Costa Book Awards

I recently saw some information about the Costa Book Awards. These are awarded each year, and they are a big deal. There is a financial prize (from £1,000 to £5,000) but more importantly, they attract readers. The winners of the Costa Book Awards can expect mainstream bookshops to put their books where they are likely to be seen by people browsing. And readers are keen to read a book that has won a prize. The awards can turn an unknown author into a household name – at least amongst those who read.

I discovered that books can be submitted to the judges from publishers. Now, as I set up a micro-publishing house, rather than paying a self-publishing company to publish my books, I thought why not enter a book? I know that CLARA – A Good Psychopath? is by far my best book, and is as good as many popular books, so why not have a try? It has been professionally edited and typeset, it was printed by mainstream printers, I paid a photographer for an enticing cover, it is available through wholesalers, it has an ISBN number. If someone randomly picked it off a shelf, they wouldn’t know whether it was self-published or published by one of the major publishing houses. So I wrote to the person sending out the application forms, and she duly sent me one. Or to be precise, she sent one to The Cobweb Press, which has its own email account.

But then everything fell to pieces. There was a clause which read:
iv We regret that self-published books and books solely published online are not eligible. Self-published books are not eligible where the author is the publisher or where a company has been specifically set up to publish that book.

I was pretty sure this disqualified my book. But The Cobweb Press is a legitimate business, and I do employ editors, typesetters, etc on a freelance basis, so I had one last try, and emailed the helpful admin person to check. She informed me that if I published books by other authors, I could submit my book, but not if I only published my own work. I considered quickly publishing via Kindle a book by another author (I know a few) but decided that they would probably check, and it was probably deceptive of me, and I probably shouldn’t. So I didn’t. The Costa Book Awards will not be considering CLARA – A Good Psychopath? as a possible contender. Which is a shame.

I was particularly interested by a clause in the instructions which reads:

We ask that you take careful note of all conditions before submitting your title(s).   If you’re uncertain as to whether or not a title meets the criteria, then please contact me before submitting it. Very occasionally we’ve had situations where the eligibility of a book has appeared ambiguous.
When you submit any title, you are confirming that title’s eligibility.  Entries will be further checked by the organisers as the judging process progresses to confirm that they are eligible.  If, at this stage, it’s found that an entry is, in fact, ineligible, it can cause great inconvenience and disappointment so please ensure that all titles you submit are eligible.

Now, this implies that they have had self-published books submitted in the past. And they have considered them for a prize, not realising that they were self-published, but further investigation revealed they were not published traditionally, so they were disqualified.

My question is – why? Why is the book industry so intent on squashing the new author – unless they are linked to a celebrity or film producer, or have an actual human contact? Why do major bookshops and wholesalers and competition organisers refuse to accept that a book which is indistinguishable from a traditionally published book might not be inferior? I have had my books rejected from magazines when I have offered them for review:”Sorry, but we don’t review self-published books”, from some bookshops (though the major ones are beginning to accept them if you jump through enough hoops) and, most importantly, readers. People will ask, “Is it self-published?” and if it is, they walk away. Yet it is incredibly difficult to persuade traditional publishers to take on a new author unless they fit a very tight criteria, unless they are pretty much the same as books they are already selling. Which is rather limiting don’t you think? Do we want the world to be full of books which major companies have decided we should be reading – or do we want to select them on merit?

I understand that some self-published books are not edited, and are badly written. I realise that some do not have trade agreements with wholesalers, so if they were to become well-known they would be difficult for bookshops to source. However, as publishing houses become ever more restricted by falling sales, surely society should be looking in a wider pond for excellent new authors.

CLARA – A Good Psychopath? is not likely to be eligible for entry to major book competitions. Nor will it be reviewed by well-known magazines or newspapers. But it is still a book worth reading. As are many, many self-published books. Please remember, when you next choose a book to order from your library, or to download for your Kindle, or to buy for your holiday, some of the best books are the ones which are not traditionally published. Why not give them a chance?

The latest, and best book (in my opinion). An exciting novel written in the first person, which shows how a psychopath views the world. The story encompasses the world of women trafficked in India, and shows how someone very bad, can be used to achieve something amazing.

Thank you for reading.

