Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Author Scott Nicholson has written 12 thrillers, 60 short stories, four comics series, and six screenplays. He's also a freelance editor and journalist. He lives in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, where he tends an organic garden, successfully eludes stalkers, and generally lives the dream.

Scott is one of those Indie authors who has made a name for himself and will be around a long after the dust settles.  His latest thriller "Liquid Fear," is running up the charts on Amazon.  I've asked him to offer some advice to Indies who'd like to know how to get where they want to go.  He was kind enough to put together a small excerpt from his book, "The Indie Journey," to guide those who could use a little nudge:


I am not sure anyone yet knows how to sustain an indie career in the digital era, despite the experience of some people who have been self-publishing since the dinosaur days of paper.

The only ones who have bankable careers are those who are already closing in on their indie million. If it all ended tomorrow, they could probably manage okay with some smart investing.

Those who are getting a decent income right now could see it go one of two ways. If it ended tomorrow, a solid percentage would immediately shift to giving their books away to “build audience,” even if a paying audience down the road seems unlikely. Those who quit their day jobs to go indie can probably find other jobs and have a great story for the grandkids about when they were “real authors.” A few will continue to parlay indie success into a corporate career.

But even corporate careers are tough to sustain, with only a minority of lucky authors getting those third and fourth book deals and then building a long-term career. And, if the indie era collapsed, one would suspect those same factors would probably make an even more dramatic impact on publishers with much higher overheads.

While it’s difficult to predict how everything will turn out, your chances of surviving either way are best if you continue to run your writing like both an art and a business, like so:

1. Continue to write, no matter what. Without products, you have no options.

2. Expand your markets. You’re on Kindle. Great. So are a quarter-million other authors, and that number is expanding daily. So get on Nook, Smashwords, Kobo, Apple, OverDrive, and everywhere else, and try to develop sales at your own site—the only site where you will be guaranteed to maintain control and a suitable royalty.

3. Consider diversifying your genres. You don’t know what the next trend will be. If you don’t find trends artistically satisfying, write what you like and hope the market catches up. While branding is helpful, it is also limiting. If you are prolific, consider a pen name—but a pen name is probably wasted on a one-shot, so unless you are going to establish the pen name as its own brand, avoid it.

4. Pay attention to the markets. Try to anticipate and stay ahead of the curve, whether on pricing, content, covers, devices, or what readers want.

5. Keep building your network. Having more friends makes writing more fun, but be careful you don’t spend more time tweeting than writing. As the digital revolution evolves, you might see new opportunities open that you hadn’t considered—everything from ad-supported e-books to interactive, shared-adventure stories.

6. Take chances. In any evolutionary leap, a number of critters are left behind. Usually they are they ones who are slowest to adapt, often because they are following the herd, which means they are the last to get to the vital resources. Extinction is the result.

Most of all, enjoy it. A number of indie writers seem unhappy because they have certain expectations and are disappointed because they aren’t one of the indie lottery winners. Be grateful for this incredible opportunity. If this is as good as it ever gets, that’s still pretty darned good!

Scott Nicholson
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To read the entire book, The Indie Journey, it's available at Smashwords Amazon and B&N

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Somewhere along the line the rules were changed.  The old rules meant you had to get approval for your book from a literary agent, usually after a 3-12 month wait.  Then wait another year or so to find a publisher.  Then if you were one of the lucky few who found one, you got to wait another 18 months before your book hit the bookstores.  Whew, am I glad those days are over. E-Readers have changed the game.

This is a complex issue with many layers.  The gatekeepers are going away.  This means some really good writers are finally going to find their way without the hindrance from a suit in New York who doesn't like vampire books, so goodbye dreams.  Unfortunately, this also means that every shmoe with a laptop is now writing a novel and posting it on Smashwords because, after all, the gatekeepers are gone.  Is this intrinsically a bad thing?  No.  Readers will find the good stuff, just like they find the good music without ever hearing it on the radio.  The most common way will be word of mouth, which is always the most powerful method. 

The reason I believe this isn't a bad thing is because of my experience within the publishing world when the gatekeepers were still taking three martini lunches.  After one publisher told me how much he liked my Nick Bracco novel, he then admitted how much he despises mafia books and if The Godfather were offered to him, he'd have turned it down immediately.  Really?

Okay, you say, that's just one guy.  But therein lies the problem.  With all the consolidation within the publishing world, there's only 5 or 6 big publishers left anymore.  What if four of them don't like mafia books?  You mean your chance of bringing your award-winning novel to the masses depends on the approval of maybe three or four people in a high rise in Manhattan?  Good luck with that.

