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Jeff Adams: Publishing Advice for Indie Authors

In this Indie Author Profile, romance novelist Jeff Adams shares his path to independent publishing and his advice for others considering that path.

A condensed version of this profile appeared in the Sept/Oct 2022 issue of Writer's Digest

Jeff Adams | Writer's Digest Indie Author Spotlight

Name: Jeff Adams

Books, Genre, Self-Publishing Imprint: The Hockey Player’s Heart (co-written with my husband Will Knauss); Keeping Kyle, Somewhere on Mackinac, Dancing for Him; the Codename: Winger young adult thriller series. (Gay romance, Young Adult with LGBTQ+ characters, Big Gay Media)

Why self-publish?
I’d been a hybrid author since 2015 when I self-published a novella so that I could learn the process. In 2020 I went all in on self-publishing after a bad experience with a small publisher. As I took all my rights back, I released the books myself. I like self-publishing, being able to control the release schedule, the distribution, and keeping a larger percentage of the royalties. Plus, I get to pick exactly the people I want to work with from cover designers to editors and everyone else who is a part of creating the final product.

The Hockey Player's Heart | Jeff Adams & Will Knauss

Order a copy of The Hockey Player's Heart by Jeff Adams and Will Knauss. | IndieBound | Amazon

Had you considered traditional publishing?

I started with a micro publisher with my first novels and had a great experience. Moving to the larger, but still small publisher, was good for a time as well. I’d be open to consider working with a publisher again, and I’d like to think I know more now about what to watch out for, and what I would ask for as part of that partnership.

Self-Publishing Appeal:

I love that everything is in my control. I decide what I want to write, when it will come out, how it’s distributed, everything. There’s no gatekeeper, and no time constraints. I can move as fast or slow as I want, and I can do anything. Of course, there are business ramifications to all of it, but at least it’s fully in my control. The success, failure, or something in between is mine to own.

Jeff Adams | Writer's Digest Indie Author Spotlight

Biggest challenge:

The thing I like the most, is also the most challenging, everything is ultimately up to me. It also means that I must have the cash flow available to work with designers and editors, and to acquire cover photos, and buy ads or promotional opportunities. I have ultimate respect for those who do this full time and make their living doing it because there are a lot of ups and downs. While I treat what I do as a business, it’s not the primary source of income so there’s more leeway for me—but it doesn’t make those challenges disappear either.

What is the one thing you wish you’d known before publishing your first book?

My first novel came out in 2013 and I’d worked on it for three or four years. I wish I’d better understood story structure then. Despite reading heavily, I wasn’t reading with an eye towards analysis and how author’s told stories. That said, I think all authors learn on the job so I’m not sure that first book could’ve been anything other than what it was.

Writing Advice: Make sure you understand the expectations around the genre you’re writing in. In romance, for example, it’s about using the tropes and beats. Failure to follow the rules can lead to problems when it comes to readers liking the book. That’s not to say that the rules always have to be followed, you can (and in my opinion should) take risks and break the rules. It’s far easier to do that when you know the rules backwards and forwards.

Publishing Advice: Do what feels right for you and what meets your “why” for publishing. You’re going to have far different business goals and strategy if you’re trying to make a full time living than if publishing is a side business, or a hobby. Also, give yourself the permission and grace to change your goals if needed. Life circumstances may change. Your ability and desire to create may change. As with any small business, you must do what’s necessary to keep the business and yourself healthy. Sometimes that means adjusting goals and strategy in small or large ways.

Marketing Strategy: The pandemic took a toll on my creativity, so I haven’t had a new novel out in a couple of years. I admire the writers who were able to write and publish amazing books during that time. That said, I’ve taken part in some opportunities to grow my email list, which is such a vital marketing tool that helped promote my re-releases as I got those out during 2020 and 2021. I’ve also done some multi-author promos in the gay romance genre and those have been great in reaching readers who may be unfamiliar with my backlist. I also recently got my first BookBub featured deal and was very pleased with the results. As I consider marketing for any new release I have (hopefully within the next year), I plan to follow the lead of successful authors in gay romance and utilize some Amazon ads, along side email marketing.

Tracker Hacker | Jeff Adams

Order a copy of Tracker Hacker by Jeff Adams. | IndieBound | Amazon

Where shouldn’t you skimp?

Please don’t skimp on editing. I’m a huge believer in both developmental and line/copy editing. A good developmental editor can transform a story from merely good into extraordinary. That can make the difference in a book that readers love and recommend, and one that readers don’t finish. Of course, line/copy edits are key to making sure grammar and punctuation are correct, which is also important for a good reader experience.

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