When Rachel Abbott saw that her first self-published novel, Only the Innocent,had sold six copies on Amazon, she was overjoyed. But quickly after that small victory, the business acumen she previously acquired as managing director for an interactive media company kicked in. Abbott soon turned that first book into the second highest selling self-published title of 2012. Since then, she has produced six more thrillers, all set in Manchester, England—her hometown—and established herself as the U.K.’s bestselling independent author. Abbot has also seen her work translated into more than 20 languages and made deals with traditional publishers in both the U.S. and the U.K.—but her love of handling the entire publishing process will keep her releasing her Tom Douglasseries on her own.
You were previously the managing director of a media company. What made you turn to writing?
When I finally retired, I realized that I missed the challenges of my daily life. I needed something to focus on and put energy into, and it provided the perfect opportunity for me to do something I had always dreamed of: to write a novel. I’d had the idea in my head for several years and used to plot the story as I drove to work. Finally, there was nothing to stop me from dedicating my time to writing, so I locked myself in my office until the first draft was complete.
Why did you want to write in the suspense genre?
Thrillers—especially those with a psychological bias—have long been my favorite reading material. I love a puzzle that doesn’t seem to make sense, that makes the reader carry on turning the pages to find out what could possibly have happened.
Mystery and suspense can be crowded genres. What do you think sets your work apart?
Although my books do feature a detective, they are not typical crime thrillers. Ideally I would like my readers to ask “what would I do?” and to feel that whatever dreadful situation is unfolding in the story, it is something that could actually happen to anyone—including them. That makes it all the more frightening, I think—hope!
How did you publicize your first book?
I wrote a marketing plan—identifying objectives, targets, actions—things I used to do as standard in my former working life. I wrote articles for any blogger who would take me, registered for every forum I could, and chatted to whomever happened to be online. I worked 14 hours a day, seven days a week, for months to ensure that as many readers as possible would recognize my book cover when they were next buying something to read online.
How do you like to maintain your fan base now that you’ve become more well-known?
My readers are critically important to me. I make sure they are the first to know about new books, special offers, etc., but I also involve them in writing competitions, share details of books I have read and enjoyed, and try to give them an insight into the life of a writer.
What can readers look forward to from your next release?
My next release is called Come a Little Closer, and it is due out in February 2018. I think it is my most chilling novel yet, and that is certainly the feedback I have had from early readers. It is the story of a young woman who makes some bad decisions, none of which seems to be catastrophic when taken in isolation, but there is a cumulative effect, and she finds herself in a life she no longer recognizes. And she can see no end in sight.
Rhett Morgan is a writer and translator based in Paris.