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels and one non-fiction book. They are available from book shops and Amazon. She writes a weekly blog at:


The latest, and best book (in my opinion). An exciting novel written in the first person, which shows how a psychopath views the world. The story encompasses the world of women trafficked in India, and shows how someone very bad, can be used to achieve something amazing.

A gritty thriller, which shows what it means to be a psychopath, and how it would feel if someone in your family did something awful. (Because every psychopath has a mother.)

Hidden Faces by Anne E. Thompson.
An easy read, feel good novel, set in an infant school. An ideal gift, this is a book to make you smile.

An exciting novel, set in the near future. One family shows how they cope with driverless cars, new laws, and schools run by computers.

This tells all the things I wish I had known when first diagnosed. A helpful book for anyone with a potentially terminal illness. It shows how to find a surgeon, how to cope with other people’s fears, how to not be defined by an illness. It also has a few funny anecdotes – because even when you’re ill, it’s good to laugh.
Available from Amazon (you can get it free if you have a Kindle).

A hilarious romance for when you want to relax.

Being Shameless (further confessions of an author)

As it’s a new year, I thought I’d give you an update on the whole ‘being an author’ game/business/nightmare (delete as applicable). Actually, to be honest, the last few months have at times felt like a nightmare – but I’ll come to that in a minute.

First, I’ll tell you about Christmas. For a self-published author, Christmas is busy. There seem to be sales everywhere, and if you’ve been organised a few months ahead of time, booking a table is relatively easy. Prices for a table tend to vary, so it’s worth researching which fairs are likely to give enough sales to recoup your costs. But selling at fairs is okay, all you need is a good patter, and people will buy a signed book for their son, aunty or bookclub friend. Actually fitting in time to properly celebrate Christmas with your family is more difficult. I did rather struggle through Christmas this year in a state of disorganised exhaustion – so perhaps I need to have a rethink for next year.

Regarding Christmas, I must confess, I was shameless, and did a terrible thing. You see, when you’re an author, it is very difficult to advertise your products. They are books. Unless you talk to people, they don’t really sell themselves. So, how to raise awareness? How to best remind people that my books exist, and they said that they intend to buy another one, but they haven’t yet got round to it? How to avoid being that boring person at dinner parties who always talks about her books? Marketing. The big companies do it, so why not self-published authors who are struggling to be seen? You often see massive posters at stations and bus stops, advertising the next blockbuster by Lee Child or Stephen King – why not by Anne E. Thompson?

 Now, I wasn’t sure if Husband would be happy to finance a thousand-pound advertising spree, but I thought it unlikely, so I didn’t ask him. Instead, I looked for something cheaper than a couple of posters at Victoria Station. My solution was photo-gifts. You know the ones? Those mugs, and coasters where you can have a picture of your puppy on the front. Well, why not books? I have photos of each cover, why not produce some merchandise? So I did. I went online, found some that weren’t too expensive, and had some things made with the cover photos of my books on the front. They looked okay. But then I needed to distribute them, so they were seen in public – which is where the shameless bit comes in. I decided that my family would all like to walk around, advertising my books on a bag, so they all received one for Christmas. (Okay, so actually I knew they’d be slightly horrified, but I did it anyway.) They were polite.

 I rather like the mugs, which are a decent size and a nice shape. So I had a few made. I’ll see if I can sell any when I’m next selling books, which won’t make me any money, because they’re quite expensive for me to buy, but they will help to advertise my books. I have this image, of someone drinking coffee, and being asked, “What is that picture on your mug?” “Ah,” they will reply, “that is the cover of a book I read recently. It was really good, you should buy a copy.” I tried this out on the man who came to service the boiler, and gave him his coffee in a Joanna mug. He didn’t comment.

The nightmare bit of my job is publishing Clara. As it’s my sixth book, I thought I had the publishing bit sorted. The book was finished in the summer. But everything since has been hard work. My editor suggested I rewrote lots of it, which took me months. Then the cover photo was later arriving than I’d hoped, which meant the typesetter didn’t get everything before Christmas. Then there was a strange glitch on the computers, which changed some, but not all, of the curly quotation marks to ‘smart quotes’, which look odd in a book, so I had to read through and find them all. Which took hours and hours. Plus some words were hyphenated, which always irritates me when I’m reading books, so they had to be found and corrected, because for some reason the auto-correct function only worked on some chapters. I felt like everything was against this book being published. As I write, we are negotiating with the printer, and hopefully, Clara will go to them this week. I hope so. I am worn out with things going wrong, especially as I find the IT side of publishing to be beyond my ability level.

