When it’s time to submit your manuscript to a publisher…


In November of last year, I wrote the following blog. I never posted it, because after I had calmed down a little, I realised that prospective agents/publishers might possibly look at my blog, and if they read this they might decide I was unsuitable. However, due to a whole lot of different circumstances, I am now about to launch my book, Ploughing Through Rainbows, and as I eventually self-published it, I have nothing to lose. Anyone who has attempted to find a publisher will, I’m sure, relate to the frustrations expressed below. Enjoy…

November 2018: I have started to look at publishers, ready to submit my farm book. It is such a demoralising activity, as everything is stacked in favour of the publisher/agent (even though at the point of submission, it is the author who has done all the work!) Some publishers even seem quite aggressive, and the following paragraph is a good example of what the lowly author can expect to find on their submissions page:

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. Please read before submitting: Do not query us on a title that is already published. If your book is available (whether for sale or free) anywhere, in any format, in any length, in any iteration, we are not interested in these titles. It will not change our minds if you agree to “unpublish” it in the event we accept the title. We take very few reprints as it is. Reprints are almost always from an author with whom we already have a relationship, and they are always titles that have been out of print and unavailable for a considerable time.
Sorry to be so blunt here, but the note we have on our guidelines page is increasingly being ignored and the number of submissions we are receiving on titles that are, or have been, self-published on Amazon, on Smashwords, on blog posts, etc. is increasing. To submit these titles does nothing but waste your time and ours.

Not exactly encouraging, is it! In fact, there seems to be a distinct lack of information on what, exactly, the publisher is offering. They never seem to mention what they will do for the author – When (if ever) will they be contacted? What services (such as editing) will the publisher provide? When the book is published, will it be entered in competitions? How much will the author be paid? How will the publisher help to promote the work? Will the author be provided with copies to sell, or do they direct friends and family to the local bookshop? Will it even be in the local bookshop?

Some publishers and agents provide a form for submissions (which take about 2 hours to complete). Some ask for a single page synopsis, some want a two-page synopsis. Some want everything double spaced. Some want a particular font, or format; some want an exact word count. Some want a sales blurb, some want a ten-word pitch, some want a rhyming poem full of metaphors to describe your book. (Okay, the last one is a lie, but you get my point.)Why they cannot simply read the manuscript and decide whether or not to publish it defeats me.

So, the author is left wondering if it is worth jumping through all these hoops, only to receive a dozen rejection emails (if anything) in about 3 months time. Or perhaps it’s better to self-publish and have another 600 books in the cupboard under the stairs…

I hate this part of the process (in case you haven’t guessed that). I will let you know what I decide to do–though I have possibly managed to find a way to by-pass the initial submission stage…I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels. They are available from bookshops and Amazon.
You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com
Why not sign up to follow today?

All Quiet On The Chicken Front…


I thought I would give you a quick update on my news. First, the family of cockerels. As you may remember, I was fortunate (!) enough for five of the six hatchlings to be male. Now, contrary to popular belief, it IS possible to have a flock with more than one cockerel and not have open warfare. I know this because I had two cockerels who lived very peacefully alongside each other for a couple of years (until a fox ate them). However, five young cockerels, plus their father, seems like a lot.

As the hatchlings grew, and were allowed to roam freely around the garden, the flock separated. The parents and the female wander around the garden together, and the young cockerels form a separate flock. A few weeks ago, they started ‘facing off’ to each other. None of them has spurs yet (the deadly sharp talons on the back of their legs) so I figured they were unlikely to kill each other, and were probably simply sorting out the pecking order. I left them to it. The dog takes a keen interest in this, and has taken upon herself the role of peace-keeper. If they start to fight, she stamps on them – which is remarkably effective.

When we went to Devon for a week, I was worried about leaving them all in the same cage, so I split them up. I waited until evening, when they were all roosting on the perch, and then went to move the young cocks into a separate cage. I have to say, it takes an amount of courage to approach a cockerel, which is staring you in the eye, at head-height, with an elongated neck and fluffed up feathers. But I managed to pick them all up, ignored all the squawking, and carried them, one by one, to a new cage; and I survived without getting my eyes pecked out (which would have made Husband cross).

