A mainstream publishing deal didn't work for Mark Edwards. But Amazon made him a bestseller again
Back in 2011 my co-author Louise Voss and I were at the crest of the first wave of self-publishing that followed the release of the Kindle in the UK. We held the top two positions on the Amazon chart and, after many years of trying to "make it" as an author, I finally had readers and was making some money from my writing.
Louise and I were soon signed by a major trade publisher in a four-book deal, including the two novels we'd already self-published. Unfortunately, that experience was disappointing for everyone, and the books didn't sell as well as we all had hoped. So at the start of 2013 I found myself broke and close to despair, thinking my writing career was already over. In desperate need of cash - and wanting to prove that there were still readers out there who would love my books if they knew about them - I decided to self-publish a solo novel, The Magpies.
It saved my life, hitting the top of the rankings and selling hundreds of thousands of copies. But the most significant consequence was that it brought me to the attention of Thomas & Mercer, Amazon Publishing's crime and thriller imprint. I signed a deal with them and haven't looked back. Today (10 May), my new Thomas & Mercer novel, The Retreat, is published worldwide. It's my ninth book with them, including two co-written with Louise, and to date we have sold more than two million copies worldwide.
As an author I care about three things: writing good books, getting them into the hands of as many readers as possible, and making a living doing what I love. My partnership with Thomas & Mercer allows me to do all three - and I use the word "partnership" because that's what it feels like. I never particularly enjoyed self-publishing, because I have always wanted to be part of a team, with someone having my back; and from editing through to marketing and PR, Amazon Publishing really looks after its authors.
The team at Thomas & Mercer encourage me to write the books I want to write and to keep developing as an author, becoming more ambitious and all the while honing my vision of what a "Mark Edwards novel" is. I've worked with some fantastic editors, in both the UK and US, and their standards are as high as at any other publisher, if not higher. I have the scars to prove how rigorous Thomas & Mercer's editorial process is, and a body of work I am extremely proud of.
As for getting books into the hands of readers, I feel confident that Thomas & Mercer will make sure as many readers as possible know about my books, at home and abroad, and continue to push them, not just on publication but continuously. I am now a full-time writer, supporting a family of five by writing books. That was always my dream, and now, thanks to Amazon Publishing, I am doing it. It's a wonderful feeling.
Thomas & Mercer publishes The Retreat today (pb £4.99).