Five years and eight books into his career, Adam Croft was making enough to pay his bills. But it was his ninth book with a killer hook and Facebook ads that launched his sales into the stratosphere, attracting a major publishing deal with Thomas & Mercer, and putting him on track to make $1.5 mil this year. This week I talk to Adam to find out how it all happened.
Adam began his author career in 2011 with the launch of his crime thriller series Knight & Culverhouse and his murder mystery seriesKempston Hardwick Mysteries. Eight books later, he enjoyed moderate success, enough to pay his bills, but when he had difficulty finding traction with Facebook ads, he remembered a story he had shelved with a compelling hook that he thought would be perfect for Facebook ads:
Could you murder your wife to save your daughter?
Adam decided to write that book, Her Last Tomorrow, a psychological thriller, and market it with Facebook ads. He started his ad campaign immediately following the launch of the book at a spend of $5 a day. Right away he was making $10-$15 in royalties as a result, so he kept increasing his spend and kept getting a double return on his investment. He eventually upped it to a point where he realized, “Right. I’ve gotta get myself some credit cards.” He applied for as many as he could in one day, got 10 credit cards, and began scaling up his Facebook ad spend. (*Facebook ad costs are paid for immediately, whereas it takes 60 days for Amazon to disburse sales revenue, so Adam was using credit to cover that gap while continuing to scale his advertising campaign and ROI.)
“If you’re getting a positive ROI — positive return on investment — you’re getting back more than you spend, then why wouldn’t you do it? Essentially, it’s a three-month high-interest savings account. Where else are you going to put your money for three months and get it back doubled? You’re just not.”
Because his price point for the book was high enough ($3.95 US / £2.95 UK, then later $5.95 US / £3.95 UK), he was able to see a positive return on investment by targeting his ads directly to his Amazon sales page. Adam notes that box sets are great ways to maximize your advertising spend. The bigger price allows for bigger profit, which means a bigger margin for error, and readers feel like they’re getting great value. 95% of Adam’s FB ad spend is targeted to his Amazon sales page, and 5% goes towards building his mailing list.
Since the release of Her Last Tomorrow in December of 2015, Adam has landed a publishing deal with Amazon imprint Thomas & Mercer, been featured in The Guardian, BBC Radio, and The Huffington Post, and looks to be on track to make $1.5 million this year.
Thomas & Mercer
Adam currently has a deal with Thomas & Mercer for two books, a new version of Her Last Tomorrow, as well as a second title, Only the Truth. Working with the Amazon imprint, he says, has been a breath of fresh air. He feels he has the control of self-publishing along with the benefits of traditional publishing. Although Her Last Tomorrow won’t be re-released until October, Adam continues to own and earn revenues on the title…and will continue to do so until 48 hours before the official re-release.
In terms of marketing, Amazon is second to none, and they will be looking to push out more in the American market.
“It’s all about building awareness and building that wider brand,” Adam says, and any market efforts spent on one book’s behalf will raise visibility in all of his other books…a win-win situation.
Advice to New Authors Starting Out
Read everything you can, but don’t believe in everything you read. See what works for you. Facebook ads didn’t work for Adam at first.
“Don’t be afraid to try new things. And keep plugging away because, you know, it will happen. You’ve got to have that confidence in the numbers in front of you. Treat it as a business.”
Next Big Thing
The new version of Her Last Tomorrow will be released by Thomas & Mercer in October of this year, the paperback a few weeks later, and the second book, Only the Truth, in early 2017. Adam is also continuing to work on his other series, and expects to have two Knight & Culverhouse books out this year.
“As I see it, we can’t afford to be precious about what we do. Yes, we’re writers. Yes, we really enjoy what we’re doing. But I don’t think that is mutually exclusive with running a business. I think you have to treat your books as products, your readers as customers. You’ve really got to treat it as a business and you’ve got to be serious about it because if you want to be able to write full-time, you’ve got to make enough money to do so.”
The following pearl of wisdom comes up in every interview of every successful self-published author here at RSP. In the hopes that we can save authors time and money down the road, there is only one action step suggested this week:
- START YOUR MAILING LIST TODAY. “Write as much as you can as quickly as you can. Get your mailing list sorted. If I had known those two things five years ago, then it [success] would have happened a lot quicker, I’m sure,” says Adam. “My biggest marketing tool is still my mailing list and it’s still me out there engaging the fans, replying to them, getting in touch with them, see how they are. What Facebook advertising has done is it has accelerated what would have been natural growth.”
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken so far as an indie author/publisher?
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