peeps: Adam J. Nicolai
Adam J. Nicolai first attempted to write a novel back around 2001 when, while in the middle of a Dungeons & Dragons game with his friends, the story that had developed was so enjoyable to him, Adam wanted to share it. Titled Children of a Broken Sky, he spent a considerable amount of time working on it, including two revisions, and tried shopping it around among various agents to see if he could get representation. Nothing came of it, and Adam set it aside for a while.
But Adam kept busy, writing two more novels: Alex — which hit #13 on the Kindle Horror Bestseller list and #1 in Ghost Horror, not to mention managing to peak at #3 top-rated in overall Kindle fiction — and Rebecca, where he tackles the more difficult subjects of sexuality and religion. And he’s done well. So much so that he has resumed work on Children, doing even more revisions, and getting it ready for publication.
On a more personal note, Adam shares why in both Alex and Rebecca (and in Children too, he reveals) he likes to “explore the idea of people questioning their own [religious and spiritual] beliefs” — he was raised a Christian Fundamentalist. “Early in life I was extremely religious, a hardcore Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian,” he says. Now an atheist, he finds the transition fascinating and intriguing, and with it, it looks like his writing and work goes considerably further than basic entertainment.
I don’t know about you, but the books suddenly got a whole lot more interesting to me.
How Adam Got Started Self-Publishing
The time Adam spent trying to find an agent for Children of a Broken Sky was, understandably, extremely frustrating to him. “Every agent had their own preferred format for query letters. The Internet was full of contradicting advice on how to approach them. The response rate was abysmal and slow.”
While he was still sending out Children‘s queries, he began work on Alex, which ended up becoming a totally different experience for him. “The words just flowed like they never did with Children,” he remembers, with the first novel being a complex epic fantasy and the new book having just “one main character with one POV that had one main conflict.” Adam had heard the advice that writers would be better served to start with something simple. “[N]othing really drove home the truth of this advice like seeing the difference in writing these two novels.”
The writing process wasn’t the only thing that was going to be different. “I was loving writing it, I was loving revising it, I was loving the whole experience. But when I thought about going through that query process again, I wanted to curl up and die.” So he started exploring his publishing options, and looked into Kindle Direct Publishing.
“I was amazed to find that the self-publishing market had changed a ton. It sounded easy and rewarding. Risky, yeah, but not ‘plop down $10,000 in advance for paperbacks to sell from your basement’ risky. More like, ‘Maybe you could have gotten a giant advance on this book and now you won’t’ risky, which honestly, is pretty much, ‘Maybe that Powerball ticket you threw away was worth something!’ risky.”
Of course, Adam’s professional background did give him a measure of confidence that he could take on the project with relative ease — “I was a project manager at a major medical insurance company for 6+ years, I taught myself computer programming when I was 21 and know my way around HTML and several programming languages, and I used to edit documentation for a living” — so good bet the prospects of him doing it all by his lonesome wasn’t all that worrisome.
But he still had to take that step, that first all-important move away from what we’ve all been taught and conditioned to expect as “the way things are,” a step into — quite frankly — one heck of an experiment.
Don’t think too hard trying to guess how it all works out. “I opted to give it a shot, and it went fantastically!”
Self-Publishing Tips and Observations
- “I never cease to be amazed what authors can do today on their own.”
- “You can upload a text file and an image from your basement and sell print-on-demand paperbacks. The first time I heard about that, I was just flabbergasted.”
- “You can create your own audiobooks.”
- “You can write a book and get enough recognition for it that publishers start contacting you. (This has happened to me no less than 5 times, and every time, I’m amazed. Hey world: the movie rights for Alex are still available!)”
- “eBooks are not going away. I think eventually they’ll be at least 90% – 95% of the way people read. I don’t think that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I just think it’s what’s going to happen.”
- “Self-publishing will continue to be a viable option. Even if Amazon decides to up and close shop on KDP tomorrow, someone will be smart enough to cash in on that market. It is too large and too lucrative for someone not to.”
- “None of this matters if you don’t write a good book. That means it has to be edited, it has to have a sharp cover, it needs to be quality work. There is plenty of bad self-published stuff out there, but in fairness, there is plenty of stuff published by the big houses that could use some work too. The bottom line is and always will be: write a good book, sell a quality product.”