I need to decide soon if I am going to have another book launch. They are a bit scary, but they do make it easy for friends to buy the book. If I do, I need to decide when. I want to avoid holiday seasons, but have it in time for people to buy the book for the summer (when most people read at least one book). I will let you know.

I also need to do something about Amazon. They have changed their listing policy, so cheaper books always appear first. Which means people selling secondhand copies of my books show ahead of me, and those are the copies people are buying. So I don’t receive any money. I am thinking that I might make Kindle paperback copies of all my books, and only sell my self-published ones directly. The Kindle paperbacks are less nice, they’re heavier and not of the same quality as my self-published books. But they are okay, and customers can avoid paying postage, and I don’t have to physically send them out, AND they would be listed ahead of all the other copies (because most of the money goes to Amazon, so they want to sell them). I’ll try to do it in February, at the moment I’m still trying to catch up with life.

Thanks for reading. Take care.
Anne x


You can follow my blog at :

 Anne E. Thompson is the author of five novels and one non-fiction book. Her latest novel, CLARA – A Good Psychopath? is due to be released soon. You can find her books in bookshops or Amazon.

Which book will you read next?

Author Update

Well, the business side of things is pootling along quite nicely. Gradually, more people are reading and recommending my books, and I sell on average, 10 a week. This is enough  for me to continue (which is good, because I like being an author!) I have more or less given up on big bookshops, because the economics just don’t work. Although it’s lovely to know people can buy my book in Waterstones, they will only order books through a wholesaler. I have to post books, on demand (so singly) to the wholesaler. So, the postman wants to be paid, and the wholesaler wants to take a cut, and the bookshop wants a cut. Which means, in effect, I  make a loss on the basic cost of producing the book. Smaller bookshops are different, because they’ll take a few copies on sale or return, and although they take quite a big cut, I still cover my costs.

The best way, by far, is to sell books face to face. I’m managing to do this by booking a space at local fairs and markets, and having book-signings in local bookshops. This means I meet new people, and can tell them about my books. It’s a bit scary, because books don’t sell themselves, and I have to invest time describing them to potential buyers, but mostly people are polite, so it’s okay if exhausting. I long for the day when enough people buy my books with no effort from me (other than writing them) but that is unlikely to ever happen. I have a few more events booked for the winter, and am hoping people will buy books as Christmas gifts. (Now, have a think: who do you know who would like one of my books for Christmas….?!)

I have also been invited to speak at various groups. Sometimes these result in sales, sometimes they don’t. But I think they are a good use of my time, because if nothing else it keeps me in touch with what different people are reading and thinking. One thing I have learned is that if you want to sell books, you need to be aware of your audience. People like happy endings, older people don’t like swearing (even if that is how the character would speak in real life), some readers want ‘action’ and are disappointed by literary fiction (which is all about the characters and nothing really happens) so I need the cover and blurb to explain exactly what is inside the book.

Did I tell you that I wrote a new book, about having a brain tumour? I belong to several Facebook forums, and am often moved by  people’s stories, how they feel lost after the initial diagnosis, and find it very difficult to find information. The book is specifically for people with brain tumours, though also has a chapter about family, and dying, and living with stress – so actually would be helpful for people who are terminally ill too. I tried to be very honest, and to say the things that no one likes to say, the things that, when you have been diagnosed with something serious, you want to talk about. I advertised it on Facebook, and people kindly shared the link. As I published it directly through Amazon, people can buy it in any country that has Amazon, and I’ve sold copies in various countries. I was contacted by someone, whose brother had just been told he had three weeks, possibly a month, to live. They said the book had helped. It is a huge privilege to be able to write something for people in that situation.

