Today, I'm proud to bring you another interview in what is proving to be quite a popular series - Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors. In the hot seat is Best-selling U.K. author, Matt Drabble. His Amazon Author's page bio describes him as thus:
"Born in Bath, England in 1974, a self-professed "funny onion", equal parts sport loving jock and comic book geek. I am a lover of horror and character driven stories. I am also an A.S sufferer who took to writing full time two years ago after being forced to give up the day job. I have a career high position of 5th on Amazon's Horror Author Rank of which I am immensely proud. "GATED" is a UK & US Horror Chart Top Ten Best Seller & winner of the Full Moon Awards 2014 Horror Book of the Year. "ASYLUM - 13 TALES OF TERROR" is a US Horror Chart #5 It was also voted #5 on The Horror Novel Review's Top 10 Books of 2013 & is a Readers Favorite 2014 Gold Medal Winner.
"ABRA-CADAVER" won an Indie Book of the Day award."
Without further ado, let's get in to it. Remember to make sure you check out Matt's excellent books and the other interviews in this series here on my website.
Who are you and where do you come from? Do you think that your life experience has gone someway towards making you a successful author in your chosen genre?
My name is Matt Drabble and I am originally from a city called Bath in the South West of England. A few years ago I suffered a nasty back injury and as a result I was unable to keep on working a full time job. I have always liked writing and had many a notepad full of ideas and the beginnings of books. One day I stumbled across an article on Amazon’s self-publishing platform. With time on my hands I figured why not turn one of my half finished stories into a full book, mainly just to see if I could, so I did.
Where do you get your inspiration from for your writing and for the way you brand yourself as an author?
For me King is King and long live the King. I am increasingly working in the short story format and have produced three anthologies so for and am currently working on my fourth. Inspiration for a short story with a twist really comes from the world around me. It could be a news article that makes me think “what if?” What if the outcome was different, what if something else happened that changed the whole complexion? Normally I start at the end with a twist and work backwards from there.
If you could pinpoint one thing in particular that has grabbed readers of your work, what would you say it is? I.e. What do you think it is about your work that makes readers buy your books?
I always try and write stories with some depth to them. There is a market for the gross out horror fan, especially amongst younger readers, but my audience seem to be older readers. I’d like to think that I write with a decent pace, interesting and exciting situations, but all with three dimensional characters that you’ve come to care about.
You have enjoyed best-selling status – is there a particular moment in your career as an author that you realized that you had done something right to get where you are now? Can you pinpoint what it was that spiked your success to date?
When I first started self-publishing about two and a half years ago, the market was less saturated and you could do a free giveaway and I’d average maybe 3000 downloads a day without any marketing. Now without any advertising you’d be lucky to see 100 [downloads]. I set myself a deadline of three books to see some improvement in sales figures to give me any encouragement to keep going. Luckily, after the first two sank without trace, the third offering was a horror thriller called “Gated” which was a more deliberate attempt to produce something with more of a commercial appeal. The going was slow but with a lot of patience and determination sales started to pick up, reviews were good and I had a big free giveaway weekend which netted me around 31,000 downloads. My next book was a horror anthology called “Asylum – 13 Tales of Terror” which sold about 1600 books in the first month with no marketing. I am a firm believer that as long as your work is decent, once people see it they will buy it. The obvious problem with Amazon now is getting your book high enough up the charts for readers to see it.
Did you try to get publishing contracts for your books early on with traditional book publishers? If so, did you have any success there or if not what was it that made you decide to self-publish the majority of your work?
Yes. I sent out my stuff to every agent and publisher that accepted submissions. I did finally sign a deal with a publisher based in San Francisco who then unfortunately went out of business about four days before my launch.
The great thing about self-publishing is that anyone can do it; unfortunately, the bad thing is also that anyone can do it. I believe that a lot of readers have had their fingers burnt by poor work and can be more sceptical and less willing to give a new author a chance. Self-publishing also gives an author time to grow and breathe, time to develop and time to forge a very thick skin. The only way to get better is to write and write a lot.
For more of this fascinating interview, please visit Self-Publishing Successfully for full transcript.