Bobby Adair was chasing publishing contracts in the 1980s. until recently when he started self-publishing. After putting out the first book in his series in July last year he rose within six months to be a consistent top 20 author in Horror and Science-Fiction on Amazon. This episode looks at how he did it! Show notes rspcast.com/bobby.
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Daily Rituals – How Artists Work
Bobby decided to start writing again after he was reading a zombie novel and it just wasn’t very good and he thought that he could write a better book. His girlfriend challenged him to put his money where his mouth was, and almost immediately he started writing the first book in the Slow Burn series.
At this same time he was downloading a reading all of the top horror books on Amazon – always asking the question “What makes a book popular in this genre?” He was also keen on bringing in comedy elements to the book, as much as you can in this genre. When the editor he hired read the book through she told him he should not write comedy but write horror!
With the first book written he put it up on Amazon and Smashwords and waiting two weeks for them to price match it to zero. Even though this was his first book and he had nothing else out he decided to make it free just so he could build an audience. He accepted right from the get-go that the book was going to make a loss.
Business and Art
Bobby treats things similar to Russell Blake, in that he sees the writing as distinct from the business. He knew that he was not going to make money for a while and was happy to sink money into the project in the hope of a long term return.
He also looked at how other authors were pricing their books and marketing them, and when combined with a lot of reading on marketing, he knew that he could follow the same path for his books.
He released the first book in July 2013, book two was put out in September. Between the two releases he was doing a lot of research about where he should be paying to advertise the book and built a list of 50 websites. Much of this wasn’t effective, but some of it was. He also put all of the advertising to the first book, which was free, in the hope that people would then read onto the second. Between the platforms he had 17,000 downloads and thought “everyone will of course buy the second book!” They didn’t put it still did very well and the second book remained in the top 1000 for an entire month. Around 40% of people bought the second book.
Bobby wasn’t really focused on building a mailing list, but eventually got on it. He had 48 people on it at first, then put a CTA in the back of the first book asking people to sign up, and just five weeks later he had close to 1000 people on the list.
Bobby’s early books are short and inexpensive, and he became worried that he was locked into low pricing with his fans. He created a more expensive box set (with the same price per word) to test the waters. He now finds that around half of the readers buy the box set, which gives him a larger share 70% over 30%.
To test this further the latest book in the series is going to be longer (95k words) and priced at $2.99. This book is twice the length of the first and free book.
Bobby has also been involved in box sets with other authors, many books at 99cents, and he still makes good money from that.
Bobby still works a full time job despite his success in self-publishing. He structures his day carefully to make sure that he fits in the time to write and do the business side of the equation as well.
He also realises that whenever in life he achieved something worth achieving there was a huge chunk of work on the front end. He realises that he can’t keep up the pace forever and knows he will have to slow down, but he hasn’t reached that stage yet!
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