  10. Print copies for review and submit to people you would like to review so that you can insert it into the book.
  11. Submit to Easons, Argosy at least 8/10 weeks before the launch so that they will either agree or not to distribute the book for you and so that it will be in the shop when you launch.

Edit Edit Edit

  1. How many books will you print
  2. Send to printers either yourself or your graphic designer who has designed the front cover and who has type set the book.
  3. Print invites, posters, banners
  4. 3 Weeks before launch put out fliers/web texts/emails/invitations
  5. Get a WEBSITE IF POSSIBLE. Very important for people to look you up and check out everything about you.
  6. Submit books to libraries for their catalogue.

i.e. 1 Book to British Library UK

5 Books to Trinity College

1 Book to National Library of Ireland

You will find addresses in Neilson information.

  1. Register Book on PubWeb online Neilson
  2. Submit book to libraries throughout the country to see if they will buy it.
  3. Contact all shops throughout the country with an email telling them about your book
  4. Sell at craft fairs, functions etc etc.,
  5. Set up Facebook page www.facebook.com
  6. Sign up Twitter www.twitter.com
  7. Set up Account on authorcentral.amazon.com /authorcentral.amazon.co.uk
  8. Join  www.goodreads.com
  9. Get your book into the newspapers. Think local. Do your homework, become a story of local interest. ‘Local authors publish book’….
  10. Contact everyone you know and let them know you are a published author. Get some nice testimonials and write ups.
  11. Get into magazines.
  12. Have book signings if possible in local bookshops.
  13. Focus on an event, or an accomplishment, not about purchasing the book.
  14. Keep thinking about ways to get you and your book in the paper.
  15. Write your next book.
  16. Most important of all enjoy what you are doing ……..and don’t take it too serious.

Self publishing is not for the faint hearted.   I have spent many long hours on my computer. I am a very positive person and rarely do I suffer from negativity. I meditate daily and I think this has been a wonderful help to me with my publishing journey and in the past I have completed the Artist Way Course and have found it to be fantastic.   I look forward to the future with anticipation and I have many more books which I hope I will publish and whatever it brings I will embrace it with gratitude.

About the author

(c) Dolores Keaveney July 2012

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