Interview with Author Scott Nicholson

Scott NicholsonIndie 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?

Scott1. 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?

ScottI 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?

ScottI 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?

ScottNo 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?

ScottTen 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?

ScottPersistence. 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?

ScottI 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?

ScottI 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?

ScottPublishers 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?

ScottAs 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?

ScottAgain, 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?

ScottI 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?

ScottI 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?

ScottThe Red Church has the best craft and plot and accessibility, but As I Die Lying is probably the boldest. Of course, that means it sells the worst!

Interview with Indie Pioneer & Superstar Author J.A. Konrath (+12 Free Books – Feb 1 & 2)

Please Note: At the end of the interview is a list of J. A. Konrath titles that are free on February 1st and 2nd. I’d strongly recommend them – He’s hit #1 in the past and also has hit the Top 100 with numerous titles. I’d recommend them even at $3 and $5. At free there’s absolutely no reason not to get them.

Who is J. A. Konrath? Why should a Kindle owner/normal reader care?

(by switch11) J. A. Konrath is an indie pioneer and has played a much bigger part than people realize in the rise of indie authors –

  1. To Put it Bluntly: We readers wouldn’t be getting good books from good indie authors in the $1 to $5 range if not for the contributions of authors like J. A. Konrath.
  2. Firstly, by sharing his numbers he’s delivered a huge dose of confidence to other indie authors – It’s changed their reality and their sense of what’s possible. J.A. Konrath earned over $500,000 from ebooks in 2011. Those numbers give other authors the confidence to strike out on their own.
  3. Just to stress that again: There’s nothing that gives authors more incentive to go straight to readers (and offer more value for money to readers) than finding out that J. A. Konrath is earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by going straight to readers.
  4. Secondly, he’s stuck with ebooks. J. A. Konrath and John Locke are two authors (amongst several) who’ve refused to sign ebook deals with Publishers and have thus saved us readers from the insult of having to pay $8 per ebook (we are saved from having to subsidize the inefficient print book business).
  5. Thirdly, he’s shared what works for him. The J. A. Konrath Guide to Publishing blog is full of great advice and also has great examples of indie authors who are doing great by going straight to readers. This is the rarest thing: Someone successful who’s sharing that wisdom for free.
  6. I’ve been blogging about Kindle and ebooks and indie authors since December 2007 and there’s no doubt in my mind that J. A. Konrath has done more for indie authors than any other author. In the midst of a flurry of authors who thought the end goal was to strike a deal with Publishers, he is one of the few indie authors (alongside others like John Locke) who realized that offering readers the best value for money is the right thing to do (and also the smartest).
  7. Fourthly, J. A. Konrath saw the trends and acted on them before almost everyone else. There’s a pretty good chance that following his blog and his thoughts will benefit authors and readers as we continue to see cataclysmic changes in books and publishing.

J. A. Konrath has played a key role in the rise of authors and readers and here’s an interview with him (Meaghan did the interview).

Interview with J. A. Konrath Part 1: The Questions He Wishes He Would be Asked

[This and rest of the interview is by Meaghan] We started off the interview with Joe by asking him the questions he longed to be asked by interviewers. His response was intriguing:

1) Why do you blog about the publishing industry?

Joe: I blog because it sometimes encourages intelligent discussions, which help me hone my goals and learn more about how the industry works. In order to attract visitors to my blog, I share things I’ve done (things that have worked and things that haven’t), including sales figures. Some people like what I have to say. Some don’t. I get a lot of thank yous, and a lot of criticism.

2) Does it bother you when people criticize you?

Joe: No. I often get misquoted, or my words are taken out of context. Lots of people form opinions without bothering to read my blog. That’s silly. But it doesn’t bother me, either. Everyone has an opinion, though the uniformed ones are difficult to defend.

3) Will you ever stop blogging?

Joe: I once made an open offer to the publishing industry. I’d never blog again if they paid me a million dollars. The offer still stands. And based on the number of comments and emails I get, a million is a bargain. The Big 6 have lost a lot of business because of my blog.

Interview with J. A. Konrath Part 2 – Our Questions for Mr. Konrath

These are the topics and questions we most wanted to hear Mr. Konrath’s thoughts on.

4) What influenced you to begin writing?

Joe: I love telling stories, which grew from a love of reading stories.

5) In your blog post entitled “Interview with my cover artist Carl Graves” you discuss the importance of cover art. How much of a difference do you feel that your covers make in your sales?

Joe: I’ve seen sales improve by 100% and more just by getting better covers. Some I’ve my covers I’ve changed as many as four times.

