Indie author Scott Nicholson has sold over 200,000 books worldwide. Check out Scott’s box set, Ethereal Messenger: Three Novels, which is free until March 11. For more books, see Scott’s Amazon page (Prime compatible).
The prolific best selling writer has written scripts, short stories, comics, and novels in the thriller, horror, supernatural, and children’s genres, garnering him a massive following. A few of his books have hit the Top 100 Paid Kindle Bestsellers List and quite a few have made it to the Top 100 Most Downloaded Free Kindle Books List.
Scott has a large presence online, as well as in the indie book world. He can be found at his website, personal blog, and indie book blog. Scott’s blog posts often focus on the reader’s perspective in the indie writer’s world. His work, both fiction and non-fiction, is rich with personality, opinion, and humor.
When Scott was kind enough to agree to do an interview, I leapt at the opportunity to learn more about his opinions on literature and the industry. A special thanks to Scott for the interview, which is posted below.
1) You probably get asked all sorts of questions in interviews. What are the top five questions you wish interviewers would ask you?
Scott: 1. Where is the body and what did you do with the money?
2. Are you the only writer on Earth who hates cats?
3. Why aren’t you the next Stephen King yet?
4. You’re kidding, right?
5. Are you ready to reveal the secret to inner happiness?
2) What events in your life most influenced you to become a writer? What drives you to continue?
Scott: I like discovery and possibility, the sheer act of creation. On the practical side, I like that writing is so darned difficult as a career. That keeps it fun and ensures you have to keep working hard, no matter your level.
3) You’ve described yourself as a dreamer in the past. Is that an integral personality trait for a good writer?
Scott: I don’t know what works for others. I only know what works for me, and I only know that half the time. Dreaming works!
4) Do you feel that offering free books is a sustainable way for an author to make a living?
Scott: No one knows the answer to that question. Right now, it is amazing to be able to reach hundreds of thousands of readers at little to no cost. How that turns into careers later, we will see. There’s no guarantee, but writers were never promised a living anyway.
5) Where do you envision yourself in 10 years? What do you see as the future of book publishing?
Scott: Ten years. I can’t see that far. The past 10 have been remarkable and I never thought some of those things would happen, so I am reluctant to make any predictions for myself. I have already met most of my writing goals, but now I am making new ones.
As for book publishing, I believe it has already happened. We will live in a digital world where supply will expand to meet demand and content will be cheap or free. Printed books will be collector items for hobbyists. That means a lending library, ad-supported books, limited-edition and expensive hardcovers, and probably some writers still making a living selling a ton of books for a dollar each. I just don’t see a $10 ebook in the future, except for technical or niche non-fiction. Certainly, digital is the new pulp fiction, and there’s plenty of it.
6) Do you feel that hardship and struggle is necessary for the growth of a writer? What has your personal experience been?
Scott: I don’t know. Some people seem to have it easy, knock out a few chapters and get the big fat book deal. But most writers I know spend 10 years breaking in, and then they look like “overnight successes.” The digital age has allowed a lot of people to appear successful who aren’t really writers. But we’ll see who is left standing when times get hard again. And they will, sooner or later.
7) What are the top five to ten factors that led to your current success? Which was the most important?
Scott: Persistence. I run on a business model of blind faith and blind panic. I believe in my message. I believe in who I was made to be. I work to fulfill that promise or talent or genetic trait or whatever name you care to give it. I measure the day by how well I treated people, not how many books I sold.
8) With the book industry as it is now, do you think that you would have the same success if you had been published by a publisher instead of self-publishing? Why or why not?
Scott: I have been published in multiple ways. Mass market, small press, magazines, online, and now ebooks. I just don’t see how the publishing industry can compete in an era where content is cheap or free. Corporations aren’t built that way. There is only one reason for a $15 novel—the publisher wants to make money off of you. That’s the only reason. It costs virtually nothing to produce, and the publisher adds almost zero to the value of the ebook, yet is charging five times what most authors would charge. Editing, covers, and even marketing are easily purchased today. Publishers just don’t much, unless they go to ad-supported ebooks where their economies of scale could work in their favor.
9) What are the things you’ve found that are different in actual practice from what people think about publishing and selling books? What most surprised you?
Scott: I hate to talk about money, but as I said above, you start realizing how little of the money went to writers under the old system. You can make a decent living off a pretty small number of sales if you don’t have the fat overhead and the big executive office and the board of directors and shareholders and a legal department.
10) How has your past work in the publishing industry helped you with your writing and publishing methods?
Scott: Publishers forced us to become our own marketers, even when we only made 8 to 10 percent of the money. Now we know how to market better than they do. It is that simple, and that obvious.
11) You often promote your work by offering it for free. Should all indie authors consider this method?
Scott: As I said, I don’t know what works for other people. If you like risks, try it. If you are stuck, try it. If all you want are readers, try it. If you think you are a genius whose work is worth $10 and no less, then don’t try it.
12) What do you think qualifies an indie author as successful? What would it take for you to consider yourself a great success?
Scott: Again, I don’t know that for other people. “Success” is a terrible word because of what we have done to it. The newspapers only write about indie success as the lottery winners. You know, the millionaires. Because reporters are too damn lazy to tell the real story—lots of people are building happy, creative, and productive careers at home in the digital era. Not just writers, either—graphic designers, freelance editors, book formatters, marketing sites, and careers yet to be invented.
So there’s the level of success where you can blab about how much money you made and how amazing you are and how you proved everyone else is an idiot, and there’s the level of success where you make your dreams work and get to follow your own path.
13) You base a lot of your stories on local Appalachian legends. What are the more famous legends that you still have left to tell? Which one will you be writing about next?
Scott: I want to do a third book in the Littlefield series, following The Red Church and Drummer Boy, but I am writing more thrillers these days. After I’m dead it will look like the first 10 years were the supernatural phase, then the thriller phase, and then probably I will write self-help books for bitter, failed old geezers like me.
14) You work with other writers often. What author, living or dead, have you always dreamed of collaborating with?
Scott: I actually did finish a story started by Edgar Allan Poe, which was cool. Of course, most people would love to write a story with Stephen King, even though it would be intimidating. But I think it would be fun to go back and forth with Mark Twain.
15) As a horror writer, was it difficult for you to break into the children’s genre with Duncan the Punkin?
Scott: I didn’t really break in. I sent some of the children’s books off to agents, but of course they “only respond if interested.” So I just published them myself. I’ve always written in multiple genres and fields. It was just the horror that got published first, so people tend to associate me with horror. That’s less important in the digital age, because books are found in a different way now. While “brand” is important, my brand has become “a little bit of everything”.
16) Which of your many novels do you think is the absolute best?