Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors #8 – Iain Rob Wright

The previous interviews I conducted in the popular series, 'Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors,' were such a hit with visitors to this site I decided it would be crazy not to continue them. I have got some wickedly good interviews lined up for you over the next month, including VIP guest interviews from best-selling indie authors Iain Rob Wright, Armand Rosamilia, David Moody, Jeremy Bates, Michael Bunker, J. Thorn, Michael Bray, Michael J Sullivan, Ruth Ann Nordin and Michale Thomas. If that wasn't enough, I hope to have a book from the first series of interviews ready for release by the end of August. The book is titled (surprise, surprise!) 'Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors.' It contains all the authors interviewed in the first series (Russell Blake, April M Reign, William Malmborg, Mark Edward Hall, Matt Shaw, Michaelbrent Collings and Matt Drabble). Included in the book is a lengthy analysis of their recommendations for self-published authors and for those thinking of self-publishing, along with useful tips and resources. The book will be available for pre-order early August and is essential reading for those interested in self-publishing. Make sure you subscribe now to get on the mailing list for all updates and new-release information. 


Right, let's get into it. Today's special guest, is best-selling indie author, Iain Rob Wright. Iain is from the English town of Redditch, where he worked for many years as a mobile telephone salesman. After publishing his debut novel, THE FINAL WINTER, in 2011 to great success, he quit his job and became a full time writer. He now has over a dozen novels, and in 2013 he co-wrote a book with bestselling author, J.A.Konrath. The three most important things in his life are his wife, his son, and his fans. His work is currently being adapted for graphic novels, audio books, and foreign audiences. He’s an active member of the Horror Writer’s Association and a massive animal lover. Here's the interview:

Who are you and where do you come from? Do you think that your life experience has gone some way towards making you a successful author in your chosen genre?

I am Iain Rob Wright, a horror author. What has helped make me a successful author is that I am a fan first, writer second. My books are the things, as a horror fan, that I would like to read.

Where do you get your inspiration from for your writing and for the way you brand yourself as an author?

My inspiration comes from the other people in my genre. I read a lot and learned to love horror from enjoying the work of Stephen King, Richard Laymon, James Herbert and many more. I also love movies and television, and get many ideas whenever I watch a particularly original film. After watching Legion, I gained the idea for The Final Winter, my debut novel.

If you could pinpoint one thing in particular that has grabbed readers of your work, what would you say it is? I.e. what is it about your books that keeps your readers coming back for more?

I think readers point out my characters as the part they most enjoy. I reuse characters across multiple books and like to have them change and grow. I also try to be original with my ideas. All of my books are different and I don’t just write about one thing.

Your first book, ‘The Final Winter,’ was very successful – how did you achieve such an impact with your debut novel and have you managed to replicate it since?

I have no idea. I published it and got a few sales, and then those sales kept increasing. What helped me in the early days is gaining a couple of really amazing fans who recommended my work a lot. They helped get my name around very quickly. A writer is nothing without readers, so I was very lucky to get those early fans.

You have enjoyed best-selling status on Amazon and have had your books adapted for Graphic Novels, Audio Books and foreign audiences – 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 started earning more from my books than I had been while working a full-time job. When I started earning enough to pay all the bills I realized that writing was my “job” now and not just a dream. Also, when I wrote a book with JA. Konrath, who I had been a fan of before I was a writer, it was pretty amazing.

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?

My second book, Animal Kingdom, was published by an American Press. Eventually I bought the rights back and self-published it. I’ll let that speak for itself.

I noticed that many of your kindle titles are published under the imprint of Dead Pixel Productions – is that your own publishing company or a collective? Do you think it is important for self-published authors to establish their own publishing company to publish their works? Do you think that the same results can be achieved by a self-published author without forming a publishing company?

Dead Pixel Publications is something I have just become a part of. It is a collection of authors all working beneath a single banner, dedicated to finding mutual success. It is very important to have allies in this business and far easy to find success with help. I’m always very happy to offer assistance so joining a group such as DPP made sense to me. It’s not vital for an author to start their own publishing group, but it is important to become a brand in their own right. Stephen King is synonymous with horror because his name has become a brand. That’s what an author should aim for.

Once you have decided that self-publishing might be your route, what financial and artistic considerations should you keep in mind before you begin?

Do the best with what you have. In the early days I did my own covers and editing. I made a few sales and put that money into hiring artists and editors. As I earned more money I hired better artists and editors. You can scale your business up, but you will only get back what you put in. It hurts paying $500 to an artist, but the cost will pay for itself when you reap additional sales.

What do you see as your most innovative promotional strategy?

Bookbub is the current number 1 sales promoter, but I have been testing Facebook ads with mixed success. The biggest mistake I made in the last few years was not maintaining an mailing list. It’s a big focus for me now and it’s a big tool being able to email a thousand people each time I have a new release. Trying new things is the key to success. You look at guys like Hugh Howey, J.A.Konrath, and Mark J.Dawson, and you see that they all got rich by being the guy to hit upon something first. Find the opportunities for yourself and you will reap maximum advantage. If you are a follower then you are forever chasing diminishing returns.

What kind of marketing did you do to establish your author brand and what do you think is the most successful marketing for self-published authors? Is there any one thing that you have determined has helped you sell more books – i.e. could you outline your path to establishing your brand and your most successful sales method/s as?

