When the Tattooed Writer first appeared on RSP #57 over two years ago, he was selling 1,000 books a day under pen names. That episode remains one of our most downloaded episodes. This week, TW returns to give us an update on his career and discuss why he decided to finally write a series under his own name.
Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder
5,000 Words Per Hour (app)
Previously on RSP, the Tattooed Writer talked with us about how he got started in self-publishing, going from accountant to full-time author selling 1,000 books a day under multiple pen names in different genres.
Throughout his self-publishing career, TW’s been focused on writing to market and publishing on a frequent basis the types of stories that genre readers are searching for. Now that he feels more established financially in his career, he’s been trying new things.
In one of his “experiments,” he wrote a science fiction tale under a pen name, broke all tropes, wrote it shorter than the scifi audience expects and in first person POV, priced it at $2.99, and did no promo or discounts on it. Just published it. The book climbed to the #2,000 rank, fell down the rankings a little bit after 30 days, and now hovers around #5,000 or #6,000 earning him “quite a bit of cash.”
He attributes the book’s success to having the “Golden Trifecta” mentioned by H.M. Ward of a great cover, great blurb, and good book.
Adam J. Wright – Harbinger P.I.
In October of last year, he decided he would give urban fantasy a try, but he wanted to go against the grain again and do it with a male protagonist. And he decided that he would finally publish under his own name, Adam J. Wright.
By November, Adam had the covers for his first three books already done with the intent to hit the market in early 2016.
Luckily for him, another author was also thinking along the same lines. Christmas Eve 2015, Domino Finn came out with his popular tough guy urban fantasy Dead Man. By the time Adam published his book in February, the market for this new genre was growing and his book Lost Soul, Book 1 of the Harbinger P.I. series, came out to a market already hungry for more books like it. He followed up with Buried Memory in April, and two months after that, Dark Magic.
The books have done tremendously well, with high overall ratings, numerous reviews, and great sales. Checking them against the Golden Trifecta, the covers are gorgeous, the blurbs are exciting, and judging by the reviews, readers are really enjoying the books.
The first two books are already available in audio. Adam points out that Bella Andre once mentioned, “You live and die by your narrator,” so he feels lucky to get Greg Tremblay, one of his favorite narrators who also narrated some of Nick Webb’s books.
Despite the general consensus that most people looking for books over 8 hours, Adam says he does fine with 5-hour audiobooks.
Adam says he’s moved from the Lester Dent approach to writing stories over to the 15-beat structure advocated by Save the Cat! author Blake Snyder to write his longer works. He likes to keep it broad however, which allows him a lot of flexibility in discovering the story.
“I always get the best ideas while I’m writing,” he says.
He also uses the Freedom app to block his access to time-suck websites when he’s writing. He’s adopted Chris Fox’s method of writing in sprints, only he refers to them as “focus sessions.” By working for an hour, then taking an hour break to step away from the computer completely, then returning for another hour, and so on, he’s able to produce 3,500 words a day in 3.5 hours, usually finishing up his writing each day by 3:30 p.m. each day.
It’s the scheduling and consistency, he says, that helps keep him moving forward, and those words quickly add up.
Advice to New Authors
“Keep at it and have confidence in yourself.”
Adam also points out that there’s a tendency for indie authors to expect their monthly income to go up, up, up, but it’s more important for writers to work smart versus just working harder. You’ve got to put out the right product.
Chris Fox mentioned in a forum, Adam says, that you only need to make a certain amount of money per month, only a certain amount of money per year. So there’s no point in trying to kill yourself.
And keep in mind that sales are seasonal. His books do better in the winter than summer months. Don’t judge yourself just on last month’s income. It’s important to take a broader look at your career.
- Practice working in sprints or focus sessions every day. Even if you can only manage 15 minutes at the beginning, do it every day, then scale up accordingly.
- Outsource the production elements that you yourself aren’t that good at. Adam used to do his own covers, but says the industry standard has gone up overall and now he hires professional designers to make sure his own covers stand out.
- Use an app like Freedom to help keep you on track with your writing and off of social media during your writing time.
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