Hi, I’m Simon Appleby

If you need help creating or evolving a website… you’re in the right place!

I run the only digital agency in the UK dedicated to delivering website and e-commerce projects for publishers, authors, literary agents and other book-related businesses. I’ve been doing this for ages, and have worked with loads of great publishers and amazing authors during that time.

I really understand publishing (I spent several years working in-house for a publisher you’ve probably heard of), so you don’t have to educate me about ONIX feeds, AI sheets, ARCs, TCM figures or ISBNs. This means we can spend more time talking about what you actually want to achieve with your project.

Although we’re based in the UK, we have worked with clients all around the world – from the USA and Canada to Egypt and New Zealand.

"Simon has an almost psychic ability to understand exactly what you need. If you’re an author or a publishing company and need a new website, Simon is your man!”

Justine Solomons, founder, Byte The Book

How Bookswarm can help you

Website design and build

We design and build beautiful, bespoke websites for publishers, authors, literary agencies and other organisations and individuals in the worlds of books and publishing.

We use WordPress to make our sites easy for clients to manage, capable of evolving over time and good value. As of 2020, WordPress has a 60.8% market share in the CMS market.

Branding and design

We develop brand identities for publishing startups and self-published authors, and we can design all of the supporting marketing materials required for any campaign, including print and social media. 


Training and support

All of our clients receive a hands-on training session and as much remote support as they require to feel comfortable with their new website.

Our ‘Ninja Support’ plugin gives all clients the ability to ask for help from directly within their website – for the full life of the website.

Read our full, detailed proposals

Author websites

We’ve put everything you need to know about creating an author website with Bookswarm into this online proposal – including details of scope, process, timing and cost. Explore our portfolio, hear from past clients and decide if we’re the web agency for you.

Campaign microsites

We’ve put everything you need to know about creating easy campaign microsites with Bookswarm into this online proposal – including details of scope, process, timing and cost. Explore our portfolio, hear from past clients and decide if we’re the web agency for you.

“Simon is wonderful to work with. We enjoyed every bit of the process and are more than elated with the final result. We love our website! Thank you, Simon.”

Elizabeth and Sukey Novogratz, authors

Recent projects

We’re proud of our body of work. Here are some of our recent projects.

Don’t take our word for it…

At Bookswarm we value our reputation for delivering great work that keeps clients happy. Here’s what some of them have to say about the experience of working with us.

“Designing a new site and keeping continuity with my old one was a seamless process with Bookswarm from start to finish. Simon and his team were incredibly clear, responsive and inventive as they kept pace with my many questions and challenges. They immediately understood my brief and fulfilled it to the letter, and the result is I now have a website completely fit for purpose, with a lovely welcoming design, that is also very simple for me to manage and update. The support has been great too. I would recommend without reservation.”

Piers Torday


“Bookswarm … know how an author’s site needs to work. They know about books. They know about design. They know about websites. (And a whole load of other stuff). I am a very happy customer!”

Virginia Bergin


“Right from the very first phone conversation I felt I had an ally in Simon. He wanted to understand what we were about, how our market worked, what the priorities were, how quickly we wanted to be up and running, and he created a plan to deliver it on time and cost-effectively.”

Jonathan Harris

Director, Fink Publishing

“Bookswarm, and particularly Simon, have been a brilliant partner for our website rebuild. He completely understood what we needed to do to improve the site, and built us a new version with a far better user experience as well as a much better backend that we can manage most of ourselves.”

Hermione Ireland

Managing Director, Académie du Vin Library

“I’ve had a complicated career that’s involved multiple projects and many publications on a wide variety of themes. In the past, I’ve commissioned personal websites but never been satisfied with the results. Until now, no one has ever managed to build something that strikes the right balance between breadth and depth. I’m delighted to say that Simon and Bookswarm have managed to build me a website that allows me to publicise my books while also housing my personal archive. I was hugely impressed with the patience with which Simon discussed my needs with me and then developed a website that reflected my idiosyncrasies.”