6) In Selena Kitt’s guest post on your blog, she discusses the pricing of eBooks. Where do you feel that the ideal price for both authors and readers lies?

Joe: Under six bucks. Ebooks should cost less than paper. They are intangible, can’t be resold, and cost pennies to copy and distribute. The value of a book is how much money it earns the author, not its list price.

7) What would you say are the main factors that have led to your success? Which of these can be used/learnt by any writer?

Joe. This is a business. Act like a professional. Write a lot. Keep at it until you get lucky.

8) Do you feel that authors can make a decent living from selling $1-3 eBooks? How many authors do you think would be able to make a full living from books if ebooks (and in particular low-priced ebooks) became the norm?

Joe: Every author has their own goals to follow, their own road to walk. Some will make a living. Some won’t. It’s like any other career. Hard work and talent are helpful, but luck is needed to succeed.

9) What role do you believe that publishers, both small and large, have left to play in the world of books?

Joe: If I worked for a publisher right now, I’d be posting my resume on

10) You saw/predicted what was happening in the eBook world probably before anyone else. What led you to envision this future world of ebooks? Why were you willing to take such risks and go all-out with what you thought would happen/what you saw as the future?

Joe: I was just as surprised as anyone. I was lucky that I had a lot of novels that were rejected, and I self-published them as ebooks for Kindle to see what would happen. What happened was I started to make a lot of money.

11) What role do you feel Kindle owners have to play? Do you think they value authors’ work? how much power/say do you think they have in what happens?

Joe: Readers are all that matters.

12) Given your insights into book publishing and self-publishing, and given that most people would keep that knowledge for themselves and use it as a strategic advantage, why do you share them so freely? Are you not, in a way, creating more competition for yourself?

Joe: There is no competition. I price my novels at under $3.99. At that price, a reader can buy me and Blake Crouch, and Scott Nicholson, and Lee Goldberg, and a few others, and it’ll still cost less than a hardcover of Stephen King’s.

13) How do you feel about being cast in the role of the doomsayer of print books?

Joe: I’ve done dozens of posts telling writers, publishers, and bookstores how they could potentially thrive in an ebook-centric world. That’s proactive optimism, not reactive pessimism. Some listen. Some don’t. But it is none of my business what people do or don’t do.

14) You recently interrupted a hiatus from your blog to post “Book Country Fail” Do you feel that most authors, especially newbies, are informed enough about the Big Six muscling their way into self-publishing?

Joe: You can never be too informed, and good messages are worth repeating.

15) Now that events like book signings are becoming rarer, and things like blogs and social networking are becoming stronger, do you feel that the connection between authors and readers is stronger or weaker?

Joe: I answer dozens of fanmails a week. I think the connection is stronger than ever.

16) How much does having a relationship with other authors matter to you and how much of a difference would it make for new authors?

Joe: Writers don’t have water-cooler conversation. Our professions are solitary. It’s great to compare notes and trade tips. Tough to excel in a vacuum.

17) You work with other authors often. Do you find the collaborative process to be inspirational? When did you begin doing this type of writing?

Joe: Collaborating is terrific fun. Plus it expands your virtual shelf space with just half the work. I have many writer friends, so collaboration was inevitable.

Free Kindle Books from J.A. Konrath for Feb 1st and 2nd

These are Free only on February 1st and February 2nd, 2012.

  • ***Shot of Tequila by J.A. Konrath. Price: Free. Genre: Mystery, Hard-Boiled, Police Procedurals. Rated 4.5 stars on 36 reviews. 270 pages.
  • *Jack Daniels Stories by J.A. Konrath. Price: Free. Genre: Mystery, Police Procedurals. Rated 4.5 stars on 10 reviews. 316 pages.
  • Horror Stories by J. A. Konrath. Price: $0. Genre: Horror. Rated 4 stars on 28 reviews. 296 pages.
  • Suckers by Jack Kilborn, J.A. Konrath, and Jeff Strand. Price: Free. Genre: Thriller, Comedy. Rated 4.5 stars on 27 reviews. 246 pages.
  • BIRDS OF PREY – A Psycho Thriller by Blake Crouch, J.A. Konrath, and Jack Kilborn. Price: Free. Genre: Thriller. Rated 4.5 stars on 11 reviews. 147 pages.
  • *Ultimate Thriller Box Set by Konrath, Crouch, Black, Goldberg, Nicholson. Price: $0. Genre: Thrillers. Free until February 3rd.
  • SERIAL KILLERS UNCUT – The Complete Psycho Thriller (The Complete Epic) by Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, and J.A. Konrath. Price: Free. Genre: Thriller, Serial Killers. Rated 4.5 stars on 14 reviews. 432 pages.
  • 65 Proof. Price: $0. Genre: Thriller Stories. 622 pages. Rated 4.5 stars on 10 reviews.
  • **Be the Monkey by Konrath & Eisler. Price: $0. Genre: Self-Publishing. Rated 5 stars on 17 reviews. 100 pages.
  • Crime Stories by Konrath and Kilborn. Price: $0. Genre: Crime Stories.
  • Planter’s Punch. Price: $0. Genre: Novella, Women Sleuths, Police Procedurals.
  • **The Newbies Guide to Publishing (Everything a Writer Needs to Know). Price: $0. Genre: Writing Advice, Self-Publishing. Rated 4.5 stars on 27 reviews. 1088 pages.
  • Truck Stop. Price: $0. Genre: Novella, Psycho Thriller. Rated 4 stars on 40 reviews. 76 pages.