So where do we go from here?  Up.  Where?  Up.  That's right, we move up the evolutionary ladder to a new system where the reader gets to decide what's good and what's not.  Will it be difficult at times to sort things out?  Sure.  But eventually the readers will have their say good or bad.  I wouldn't want it any other way.  Let me decide what I like.  After all, I'm a reader too. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Bob Moats began his writing career a few years back with his Jim Richards series of murder mysteries and has not stopped since.  He's one of the most prolific writers on the scene today.  His first book, "The Classmate Murders," went on to hook tons of fans and 18 books later he's reaping the benefits of his labor.  For those of you wondering how an Indie author makes any money, Bob has some suggestions for you.  He's a talented writer and very accessible, so for those who have any questions about his work feel free to contact him at   Now, here's Bob:

Spreading your book sales beyond Amazon.

When I first started writing my books, I had an illusion that I would be the next Robert B. Parker, with a series of novels about my private eye, Jim Richards. I finished that first book "Classmate Murders", and then started book two, before I really had any idea of ever being published. Mainly because I didn't know how to go about getting published. My brother is a professional photographer and he had a coffee table book of his photos that he sold at art fairs and such. He finally got on Amazon to sell his books also and he introduced me to selling my books there.

I checked around online to see how much it would cost to print my books and found that for the number of pages and size, the cheapest would be about $5.00 per book to print in quantities over 100. (I did check local print shops and they wanted over $14. per book!) I had originally figured on selling my books for about $7.99, which was average for paperbacks in stores by famous authors. I could only aspire to put myself in their category, but I had to set a price. I figured out how much Amazon would take out for their booty on each sale, I realized I was going to make about .75 cents for each book sold after printing costs. Not a healthy profit, so selling my books in paperback wasn't much of an option.

Then my brother introduced me to Twitter and Facebook. I joined and started to meet people who were putting their books online as ebooks. The word I was reading was that getting an agent or a publisher is about as much fun as a tooth extraction, but self-publishing was not such a bad way to go.

I looked into this and having a background in computers, I set up my first book and put it on Amazon. I tweeted and Facebooked my ebook on Amazon and after a while I sold a couple of them. I also found that the price I was asking was a little high for an ebook, so I lowered my prices as I put more of my books up for sale. My first royalty payment from Amazon came and it was for $13.65 (a whole four books) and I was happy, I was now a paid published author. Each month after that my sales were going up, nothing tremendous but enough to keep me in beer and chips.

I was also reading about how everyone praises Amazon as though it were the only venue to sell books, but I discovered a place called and how they sell books for authors. The nice thing about Smashwords is that they are a distribution channel to other ebook retailers like Apple for iPad, Kobo, Diesel, Sony for Nook, Barnes & Noble and even Amazon for the Kindle. This was a way to get a wider coverage for my books so I put them on Smashwords and waited to see what would happen. I was surprised.

I had to promote to start the ball rolling, but now the the thing has taken on a life of it's own. Every month was showing an increase in sales and I'm hoping they continue. My last royalty payment from Smashwords (covering most of the retailers) was almost $500. while Amazon came in a modest $200. but I took it. I'm not going to get rich, maybe, but using more than one avenue to sell my books compounds the sales nicely.

What I'm boring you to death about is that you shouldn't put all your ebooks in one basket. I hear authors I've met online talking about the thousands of books they are selling on Amazon, I'm happy for them, but none mention about any sales on Smashwords or their retailer partners. Amazon sells only for Kindle, I know people who have other tablets and ereaders but not Kindle, so they can't read the Amazon DRM locked books on their readers, but with Smashwords the options and formats are wide open.

To end this and summing up, I'm just saying if you have a book worthy of selling to the masses, don't just use Amazon, go for the other retailers, you can only improve your sales as I have.

Bob Moats

Website: - Blog:

Monday, June 6, 2011


When Taylor Stevens was 14 she wrote her first short story.  Instead of being encouraged for her precociousness, her notebooks were confiscated and she was put in solitary confinement and held without food.  It would be 2 decades before she would write again.  Such is the amazing story of a young girl who was born into a religious cult.  For more info on Taylor's grim upbringing you can read her own version of the events at her Facebook Fan Page:

Stevens' debut novel, The Informationist, has received rave reviews from USA Today to the LA Times.  Her protaganist Vanessa Munroe is a resourceful loner who grew up overseas and has combat training and a wry sense of humor.  The Informationist is a remarkable story worth investigating for many reasons:

1- In “The Informationist” your main character, Vanessa, “Michael” Munroe is insanely clever (she speaks 22 languages) and has worldly experience. Was it cathartic to write about a character who was so physically and mentally powerful?

