My story by Angela Marsons

Angela Marsons, author of the Detective Kim Stone series, shares how she went from struggling to break into publishing to selling over 5.7 million copies.

In September 2014, I hit rock bottom. With money tight after being made redundant from my job of nineteen years, and my disabled partner recovering from major surgery, I was turned down for a job in an Amazon warehouse. Forced to sell our belongings and borrow from family members to pay the mortgage, the prospect of losing our home was a very real one. 

To make matters worse, my dreams of becoming an author were crushed when I parted ways from a top London literary agency. The feedback from publishers on my crime thriller series was always the same: ‘We love it… but not enough’. Some worried about the Black Country setting, others that readers wouldn’t warm to my formidable, no-nonsense lead character, Detective Kim Stone. My confidence was crushed and I couldn’t even pick up a pencil to write.

Then in October 2014, I received an email from Claire Bord at Bookouture saying she was reading and loving Silent Scream and did I have any more ideas? A week later, I signed for the first four books in the Kim Stone series. 

It was Bookouture’s very first crime fiction acquisition and just four months later, the power of digital publishing was demonstrated when Silent Scream became the UK Kindle number one. That success gave me the opportunity to give up the job I was then working in and concentrate on writing full time. Several more contracts followed and in September 2020, I signed a record deal with Bookouture for another twelve books.  

Silent Scream has gone on to sell in excess of 1.1 million copies and the Detective Kim Stone series has gone on to sell well over 5.7 million copies, has been translated into 31 languages and has hit the top of the bestseller lists across the world including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.  The BBC has recently optioned the TV right to produce the series with LA-based Bees and Honey Films. 

I have been approached by other publishers, hoping to persuade me to give traditional publishing a try, but I remain loyal to Bookouture.  They are the publisher that works so well for me. Despite how much they’ve grown, there isn’t anyone at Bookouture I can’t email or speak to – it feels like a family to me and the fellow Bookouture authors are very supportive.  It’s a very open, transparent and personable approach. I also love the interaction via social media with the readers of the Kim Stone books. I consistently feel valued as an author and as a person and there is nothing else that any other publisher could give me that I don’t get from Bookouture.

The Kim Stone series was one of the first examples of how impactful digital publishing could be, and it continues to demonstrate the huge rewards authors can reap from targeting this voracious and dedicated market of commercial fiction fans. The books now consistently rocket to the number one spot on pre-orders alone and it blows my mind every time.

Signing with Bookouture was a lifeline for me – I didn’t have any expectations about what I’d sell, I thought maybe five hundred copies, but I just wanted to see what readers thought. I wanted them to enjoy it.

It is no secret that I tried to break into traditional publishing for many years. I do now believe that everything happens for a reason and that fate was waiting until Bookouture was born. They gave me an opportunity I’d been trying to get for many many years.

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