Adam Croft is one of the most successful independently published authors in the world, he has sold half a million books to date. His bestseller Her Last Tomorrow was picked up by publisher after selling more than 150,000 copies across all platforms and becoming on of the bestselling books of the year. Before being a full-time writer, Adam Croft worked as an internet marketing consultant, delivery driver and professional actor. This Summer, two of Adam’s books hit the USA Today bestseller list, meaning he was the author of two of the most purchased books in the United States over the Summer – quite an achievement. Adam Croft has also been featured in The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Bookseller and on BBC Radio. He’s an absolute rock start in the independent publishing world, and we were incredibly excited to have pinned him down to talk books. Please enjoy my interview with the immensely successful Adam Croft…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
It depends how much I like them. If I’m bored and want to see how they respond, I’ll say ‘I kill people’. Sometimes I’ll qualify it by saying ‘I invent people, then kill them’.
I’ve just finished reading The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers. A very interesting book about the DNA of bestsellers. I’m constantly reading about the craft of writing, marketing techniques for books and the science behind the art.
What’s your earliest memory of reading?
I remember my mum coming into school and seeing a set of books we were reading in class. I left that school when I was 4, so it must’ve been pretty early. They were books in the style of the famous Janet and John books. There was a red man and a yellow woman, but I don’t remember much else. She said at the time the books were fantastic and she could see immediately how they’d help children become good readers. I guess she was right!
If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?
The book they most want to read. It’s vital that children read because they want to read, not because someone’s told them to read. Forcing literary rubbish onto children in school is one of the reasons reading rates are so low. If they want to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, they can. Forcing them to read things they don’t want to read is only going to create resentment towards books.
Can you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. I think I must have been about 6. It was my younger brother’s birthday, and I’d just been kicked out of class for being irritating, rude or something equally predictable. The school had recently got its first computer (I know, right?) and I was pacified by being encouraged to use it to write a story for my brother on his birthday. I remember it was about pirates, but don’t recall much else except for it being printed out on this horrendous wide, green-striped dot-matrix paper in an elaborate gothic-style font that no-one could actually read. Happy days.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
That’s a tough one. Stacking shelves in a supermarket for the grumpiest bunch of managers of all time must be up there. Apparently you needed a doctorate or at least a high-level master’s to be allowed to push the stock trolleys.
That’s probably up there with working in Credit Control for a telecommunications provider. I was on the ‘outbound’ team, which sounds mighty important, I know. My job was to phone people up, ask them why they hadn’t paid their bills, and threaten to cut off their TV, phone and internet if they didn’t pay there and then. To add more fun to it, my ‘patch’ included the five most deprived areas of Britain. Phoning them up and asking them why they hadn’t paid their phone bill filled me with sadness and a growing hatred of the company I worked for.
What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring writer?
1. Don’t aspire. 2. Get on with it.
Do you read as much as you’d like to?
Does anyone? Most of my time is taken up with writing, but I try to read for an hour a day at least. I think it’s important. Some writers don’t read at all.
There are many I could suggest. On Writing by Stephen King is vital for any writer. If you’re looking to publish independently, marketing will be key. Books like Write, Publish, Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant will be key. So will Reader Magnets by Nick Stephenson and other similar books.
Is there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?
Yes, a few. Oddly, not usually my favourites either. I read The Woman in Black by Susan Hill a few times because people kept telling me it was good and I kept disagreeing with them. I have to admit, it’s still dreadful. I even went to see the stage show and watched the film and they’re all dull as dishwater. I’ve also read Dark Matter by Michelle Paver a few times. It’s not a favourite of mine, but I don’t dislike it either. I just keep discovering new things every time I read it, which I quite like. On the whole, though, I’ve got far too many books and my TBR pile grows exponentially, so I’ll never catch up. I try not to waste time by reading things twice.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
I tend not to recommend books. I get asked to recommend things all the time, and mostly I ask them what they’ve enjoyed reading in the past, or what films/TV programmes they like. Then I recommend something they’ll like, rather than something I like and want to force on them.
Who would you say are the three writers that continue to inspire you?
Peter James for his simple, straightforward prose and immense drive. Stephen King for his versatility, writing style and changing the whole direction of genre fiction. James Patterson for kindly holding the reins as biggest selling author in the world until I catch up and overtake him.
What’s your favourite genre of book?
Crime fiction is always my favourite, but I’m a fan of psychological thrillers at the moment.
What do you think a world without books would be like?
I don’t know. I’d still be phoning up people from Moss Side asking them to pay their phone bills and would’ve probably topped myself by now.
Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?
No. There were a small handful, but their last couple of books have disappointed. And no, I’m not naming names!
Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?
The book humanity needs right now is The Establishment by Owen Jones.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life?
I couldn’t possibly name one. There’s probably at least a dozen that I could say have seriously changed the way I think in everyday life. The aforementioned The Establishment by Owen Jones is definitely one of them, but there’s a lot of fiction too.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
Dozens. And from all sorts of odd leftfield places, too. Everything I read informs my life in some sort of way. I don’t think there’s much point in reading a book otherwise. Oddly, a lot of genre fiction can impact your life more than literary fiction. Some literary fiction is great, but most of it is too blunt, obvious and preachy. Genre fiction usually carries the same messages, but much more hidden. You learn the same things through character, with lighter brush strokes, and get a great story at the same time.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
If I can make a dent in 2% of my to-read list I’ll be happy.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
Haven’t You Got Something More Interesting to Read About?