How to Advertise a Launch Party (which is mostly scary….)

Hello, how are you? I hope you’ve had a good week.

I’ve been busy advertising the launch of JOANNA. As I have said before, I love writing books, researching new ideas and weaving them into a story. And I pretty much hate everything to do with all sales and promotions once the books are published. I think many authors do, but it’s part of the job. When you are self-published, the whole promotion exercise is down to you. It is therefore hugely appreciated when people help – whoever they might be.

One great piece of help recently was from a friend who bought Hidden Faces and lent it to one of her friends (who I don’t know). Now, mostly, lending a book results in a lost sale for the poor author. However, this friend of a friend happens to run an online bookshop. She read the book, loved it, sent me a very nice email and ordered 40 copies to sell. That was a very nice help.

JOANNA has also been featured in local newspapers. Again, I always really appreciate this, as it’s a good way to tell people about my book. I was on the front cover of The County Border News. Embarrassing photo, but good advert for the book:

There was also a nice article in The Edenbridge Chronicle:

If you want to be featured in a local paper, I would suggest emailing the editor to ask if this is the sort of thing they cover. If you can include some local interest – like that you attended a local school, or were the postman in the town for many years, or your Dad ran the chip shop, it encourages them to take an interest in you. They want to know their readers will care that you have written a book (because these days, loads of people self-publish!) I have found the local journalists to be incredibly supportive, which was unexpected and rather nice.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about being interviewed on the radio. I’ve never done that before.

If you would like to buy a copy of JOANNA, it’s now available on Amazon, and can be ordered from all bookshops.

Published by The Cobweb Press
ISBN: 978-0-9954632-2-6

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Joanna-Anne-E-Thompson/dp/0995463220/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489248115&sr=1-1&keywords=Joanna+by+anne+e+thompson

 

Publishing Update

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Hello, here’s what has been happening in the world of books. Hopefully these snippets of information will be useful/interesting. This whole writing/publishing venture is like a journey across a new country! There is lots to discover.

Hidden Faces is still selling, though as expected, sales have slowed down. I have sold about 60% of the books now (in 6 months, so I am meeting my sales targets). Most sales have been either to friends buying them from Amazon, or by direct sales – me attending fairs and bookclubs and speaking to various groups. Talking to other new authors, this seems to be normal.

Although I sell through Amazon, they do take nearly all of the profit (which means if I am to break even, I must sell every last copy). Shops that buy through a wholesaler (Waterstones and Foyles) take even more. I therefore decided I would sell my books through my own website. I can absorb the cost of UK posting (as it roughly equates what Amazon’s cut is) and I can also now sell internationally.

Initially, I was going to include my email details on my blog, so people could email their address and I could reply with payment details. However, a quick look online suggested this would mainly fill my inbox with spam, and I was better off making a ‘contact form’ on a post for people to use. I can’t process credit/debit cards, so I will have to ask people to pay by bank transfer or cheque. I also think most people might feel worried about never receiving the books, so I will ask for payment after they have received their copies. Of course, some dishonest people might then never pay. Or people might feel uncomfortable doing business with someone they don’t know. I will let you know what happens. If I have too many people who don’t pay, I will have to stop selling them privately. My new book, JOANNA, is due to be released at the end of March, so I have set up a preordering form too.

On the copyright page, it is usual to state that a copy of the book has been lodged with the British Library. I looked into this. Apparently, anything that is published in England, is legally supposed to be sent to the British Library. It’s an old law, and means that throughout history people can see the sorts of things that are published. It applies to all published material, whether or not it has an ISBN number (so I assume it also applies to things like school magazines – though I’m not entirely sure.) It certainly applies to books. If you publish a book, you are obliged to send the library a copy. The address is:

Legal Deposit Office
The British Library
Boston Spa
Wetherby
West Yorkshire
LS23 7BY

They are working on some kind of computer program, so in the near future we will be able to send a digital copy. But for now, you must send a paper copy.