When I returned home after Devon, I opened both cages, to see what would happen. For a couple of days, the father and both hens roosted in one cage, the five young cockerels in the other. Gradually, as they have established a pecking order, two of the weaker cockerels have started to join the parents. I now have ‘the elite team’ of cockerels in one cage, and the rest in the other. For now, we are at an uneasy truce. If any of them become very aggressive, they will have to go (don’t ask me how – but I am not vegetarian, and neither is the local fox, so I figure I have a couple of options…unless you would like a pet cockerel? Do let me know.)

My other news, which is sort of vaguely related, is my new book, which is set on a farm. The first draft is finished, and I began to send it out to publishers. One publisher sent back a detailed editorial report, saying they didn’t want to publish it as it was, but would reconsider if I rewrote it. I am therefore in the process of rewriting it. This is taking much longer than I expected – longer in fact than writing the first draft, because as I change things, I lose the rhythm of the story, so have to rewrite increasingly large sections. It feels like work, and is not much fun. But I do feel the book is improving, so it’s worth the effort. When finished, I will resubmit to the publisher, and see what happens. I would like it to be released in the summer, but it may take longer than that. I will let you know.

A late Christmas gift was a trip to the British Museum and having a tour of the artefacts that relate to various stories in the Bible. Do you know why it was historically appropriate for Daniel to be put in a lions den? Or the name of the Pharaoh who put Joseph (of the coloured coat) in charge of all the agriculture? Or the Pharaoh who suffered the plagues at the time of the Exodus (because it probably wasn’t Ramesses!) I’ll tell you all about it in next week’s blog.

That’s all for now. I hope you have a good week.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels. They are available from bookshops and Amazon.
You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com
Why not sign up to follow today?

A Rejected Novel


There was a woman, who wrote poems. People read them, said they were excellent, and she sent them to publishers, hoping to publish a book of poems.

But the publishers returned her manuscript, saying that no one buys poems, however her work showed promise, perhaps she should write a novel. (Any of you who write poems, will find this tale familiar.) She decided to invest in her own work, and self-published her poems. She only sold two books.

Not wanting to give up on her dream, she wrote a novel. She had heard that publishers wanted real-life characters, novels that reflected what was actually happening in the world. She wrote her novel, gave it to people to read and review, rewrote it many times, then sent it to publishers. Gradually, the rejection letters arrived. Some publishers were kind, again saying it “showed promise,” but no one would publish it.

In anger and disappointment, the woman wrote another novel, saying that although publishers said they wanted realism, in actual fact, they did not. This time, in reaction to the publisher’s rejections, she wrote a novel that was the opposite of what she’d been told. She wrote about characters who were bigger than life, about passion, and created a world that wasn’t realistic, with stylised characters and a sensationalised plot. This novel was well received, published several times, and she became established as an author.

She then wrote another novel, in the style of the unrealistic one, and this one too was acclaimed. So now, with two successful novels to her name, she decided to again return to her first novel. She was proud of it, felt it spoke the truth, and should be read. Feeling confident, she wrote a preface, and sent the manuscripts to publishers. It was again rejected.

As you have probably guessed, the author was Charlotte Brontë, and her successful novel was Jane Eyre. Her first novel, The Professor, was finally published by her husband after her death – and it still receives bad reviews today.

Now, I have always been fascinated by Charlotte Brontë. I love that both she and her sisters wrote, I love that she played imagination games when young, that her father was a clergyman, that for a while she was a teacher, that she includes lots from her own life in her novels, and that initially her books were rejected. (It also makes me laugh that when her sister Anne died, Charlotte removed her book from publication, saying that Anne had made a “grave mistake” in writing it! That so reminds me of big sisters throughout history.) I therefore decided to read her first novel, the story that was always rejected.

The Professor begins with a letter, which is Charlotte’s means to provide a back story for her main character, William Crimsworth. Even today, reviewers criticise this, saying that she has dumped information on the reader, has ignored the “don’t tell, show,” theory of writing novels. However, when I read it, I rather enjoyed that part. I continued to read, determined that I was going to love this novel, quite sure that all reviewers, past and present, did not represent my own views.

