Read exclusive advice from WM cover star Adam Croft
Top tips from self-publishing success story Adam Croft.
The difference between writing a series and a standalone
• The series are something I can dip back into. I know the characters, I know the world. The characters kind of identify themselves. A lot of things come out that I hadn’t planned for. I don’t plan too far ahead. Readers love the series characters, particularly Knight and Culverhouse – they like to see the characters grow over time. When I’m doing psychological thrillers, everything – the characters, the location – can differ. Writing a series is like coming home from work and slipping into a comfy jumper. I wouldn’t say series are easier to write, but they’re more comfortable. I tend to flip between series and standalones – I get bored if I just do the one thing. I’ll write a series one, then a standalone, or even a play! If I do two of the same thing in a row I get bored – it’s nice to be able to chop and change.
Adam’s writing process
• I’m very much a plotter. Things do come in that I hadn’t planned on. I planned out the first book but there were things that changed. I’d say I’m 90 to 95% planner. I’ll brainstorn outwards and see what the beginning and end are going to be, then I’ll plot it out into a synopsis, then break it down into chapters. I use Scrivener, so when I’ve got a skeleton for my book I can pop in and write the chapters, not necessarily in order although I tend to do that. Including the planning and editing stage, a book takes two months – a month of actual writing, 2,000 words a day minimum.
Making it work in a practical sense
• I treat it as a business as well, I don’t do staring out of the window, book signings etc. I’m creating a product that people want to buy. It’s being pragmatic – I cant get by on one book a year. If I can put out 4, 5, 6 books a year, readers still want more. As long as the quality doesn’t drop – I need to keep that up. The structure I have and the way I plan and write means I can keep up the quality control.
Considering the reader
• I bear in mind what readers want – you can’t ignore it – but what I don’t do is base what I’m doing on what people say. I’ve got to go by what sells – what I get feedback on. The Kempston Hardwick books sell but it’s a small fanbase so it’s not commercially viable to write three in a row. The Knight & Culverhouse ones are what people want.
The importance of editing for self-published writers
• Editing and proofreading are about pride – you are asking people to part with money for this! It’s general business sense. Self-publishing isn’t a shortcut. The vast majority of self-publishers are very professional. We use the same editors as the professional publishers. A book will always be edited and have a cover.
I have a design firm I use for my covers, and I use proofreaders and editors. The first stage is I have readers who read early drafts and offer constructive suggestions. Then it goes through development editing, copy editing and proofreading. All the same stages as a traditionally published book. The money depends on who and what, but it’s not as expensive as a lot of people think - £1,000 will get it to market. I enjoy the whole process of getting a book to market. The covers are very important – they’re the first thing people tend to see. I put quite a lot of time and effort into that. The series have a very visual identity – almost a brand, really.
Getting better all the time
• I’m working all the time so that every book is better than the last one. I don’t mind having done my learning in public. I do cringe a bit when I look at the early books but it’s what I did to get where I am now