Adam Croft self-published nine books, selling over half a million copies and turning down numerous publishing deals, before meeting his match with Amazon Publishing imprint Thomas & Mercer. He has been featured on the BBC and in the Guardian and is regarded as one of the most successful hybrid authors to date.
You self-published your book Her Last Tomorrow to great success, quickly attracting the attention of a publisher. Did you self-publish in order to make this transition, or was it a happy surprise?
Her Last Tomorrow was my ninth book. I’d been self-publishing for over six years and had sold around half a million books before Her Last Tomorrow was even written. Attracting a publisher has never been my intention. Indeed, I’ve turned down more publishing offers than I care to remember over the past few years. The approach from Thomas & Mercer was different. As an arm of Amazon Publishing, they have unrivalled marketing potential, which I felt would be extremely beneficial to my books and my career. Keeping the rest of my books self-published was a vital part of this deal for me.
What, for you, are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing and publishing the traditional way? Any big lessons learned from either endeavour?
I don’t really know, as I still don’t publish the traditional way. Thomas & Mercer is far from being a traditional publisher. They’re very author- and reader-centric. It’s more like self-publishing but with the added advantage of a fantastic marketing team behind you and access to things like advances, which make the whole package far more financially attractive. They’re able to open my books up to readers directly by marketing them at people they know like my sort of books. It’s a far cry from the usual scattergun approach of big publishers who waste money on things like posters on railway platforms. The Amazon model is far leaner, far more targeted and, as a result, far more successful.
Last year, your Knight & Culverhouse series overtook Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in Canada, followed shortly by a number one spot for Her Last Tomorrow over Christmas. Can you share with us anything you did in terms of marketing and publicity, either with or without your publisher, in order to make this happen?
I’m constantly working on marketing, so it’s a blend of things. My wife also works full-time as my office manager and spends most of her waking hours developing marketing and promotional opportunities for the books. The Knight & Culverhouse box set benefited from a BookBub featured deal around that time, and also hit the USA Today bestseller list. Knocking Harry Potter off the number one spot in Canada was a nice bonus.
As for Her Last Tomorrow, the renewed success at the back end of 2016 was the result of Amazon’s own marketing efforts. The book was included as one of Amazon’s top ten books of 2016, which attracted a lot of new attention and a lot of new sales. It re-entered the charts over a year after its initial release and reached storewide number one in Australia on Christmas Day, which allows me to say I’ve had my first Christmas number one!
Several authors who have enjoyed an initial cult following via self-publishing seem to have branched out into how-to non-fiction, mainly to show others what they’ve learned through the process. Are you at all interested in doing something like this?
No. I’m asked this a lot and have had dozens of emails from other writers asking me to launch a course or a non-fiction arm, but it’s not something that interests me at the moment. I’m a fiction writer. My first obligation is and always will be to my existing readers and fans of my fiction books. Those readers have got me where I am now, and I owe them the respect of giving them everything I can. I don’t intend to ever take my foot off the gas as far as that’s concerned. If anything, I fully intend to keep cranking up the pressure. I’ve got a long way to go yet before I’m anywhere near being satisfied with my success. And, even then, I’ll find new goals. Right now, non-fiction isn’t one of them.
What are your top three favourite books?
This is something I’m asked very often, and it gets harder and harder to answer with the more books I read. I read across all genres, as well as a hell of a lot of non-fiction, so it’s a difficult thing to quantify. In terms of the books that have most impacted my writing career, the works of Agatha Christie and Peter James have informed my writing enormously. They both ‘get’ the genre and are both excellent self-promoters (or were, in Christie’s case). On the non-fiction front, books like Write. Publish. Repeat. went a long way to giving me the writing mindset I’ve since benefited from. I also found Duncan Bannatyne’s book Anyone Can Do It while tidying up the other day. I’d forgotten all about it, but as soon as I saw it I found I could recall a lot of how it made me feel. It’s a business autobiography, but it’s a real lesson in how complete dedication and enormous effort can reap rewards.