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


  1. Nice guest post from Scott Nicholson. Scott thanks for taking the time and Gary thanks for having him. It was a good read.

  2. Great Post - I have been making a big push to use these techniques with my writing and promotions. Just listed all my titles on Smashwords, Amazon, and

  3. Thanks Gary, an informative, entertaining, and realistic post with, Scott Nicholson. I found myself agreeing with all that was said.

    We have (all) been given an exceptional opportunity to have our work read. Yes, we should embrace this new technology, and treat our writing like any business. I couldn't agree more, enjoy the journey.

  4. thanks, Ardee, Robert, and Stuart--I'd rather be happy than sell a million copies, and steady work can make great results over time. Do the day's work!


    1. You can't really say what is beautiful about a place, but the image of the place will remain vividly with you.

  5. Great advice, particularly # 1, 5, and 6 and the final paragraph. If you don't make it big, at least have fun. Scott is a true inspiration. He worked hard, he took risks, and he is DOING IT. YEAH!

  6. Oh, and "The Indie Journey" has some insightful and solid advice. Highly recommended.

  7. And I would probably add #7. Shit happens. Both good shit and bad shit and it's damned hard to predict. So roll with it.

  8. It's hard to argue with any of the points Scott makes here--especially with the success he's had. I appreciate his time here.

  9. thanks Christa, Mark, and Gary.
    For sure, I am ready to roll to either side of the boat, or to swim, and even to sink.

  10. I certainly agree with diversifying. I've never been a one genre type of writer, and often it the most unexpected that brings in the sales.

  11. thanks for stopping by, Shaun and Linda

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