As we go into Christmas, I need to market my books appropriately. I have therefore invested in some tissue paper and gift bags. (You have no idea how hard it is for me to spend money on marketing! I am struggling to cover my costs, to spend money on something which would make no difference to me, as a consumer, is very difficult; but son-who-knows- marketing says that I must.) Am hoping it will show people that books make good gifts. No idea if it will make any difference or not.

The main thing that all authors must do is read. Everyone says this, from Stephen King down. I have recently read Mindhunter by John Douglas. He was an FBI operative who interviewed lots of serial killers and started the idea of criminal profiling. The book is a bit clunky to read, more a diary of what he did than anything else (and he appears to be rather proud of his own achievements) but I was interested to read about what he discovered. I was also surprised by the number of authors who base novels on his work. Thomas Harris (Silence of the Lambs) has based several characters on John Douglas and the cases he discusses. Harris’s work is barely fiction, it so closely resembles the cases and methods described by Douglas. I recognise ideas and themes later used in books by Val McDermid, Jeffrey Deaver, and others. This is a bit surprising. Do most fiction writers base their stories and characters on real people? Perhaps they do. Sometimes the characters are so close to a real person, the author has done little more than change the name.

I have also recently read the following books, and have written a mini review of each one:

#A Case of Need by Michael Crichton – very interesting. The novel is very pro-abortion, which I found difficult, but it’s usually good to read viewpoints that differ to your own, because it helps you understand what others are thinking. Whilst I found Crichton’s very biased approach slightly annoying (he didn’t address the alternative views at all, other than to ridicule the extremist stance) the story was interesting enough for me to want to read to the end.

#The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough – well, this was surprising! I sort of remember the story from the 1970’s, when my parents banned us from watching it, and my sister and I used to sneak episodes when they were out! But I have never read it. McCullough writes in a very descriptive style, and she uses all the adverbs that Stephen King advises writers to avoid, but she certainly writes a good story. I was uneasy with the ages of the main characters – a priest in his twenties becomes besotted with a girl who is a child. Anyone who has ever does any child protection courses has the word ‘grooming’ looming at the back of their mind. I enjoyed the story though, it was compelling reading.

#The Death House by Sarah Pinborough – not as compulsive as ‘Behind Her Eyes’, but still a good story. I’m not sure if it was intended as a YA book, as it read like one (but there was nothing in the blurb to indicate it was). Some unnecessary sex scenes (perhaps that’s what YAs like to read), but an interesting story idea.


#Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham – I always enjoy Billingham’s books, and this one didn’t disappoint. A fun holiday read.



#City of Friends by Joanna Trollope – I usually enjoy Trollope’s books, but this one felt a bit forced, as if she hasn’t written anything for a while and felt she needed to produce a book whilst not actually having anything to say.


I hope you have a good week. Do remember to make time to read something. (And no, if you’re a student, text books don’t count!)

Take care,
Love, Anne x


Thank you for reading.
You can follow my blog at :

Author Update

I haven’t told you about how the business is going for a while, so here’s a quick update.

After the initial frenzy of selling copies of JOANNA following the launch in March, things became quiet. I was expecting this, but it is still a bit scary when you don’t seem to have sold a book for a very long time. I also began to feel tired. During the first week of June, I finished writing the first draft of Clara Oakes, and started to send it out to agents. Agents always take months to reply, and I was expecting nothing but rejection letters, so I figured I would get it over with, before I started all the rewrites and edits that lead to a published book. Everyone says a book should be left alone for a couple of months after completion of the first draft, so that’s what I’m doing. I will re-read it with fresh eyes in September, change bits, rewrite bits, and then send it to be edited. (I am actually very excited about it – it is the best book I have written I think, though am not sure which genre it fits into, so is possibly impossible to market!)

Agents always say that they receive hundreds of submissions each week. I received my first standard rejection letter within five days. Five days. Am not thinking they actually read very much of each book if they reply that fast. In fact, am suspicious they are not actually accepting any new authors at all, but have failed to update their website. As each submission takes several hours, this is annoying.

I am getting very tired of the selling process. Everything seems stacked against the self-published author. Selling is difficult, it involves self-promotion, being an extrovert, displaying confidence in your writing. I feel like I have had enough of struggling on my own. It is tempting to leave this next book on my computer, or put it straight onto Kindle and not bother with paper copies. Hopefully this is just a slump and I will find some more energy soon. But right now? I’ve had enough. I love writing, I love having something to say, I love entertaining people through my books. But selling? Promoting? Trying to persuade people to buy? Nope, not me.

