This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
INTERVIEWED BY CESCA MARTIN
Wannabe writers might already have heard of this duo. They chose to self-publish their thriller books and they soared up the Kindle charts earning them critical acclaim and an enormous amount of publicity.
Sam Copeland, an agent at RCW, saw their potential, offered to represent them and HarperCollins then offered them a publication deal. Sam says, ‘I’m hugely excited to represent Mark and Louise. Apart from being a delight to work with, together they are a frighteningly talented pair of writers. Their books are breathlessly paced and unputdownable, and with a hugely enthusiastic team behind them at Harper Collins, there really should be not stopping them’.
Read their fascinating story here…
You write together. That must be stressful, wonderful, intense, exhausting… So how did you two meet?
I love the story of how we met – about 13 years ago I watched a BBC documentary about aspiring writers and was glued to the tales of their struggles and successes. Like one of the featured writers, a certain Mark Edwards, I too had written a couple of (in fairness, not very good) manuscripts and managed to snag an agent, but was getting rejections from publishers. Mark’s experiences so resonated with me, and his burning desire to be a writer shone through so strongly, that I couldn’t resist writing him a brief email to wish him luck, via his agent. It was a very out of character thing for me to do, but I’ve never regretted it – Mark wrote back, and we immediately struck up an email correspondence, discussing our respective works-in-progress. We didn’t meet for at least 18 months as we lived a long way away from one another. Eventually I invited Mark to one of my birthday parties, and we were both relieved that we got on as well in person as we did via email. Soon after that, we decided to write something together. He then promptly moved to Japan for a year, so Killing Cupid was written entirely by email across two continents!
We’ve almost finished our third novel together now and, yes, it’s wonderful, and intense, in a good way. But I would say it’s a whole lot less stressful and exhausting than being on a deadline for a solo novel, though. You have someone to bear 50% of the responsibility!
On a practical level how do you manage to work together on a project?
We meet up every month or so and assign/claim different chapters and storylines within the parameters of the loose outline we worked out. We still always send our first draft chapters straight to the other one for an initial edit. It’s brilliant, receiving a new chapter of your own book! We started out sending chapters via email to each other, then emailing a master document back and forth between us, but we’ve refined the technique now and use Dropbox for all our files, which is much easier – and safer.
What are the benefits, and negatives, of working together on a project?
The benefits of finding a good writing partner are numerous; twice the ideas, twice the output in the same amount of time, twice the inspiration, twice the encouragement. Always someone there to bang on to about the book, in a way you can’t with anyone else without fearing you’re boring them…
Negatives – I honestly can’t actually think of any valid ones. You could say we only get half the money each – but we wouldn’t have been able to write those books by ourselves, so it never feels as if we’ve missed out on anything as a result (well, I don’t anyway, you’d have to ask Mark if he feels the same!!!
Other writers put their work out there on the internet so why do you think your books became so hugely successful?
I think being a duo helped, in that we could do double the promotion and networking at the start. We did tons of it, at a time when not many indie authors were out there on Kindle in the UK – which then became a focal point for publicity too. Thrillers were selling well on Amazon Kindle, and because we were self-published we could afford to price the books very low – nothing to lose! We also managed to get very strong cover images, courtesy of Mark’s sister-in-law Jen.
Luck played a considerable part in the whole thing – we were in the right place at the right time…
You have both enjoyed incredible success selling your book in digital. Why is it important to you that it is published as a real live book?
It’s been Mark’s dream for twenty years to see his book in shops (mine too, but I was fortunate enough to have had a previous publishing incarnation writing contemporary women’s fiction under my own name), and we worked for years on both Catch Your Death and Killing Cupid, so it’s just fantastic to see the culmination of all that hard work as something as tangible as a paperback with both our names on the cover.
What advice would you give to writers?
It’s funny but the advice I always used to give to writers wanting to be published was ‘get a good agent who loves your work, not just any old agent’ – but I think I’d have to change that now! A good agent is still a huge asset, particularly in getting a print deal, but we got our novels to the top of the Amazon charts under our own steam, so I’d say: write the best book you possibly can; edit it until you practically know it off by heart; then research the best way forward after that (whilst you write the next one). Not everyone will want to go the Kindle route, because it’s a lot of hard work. If you decide to take a more traditional path to publication, my old advice still stands – research agents very carefully, and get the submission right. And hang in there, it might take years, but if you’re constantly working on new projects, as Mark and I did, you can only improve your skill whilst you wait for your moment…
What are your future plans?
Hopefully, to be able to continue writing together for many years to come – we have loads of ideas in the pipeline.
I’ve recently got the rights back to all four of my old solo novels, and have self-published them on Kindle using the same principle of pricing low (all under £1) so I’m hoping that sales of these, and of Mark’s solo projects too at some point in the near future, will feed awareness and sales of our thrillers. It would be so great for us both to be able to make a living from writing.
Mark and Louise’s joint novels:
Louise's solo novels: