Guest Post: Scott Nicholson on Building a Book Audience

Who Can Build A Book Audience?

By Scott Nicholson

There’s a common belief among writers that the route through New York and then to America’s bookshelves is the best way to build an audience. Certainly, there are plenty of advantages to letting someone else worry about all that paperwork, especially when they are earning most of the money.

But I don’t think we can automatically assume that being on store shelves is going to grow your audience better than self-publishing. In fact, I believe the exact opposite. I believe anyone wrapped up under contract for the next two or three years is going to miss a historic opportunity. You might very well be losing readers because major-press books will be used to benefit the corporate strategy, not the writer’s well-being, and you lose every competitive advantage besides the dubious marketing power of the publisher, who often expects writers to do most of the marketing anyway.

Getting paper books out there in a year will mean (a) you miss probably the peak year of e-book sales growth (that’s growth, not total sales) and (b) you totally miss the audience you will need in the years ahead because you will be priced out of the market and moved aside–and I think this is going to happen to a lot of NY authors as new stars are being minted and readers exploit their incredible and newfound choice and purchasing power. Getting published by Big Six is increasingly meaning little to readers besides higher prices to avoid–in fact, most never even noticed publishers until the silly battle over $9.99 ebooks.

Current print buyers are the late adopters, and if you cultivate that audience, I don’t think they will convert with the same enthusiasm and prolific degree that the first and second wave of adopters did. When the tipping point arrives and bookstores vanish with a vengeance, those writers will be scrambling to re-establish themselves when they should be enjoying the fruits of a long career instead. In other words, this 8-million Kindle owner pool is the core audience for much of the immediate future. If you are lucky enough to board the next wave, it will be smaller and you will be fighting a million authors for eyeballs.

However, I am already looking at the fourth wave (or fifth or so) when publishers may come back into advantage–when books are sponsored and given away free, they will have advantage of scale to offer advertisers (or will use their own affiliate corporations). I imagine the pay scale will really slide at that point, and only the driven or the insane will undertake the occupation of writing. Maybe the future is closer than we think.


Scott Nicholson is author of 12 novels, including the thrillers Disintegration, As I Die Lying, Drummer Boy, Forever Never Ends, The Skull Ring, Burial to Follow, and They Hunger. His revised novels for the U.K. Kindle are Creative Spirit, Troubled, and Solom. He’s also written four comic series, six screenplays, and more than 60 short stories. His story collections include Ashes, The First, Murdermouth: Zombie Bits, and Flowers. Follow “hauntedcomputer” on Twitter or Facebook, or visit Haunted Computer for news, articles, and prizes.

Check out his newest release:


A novella by Scott Nicholson

Crime doesn’t pay…but neither does journalism.

When John Moretz takes a job as a reporter in the Appalachian town of Sycamore Shade, a crime wave erupts that boosts circulation and leaves people uneasy. Then a murder victim is discovered, and Moretz is first on the scene.

As more bodies are discovered, Moretz comes under police suspicion, but the newspaper’s sales are booming due to his coverage of sensational crime. His editor is torn between calling off his newshound and cashing in on the attention, plus the editor is romancing the big-city reporter assigned to cover the suspected serial killer.

And Moretz seems to be one step ahead of the other reporters, the police, and even the killer himself.

CRIME BEAT is a 21,000-word novella, the equivalent of about 80 book pages. Also contains the bonus story “Do You Know Me Yet?” from HEAD CASES. DRM-free and 99 cents for a limited time.

Blogoversary: Day 7 Winners

Looks like we’ve reached the last batch of winners. It has been a hectic two weeks, that’s for sure. 🙂 I was lucky to have such a great set of indie authors willing to be so generous with their works. Their contests have ended, but if you haven’t heard the book buzz, definitely read through the older blogoversary posts. Also, you’ll find a list of indie authors on the left side bar. Check out their websites or works sometimes. You might be  pleasantly surprised.

Many thanks to the readership. As much as I enjoy talking to myself, it’s always nice to know folks are out there listening in. 😉

So! How are we wrapping this all up? Well, let’s see.