There are a few other libraries (one is in Scotland, one is part of Cambridge University) which also have the legal right to request copies of your book, and you are obliged to send them one. However you only have to send them one if they actually request a copy.

As I said, JOANNA is now ready. We added the ISBN number and cover photo on the Nielsen’s website. This means it is listed as ‘published’ now, even though I don’t intend to sell any copies until the end of March. It also appears automatically on Amazon, Waterstones and Foyles online shops. (Note, this does not happen if you publish via Amazon Self-Publishing. This is because other shops view Amazon as a competitor, so will not stock their books. I’m not sure about other self-publishing services.) But I doubt anyone will order from there until I advertise it, (plus it costs them more) so I am hoping to preserve the launch date.

We now have to decide whether or not to also publish it as a Kindle book. Although I find it harder to sell Kindle copies ( you need to spend a lot of time networking on social media to build relationships with people who you don’t know, and I don’t really have time). However, some people tell me they only read ebooks. A few have still bought copies, but I realise they would prefer to read it on Kindle. But most Kindle books are cheaper, and I need to recoup my editing/typesetting/cover photograph costs. Will people be willing to pay as much for a Kindle copy as for a paperback, or will they see the Kindle book as ‘free’ to produce, and therefore think I am being greedy (rather than understanding that actually, it did cost me almost as much, as the printing costs are a tiny proportion of overall costs.) Difficult to know. Do let me know if you have an opinion, it will help me to decide.

Talking of Amazon, I was a bit shocked to see there are now three other sellers listed as selling Hidden Faces. They are selling secondhand copies for a cheaper price, which they keep reducing, so they appear before The Cobweb Press. This was unexpected. I have no idea if they actually have copies (they claim they are in stock). It’s a pain, because friends who look on Amazon for my book might not notice, and click the first seller that appears (rather than looking at ‘buyer options’ and looking for a ‘new’ copy). I don’t think there’s a way to avoid this, anyone can set up as a seller on Amazon. They cannot have new copies (because I own them all). I am suspicious they may have come from wholesalers. When you apply to a wholesaler, to ask them for a trading agreement (which you have to do if you want to sell through big shops) they ask you to send them a copy of the book. I guess they receive hundreds of books each week. They’re not going to bother to store those books, so I’m wondering if they sell them on to dealers. Or perhaps even have their own secondhand bookshop. I don’t know. I do wish though that I had written ‘Sample, not for resale’ somewhere in the book. It’s another reason for encouraging people to buy directly from me, as potentially I am losing money. Yet again, the big companies are making it almost impossible for the new indie publisher.

Of course, the main hindrance to managing to cover my costs is the number of people who lend books! You wouldn’t believe how many people bubble to me how much they have enjoyed Hidden Faces, they can’t wait to read the next one, it was really gripping and they have now lent it to their sister/neighbour/friend. Aaagh. I wish they had told other people about it and got me a few more sales, or written a review. But what can you do?

xxx

Thank you for reading. This is the link to preorder JOANNA:

https://anneethompson.com/published-books/joanna/

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Author Update : December 2016

This week, Joanna went to the printer (small fanfare of trumpets please!).

This is always very scary. Any typos that have missed will now be in the final book for all to see, for ever more. We did very nearly have a disaster. The cover was finished – brilliant photo from Chloe my photographer, formatted by Geoff my cover guy – but I was unsure about the colour. It was greys and blacks, and I wanted it to be blues and purples. So both people tried various filters, but it wasn’t the colour I had in my mind.

Geoff (who understands these things having been a printer in a former life) gave me a brief lesson about colour in light (and therefore on my computer screen) being different when transferred to ink (and therefore on my book cover.) It was possible to pay the printer for a fifth ink, whereby I could be picky on the colour. But it would cost extra. I am hoping to break even with this business, so unlike big publishers, I don’t actually have any ‘extra’.

We decided to ask the printer to print one cover and to post it to me, so I could decide if the colour was okay. They kindly did this. Which is when I noticed there was a white margin around the cover photo. I hadn’t noticed it on the proofs I had been sent, but it was absolutely not the look I wanted. It was a horrible moment when I realised that if we hadn’t decided to check the cover colours, we wouldn’t have spotted it, and the cover would annoy me forever (even if possibly no one else would have noticed.)

