Self-publishing star Mark Dawson cleans up with print-only deal for his thriller backlist

Indie author champion Mark Dawson has signed up with a new publishing company in a print-only deal for his thriller titles which have been ebook and audiobook best-sellers.

The deal with Welbeck Publishing is for print editions of Dawson’s John Milton, Beatrix Rose and Isabella Rose titles, which have sold over two million copies in digital format.

The first John Milton book, The Cleaner, is expected to be published in print in April next year and there’s a schedule of around four books a year from then.

Dawson is a prolific author who has self-published well over 20 novels so far and he writes and publishes around four books a year, so if he keeps up that pace the print titles will never quite catch up with the ebooks.

He is a former lawyer who started writing his novels on a daily train commute to London and published the first John Milton title in 2014. It seems extraordinary that it’s taken five years for a print publisher to emerge with a deal for books that have been a runaway digital success.

Runaway is certainly the operative word here as Milton is an assassin for the British government who is forced to go on the run when he wants to quit his stressful job. Beatrix Rose is another renegade former assassin and much of the action is set in Hong Kong. Isabella Rose is the daughter of Beatrix Rose and is continuing in the family tradition. The Beatrix Rose books have been optioned for TV so could get a big sales boost if they come to the screen over the next few years.

As well as being a massively successful author, Mark Dawson also runs the highly regarded Self Publishing Formula operation. SPF includes weekly podcasts with self-published authors sharing the secrets of their success, and also runs wide-ranging courses on self-publishing and advertising and marketing for indie authors. He’s also on the judging panel for this year’s Kindle Storyteller Award. God only knows how he does it all.

Welbeck Publishing is a new firm set up by two former CEOs of traditional publishers — Mark Smith and Marcus Leaver.

Mark Smith was CEO of Bonnier’s Zaffre Publishing, which publishes crime writing legend Lynda La Plante. Bonnier is the giant Scandinavian publishing conglomerate which had an ill-fated incursion into the indie sector in 2017 when it set up the Type & Tell self-publishing platform in the UK which lasted for only eight months.

Marcus Leaver was previously CEO at Quarto which publishes general non-fiction and illustrated titles.

Smith and Leaver started Welbeck Publishing Group in April this year with financial backing looking to buy up existing publishers. It started by taking over Carlton Books, which specialises in illustrated non-fiction.

However, among Carlton’s imprints is André Deutsch, which was set up in 1952 by a Hungarian refugee and published some of the great novelists, including Philip Roth, John Updike, Jack Kerouac, and Peter Benchley.

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