I was interested by the character of William from the outset, and enjoyed reading about his life. There was one interesting part, where Charlotte describes someone as having “plastic features” – but the novel was written in 1846, before the invention of plastic. A quick online search revealed that the word “plastic” was used by ancient Greeks, and meant “mouldable” or “flexible” – so possibly a slightly different meaning to how we would translate that today.

But then, the novel began to lose its attraction. Charlotte used lots of French phrases, and although I was reading a version with explanatory notes at the back, to keep referring to translations broke the flow of the book. She obviously was aiming her book at readers who are fluent in French (so not me).

The story was interesting – but only just. The main character is not particularly likeable, and although the plot is realistic, and gives insight into how life was at the time it was written; I’m not sure that for Charlotte’s contemporary readers it would be terribly entertaining.

In short, much as I hate to admit it, if I was a publisher in 1846, I would probably not take a risk on this book. Although personally, I enjoyed the book, I’m not sure how easy it would be to sell – I suspect it would be hard to recoup editing/proofreading/typesetting/cover/printing costs. Which for a publisher, much as we like to view books as valuable in their own right, has to be the major consideration.

As an author, I am intrigued by the story of Charlotte Bronte. The fact that such a talented author could be so mistaken about what kind of book would be marketable, is also interesting. I love some of my own books more than others – but they are not necessarily the things that sell the best. Sometimes authors have to make the decision whether they want to write something which satisfies themselves, or whether they want to write something which will be easy to sell. They are not necessarily the same.

Hope you make some good decisions this week. Thank you for reading; I’ll write again next week.

Take care.
Love, Anne x

A not particularly flattering sketch of Charlotte Brontë – I’m not sure if she’d have been pleased by it.
Thank you for reading.
You can follow my blog at:
anneethompson.com

We All Need Encouragement (Even Authors)


When I began to publish my books – which is more scary than you might think, because writing is very private, and letting other people read your stories is the opposite – my family were brilliant. There was a lot of finance to sort out, and Husband helped with that! But my children and mum were also brilliant, encouraging me to go ahead and publish my work – and they still are today.

In 2017, I published JOANNA. I wanted to explore what it meant to think like a psychopath, and how it would feel for her family. My son helped me by making a short video, and he composed the soundtrack. I think it’s brilliant – what do you think?

An exciting, easy read novel (without any nasty bits!) You can buy a copy here:

UK Amazon link

Here’s what other people have said about JOANNA:

“Not a genre I would usually choose, but I loved it.”

I read it on holiday, my sister read it too, we both really enjoyed it”

“A great read when you want to escape for a little while.”

“Really interesting way of looking at what it would be like to have a psychopath in the family. And I liked the happy ending!”

“Joanna is such a complex character, the story really made me stop and think. I loved it, am looking forward to reading your next book.”

Have you read a copy? It’s available in bookshops, but here is the Amazon link in case you prefer to read on a Kindle. (It would make a great Christmas gift too…)

UK Amazon link

I hope you have some encouragements this week.

Thanks for reading.
Take care,
Love, Anne x

Imagine if…


Before you read this week’s blog – a quick update on last week. The lighthouse took a week to recover, and then, when I replaced the battery, the light flickered into life and began to turn. Brilliant!

With regard to the chick’s gender – not so brilliant. It’s still too early to be sure, but yesterday, one of the chicks which I was sure was a hen, was trying to crow. It is possible the five of the six chicks are cockerels. Ah.

Imagine if…

When you were young, did you ever pretend things? Did you ever dress up and pretend to be something else? I did – whenever I could.

For example, I remember visiting Aunty Daphne once, my mum’s cousin, and she lived in this big old house, which had stables in the garden, and big flagstones on the ground. The adults spent hours (literally, hours) talking, and I used the time to play in the garden. In my mind, those disused stables were full of horses, and I ran around, bringing them hay, curtseying to the master of the house, dancing in the moonlight (even though in reality it was a sunny afternoon). I became a different person.