Keith Kahn-Harris

Sociologist and author

“I was bowled over by Simon and his team at Bookswarm. They were efficient, creative and incredibly helpful. I couldn’t recommend them more.”

Abi Elphinstone


Fun Bookswarm Facts

Some things you might like to know about us

We've been recognised for our services to publishers

At the 2021 Independent Publishing Awards from the IPG, Bookswarm was the proud winner of the GBS Services to Independent Publishers Award. 

Mates' rates

We offer discounts on our standard packages to members of Byte The Book.

Authors represented by our literary agent clients are also entitled to a discount.

Make sure to tell us when you contact us.

At your service

All of our WordPress sites feature our Bookswarm Ninja Support plugin – so help is only a click away, and you don’t even have to leave the Dashboard.

Member of IPAC

Bookswarm is a member of the Independent Publishing Agency Collective.

IPAC is an association of like-minded independent companies that work for and within the book industry. It offers a diverse and comprehensive list of services for publishers, authors, booksellers, agents and many others involved in the book world.

We can work co-operatively with other IPAC members on multi-faceted projects.

Ten Years, Ten Things

It’s been over ten years since I started Bookswarm. In that time, we have designed and built a lot of websites. We have made a lot of mistakes. And we have learned a lot of lessons.

When we turned 10, I sat down to reflect on all of our experiences, and to try and and identify some of the key lessons. So, behold, the result, which I have modestly chosen to call… Appleby’s Laws!

News from Bookswarm Towers

Bookswarm joins the Alliance of Independent Authors as a Partner Member

Bookswarm joins the Alliance of Independent Authors as a Partner Member

We are pleased to announce we've been accepted as a Partner Member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). ALLi partners include all kinds of companies, individuals and organizations, ranging from global companies like Amazon KDP, Google Play, IngramSpark and...

Simon runs the London Marathon 2022

Simon runs the London Marathon 2022

As you may know, I began running with the Couch to 5K programme in November 2019 - perfect timing for it to keep me sane during the pandemic! I’m still really enjoying it, and after raising £1,600 for Cancer Research last year in the Cambridge Half Marathon (if you...

Byte The Book event: Perfect Publishing Partners

Byte The Book event: Perfect Publishing Partners

Bookswarm’s Simon Appleby will be in conversation with Justine Solomons with contributions from partners Cameron Publicity and Marketing, Think Big Books Marketing, Arkesis and Prepare to Publish. We’ll be discussing how clients can best engage with potential...

Byte The Book Event: How to Be Yourself Online

Byte The Book Event: How to Be Yourself Online

We're taking part in an online event for authors next week. Join Byte The Book and a our panel of experts, including Bookswarm's Simon Appleby, as we give advice on what authors should do across various digital platforms to best represent themselves. We’ll examine:...

Partner spotlight: Justine Solomons, Byte The Book

Partner spotlight: Justine Solomons, Byte The Book

Welcome to the third in an occasional series of posts where we turn the floor over to our partners and pals in publishing to talk about what they do, to help our customers learn more about them. This week, it’s the turn of Founder and Director of Byte The Book,...

“Simon and his group have a great system for authors to express their creativity and passion through their website. If you are an author in need of a site to highlight your writing and other work, Simon is the right guy for you!”

Matthew S. Bennett, speaker, trainer, author

Meet the Bookswarm Team

Simon Appleby

Simon Appleby


Simon Appleby is the founder and Managing Director of Bookswarm, the only digital agency in the UK dedicated to delivering projects for publishers, authors and others in the world of books.

Simon has spoken at the Publishing Scotland conference and the Faber Factory conference, contributed to the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, and created and delivered a course on digital project development for the Publishing Training Centre.

