Iain Rob Wright just started writing three years ago. He now makes far more money publishing his books than he ever made or expected to make doing something else. From his official website:

Published author and member of the Horror Writers Association, Iain Rob Wright was born in 1984 and lives in Redditch, a small town in the West Midlands, UK, with his loopy cocker spaniel, his fat old cat, Jess, his many tropical fish, and his wonderful wife, Sally. Writing is the passion that fills his life during the small periods of time when he isn’t cleaning up after his pets.

He is currently one of the UK’s most successful horror writers and his current novels include the critically acclaimed: THE FINAL WINTER, the deeply disturbing bestseller: ASBO, and the satirical screamfest: THE HOUSEMATES.

He will soon be releasing the first book in an exciting action-thriller series; featuring acerbic protagonist, Sarah Stone, and her ongoing mission to stop a terrorist threat.

And he was kind enough to answer some questions for me about writing, publishing, promotion, and why he’s so successful. He’s a super nice guy.

Make sure to drop Iain a line in the comments to say thanks.

You can also find him on Twitter (@iainrobwright), on Facebook (facebook.com/iainrobwright), and on GoodReads (goodreads.com/IainRobWright). His website is iainrobwright.com, where he blogs and posts lots of free stuff for you to read.

My favorite quotes from our interview: 

  • “A lot of luck has played its part, but I have focused hard and treated my writing like a career, not a hobby.”
  • “My first self-published book made about ten-times what my first traditionally published book was making.”
  • “Indie publishing doesn’t mean ‘amateur’ publishing.  To succeed you have to be selling a product that is of a high quality.”
  • “Be a pioneer not a follower.”
  • “Writing is great, but you have to understand the business in order to stay around.”
  • “I can support my family as well as spend a lot of time with them, which makes being a writer the perfect job.”
  • “There is no reason not to see things through anymore.”

Enjoy:

I think I read on your blog that you’ve been writing for only three years? Or something like that. And you’re making a healthy living at it. How has that happened for you? 

Yep, just three years (not even that yet).  I used to be a salesman – I hated it.  Now I write full time and make a very good living (currently 3 times what I made in sales and still rising) – more than I ever hoped to make doing anything else.  I was lucky that my first book, The Final Winter, did very well, which allowed me to focus quickly on writing more books.  It is important to write new books as sales will eventually flag on older titles.  By releasing new books I am gradually increasing my profits as well as the number of readers I have.  A lot of luck has played its part, but I have focused hard and treated my writing like a career, not a hobby.

I notice that you don’t have some huge social media following or anything like that, and yet you’re making a healthy living off of books that have become bestsellers. What have you done to promote your work? 

I think I have a pretty healthy social media presence.  I think the key factor is that I have an organic social network presence.  I may only have a few thousand followers, but they are all genuine fans and colleagues who want to read my books.  I don’t add people just to get my number of friends up.  It would be a waste of my effort and would just dilute how easily I can talk to my true fans.  The people following and supporting me are a massive part of how I got where I am and they mean the world to me.  Despite social media being important, I spend less than an hour a day tweeting, posting, etc.  Too much blogging and messaging just takes time away from what really matters – writing new books.

How have you gone about promoting your work, and do you have any tips for authors for promoting their work?

The best way to promote your work is to make best use of the tools available.  You should make sure you enter your work into the appropriate categories on Amazon, make use of keywords, create a compelling product description, and use freebie promotions and Kindle countdown deals to reach as wide an audience as possible.  Start cheap or free and increase your pricing as your audience grows.  Eventually your work will stand on its own and gather decent reviews.  After a while it will integrate with Amazon’s algorithms and appear in the charts and in ‘Also Brought’ lists.  There is no massive strategy that I use for promotion.  Just cultivate the tools you have be on top of any changes in the industry.  Those who made use of Amazon’s freebie promotions first were the ones who reaped the greatest benefit.  Be a pioneer not a follower.

Who are some of your favorite writers to read?

Joe Konrath, Jeff Strand, Brian Keene, Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Terry Pratchett, Scott Sigler, J.F. Gonzalez, Breet Battles, and hundreds more.

Who might you say has most influenced your work?

Stephen King and James Herbert growing up, but more recently Joe Konrath has been my biggest influence.  He has helped me become a serious writer that understands the business and makes good decisions.  Writing is great, but you have to understand the business in order to stay around.  Self-publishing or traditional, it helps to know a lot about both.

What are your goals as a writer?

To last!  I want to still be at home with my family, writing books and enjoying my fans, when I am 90.  If I ever have to go back to doing something else I would be very sad.  At the moment I can support my family as well as spend a lot of time with them, which makes being a writer the perfect job.  The fact that I also love what I do just makes it even better.

Why are you going the indie publishing route? 

I started the traditional route but found that I was only earning a pittance.  My first self-published book made about ten-times what my first traditionally published book was making.  By going the self-publishing route I am earning a lot more than many traditionally published authors (many of whom still have to work day jobs).  The important thing is that I take my books very seriously.  I make sure that my editing, artwork, formatting etc is as good as any traditionally published book.  Readers can enjoy my books as much as an ‘indie’ writer as if I was signed to some New York publishing house.  I think that lack of quality is a key reason some self-publishers struggle.  Indie publishing doesn’t mean ‘amateur’ publishing.  To succeed you have to be selling a product that is of a high quality.

Would you ever consider traditional publishing? Why or why not?

I am pretty much done with the small and medium press (they can’t offer me anything I can’t do better myself).  The only traditional offers I would entertain would have to offer very good terms.  Many of my books can make me $15k-20k a year on their own; I wouldn’t give that up for a deal that wasn’t in my favour.  I do have German editions coming out with traditional publishers and I may work with other companies on audiobooks and graphic novels, but as for English language editions, I am doing perfectly fine on my own.

What advice would you give someone trying to make a living writing novels? 

There is no failure anymore, just varying levels of success.  Write a book and try to get it published (if that’s what you want).  If no one will take a chance on it then do it yourself.  Once it’s published, see what people think.  Look at your bad reviews more than your good, because they hold the key to improving.  You won’t know what your flaws are until people start paying for your books, so use your first book or two as a learning experience.  You will get better with every book, you will earn fans and gain exposure.  How far you go is up to you and how much you are willing to improve.  But what you should definitely NOT do is give up.  There is no reason not to see things through anymore as there is a guaranteed path to market via self-publishing.  The least you can do is give it a shot.  That’s what I did, and it changed my life.