Two Indie Writers Somehow Escape The "Tsunami of Crap" To Sign Major Trade Deal

With the kind of timing that only athletes and comedians are blessed with, two more indie writers have managed to wriggle free from the “tsunami of crap“.

Mark Edwards & Louise Voss, who I have spoken about before on this blog, have signed a six-figure, four book deal with HarperCollins UK.

But it wasn’t just an eagle-eyed editor and agent that spotted their potential in the endless morass of horrid self-published work that is blotting out the sun and condemning all superior literature to wither on the vine, last month 42,000 readers (most of them British) somehow found their books too.

It seems that some books are easier to find than others. I’m sure it’s a coincidence that it happens to be the well-written stories with engaging characters that are combined with a professional approach and clever marketing.

That’s enough snark. Today is a happy day.

I would like to offer hearty congratulations to Mark and Louise on their stunning deal. I know Mark a little through Kindle Boards, and I know how hard they have both worked to get to this point.

They have an amazing story. They only self-published for the first time in February, but this is no overnight success, there has been fifteen years of heartbreak to get to this point. They are both a living testament to the virtues of determination, perseverance, and self-belief.

But rather than hearing it from me, you must go and read this superb post from Mark Williams (different Mark, different writing duo, or as he calls himself, the back end of the Saffina Desforges pantomime horse).

This post quotes extensively from Mark Edwards’ guest post in April of this year, just after they self-published the first of their two books. It’s an amazing insight into his state of mind at the beginning of his self-publishing journey, and is packed with information on his 15 year struggle before that.

Go read it, now. Don’t get distracted by Mark Williams’ excellent blog – you can bookmark it for later – come back when you’re done, I’ve more to tell you.

Next, you need to read Mark Edwards’ post from today (and bookmark his blog too, it’s excellent). It has all the details of the deal. Most importantly, it describes his motivation for taking it.

Some indies will be running the numbers and wondering if they could have made more on their own. But, as Mark says, it’s not all about money. E-books have captured maybe 10% of the market in the UK. Mark and Louise are smart enough to know that a print deal at this stage of their career could massively expand their readership.

I hope we don’t get the same kind of true blue carping from indie ideologues that accompanied Amanda Hocking’s deal with St. Martin’s Press and Barry Eisler’s deal with Amazon. That would miss the point altogether.

Anyone that has interacted with Mark knows that seeing his books in print, in a real bookstore, something his mum could point to and say “that’s my son”, has been a long cherished dream of his.

And now that dream is going to come true. All because he self-published.

There are many paths to the top of this mountain. Mark and Louise found theirs. You must find your own.


Cheryl Shireman is another indie writer who I have featured on this blog, who has had great success with self-publishing, selling thousands of books. She had a nice post yesterday on her reaction to this news, and her memories of her own slush pile struggles.

Cheryl will be taking part in a live Facebook chat this evening starting at 9:30pm GMT (1:30pm Pacific, 4:30pm Eastern). Last week’s chat was with Mark Edwards, and he gave out some great marketing tips. I’ve interviewed Cheryl, and I know it will be great to see what she has to say.

The live chat will be here, and even if you miss it, the answers will stay up so you can read the whole thing.


Speaking of the top of the mountain, there is one writer who I think has a chance. I gave my blog over to Tony James Slater yesterday, who wrote a hilarious, bittersweet, and touching guest post. If you haven’t read that yet, read it now.

The original plan was for me to trim down his guest post, then run a competition at the end. For a couple of reasons, that wasn’t possible, not least because I didn’t want to cut any of his post.

So, today, we have a giveaway of Tony’s great book: THAT BEAR ATE MY PANTS!

Most travel books are kind of dry. Interesting, sure, but not too many chuckles. Not with this one. I haven’t laughed this much since I read Round Ireland With A Fridge.

If you want to read a sample, there’s one here, and another here. And if you want to get a peek inside the warped mind of the author, check out this funny interview.

Tony has five copies to hand out, and entering couldn’t be easier. Simply send this tweet:

Decapitated crocodile? Midget with a machete? THAT BEAR ATE MY PANTS! by @tonygetslost pls RT

You have the rest of the weekend to play. The competition closes at 12 noon GMT on Monday (4 am Pacific, 7 am Eastern).

Each time you send the tweet will count as an entry. As always, bonus points will go to anyone who goes above and beyond the call of duty in spreading word about the book or the competition through Facebook posts, blog posts, or getting their followers to retweet the message, or whatever.

Despite his propensity for bloodsport, I know Tony is a big softie, so he might even give out an extra copy to someone who makes a big noise.

I will be lending Tony my patented randomizer to select the winners, which will be announced on Monday. The e-book is available in both mobi and epub formats, so you can read it on pretty much any e-reader, laptop, computer, or smartphone.

What are you waiting for? Get tweeting!

(And don’t forget to come back and tell us in the comments.)

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time he spends outside. He writes fiction under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

24 Replies to “Two Indie Writers Somehow Escape The "Tsunami of Crap" To Sign Major Trade Deal”

  1. Great post. Mark and Louise are inspiring to us all. I came over from Mark William’s blog. I left a response to your comment about getting rejections on books you haven’t written. I get the wrong rejections quite often. When they’ve had a full ms. of my mystery novel for a year–then reject it for being “nonfiction” or give an entirely different title and genre, it’s pretty infuriating.

