Episode # 55 – Building Good Writing Habits with Bobby Adair

In Uncategorized by Julius S14 Comments

Bobby Adair cover

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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Show notes:

Getting Started

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.

The Rise

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.

Mailing List

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.

Box Sets

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!


Leave a comment below or get in touch with Simon by email at simon@rockingselfpublishing.com

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Julius SEpisode # 55 – Building Good Writing Habits with Bobby Adair
  • Hey Simon,

    Just listened to your podcast with Bobby, and it was very
    useful. I have listened to all Joanne
    Penn’s and self-publishing podcasts. Really happy to have found your website. J


    • SimonRSP

      Great to have you as a listener Hayley :). Glad that you found Bobby’s interview useful, it’s amazing what he has achieved in just one year!

  • Mat Morris

    Wonderful discussion this week! Really inspiring stuff.

    Also: I might have been the person you were talking to in Texas, as I think it came up at some point in one of our many discussions 🙂

    • SimonRSP

      Yes! It was also confusing because I’d also recently been chatting with another former accountant from Texas (although this guy was here in Prague!)

  • Philip Harris

    Another great interview. It was really encouraging to hear that new authors are still finding success.

    • SimonRSP

      Yep, Bobby is an inspiration to authors who are still early in their journey 🙂

  • R.M. Prioleau

    What an amazing show! I always love hearing from more authors who are successful, but are also working a day job. Bookbub really is the holy grail of marketing these days. It sounds like it was one of the major boosters of Bobby’s success. I have a question. How many reviews did Bobby have on his free book when he first got accepted by Bookbub?

    • SimonRSP

      Hey RM, yep, BoobBub just seems to becoming more and more powerful as their email list grows! I will drop Bobby a quick email to make sure he sees this 🙂

    • Bobby

      Hey RM, I had around 75 reviews when I did BookBub for the first time.

  • Really enjoyed this interview. One of the most filled with valuable tips so far – thanks!

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks Steven!

  • Melissa AuClair

    Great interview- I was very impressed with Bobby’s ability to move forward so quickly. It’s interesting to hear the business approach many authors are taking- I’m catching on to a lot of “best practice” actions. Thank you 🙂

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks Melissa, yes, fantastic how Bobby gets it done! Especially while working a full time job!

  • That was a great podcast. I went over to Bobby’s site and downloaded his book off amazon. It’s free! It’s crazy the value he is putting out there for free to build his business. Same as you do Simon. Thanks.