As I say, so much makes it difficult. I agreed to sell through the big shops, and have a trading agreement with wholesalers. By the time they have all taken their cut, I don’t make any money, but that’s okay, it extends my readership. Except, actually getting the wholesaler to pay at all is a hassle. They send you an email which says : “Dispatch immediately. 3 copies of Hidden Faces have been ordered. Send them by first class post to this address. Include an invoice.”

You rush off to the post office, very excited to have made some sales, then….nothing. After a month, you email to ask about the money. After another month, you email again. Then you phone (or persuade businessman husband to phone on your behalf.) Eventually, after at least 6 months, repeated emails and calls, they pay you. It hardly seems worth the hassle.

Then there is the copyright. As part of copyright law in England, you are obliged to send a copy of everything published to The British Library. This is a legal requirement. There are 5 other libraries which have the legal right to request copies, but I didn’t expect to hear from them. However, recently they emailed, telling me to send 5 copies of each book to an address in Edinburgh. Which is 10 books I won’t be paid for, and about £10 in postage I can’t reclaim. It feels like everything is making life for the new author tough.

There are also the secondhand booksellers. I suspect that all books sent on spec to wholesalers, end up with secondhand book dealers. So do books donated to charity shops. Amazon now lists items in price order, which means anyone who clicks on my books is sent straight to the secondhand copies. So unless they bother to search for new copies, I never receive those orders. Amazon and the secondhand dealer both make money from my writing, but I receive nothing except all the costs.

I will finish here.
Hope your work is going better than mine.
Feeling depressed.

Love, Anne x

PS. I will go and drink some hot lemon. I don’t especially like hot lemon, but there’s something terribly comforting about it – have you noticed?

PPS. This is something of a confession: As I have finished Clara Oakes, I thought I’d have another look at Invisible Jayne, the first book I wrote after my op. Now, the thing is, it is chick-lit. And I do not read, or write, chick-lit. I am something of a literary snob to be honest. So, I have tried murdering some of the characters, or turning it into a discussion of social issues, or adding aliens, but nothing works. As chick-lit, a simple love story with a lot of humour, it works well. Sooo, I am going to rewrite it (I have improved in the last 3 years) and then publish it as a Kindle book. I’m tempted to publish under a different name, but I might not. I have dropped the ‘y’ from the title, and I’m improving the general flow, but mostly it’s okay. It still makes me laugh out loud, so hopefully it will amuse my readers too. I’ll let you know when it’s finished and you can read it on the beach or with your cocoa at bedtime – it is that sort of book. (One of my friends assures me that for all my snobbishness, this will be the book that sells millions. In which case I will have wished I had published under a different name!)


Have you read JOANNA yet? Available in both paperback and as a Kindle book (so you can buy it from any Amazon shop). The UK link is below – why not buy one for your holiday reading?

Publishing Update


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
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?


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


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.


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 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.

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.


Hidden Faces by Anne E Thompson


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


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…..

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Another week….


Have you read anything good lately? I’ve just started reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, am hooked already. It took me a few pages before I started to like it, I wouldn’t have picked it up in a bookshop, read the beginning and then bought it; but after a couple of chapters it’s pretty addictive. I started reading it because daughter recommended it. So often, I buy books because someone has said they are good. (I am really really hoping that everyone who has enjoyed reading my book has told their friends and family…..authors depend on other people to stimulate sales.)

The Girl on the Train is mainly about Rachel, a girl whose life has fallen apart. As we learn more about her, about what led to her divorce and drinking and apathy with life, it seems as if the main catalyst was not being able to have children. That is so sad. I don’t know if the author has children, but she describes in detail how it feels to be unable to have them. I have no idea how accurate it is, but one thing she describes is feelings of jealousy towards people who conceive easily, and how she will avoid places where there are likely to be young families, even leaving supermarkets if there are too many mothers and babies shopping. So sad.

