Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes! I wrote my first novel just after I left university and wrote several more during my twenties, trying for a long time to get published. About ten years ago, I started writing with Louise Voss and again spent a long time trying to get a deal. Finally, last year we self-published our two novels, Catch Your Death and Killing Cupid, on Amazon – and they got to no.1 and 2 on the Kindle chart. That led to a deal with HarperCollins.
What advice would you offer to unpublished novelists?
Writing is hard work, and the universe doesn’t care about your hopes and dreams. It takes a great deal of persistence. Secondly, you need to write stories that people will want to read. Finally, you have a choice: try to find an agent and publisher, or self-publish. The latter worked for us, but I still think it’s worth pursuing the traditional route first.
What’s the secret to getting noticed on the Kindle and iBooks charts?
For iBooks we were lucky: Apple put us on the home page of the Crime and Thrillers category so we got noticed quickly. With Kindle, it took months of plugging away, using social networks, blogs and everything we could think of to find readers – eventually, if you’re lucky, Amazon picks you up in its algorithms and displays the book more prominently. But the real secret is to write a book people will tell their friends about.
Is print or electronic publishing more challenging to crack?
Print is difficult because you’re totally reliant on bookshops stocking your work. They only stock a fraction of the books that are published. We have had most of our success with e-books so far. But there’s nothing like the thrill of seeing your novel on the shelves of a bookshop.
Do you worry about piracy?
Yes. Our books appear on torrent sites, which I find quite distressing! I haven’t seen any evidence that book sales have been affected by e-book piracy, but it’s definitely something we need to be aware of.
Do you use an iPhone?
Yes, I have an iPhone 4. I’m one of those sad people who queued up on the morning it was released.
What’s your favourite piece of technology?
My MacBook Air. I do most of my writing on the train and in Starbucks, and the Air is wonderfully portable.
Has the rise of the e-book empowered indie authors?
Yes, without a doubt. It has given authors a new way to find an audience, without the old stigma of vanity publishing. And it has also given publishers a new way of finding authors who have proved they have an audience. There is a concern over the quality of a lot of self-published books but the cream will usually rise to the top.
Do you still read physical books?
I alternate between physical and e-books. I like to have books on my shelves at home, and I hope they’re still around in 20 years – but would have said the same about vinyl in the 1980s, and I don’t miss records. Ultimately, books are about words, not the the paper they’re printed on.
Is Kindle or iPad a better format for reading?
The Kindle has a much better screen for reading – it feels like you’re reading a paper book and is kind to the eyes. The iPad is great for reading in the dark. The iPhone is good, too, for reading in short bursts.
How do you feel about the demise of the high-street bookshop?
It will be very sad if bookshops disappear. They are a great place to browse and discover new books and authors. Nobody really knows what is going to happen, but I expect there will always remain a hardcore of people who want printed books.
After rising to the top of the Kindle charts, Catch Your Death is now available in paperback from HarperCollins
Top 5 apps
1. Twitter I am addicted to Twitter. I use it to talk to readers, other writers and bloggers.
2. Kindle Great for reading books in short bursts, at bus-stops or wherever. I love the way it syncs with my Kindle so I never lose my place.
3. Sky+ For catching up on TV.
4. Facebook I use this less than Twitter these days, but it’s still a big one for me.
5. Tiny Wings Beautiful. This is my favourite game.