So, my advice to anyone planning to self-publish, always ask the printer for a cover sample before they print off hundreds (because while it delays things very slightly, it doesn’t cost any extra.)

The colour is still not exactly what I had in mind, but I don’t have the funds to be fussy, so it is staying as it is. It is still an amazing cover. You will love it when you see it, the photo is perfect for a book about a psychopath. Very exciting.

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My other bit of news is on the selling front with Hidden Faces. We had contacted Gardners, a wholesaler, and they said that if a retailer wanted to sell the book, they would contact me via the Nielsons website and supply it.

I decided to test this before I advertised it, so bought my book from waterstones.com. Waterstones charge £8.95 plus £2.80 postage, so I paid over £11 (for my own book.) I was somewhat perplexed when the following day I was contacted by Bertrams, a completely different wholesaler, and asked to urgently send a copy of my book. Waterstones obviously decided to use them. It then took about 10 days for my book to come back to me, though it was in perfect condition considering it had gone round the country! I have not yet been paid by Bertrams, though they did ask for an invoice to be enclosed with the book. I could, I suppose, have charged them what I wanted for the book, as I don’t have a trading agreement with them. But they would have added a bit before supplying Waterstones, who would then have found the book was costing more than they were making. So although they would have supplied me (as the customer) they would also I assume have deleted me (as the publisher) from their website. I rather like being on there, so sold to Bertrams at a sensible price. It was an expensive experiment.

I notice I am also on the Foyles website. My advice, is set up clear details when you register with Nielsons (who are the people you buy the ISBN numbers from.) Then, every major bookseller will be able to supply your book if people order through them. And it’s rather nice to know your book can be bought through Waterstones and Foyles.

Really though, the best way to actually recoup your costs, is by private sales. Big shops use wholesalers, and everyone wants a cut of the profits, so you receive very little money. I have spent November and December selling books at Christmas Fairs. I even started to enjoy it after a while. I sold loads of books, people bought them because I was local author, or because they wanted to give it as a gift. I would definitely recommend it as a route to sales. I am hoping to find some summer fairs too. If you’re keeping count, I have now recovered half my costs (which is about what I was hoping for in my time plan.) Now I need people who have enjoyed it to tell their friends…..

The local papers have been brilliant. They have given me lots of support and included photos of me/the book a few times now. I was in a third newspaper this week (well, the book was, not me – but actually I prefer that.) It makes you feel very grateful when people help. Setting up any business is scary, we all need people to help us. It’s nice when they do.

xxx
Thank you for reading.

I have now put my earlier posts, which explain the process of publishing a book, on my website in the ‘How to’ section.
https://anneethompson.com/how-to/how-to-publish-a-book-2/

xxxxxx

Hidden Faces by Anne E Thompson

hidden-faces-final-cover-6-july-2016

Available from Waterstones, Foyles and Amazon (cheapest from Amazon!)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-Faces-Anne-E-Thompson/dp/0995463204/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474888617&sr=8-1&keywords=hidden+faces+by+anne+e+thompson

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On Monday I will tell about all the things went went wrong when we went to son’s masters graduation. Life is rarely everything you hope…..

Why not sign up to follow my blog?

anneethompson.com

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Selling Books Update

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Hello, hope you had a good week. Mine has been busy – as usual.

Think of the best books that have ever been written – Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, I am Legend, some of the books by Charles Dickens – how many of them are still read today outside of the classroom? People might tell you they love the story (meaning they have seen the film) but surprisingly few people actually read them. If no one is promoting a book, it doesn’t sell. Which is why many of the books we enjoyed as teenagers are no longer in the shops (You never see Desmond Bagley on the shelves.) This is true even of contemporary fiction. Having a book on the shelf in a bookshop does not sell it. Ask even the most famous of authors (Stephen King and Lee Child to name two) and they all seem to say the same thing, that authors spend 75% of their time promoting their books. So, being someone who likes a challenge, this is what I have done so far.