Thank you for reading the interview. Please leave questions if you have any and we’ll forward them on to Mr. Konrath.

A Quick Look at Indie Authors currently in the Kindle Store Top 100

This is a list of authors who have self-published their books and made it to the Top 100. Unless otherwise specified the books are rated 4 stars or 4.5 stars.

  1. Simon Wood – Accidents Waiting to Happen is $1 and at #3, The Fall Guy is $1 and at #52. 
  2. Pat Gragg – The Rose Killer is $1 and at #6,
  3. Courtney Milan – Unlocked is $1 and at #9.
  4. J Carson Black – Darkness on the Edge of Town is $1 and at #10, Dark Side of the Moon is $1 and at #97. 
  5. Erin Kern – Looking for Trouble is $1 and at #15,
  6. Michael Prescott – Shiver is $1 and at #18, Mortal Pursuit is $1 and at #28, Stealing Faces is $1 and at #55, Riptide is $1 and at #92. These books seem to be ebook versions of previously published books. However, they are published by the author and should count as self-published.
  7. Emma Jay – Eye of the Beholder is $1 and at #23.
  8. Carol Grace – Lonely Millionaire is $1 and at #32. This is rated only 3.5 stars.
  9. Peggy A. Edelheit – The Puzzle is $1 and at #35, Without Any Warning is $1 and at #91.
  10. Joan Reeves – Jane ‘I’m Still Single’ Jones is $1 and at #52, Just One Look is $1 and at #82.. 
  11. Cathy Wiley – Dead to Writes is $1 and #57.
  12. Christian Cantrell – Containment is $1 and at #78. This one’s really worth checking out.
  13. Kelly McClymer – The Fairy Tale Bride is $1 and at #94.

Some highlights – Each of the books is at $1. There are 13 indie authors in the Top 100. There are 20 books by indie authors in the Top 100.

What’s really interesting is that except for Simon Wood and J Carson Black and Christian Cantrell these aren’t the usual suspects. Very few of these indie authors have made it to the Top 100 before or have shown the usual signs of indie superstardom. Amazon has made them the chosen few for some reason that escapes me.

With Sunshine Deals earlier in the month, and this huge boost to indie titles now, Amazon is sending the Big 6 a message.

Could it be anything to do with a possible July announcement of the new Kindle Tablet and/or the new Kindle 4?

Why is Amazon suddenly making a huge push with these particular indie authors? There are so many indie authors who worked hard and clawed their way to the Top 100 or the Top 200 – Why not focus on them first?

How do you review a John Locke novel?

Read Saving Rachel and thought of writing a review but don’t really know how to write one. I really liked it. It was a quick read – perhaps just 1.5 to 2 hours. It was fun. It was likable. However, it’s not something that’s going to make it to the Top 100 list of best books you’ve ever read.

It was like watching a movie with one actor you really like and then realizing that the movie wasn’t all that good but it was fun because of that one actor (both Larry the Cable Guy and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson seem to specialize in this – making totally unmemorable movies that are quite a lot of fun to watch).

At the end of the novel it was abundantly clear why so many people love John Locke (his novels are fun and are a good read and are full of twists and turns and some genuinely funny moments) and why so many people dislike him (it’s hard to imagine his books winning any literary prizes, plus some of the things are beyond unbelievable).

If it’s possible (and it probably is) to give a novel 5 stars on fun and value for money and 1 star on lasting significance – Saving Rachel fits the bill perfectly. It’s like The Hangover in book form. It’s not going to help you understand the meaning of life (or the meaning of anything) but it’s still fun enough for you to feel the time is well-spent.