Freebies work best in the early days. People don’t like risking their money so take the risk away for them and give them something for free. If they like your book then you will gain a fan (which is worth far more than a single books sale). The early days is all about getting exposure, so focus on that, not making money. Once you have exposure you can flip things around towards making profit. Set up a mailing list and give people free books for joining.

How important are ‘series’ books to your success as a self-published author?

I’m late to jump on the ‘series’ bandwagon and have only just started. I know, from, other authors that their series are the most lucrative books they have, so it seems a wise business decision to write books in a series rather than stand alones. I intend to write a mix.

Do you design your own covers? How important do you think cover design is to a potential reader and how big a part do you think it has played in your success to date? 

Nope. With the exception of my short stories, I never design my own covers. Artwork is the first chance you get to catch a reader so why compromise? Get a professional and look at the best sellers in your genre.

In your opinion, is traditional publishing on the way out? Do you think that traditional publishing can continue to keep up with the rise of self-publishing?

No way. Traditional publishing is just adapted but it will be just fine. It still turns over billions of dollars each year and have all the big name authors. I think over time the indie scene and ‘professional’ scene will be linked, in the same way indie musicians gig on their own until a big label takes notice. I see that the indie writing scene will eventually become a feeder for the Big 5 who will start buying ‘brands’ rather than books. As long as authors are making money and readers are getting books, who really cares?

Would you ever consider signing all your books to a traditional publishing house or will you always mange some of your titles yourself through self-publishing?

I imagine I will eventually have some published and some released myself. ‘Hybrid’ seems to be the word of the day. I would sign over all my books if it made sense for me and my family.

Have you ever used free book promotions? Do you think they are a worth-while marketing tool for self-published authors? If so/not – why?

Freebies are the best way to grab new readers. I make heavy use of giveaways. It does devalue books  slightly, but if a reader likes me then they should hopefully have no problem paying for my books that are not free.

What avenues of self-promotion did you find to be most effective and affordable? What’s the best ‘bang-for-your-buck’ advertising you have employed?

Bookbub always makes me a profit when used in conjunction with Kindle Countdown deals. Now that Kindle Unlimited has changed its payout scheme, I quite like being a part of it. Facebook ads also work, but they are difficult to get right.

Do you feel there’s a good sense of community within the self-publishing industry?

Yes, definitely, but there are also a few arrogant assholes who try to spoil it. Some start to make a little bit of money and start believing they are celebrities, but for the most part, authors are very kind and generous people. Most of the favorite people in my life are other authors on Facebook who I have never met in person. It’s one of the perks of the job for sure to be a part of such a friendly community.

Was it always your intention to self-publish, or would you have considered the traditional publishing route had the opportunity presented itself?

I have always been open to traditional publishing, but it is a business decision. My books have worth, and if a publisher is willing to pay me what they are worth then they can have them. Problem with traditional publishers is that they try to get away with undervaluing author’s work. I have a traditional publisher for my German titles, because they are giving me something I can’t do myself. Most English language publishers can’t offer me anything I need.

What would you say is the single biggest advantage of deciding to self-publish?

I love all the creative stuff, so working on covers, layout, editing etc is really fun. I also enjoy the closeness with my fans. When they are good to me I can be good to them-there’s no 3rd party interfering.

How important do you think using social media is to market your books, (and interact with your readers)? Has social media been crucial to you achieving success as a self-published author?

It’s a pain in the behind and a massive time-sap, but social media is the most powerful tool an author has. It’s the best way to spread news, the best way to be contacted, and the best way to give back.  It’s what separates the modern author from those in the twilight of their careers and it’s becoming vital to success.

Are you in regular contact with other self-published authors and how important was any input you may have received early on in your career?  Do you have a mentor in terms of your self-publishing success – someone who may have inspired you to ‘give it a go’?

I have many friends in the same sphere as me. I have J.A. Konrath’s phone number, and speak with many other authors such as David Moody, Aaron Warwick Dries, Ian Woodhead, Scott Nicholson, Mark J Dawson. I’ve had advice from Hugh Howey and Russel Blake. The most helpful in my career (and in many other author’s) is the great J.A. Konrath. A lovely man.

Where to from here? Are you currently represented by an agent and are you working with any publishers on future projects?

Nope, no agent (except my co-write with J.A.Konrath). I foresee that I will have an agent at some point. I have just signed a deal with Egmont LYX who are a large German publisher. I also have a couple of irons in the fire in regards to screen writers adapting my books.

Can you offer any advice to fellow writers if you could go back in time and “do it all over?” What’s your top tip for other indie authors.

The best advice to any author is to write as much as possible. It’s great gaining fans on social media or running promotions, but the simple fact is that the more books you have, the easy it is to make both fans and money. You will also improve every time you release a book.

Finally, thanks for sharing your thoughts on self-publishing. Where is the best place for readers to find your books?

At the moment, readers can take advantage of a great offer on my website. If you sign up to my no-spam newsletter you will get free copies of: The Picture Frame, Animal Kingdom, 2389, Sea Sick, and D is for Degenerate. Five books for free. My website address is: or you can go immediately to the sign up form by going here:

Cool interview, huh? Make sure to click on the book covers to check out Iain's great stories. And, of course, you'd be crazy to miss out on his bunch of freebies when you subscribe to his newsletter. Also, please share this post as much as you can and remember to subscribe now to this website so you don't miss the next amazing interview (see below for special subscription offer). Next interview is with the brilliant Armand Rosamilia. Stay tuned.