Firstly, I have listened to a lot of advice. Lots of it. Some has been excellent, some has been dismissed on the grounds of “that is too scary” and some was just plain silly (I won’t waste your time with that.) Son who knows marketing, told me that people have to be prompted four times in a month for advertising to be effective. So, short intense bursts of advertising are better than a long drawn out one.

One excellent piece of advice was to decide which niches my book fitted into – to enlarge the stereotypes if you like. So, Hidden Faces includes details about schools, about women, about motherhood, about church, plus it was written by a local author (me.) So, which of those could I use to market the book?

I took the church aspect. Lots of people are Christians, attend church, and read books. I therefore sent copies to relevant magazines, asking them to review it. I contacted Christian bookshops, asking if they would stock it. I advertised it amongst the Christian community. Now I have to just wait, which is difficult, to see who will respond.

I took the school aspect, and advertised it amongst the parents at the local school. The story begins with a nativity play that goes disastrously wrong, so I felt it had appeal for both parents and teachers. It also means the book will be an ideal Christmas gift. I plan to contact teacher-training colleges and ask if they have a newsletter where the book could be reviewed or advertised.

I was asked if I would do a ‘book signing’ session at the local community cafe, and I advertised this amongst the parents at the local school. I will also ask if I can sell them at Christmas fairs.

I am the author and I have a locality (yes, obvious, I know, but we have to use what we can.) I contacted the editor of the free newspaper in our area and told him I had written a book. He interviewed me, took a photo (really embarrassing one) and wrote an article. Since then, lots of people have stopped me in the street, saying they have read about me/the book. The reporter said he would also cover the book signing.

I made some small posters, and most shops in the town were willing to display them.

I am attending a lunch in London, where the guest speaker is a famous author (the kind that has had her books made into television dramas.) I mentioned to the organiser that I had been inspired to start writing at a similar event and she then asked if I would also be willing to speak. (This will be terrifying – I will let you know how I get on.) I can provide comment on the other end of the spectrum – how someone who knows nobody famous can write a book, and what happens next,

Sometimes, while doing all this, I felt like a little boat on a big sea, being pushed in all directions by massive waves. It was all way outside my comfort zone. Prayed about it, and realised that if I never sell another book, in the grand scheme of things, does it matter? What was important was that I lived each day as well as I can. Husband also gave me some advice. He said that every ‘job’ that needed to be responded to, needed to be graded. They were either ‘not important’, or ‘important but not urgent,’ or ‘important and urgent’. I could therefore decide where in my week I would deal with them. In other words, I could take back control, not simply react to everything as it appeared in my emails. (I now have great fun when he asks if there any clean socks, telling him that they are in the ‘important but not urgent’ pile.)

I have seen some results already. A bookshop in Streatham agreed to take some books. They were willing to stock more books than I could post, so I had a very traumatic morning driving into London – so many people walking into the road, unexpected red lights and cars passing on all sides. Then when I finally reached the shop, there was nowhere to park. Nowhere. It was by far the most stressful part of being an author to date.

I will let you know how the other avenues develop as I get there. I still have a few ideas on my list, such as contacting the library and asking if they would like me to do a reading. Attending book groups, and explaining the journey to producing a book, or telling them about Hidden Faces and why I wrote it. Sometimes one idea leads naturally to another, sometimes something doesn’t work and I forget about it. I have a naturally compulsive character, when I meet friends in the street, I have to remember to greet them and listen to their news, not rush up with, “I have written a book!” I have to try and be a nice person while doing all this.

After the initial burst in August, my sales have become a steady trickle. Which is okay – it means I have time to edit Joanna (my next book.) I have nearly sold a quarter of the number I had printed (not bad for one month.)