  • $10 worth of indie eBooks from Amazon plus a book up to $10 from the Book Depository. (International to anywhere the Book Depository delivers)
  • $10 worth of indie eBooks from Amazon (International)

Without further ado, the winners are !

DarkBloodyVamp ~ You’ve won a mini- shopping spree at Amazon and the Book Depository.

Maria Guajardo (GABY) ~ You’ve one the mini-mini shopping spree at Amazon!

haha ready for more fireworks? Gosh I wish I had sound effects.

Emails have been sent to the winners who have until Monday, January 17, 2011 to get back to me.

Don’t forget to pick up your consolation prize–Control Freak: Brandon’s Story at Smashwords. Use the coupon code HZ25V which is good until February 8, 2011. As a special bonus, I released Shadow Cat the day after the big blogoversary day. Exciting! Readers are welcome to download that work over the next few days for 50% off. Use the code: PE32F on Smashwords. Offer expires Monday, January 17, 2011. Enjoy! :)

Also, check out the current giveaway featuring L.K. Rigel, author of Space Junque and Spiderwork.

More Teasing: Shadow Cat Chapter 3

The saga continues. 🙂 If you haven’t read the first two chapters, check it (Chapter 1 and Chapter 2). If you’re looking for other freebies, have at it here.

Chapter 3

The sheets tangled around Eric’s legs as he flipped over. Three years of running his grandfather’s company and already the stocks plummeted. The venture in Malaysia was meant to revitalize and even that was in jeopardy.

He kicked off the blankets and got out of bed. The tension in his neck pulled so tight it was an effort to keep from scrunching his shoulders to his ears. He stretched and kneaded the muscles, working out the kinks.

Even Jeet Kune Do had done little to help him relax. If anything, karate had made the stress worse with Bryan taking full advantage of the distractions. His buddy had bitched slapped him so many times, he’d lost track.

Eric ambled to the bathroom and cringed as his feet hit the cold tiles. He flicked on the lights, resisting the urge to turn them back off when he caught sight of his reflection in the mirror. The puffy bags and dark circles under his eyes added ten years to his thirty-three. Gah! He needed a vacation.

He turned on the cold water, filled his cupped hands, and splashed his face. Eyes squeezed tight and water dripping down his chin, he reached for the towel rack as a knock came from his front door.

“What in the world?” He smacked the back of his wrist against the bar. “Damn it.” The thick cotton brushed the back of his hand, and he snatched it from the rail. He scrubbed his face and tossed it at the hamper. The towel dangled on the rim before slipping to the floor. Screw it. He strode into the living room, the pounding more persistent with every step.

“Be right there,” he yelled. That better not be you, Bryan. I’ve had enough bad news for one evening.

Eric peered out the peephole and saw the silver lining at the end of a hellish day. With a smile, he unlocked the door and opened it wide.

“Hi,” Angelica said, her smile every bit an invitation.

Eric pulled her close and slid a hand down the small of her back, massaging through the thick coat.

“My, this is quite a welcome.” She traced her lips with her tongue and ended by sucking the bottom one into her mouth, letting the plump flesh slide between her teeth with a soft smack.

Oh, that’s nice. He kicked the door shut with his foot and kissed her reddened lower lip.

“Eric, you have the sexiest body.” Her husky voice purred as she trailed a finger down his bare chest.

“I’m sure you wouldn’t have it any other way.” He reached to remove her coat, but Angelica interlocked her fingers with his, preventing him.

She pouted while twirling slow circles around his nipples with her perfectly manicured nail. “Eric… You really got Daddy riled tonight.”

He bent to kiss her, but she pulled back.

She gave the sweetest smile, lowering her lashes briefly before meeting his eyes. “You know… we can fix all this.”

“I’d like that.” Pulling her so close she stood on her toes, he leaned in for a kiss.

She pressed her hand against his chest, keeping her luscious mouth out of reach.