As an author, people sometimes ask me where I get the ideas for my novels, but this has never been a problem. Even when I was very young, my mind was always full of the “what if?” question. “What if I was lost on the moors?” What if a monster landed in the garden?” What if I didn’t really live here, and was simply hiding under the bed?” I spent a lot of time on that last one, and would spend hours reading books under the bed, not hearing my mother when she called to me, sneaking down to the kitchen – desperately trying to not be seen – and stealing slices of bread and apples, which I would scurry back upstairs with and eat under the bed; all the time lost in this ‘other world’ where I was an orphan, sheltering in the house to survive. I didn’t ‘pretend’ to be other characters, I sort of ‘became’ them. I think it annoyed my brother and sister intensely, and I am a bit surprised my parents never sought psychological help for me.

As a teenager, I tried to use this game of ‘becoming a character’ to act. I joined the amateur dramatics group in the nearest town, and tried to ‘become’ the characters in a play. However, I found I didn’t especially like following a script, being what someone else has imagined, so although it was an excellent experience (I found my husband there) I didn’t continue.

I have a million books in my head, waiting to be written. Each one begins with the “what if?” question. What if a foreign government crashed all the infrastructure in England – how would I cope? What if I became aware of a smuggling gang using the lane beside the house to exchange goods? What if I was a teenager, and the boy I fell in love with had a horrible accident and lost his legs? What would it feel like to have dementia, and be slowly losing my mind?

Stephen King said that reading books about ‘nasty things’ is the way we prepare our minds for when disaster strikes, like dipping our toe into something. It allows us to examine our fears in a safe place, and consider them, before we put them away again. I’m not sure about that. I think I just like living in a pretend world.

Of course, each story begins in my head, but to make them authentic, I need to do some research. So if I want to write a story about smuggling, I need to find police reports about what is happening, I have to find the transcripts of police interviews to learn facts, I have to check on possible routes, and actual ways and means. There has to be a smattering of real facts to hold together the structure of imagining. Otherwise it would be like telling someone what my dream was about last night – and we all know how boring that is!

Reading books is a way of experiencing other people’s “what if?” – I think it helps us to understand situations beyond our own experiences. Reading books differs to watching films or television or plays, because the action takes place in our heads, we hear our own voice speak the lines, we become part of the action. (This is why I rarely read supernatural or ‘spooky’ books, because I don’t want that stuff in my head.)

I wonder what your “what if?” thoughts are. Perhaps you should write them into a story. I did.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about some of the support I received.

Thanks for reading.
Love, Anne x

This is the story I always promised myself I would write ‘one day’ while I was teaching in an infant school. A light-hearted novel about 3 teachers.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/0995463204/ref=tmm_pap_new_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=1539091413&sr=8-1

What if…you were the mother of a psychopath? The story of Joanna and her family – an exciting novel.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/JOANNA-Anne-Thompson-ebook/dp/B071H3RCKC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1539091592&sr=1-1&keywords=joanna+by+anne+e+thompson

Counting Stars Link

Invisible Jane Link

CLARA Link

Hidden Faces Link

JOANNA Link

An exciting surprise!


Good Morning!

This isn’t my normal time for posting blogs, but I wanted to share some news with you (because I’m very excited, and Son is in bed and Husband is at work, and I have to tell SOMEONE!) This morning, when I woke up, an envelope was waiting at the bottom of the stairs. When I opened it, I found a magazine. It’s an Arts magazine, and reviews art, literature, music and dance. As I flicked through the shiny pages, I found, on page 68, a review of CLARA. Wow! This is my first ever unsolicited review. How exciting!

I skimmed the review first, heart in mouth, wondering if I was going to read something critical. But no, the reviewer had found the book gripping. They describe being “glued to your seat and wondering at human nature”.

Clara is a pretty awful person (slight understatement) but the reviewer says: “I found myself fascinated – in the same way one can’t quite help but peer at an accident as one drives past – and in spite of myself, occasionally rooting for this woman as she ran roughshod over family and friends, so well was she written.”