One strange thing about reading The Girl on the Train, is that the author has a very similar writing style to my own. Even the genre is the same as Joanna, so I felt like I was reading my own work – I found I was proofreading rather than just enjoying the story! She even makes some of the same mistakes (so that she has a tendency to use ‘that’ when it isn’t that necessary.) Very strange. At the end of her book she lists all the people who have helped her, including her agent. Given that her book is so similar to Joanna, I am considering sending the manuscript to them for consideration.

This caused me some stress. I found the agent’s website and looked at their submission policy. As with all these agents, it just seems so rude! It lists all the things they want posted (not emailed) such as cover letter, synopsis, first few chapters. They then tell you to check carefully and send everything they have asked for, or they will recycle it without looking at it. Then they say that after they have received your (hours of) work, if they don’t want to represent you, they won’t bother to reply. My inclination is to not send them my book. If they won’t even be polite, why should they have the opportunity to make money from my hard work? Husband tells me this is silly, this is how business works, I will increase my sales through a mainstream publisher. I like the control of self-publishing. Difficult decision. Perhaps I will do both. Self-publishing is good/excellent/fun until it comes to the selling and advertising – then it gets very difficult.


Another stress point this week has been Milly. She was limping, and when I checked her paw, she had cut it badly. Now, I know about cuts (you learn lots of first aid when you have children.) I know that if you clean the wound, smear it with savlon, and cover it, it will heal – as long as you change the dressing every day. I figured the same would work with a cat. Cats however, are less helpful at staying still. Milly does this wriggling twisting manoeuvre whilst using her back legs to shred the skin from your arm. She got away from me and disappeared. Didn’t come near me for the next two days. When I finally caught her again the cut was worse, so I mortgaged the house and went to the vet. He examined her while she lay still and peaceful in my arms (think he must have hypnotised her.) He then dried the wound with a laser, gave her an antibiotic jab and told me to keep her inside for a few days. Sounds easy. But Milly is an outside cat, she lives in the workshop with her family. She does not want to be an inside cat.

I moved her into the utility room with Louise (the cranky old indoors cat – you can imagine how well that went.) I heaped heavy sacks of cat litter in front of the cat flap, and positioned a full watering can outside, with the spout against the flap so it couldn’t be pushed open. Escape proof – I thought. Milly and Louise were both unhappy, and Molly and Midge (other two outside cats) kept prowling around, trying to find Milly. (Mandy is also an outside cat, but not very clever – I don’t think she noticed.)

The following morning I went into the utility room. No cats. They had shredded the sacks of cat litter, so that was all over the floor. Someone had moved the watering can spout, so I think they had help from outside. Milly, Molly and Midge were all missing. Only Mandy was in the workshop, looking confused.

Eventually, I found the escapee, changed the method of catflap blocking and put her back inside. The paw was now filthy, so goodness knows if it will still heal properly. After a couple of days, she got used to the heat of the house and now seems quite contented. She curls up with the dog and sleeps on the sofa…..Am thinking I might have a problem moving her back outside….


Take care,
Anne x


Thank you for reading.

Have you bought Hidden Faces yet? A good gift for someone who you want to make smile…

Hidden Faces, is available from bookshops and Amazon.



Chicks, books and shopping…


Well, as you will have seen, the hen’s eggs hatched. This was not good timing. I was trying to prepare the file for Joanna, ready to send to the typesetter (more on that later.) Egg hatching is always high effort.

I know that really, I should do nothing, let the mother be in control, and if the hatchlings die, so be it. That’s how nature seems to work. But I cannot quite bring myself to not be involved. There is something exciting about eggs hatching, it is like having a present at Christmas when you’re small, you really really want to know what is inside but you have to just be patient and wait.

The hen had laid in a pretty daft place – I think in an attempt to stop me taking her eggs each morning. I didn’t even know she was there for a few days, I thought the fox must have got her. Then I spotted her coming out for a furtive feed one morning. She had nested under the roof of a dog cage, on top of the plastic crate that serves as a nesting box, so quite high, with a ‘roof,’ so she couldn’t be seen from above. Now the eggs are hatching, if one of the chicks falls out the nest, it falls quite a long way, and cannot climb back in.

