Amelia C. Adams is the pen name of the author of the bestselling Kansas Crossroads series, as well as a contributor to River’s End Ranch, Mail Order Mounties, and The Pinkerton Matchmaker series. She is a wife, a mother, and a taker of naps. She spends her days dreaming up stories and her nights writing them down. Her biggest hero is her husband, and you might just see bits and pieces of him as you read her novels. Since 2014, she has published 70 books under this pen name.
Q. Okay, you and I go a long way back, but refresh my memory on your beginnings. How did you get into writing and all that?
A. I’ve been writing since I was five. My first epic saga was a story about a little dog named Sue who wanted to be a ballerina. 😊 I always knew I wanted to write, but figured I’d wait until my kids were grown because I didn’t think I’d be able to raise kids and write at the same time. Well, when my oldest was two and my second one was eight months, I had a very vivid dream that I realized would make a great book, and that’s where it all started. I wrote during naptime to start, and then as my kids got older, I got used to writing with them climbing all over my feet.
Q. Sue the ballerina pup. Love it. I have been watching your career for a long time and have been impressed with how prolific you are. Can you give me a summary of what book catalog you have out there now?
A. I can do you one better than that. [Gives me doc called Comprehensive Book List.docx. You can also check out her Amazon page here.]
Q. Nice!! Thank you. I looked at your Amazon page and was just blown away…even if I knew you had so many series out.
A. I was puttering along there for a while until I started up Amelia Adams and took off into Western romance. That’s when things exploded for me.
Q. Thank you for pegging a start. Tell me a before and after that moment.
A. I had met Kirsten Osbourne online, she talked me into giving a try, and there you have it. Before and after …
Q. What were you doing before Amelia?
A. Writing LDS cozy mysteries, some historical fiction.
Q. So what year did you start Amelia?
A. 2014. I now have 70 books out as Amelia.
Q. 70! Wow.
A. I was quite well known in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints writing community and taught at a ton of conferences, etc. but I wasn’t making much money at that point.
Q. How often are you publishing as AA? Are…were…?
A. I publish around twice a month. Sometimes more, depending.
Q. Can you describe your writing and publishing process? How many words per book?
A. It’s important to me not to lapse too far between because I don’t want my Amazon algorithms to drop. Each book is between 25k – 32k, so we’re not talking super-long tomes.
Q. Yeah, I hear you. Launching a book is a great for those algos. So how long does it take you to draft one of those novels?
A. I can write one of those in about four days. That’s when all the planets are in alignment. 😊
Q. Do you stockpile manuscripts and then unleash them in quick succession to impress the rest of us lesser mortals?
A. Nope – I publish them as they’re finished. I’m not patient enough to sit on one once it’s done. 😊
Q. Do you use an editor? Beta readers?
A. I’m a freelance editor by trade, and I write really clean copy to start with. So I send it out to betas to make sure I’ve caught everything, but at this point, I’m my own editor. That’s not something I recommend to everyone, though – I highly recommend that if you’re not an editor, you hire one.
Q. Yes, I get that. Let’s talk a bit about your latest series. The Pinkerton Matchmaker Series that is already up to 15 books, wow. How did that come about?
A. It was created by Christine Sterling and Marianne Spitzer, and one afternoon, I was contacted by Kate Marie Clark, another author in the series, who said they were looking for another author to fill out the roster and invited me to participate. It sounded like a ton of fun – I love mysteries and I thought the premise sounds fun, so I said yes, and they asked if I would take the first slot. That’s a little intimidating because the first slot sets the tone for the whole series, but it was very enjoyable to write, and the readers are loving the series. We just started round two a few weeks ago, and we’re being asked to write them indefinitely.
Q. Nice! So in fairness, I probably should be asking Christine and Marianne about it further?
A. Yes – they’re the ones who brainstormed the concept, etc. I can answer questions as far as my participation goes and so forth, but I’m not the mastermind behind its brilliance. I can answer questions about many other of my series, though.
Q. But the Kansas Crossroads series is your brainchild, yes? You read my mind. So tell me about that one. Or any other series, if you’d prefer.
A. That one is the first series that I started as Amelia Adams. I knew that I needed a premise that would catch the readers’ attention and that would create a sense of community – those are the kinds of books I like to read. I hit on the idea of setting the series at the Brody Hotel because in years past, I’d seen the movie The Harvey Girls with Judy Garland, and I thought how cool it would be to write about a hotel near the train tracks. I could tell the stories of all the waitresses and how they met their love interests.
The first book is about the hotel owner, Adam Brody, who falls in love with and marries the first waitress to apply when he opens the hotel. Then as each book moves forward, we see each waitress have her romance. They are introduced in previous books so we know who they are and we’re invested in their happiness, and then when it’s their turn, we can cheer them on.