Have you read Clara yet? Here is the Amazon UK link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079T5NJP7?ref_=k4w_oembed_94cpRjkhwVeJc3&tag=kpembed-20&linkCode=kpd

Reading a review of Clara, when it’s written by someone who has never met me (and therefore has no reason to be kind) was rather scary. But the reviewer wrote such a lovely article, it has brightened my day!

Clara tells the story of a young woman, who shows all the traits of psychopathy – so she lies, is self-absorbed, unable to empathise with others, and feels no guilt. But then she is shocked into changing her behaviour, and although she is still a psychopath, still not able to feel as most people feel, her actions change, and instead of being destructive, she begins to achieve great things.

Clara can be ordered at any book shop or library. You can also order a copy directly from me, or from Amazon. Buy a copy now, in paperback or on Kindle, and enjoy reading a different sort of book.

Amazon Link

CLARA – A Good Psychopath?
by Anne E. Thompson
ISBN:9780995463257
You can order copies from any library or bookshop. Also available from my website:
anneethompson.com

Listen With Your Eyes


Listening with your eyes

When you are an author, you are, in effect, a parasite of life. Every experience, every glimpse of people, is stored up, ready to use in a novel. Sometimes, when there’s time, it’s good to be able to simply notice. To walk through a crowd and store up memories. You don’t consciously decide that a stranger will be a psychopath, or that a young man will be a jilted lover, or the grandmother will be the wise woman in a story. But you notice, you listen with your eyes, and add to the store in your mind. So that when you are writing, perhaps months later, and you need a character, you have a whole bank of them, waiting, ready to be fleshed out with a personality and a backstory. It helps if you are alone, as chatty husbands can be something of a distraction. So when the family decided to build a sandcastle (yes, they are all adults) I didn’t object, and was happy to walk along the beach for a while.

Walk along a beach in the Algarve with me, and notice. The Muslim family, with the mother covered from head to toe in black, sitting, child on lap, laughing as the waves rush over them. The bronze grandmother, wearing not a stitch, her stretched breasts flopping as she walks. The young men in tight swimwear, throwing a ball between them on the hard sand; the pretty teenager, sucking in her tummy, posed to one side, hoping, desperately, that one of the men will notice her. The mother of twins, sagging tummy oozing over her bikini, not caring because the two boys toddling through the waves are her whole world. The English woman, with the sensible haircut, walking through the shallows, her whole body red with sunburn except for the two white lines she has exposed where her sun-top straps went. The young girl with the tiny bikini walking next to her muscle-bound lover, the twin peaches of her perfect bottom moving from side to side, perfect ovals beneath the tiny pants. The old man, in straw hat and baggy shorts, walking along the sand. The father laughing as his young son spits water, after being swamped by an unexpected wave. The mother wrapping her shivering daughter in a big towel when she returns from her swim. The couple under the big umbrella, on the striped mat, eating a tidy salad from a plastic container, before they return to their New York Times bestsellers. The girl collecting shells in a purple bucket. The boys digging a trench next to their sandcastle; and the young men; and the grandfathers; and the fathers—while their children, bored, have wandered away. The young father holding his podgy baby in the waves, while she lifts her legs and squeals at the cold. The pregnant woman walking with measured steps along the tide line, watching other people’s children playing, anticipating.

And then there are the sounds. The crashing of the surf as it hits the shingle. The crunch of footsteps as you walk. The roar, somewhere out to sea, of the speedboat. The chatter of language you don’t understand, and the wisps of English that float towards you as you pass. The shrill of seagulls from the cliff behind you, the cry from sellers as they stomp the sand, showing their wares.

You can feel the sun, hot on your head. The trickle of sweat on your back. The grate of shells prickling your feet, the cold as the sea rushes over your skin. And the breeze, that blessed cool, that glides in from the sea and makes it all bearable, pleasant even, as you watch, and listen, and absorb all the life surrounding you; hold it tight, because one day you might need it.

Thank you for reading.

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels. They are available from bookshops and Amazon.
You can follow her blog at:
anneethompson.com