Simon’s career in digital media started in 1998, and he gained experience of digital project delivery for a range of clients while working for a number of digital agencies. In 2009 he went ‘client-side’, where as Digital Projects Manager for Octopus Publishing Group, he gained invaluable inside experience of the publishing world.

Alex Knight

Alex Knight

Technical Lead

Alex is a web developer. She has worked at digital media agencies in London and Birmingham and more recently has chosen to freelance. She is passionate about creating pixel perfect websites, being skilled in both back and frontend coding.

She enjoys reading a variety of genres, with sci-fi and fantasy being favourites, and tends to have a couple of books on the go at once. Despite being a bit of a geek when it comes to owning gadgets she still prefers a real book to a Kindle.

Alex loves the sea, and lives in south Devon where she grew up. When not in front of a computer she can be found kayaking, sailing or exploring Dartmoor.

Hazel Miles

Hazel Miles

Creative Lead

Hazel is a tea-fueled Graphic Designer of many years experience.

Hazel has experience in a range of design disciplines. Starting out in design for print, she moved into web design, and retail and packaging design before deciding that it was time to branch out on her own. Working for herself Hazel has found greater creative freedom and enjoys working with a purring cat inches from her keyboard.

Although Hazel feels the Kindle is “a marvellous invention” she is adamant that she will always read the printed word… unless it’s one of the many blogs she follows. Hazel has more books than time but when she does find time to read Hazel enjoys a wide range of genres with a particular fondness for the classics.

Susie McConnell

Susie McConnell

Designer / Developer

Susie is a graphic designer and front-end developer. After many years spent working for both print and digital agencies, she decided to take the leap and pursue life as a freelancer, focusing mainly on working with clients in the arts industries.

Susie is a big fan of non-fiction, enjoying the works of writers such as Mary Roach and Jon Ronson. In her spare time, she enjoys the cinema, playing music, binge-watching true crime documentaries, and a good cup of tea.

“Authors should look no further: Bookswarm completely understand our needs.”

Annabel Kantaria, author

Contact Bookswarm

Want to get in touch? Use the option that suits you best. You can…

  • Use the live chat facility
  • E-mail us on [email protected]
  • Call us on +44 (0) 7847 912989
  • Fill in the contact form

We’d love to hear from you!

“Simon and the Bookswarm team are always a delight to work with. Receiving an email from them is usually the highlight of my work day!"

Laura Jones, Bloody Scotland

Free downloads

Free White Papers and downloadable resources which help demystify the process of developing WordPress sites.


Selling Books Online

Download our FREE cheat sheet, showing you all the linking formats you need for different book retailers’ websites, along with information about affililate schemes and other handy tricks.

What does GDPR mean for your website?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) represents the biggest shake up of data protection legislation for many years, designed to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). Ahead of GDPR coming in to force, we have been working with a number of our clients to ensure their websites are GDPR-ready. Here are some of the things we think you need to know.

Commissioning Author Websites with WordPress: Ten Things We Learned (So You Don’t Have To)

The world of WordPress is booming. In fact, it’s estimated WordPress now runs HALF of all websites that have a Content Management System (CMS). For your WordPress project, you can choose to work with any of a wide range of designers, developers, agencies and hosting companies; not to mention a thriving ecosystem of good-value themes, free and premium plugins and other goodies. This cornucopia of choices can be overwhelming. So, we’ve tried to make it easier for you. Next time you commission a WordPress project, or recommend to your authors that they explore the possibilities of WordPress, here are ten tips for you to consider.

Selling With WordPress: Easy E-Commerce Options for Authors and Publishers

Bookswarm has built its business around WordPress, and one of the things we’re often asked by clients to work on is e-commerce. With the range of options widening we thought we’d provide a tour of some of the solutions out there, and look at some of the issues and challenges specific to the world of publishing, and to selling books online.

"Simon and his team have been superb to work with and we’re delighted with the final website – it really does look better than we could have hoped for.”

Sara Hunt, Publisher, Saraband