Q. Aww, sounds great.
A. Of course, we have to hire new waitresses fairly often.
Q. So are you the sole author in that series?
A. The first book in the series, A New Beginning, is permafree if you want to grab it. I am the sole author. I’ve invited a few friends to write some spinoff stories in that world, but I’m the only one writing the official stories.
Q. How often were you publishing them and how many are you up to now?
A. When I first started the series, I was releasing one a month. Then I added in a side series, Nurses of New York, and I slowed down a little, rotating between releasing the two. I’m now up to fifteen Kansas Crossroads and will be releasing the sixteenth one by the end of this month.
Q. What time period is this again? And how have you researched it?
A. The series starts in 1875, but we’re in 1876 now. I’ve relied heavily on the Internet – Google is my best friend.
Q. You have written in both historical and contemporary. Which one is easier to break into with a good series, do you think? I mean, I would guess you will say historical…unless you aren’t into that kind of research.
A. What’s been fun is that whenever I Google something, I find other bits of information that end up working well in the series. I’ve included storylines about the Chinese railroad workers and conflicts between the different Indian tribes in Kansas and the aftermath of the Civil War all from things I’ve happened upon “accidentally.”
Q. Yes, I can see that!
A. I love research. It’s fascinating. I’m not sure that there’s an easier one or a harder one – they each have their pluses and minuses, and there’s a definite readership for both. I think the difficulty is coming up with a compelling premise in the first place, something that stands out from the others currently available.
The second is creating great characters that have a lot of personality. So if you get a good premise and characters who feel real, you can have equal success regardless of your era.
Q. A-ha. So perma-free on the first book. Has that been a good way to get readers into a series? What kind of marketing do you do?
A. Permafree on the first book has brought a ton of readers into the series. Let me check something real quick…I have given away almost 32,000 copies of A New Beginning since I put it up for permafree.
Q. Wow! And you get great read-through, I would imagine? How have you gotten the word out about it?
A. When I hold polls on my reader group or in my newsletter about how they found me, several of them say they met me by downloading the free book. The second book in the series frequently shows up as one of my bestselling.
I advertise through sites like My Book Cave, and I also do newsletter swaps with other authors.
Q. Oh, and when did you put it up on permafree?
A. Around June of 2014. I published the first three books in the series and then put the first one on permafree to draw readers in.
Q. Can you tell me your income progression over the years and your string of series?
A. Because I had great mentoring and was able to plug right in to the western romance community, I made $1300 my first month. I thought I’d pass out when I saw that number. From there, it has continued to grow with some ups and downs, but I’m currently making a consistent $7k.
I should clarify that when I first started, KU hadn’t gone to pages read yet. It was still over a dollar per download.
Q. Ah, okay. Fabulous. As you have been publishing in the last four years, have you noticed any trends? Changes in the way an author should be publishing?
A. The trends shift and change rather quickly. Right now we’re seeing the billionaire trope making a lot of money, but that will peter out in time and there will be another topic in the forefront. Authors need to decide whether they want to experiment with the current tropes or hit on interesting premises that don’t fall in line with those. The most important thing is to write good stories and publish them consistently.
Q. Great advice. With your production, how many covers do you have to commission ahead of time? And who is your cover artist?
A. I have a few cover designers that I work with on a regular basis. Steven Novak of Novak Illustration has done Kansas Crossroads, Nurses of New York, and Hearts of Nashville for me, as well as a few others. Erin Dameron-Hill of EDH Graphics has done my covers for River’s End Ranch, Quinn Valley Ranch, Mail Order Mounties, and Cowboys and Angels. Jenni James does the covers for Main Street Merchants. Virginia McKevitt is the cover designer for the Pinkerton Matchmaker series.
Q. If you can sum up the secret sauce to a bestselling series, what would it be?
1. A compelling premise.
2. Interconnected characters.
3. Characters with personality and who are likable and relatable.
4. Sharing marketing with other authors – cross-promoting.
5. Asking enough questions in book one that the reader will pick up book two to answer those questions, and carry that on through the whole series.
6. Releasing books quickly enough to satiate the reader, but then getting them hungry again for more.
Q. On 6… what is a good amount between books?
A. Three weeks is best for Amazon’s algorithms. If you’re rotating books in a series, I’d say, don’t leave a series hanging for more than 3 or 4 months.
Q. That is fabulous. Thank you. Any other parting advice to fellow writers who want to level up their career and income?
A. Advice: Keep at it. Don’t give up. Practice your craft and never settle for mediocre.
Q. Thank you Amelia! I owe you a taco next time I see you. Hugs!!!!