When I went up this morning, I could hear a chick cheeping, but it was nowhere to be seen. The mother was refusing to budge from her nest, so I am assuming she had more eggs hatching. I had to crawl through straw and cobwebs and spiders and chicken poop, right behind the nesting box, to rescue the chick. It was dark brown, very pretty. I put it back in the nest and it crawled back under it’s mother – who pecked me for disturbing her! Ungrateful bird. I have checked the nest every hour all day. It is too cold for chicks to survive out of the nest.

Of course, this was not my plan for the day. My plan was to work all day, preparing my next book. All the changes my editor suggested have been finished, and it has all been proofread. Now it needs to be formatted ready for the typesetter, who will produce a nice file ready for the printer. I have to read and reread, and read again, checking for errors (this is my last chance to spot them) adding notes about where I want time breaks and new chapters and boring details like that.

I am rather excited about the book though. It is very different to Hidden Faces, I think it will appeal to a broader audience, it is a bit more ‘gritty’. It was lots of fun to write. A friend who is studying photography at uni is preparing the cover photo. She has sent me through some ideas, which are all very exciting. I want to show people, but I know I’m supposed to wait, to not reveal the cover until it’s all finished. Again, it is a lot like waiting for Christmas! It won’t be ready until next Easter time, which feels like forever. This time I shall have a ‘book launch’ – which my sister told me I should have had for Hidden Faces, but I just wasn’t brave enough.

In the meantime, I am still selling Hidden Faces. The first rush has died down, but I’m still getting a steady flow of orders, mostly from people who have been told about it by a friend (I can see where the sales are, so can link people geographically.) I am hoping to sell another batch as Christmas gifts, especially as it begins with a nativity play – very topical. Some people have been very kind as I’ve launched this new venture, and I am very grateful to them. These include a local reporter who has included me in the newspaper, friends who have written reviews or recommended it to others, the shops who have taken a risk on an unknown author and stocked my book. It would all have been impossible without other people helping me.

This week someone put a list of names through my letterbox, asking me to write them into books, then sign them and write ‘Christmas 2016’ underneath. That was a nice surprise – it meant I sold another 8 books.

I am still looking for marketing ideas, so if you have any suggestions, do let me know. I am taking books to several different Christmas markets, and am going to speak to a reading group in the town.

I have also been invited to speak in November at a lunch in London. This is particularly scary – mainly because I have to sort the animals and get a train and not be late (the public speaking bit will be fine, I have done quite a lot of that, and this is about literacy and books, both of which I know lots about.) I will also have to look reasonably smart – which for someone who basically lives in jeans and wellies is somewhat of a stress point. I am the woman in the supermarket with straw and cobwebs in her hair – see information above! I forced husband to come shopping with me (sorely missed having daughter at home.) I last went clothes shopping two years ago before we went to Brazil. Am not a shopper. Bought a dress. Need to practise walking in heels. Hope venue isn’t too hot or I shall speak with a pink face. I will let you know how I get on.


Take care,
Anne x

PS. Don’t forget the clocks go back on Sunday!


Thank you for reading.

Have you read Counting Stars?

A kindle book available from Amazon. The story of a family in the world around the corner….meet Lena, a woman who is just like you. She worries and wonders and even needs to use the washroom occasionally! She also does amazing things to save her family – because that is what women do.

new eye

Or for readers in the US:



Publishing a Book – Part Six


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

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Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016

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


Publishing a Book – Part Five

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016

So, rather momentous – my book arrived (cue small fanfare of trumpets…) Now,  I needed to find some more places to sell it. I drove to Bluewater.

Bluewater is not my favourite place. It has way too many shops. I took son for moral support. He was keen to come due to the possibility of Pokemon being more available than in our country lane (hard not to be proud of them sometimes, isn’t it…) Anyway, there we were, standing outside WH Smiths, me wondering if it would be better to just have a coffee and go home, him concentrating on a Pikachu (no idea how you spell these things.)

I went into WH Smith first. I was told the person I needed to speak to was on holiday. But they were nice, no one shouted at me or told me I was an idiot. Feeling slightly braver, I went into Waterstones. I learned lots of information, the most important being that selling through big shops takes time and is expensive. I will cover what I discovered in future blogs.