There was a time, many years ago, when I wrote essays for myself and for a select few friends as a way to process, internalize and put to rest many of the things we experienced while growing up. In its time, that form of writing was rather cathartic, but writing good fiction is hard, and although there’s a certain sense of accomplishment when I look back on what has been completed, and I love who Munroe is now, it certainly didn’t feel good while I was struggling to produce it all.

But that said, from the beginning, when writing Munroe, I never viewed her in terms of strong or weak, good or evil, or even, in a sense, male or female. Initially, when thinking of her reactions to situations, I was drawn to pull from the emotional conflict and skill of Jason Bourne, and the sensual confidence of Lara Croft, but these were gut feelings, nothing specific or tangible. Michael Munroe as a chameleon and predator, a woman with her own brand of morality and a take-no-prisoners form of justice, gradually came alive as a result of the demanding environments she was thrown into, so to me, Munroe has always been who she is as the natural result of her storied life, and I honestly didn’t realize just how strong—and perhaps unusual—she is until feedback started coming in from test readers.

2- Munroe travels in similar paths to your own, with Texas and Africa playing important roles. Was that a conscious decision because of your familiarity with those places?

When it comes to writing about Africa, yes, absolutely. I had lived in Equatorial Guinea for a little over two years and also spent several months in Cameroon, so I had been quite immersed in the location. When writing THE INFORMATIONIST, my initial motive, even before I had characters or a plot, or any idea really of what I would write, was to bring this tiny country to life for readers who might never have the chance to visit, and having only the location, I needed a way to show the experience of being there in a way that would make sense to the story without turning it into a travelogue. I also had to set the story somewhere in the United States, and it made sense to put it in a place where I had some familiarity with the location, rather than having to start anew elsewhere, for no reason in particular.

3- How do you feel about reviewers comparing Lisbeth Salander from the Steig Larsson series to Vanessa Munroe? Have you read any of those books?

This is such a difficult question to answer. On the one hand, what debut author wouldn’t want to be compared to a writer who has sold over 50 million copies world-wide, and who has an enormous fan base? I understand why the comparisons are there, and I am grateful for them and for the exposure they bring to my own writing, because there are certainly many people who would never have heard of me or even picked up one of my books were it not for the comparisons. On the other hand, I don't expect that many people enjoy their original work (in any art or field) being framed in the context of someone else's, no matter how wonderful the praise—but maybe one day, new characters will be compared against Munroe, and new authors will be in my position.

I haven’t read any of Stieg Larson’s books yet, nor seen the movie, so it’s difficult to say from my own perspective whether the comparisons are apt, but if I rely on the opinions of others: there are some similarities in the badassery of Michael Munroe and Lisbeth Salander, and those who enjoyed Lisbeth in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series would probably appreciate THE INFORMATIONIST.

4- You’re very stingy about revealing Munroe’s past, was that part of the intrigue for the reader to discover her motives along with her goals?

You know, I’ve come to understand that each person draws differently from the reading experience and will bring his or her own personal perspectives to a story. As this relates to your question about being stingy in revealing Munroe’s past, I’ve also heard that I revealed too much, too much too fast. In a similar vein, there are many readers who truly connect with Munroe to the point of feeling her anguish and understanding why she is so flawed, and others simply don’t “get” her or what drives her, instead seeing her as a caricature or feeling that she is unreal because she has no flaws. So the best that I can do is write what is true to the way I see her, and hope that readers also feel the same way. That said, there are scenes concerning Munroe’s past that were taken out of earlier versions because, although they did reveal more detail, they didn’t move the story forward—and that’s really what writing a thriller is all about: moving the story forward.

5- Do you have any thoughts about the future of the publishing world and its digital explosion?

Given the relatively little data I have available, I believe four people have bought digital copies of THE INFORMATIONIST for every one who purchased a hardback book. While certainly some of these were former paper readers who have converted to digital, I expect that there are also many who quite possibly wouldn’t have ever read THE INFORMATIONIST were it not digitally available, and I find it fascinating the way the digital world is opening up reading to a whole new market. There will always be those who love and crave the feel of a real book, but our world is changing, and I hope that I’m there to meet the future when it arrives.