    1. It does make you wonder, if they ever really read anything eh! I’ve only ever sent out one full, but I swear in most of my rejections the sample chapters were unread. It does sort of serve them right (at the risk of sounding petty) – if more care had been taken, they might have picked up someone like Mark and Louise way earlier, when they didn’t have to spend out six figures to net them. It’s yet another reason why self publishing is worth all the effort it takes – because it’s effort on our own terms, it feels good, and occasionally we can see the results of it. Querying agents feels like buying a lottery ticket, only to miss the draw and have your mate down the pub look at your ticket and say “Nope, don’t think you won…’

  2. Thanks, David, for sharing this news. It’s so important for the reading public to see that quality authors are self-pubbing as well. There are so many of us who are forced to because our oeuvre is a little too daring for publishers to take a chance on when we’re unknowns. Posts like this confirm that we can stay true to our literary instincts and get there in the end.

    1. Hi Roz,

      Saffina Desforges faced the same thing, because her crime novel was about a pedophile the police were tracking. Agents felt it was too dark. It’s sold almost 100,000 copies this year and it hasn’t even taken off in the US yet – most of that is UK. And now, of course, the agents are chasing them.


  3. I tweeted! Now I’m going to read all the other posts that you’ve brought up. This is not doing my word count productivity ANY GOOD AT ALL. Oh well, I love hearing about success stories! 😀

    1. Hooray! If the comments section is anything to go by, looks like you could be a winner :0)
      Success is GREAT for productivity – think how much keener you’ll be to write when you’re in a really great mood! Well okay, after the four glasses of wine your great mood inspired you to drink, perhaps not so much…
      But bollocks to it. Success deserves celebrating! Pass the bottle.

  4. Hey David – thanks so much for this. Louise and I are on cloud 9 at the moment but although we may have climbed to the top of one mountain there is still a whole mountain range to traverse. The next challenge will be to sell paperbacks. We are taking absolutely nothing for granted. Actually, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to relax. It’s not in my DNA!

    1. Given the journey you’ve been on for the last couple of decades, I can’t imagine you would take anything for granted. Congratulations on the deal – I expect the first time you walk into Waterstones and grab a copy of your book, I’ll hear you in Somerset!

  5. Hi David, it was nice to discover this little ray of hope. Our mutual friend Lisa Ruth, here in San Francisco, shared your blog with me and I intend to spread this love. Look forward to future posts.

  6. Very exciting blog post! It’s been amazing watching so many self-published writers find success and have agents and big publishing houses come to them. It also seems to me that successful self-published authors are being offered much bigger advances than most authors initially published by traditional publishers. How awesome for Mark Edwards and Louise Voss! 🙂

    1. Well, yes, they are.

      Look at it this way. They have already built up an audience. They have access to their sales figures. They know what their book is “worth”. An editor knows they will have to make a good offer or else they will continue to self-publish. However, the average unpublished writer in the slush-pile, with no platform, has no real idea of what their book is worth. And the publisher has no idea if it will sell. They can guess, they can estimate, but they also know that their estimates are often way off. Signing a successful self-publisher is as close to a sure thing as you can get in publishing (and they are very rare indeed).


      1. It makes sense. Seeing all this happen to other authors, in addition to seeing steady increases in sales of a few novels and short stories I’ve already self-published, I’m pretty sure I’m going to self-publish my next novel. 🙂

  7. Great post, David. Thank you so much for the kind mention.
    There is certainly a celebration going on across the world! I am loving reading all of these great comments on my site, this site, Mark’s indieiq site, and the site of Mark Williams. Such rejoicing and encouragement. Isn’t it nice to be spreading some good news to readers and writers. Thrilled to be a part of it. 🙂

  8. Do you have any idea who did their cover? Sorry if you posted it and I missed it. I firmly believe a great cover catches the eye of a reader – then excellent writing will keep them. This cover is beyond kick a$$ and i’m sure it got a lot of people looking in the first place.

    ~ Jenna

    1. Hi Jenna,

      I checked the old threads on Kindle Boards where Mark was posting his covers for feedback, but I couldn’t see any mention of who the designer was (other than that he didn’t do it himself). If you go to his website and ask in the comments of his latest post, he will happily oblige.


  9. This is really inspiring. Every odd week, something new and exciting seems to be happening in the publishing world, but the success of self-published work in particular is something that (to me) makes the writing universe a stronger one – anything that empowers the core party/content provider in a writing enterprise is pretty brilliant, isn’t it? So cool to see yet another example of self-publishing fashioning its own gatekeepers by the production of quality AND sellable material that both readers and publishers would like to own:)

    I’ve read somewhere (I think it was on Konrath’s blog), that print is becoming an advertising tool in its own way and – coupled with what Mark and Louise mentioned about wanting more time to write as opposed to admin/marketing etc – I think they’ve made a smart move in simultaneously working both traditional and self-publishing routes to cater to a wider range of readers. Really, really nice. Thanks for the post:)

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