I decided that I would first launch my book locally and online. The bookshop in the next town was happy to sell it. I would try to find another couple of small shops who would be willing to stock it, and also sell it on Amazon. This was not as easy as it sounds…

First, the maze that is Amazon. My overall feeling about Amazon is that the process is slow and confusing, like trying to join a secret society. It is also expensive – you pay for everything. We first (note the ‘we’, I decided fairly early that this was beyond me, so Husband rescued me. But I will pretend that I helped) explored the ‘fulfilled by Amazon’ option. This would mean our customers would pay less in postage, and I could go on holiday or be ill without worrying about posting book orders. However, it was far from easy. You could email and ask for help, and they would phone back and advise you. But each advisor only dealt with one area, so they could only answer specific questions.

We wanted to know where exactly we had to deliver the books – if it was Scotland, we might find a different option. This information is a secret. If I ever discover it, I will tell you. I even accosted a poor Amazon delivery man and asked him where the depot was that stored the goods. He told me, “Oh, we’re not allowed to give information like that, I would get into trouble.” The plot thickens.

It was taking ages, plus would only cover five countries in Europe, so we decided in the meantime we would become Amazon sellers and post the books ourselves. We then went online to add the book – only to discover it was already listed! There it was, Hidden Faces by Anne E. Thompson, published by The Cobweb Press, with the ISBN number and a price. It was also, strangely, listed as a ‘mystery/thriller’ (which it isn’t, it is contemporary fiction.) We had more phone calls, but no one at Amazon could explain who had listed my book. Eventually we learned that when you buy an ISBN number, it is automatically listed on certain websites. Some shops also list it (though they won’t sell it, because I do not yet have a trading agreement with a wholesaler.You can ‘buy’ it, and checkout, they will then check their suppliers and notify you that it’s unavailable. They will not deal directly with either authors or publishers. I know, I tried.)

We eventually managed to add a photo, price, and the correct description. Then, when it appeared on the Amazon website (after about an hour) it had deleted all the paragraph breaks. No idea why. Not easy to rectify this (you might notice other book descriptions with no paragraph breaks – there are many – do not blame the author.) I am trying to remedy this but not sure if it is possible. Please be understanding if you look at my book on Amazon….

Approaching local shops was also not without problems. I drove to East Grinstead, which is slightly beyond my comfort zone. The town was having some sort of fair, half the roads were shut and people were everywhere. I parked in a side road and walked to the bookshop. The owner was on holiday. I took his contact details and walked back through the fair – only to find my car was not in the side road I thought it was. It was hot, I was tired, coming had achieved nothing, and now I had lost the car. I thought about phoning home, but they tend to be unsympathetic when I lose the car. Bought an ice cream. Wandered around and eventually found car. Drove home, having not sold a single book.

My own town was also difficult. There is no bookshop – my town has mainly charity shops, supermarkets and hairdressers (everyone has nice hair in my town. And secondhand clothes.) I tried a few ‘gift’ type shops and some stationers. No luck. One stationers even told me that he wouldn’t take a couple of books on ‘sale or return’ because “it would just be another thing to think about”! Honestly! Here I was, a local author, with advertising in place, asking if they could take a couple of books. They would earn a few pounds on every book sold, and I would collect any unsold books. No wonder small businesses are failing. I felt rather cross with my town. Until I found a very nice man in the newsagents at the top of the High Street. The shop is one of those open all hours, family owned, tiny shops, selling mainly newspapers and alcohol. He was willing to help and said he would display five books and a poster. Nice man. I hope it brings him some extra business.

I also popped into my local Shell garage and the Waitrose in my town (you can’t say I wasn’t trying.) Both were surprisingly helpful, but said it needed to go through head office. This seems to be the story with all chains of shops – however willing the manager is, the final decision is with head office. I took contact details and will let you know what happens.

Book selling is dominating at the moment (my family are coping.) I am also managing to stop the big fox that prowls at night from eating anything, I am trying to teach two of the stupidest chickens in the world that they are NOT ducks, and I am remembering to feed and clean out all the animals (I probably include my sons in this description.)

The book saga will continue…

Thanks for reading. Take care.



Hidden faces by Anne E. Thompson.

Available locally (!) and from Amazon:

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016


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