One of my next moves is to enter into a trading agreement with a wholesaler. If I do this, Waterstones will sell my book (it is already listed in their online shop.) I can also approach other shops, further afield, and ask them to stock it. At the moment, I have seen their standard agreement, which asks for 60% discount on all books. This would mean I received less than my production costs. However, all big businesses are used to negotiations (little ones aren’t – I have found that if a small business asks an unreasonable mark-up, they will not budge!) I will try to lower them to something more realistic. One thing I have learnt is to set up my supply network, ie make sure people can actually buy the book, before I advertise it. I lost sales initially because local shops had sold out and took ages to restock, so it should have been in more than one shop in each town.

Of course, the best way to sell my book is for the people who have enjoyed it to tell their friends and family (NOT to lend it to them – which happens a lot of times and is very frustrating!) Some people have already told me they will be buying a second copy for someone for Christmas. A few people have already bought more than one copy, which is rather thrilling. Thank you everyone who has bought it – have you….?

xxxxxxx

Thank you for reading.

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Hidden Faces by Anne E Thompson is in a growing number of shops….and on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0995463204/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A2SFC56RS3P1IZ

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016

Next week, I review someone else’s book. But things did not turn out as planned….

Publishing a Book – Part Six

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Having launched my book locally, it was time to think about something bigger.

I went into Waterstones. I asked to speak to the manager, which seems to always make people look a bit nervous, then they are relieved when you tell them why. The manager at Bluewater was very nice. She explained that all Waterstones shops can only order from certain suppliers. Those suppliers WILL take books from self-published authors, though they deal with the publisher, not the author. If, therefore, you choose to self-publish with a publishing company (who you pay), I am not sure if they would also deal with wholesalers on your behalf. We created our own company, so that was okay, I could approach them as an ‘indie publisher’.

Wholesalers will only consider books with both an ISBN number and a registration with Nielson. If you look on the Waterstones website, it explains how to do all of this. It is a long process and takes several weeks. If the wholesaler accepts your book, you can then go into individual Waterstones bookshops and persuade the manager to stock your book. They will then order it directly from the wholesaler. I am just starting this process (actually, I started at the wrong end and went into the shop first, but they were very nice about it.) I will let you know how I get on.

We left Bluewater – I am not one to linger when shops are involved and son had finished hunting Pokemon. On the way home we called in at a smaller branch of WH Smiths. I spoke to the manager, who took details of the book and looked at a copy of the cover. He said everything had to go through head office and he would email the publisher to let them know. It was encouraging – he didn’t say no. However, he also didn’t explain anything – I’m not sure if WH Smiths only buy through wholesalers. Their website is unhelpful. (Actually, I have since spoken to a different WH Smiths manager. The shop manager is allowed to sell books by local authors, and, after agreement from head office, can take them directly from the author/publisher without the need for a middle man.)

When I got home, I learned a little about wholesalers (not a term I was used to hearing.) Basically, they take books from publishers – probably the printer sends them straight there if you are a major publishing house, presumeably Mr Hodder and Stoughton doesn’t have a spare room full of books. Shops then order them straight from the wholesaler and they deliver them. This means the shop is dealing with fewer people, they can order books from a selection of publishers and just have one delivery to deal with. It also means the publisher (me) doesn’t have to drive to the shops every time they need to restock. It means I could go to bookshops where I grew up and persuade them to stock my book, but I wouldn’t have to keep driving back there every time they sold a couple. This sounds brilliant. I have no idea at this stage what such a service costs – I will tell you in my future blogs. There was an online form, which had a section I didn’t understand, so I phoned them. Spoke to a receptionist, who also didn’t know, but who was nice and gave me an email address so I could write and ask. I am finding this – people are nice and generally helpful. I knew nothing (John Snow) when I started doing this, but at each tiny step, people have helped me, given me the information so I can progress to the next stage. It’s slow, but it’s not overwhelming.

 

I will let you know how things progress. Thanks for reading.

Take care,
Anne x

If you found this interesting, you can follow my blog at:

anneethompson.com

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Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-Faces-Anne-E-Thompson/dp/0995463204/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1469638984&sr=1-1&keywords=hidden+faces+by+anne+e+thompson

Hidden Faces by Anne E. Thompson – why not buy a copy and help my dream come true….?

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