This week I’m delighted to have the bestselling thriller author Adam Croft on the blog.
With almost two million books sold to date, Adam is one of the most successful independently published authors in the world, and one of the biggest selling authors of the past few years, having sold books in over 120 different countries. In February 2017, Amazon’s overall Author Rankings placed Adam as the most widely read author in the world, with J.K. Rowling in second place!
Adam is known as an expert on book marketing: the Facebook campaign he ran for his novel Her Last Tomorrow is legendary in indie author circles. So I asked him some questions about his book publishing and marketing strategies.
How are you published? Why have you chosen that model?
I’m completely indie. I did have a traditional deal with a huge company for a year or two fairly recently, but the support was minimal and the whole experience was nowhere near as good as being indie.
I love the independence, the ability to release books quickly and not having to rely on someone taking three months to reply to a simple email. The world has moved on; publishers have not. The whole time I was with the publisher it just felt like my career was being held back for their benefit.
How did you learn about book publishing? Are there any tips you’d like to share with readers?
As I’ve always been indie and started publishing in 2010, I’ve had to learn ‘on the job’. Everything was so new then in terms of the industry, there wasn’t really anyone there to teach or pass on knowledge.
Nowadays, I think the opposite is true. Everyone thinks they’re an expert and some people are too keen to pass on their tips and tricks, not realising they’re actually suggesting things which are likely to cause harm to other authors’ careers.
How did you get started and was there any specific event that was the trigger to your writing career?
I’ve always written, even from a young age. It’s something I stopped doing during my teenage years, and was something that became a bit of a pipe dream.
Unfortunately my school was very science and business-oriented and discouraged students from taking arts-based classes. I was told I couldn’t study both Drama and Media Studies ‘because they’re too closely related’. I remember thinking that was a bit of an odd thing to say when we were specifically being asked to narrow our options to choose a career path, and I ended up being given the utterly bizarre combination of Media Studies and Business Studies. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I got involved on the stage again, and was fortunate enough to work professionally as an actor for a while before the books took off.
In terms of my first book, I was on holiday in 2008 when the idea for a book came to me. I jotted down a few notes, then when I got home I read everything I could about how to actually write a book. I’d only ever done short-form stuff before and had no idea how to structure a novel. It turned out to be a novella anyway, at around 21,000 words, which took me nearly two and a half years to write. Fortunately, I’ve since sped up.
How are your books distributed and where do you find most of your readers?
My books are available absolutely everywhere, and I’m adamant that should always be the case.
They’re in ebook, paperback and audiobook, as well as in foreign translations and accessible print. They can be purchased from all ebook retailers worldwide, are stocked in mainstream book shops and are available through all the main stockists and distributors. I don’t think anyone should be punished for not wanting to patronise a certain platform or having an aversion to a particular type of media.
What forms of marketing do you use to reach and engage with readers?
I’m fortunate enough to have a huge platform now, so most of my marketing is internal and focuses on my mailing list, Facebook group and engaging existing readers.
I always try to find new readers, though. For this I tend to focus on BookBub, pricing promos and some light Facebook ads — as well as encouraging word of mouth marketing.
What marketing has been most successful for you? Why do you think that is?
Financially speaking, it has to be Facebook ads. I’ve had two books which were super-marketable and which were essentially money trees. That’s not something that’s been replicable across my other books, but at the volumes we’re talking about that doesn’t really matter.
How do you keep in touch with your readers?
I engage them through my mailing list and my Facebook group.
Is there any marketing you’ve done that didn’t work for you?
Oh, absolutely. 90-95% of my marketing efforts fail.
But that’s fine: I test at low budget amounts, so the exposure isn’t that high. When I find something that works, I ramp the spend up to high levels and reap the benefits that way. In revenue terms, the 5-10% of marketing efforts which are a success probably outnumber the spend on the 90-95% of failures by about 30 to 1.
You really don’t need to be successful every time in this business. Even a 1% success rate can earn you some serious money.
Do you have any tips on reaching an audience and building an army of fans?
Keep going. There are no quick fixes. If there were, everyone would be doing it. This is a long game, and no-one achieves overnight success. In any case, you don’t want to be a flash in the pan. You’re in this for the long-term.
Anything else I haven’t asked about?
Yes — my favourite Spice Girl is Emma Bunton.
Thanks to Adam for taking the time to chat about the way he works. You can find out about Adam’s thrillers on his website, or if you want to learn more about how he publishes and markets his books, check out his Indie Author Mindset blog.