“Don’t tease, Angelica.” He wrapped his hand around her nape.

“Just think about it for a moment.”

“No thinking.” He bent her back and ran his tongue along her slender neck. “Mmmm.”

Her throat vibrated as she continued to talk. “Your stock plus Daddy’s, we’d hold the majority share.”

Eric froze. He pulled away and looked her dead in the eyes… calculating green eyes, so like her father’s. “What game are you playing?”

She snaked her arms around his back and raked her nails lightly down, sending a shiver through his body. Her smile turned cunning, and her eyes took on an unbecoming glint. “Think of it as a… merger.”

“A merger?” Eric frowned. “What are you talking about?”

She tilted her head back and laughed a grating tinkle. “Eric, you silly man, I’m talking about marriage.”

Eric dropped her like a bad marketing campaign.

Angelica stumbled a few steps, catching herself before falling. Her nose crinkled, but her face held a faint hint of amusement. “My goodness, Eric.”

He ran a hand down his face, wishing he could wipe the day from his memory. “Where is all this coming from?”

“Surely, you didn’t think this arrangement would last forever.” She waved her hand around the room, sauntering back to him. “Look at us… hiding from Daddy like teenagers. I think it’s about time to remove all that animosity, don’t you?” She wrapped her arms about his neck. Her tongue slithered out and licked his nipple before she blew cool air over it.

His arms remained dead at his side, every ounce of arousal sapped from his body. “But you came to me. What happened to just scratching an itch?”

“Hmmm. I did say that, didn’t I?” Her hand slid under his hair and stroked the back of his head. “Well, just think of this as one more itch you can scratch.”

Damn him for being blind. The entire time she’d been using him for his family fortune? He should have expected as much from a Fitzgerald. His lips curled in disgust at the thought of being shackled to the manipulating woman as he pried her hands from his neck. “I’m not marrying you.”

“Eric, I don’t get you.” She crossed her arms and let them plop against her chest. “We were made for each other. We have everything in common—similar childhoods, same lifestyle. We’re smart, ambitious.” Her hips tilted to the side as her fists landed on them. “And we have chemistry. Why are you so resistant?”

“Are you done?”

Angelica’s eyes widened. “Well, no… I… well, I mean… I guess.”

He walked past her and opened the door. “Good. It’s time for you to leave.”

She opened her mouth and then snapped it shut. Her eyes narrowed to slits, and she stomped to him, jabbing her finger into his pectoral. “You’re making a big mistake.”

“I can live with that.” He took her by the arm and helped her over the threshold.

“Hey!” She struggled to pull free. “Let me go.”

“Fine.” He released her, took a step back, and slammed the door.

On the other side, Angelica released a shrill screech.

He leaned his forehead against the door and closed his eyes. What a nightmare. Angelica pounded the door, and it bounced against his head. Pain reverberated through his skull, adding to his already growing headache.


Eric shoved his papers in his briefcase as the board members filed out the conference room. He hated meetings. And the smirk on Fitzgerald’s face after notifying the trustees the researchers had lost the permits didn’t help either.

He slammed his case shut and snapped the latches. He should have sent someone to Malaysia to babysit those researchers. Idiots. What made them think tearing down a section of the rainforest was okay? Damn it. They weren’t loggers. He jerked his briefcase from the table, strode to the exit, and froze. It couldn’t get any worse.

Deep in conversation, William huddled in the hallway with his daughter. What were they plotting? Angelica spotted Eric, and her lip curled as she raked him from head to toe. She caught her father by the arm and led him away, still engrossed in their schemes.

Eric tightened his grip on his briefcase. He needed to do something, anything before his life spiraled out of control.

“No calls,” he barked at his secretary when he reached his office. He snapped the door shut, threw his briefcase in a corner chair on the way to his granite desk, and dropped in his seat. The sudden swoosh of air created by his carelessness caused papers to flutter to the floor. With his life falling apart, they were just one more mess to add to the chaos.

A knock rapped at his door, and Eric slammed his fist on the desk, scattering more papers. “I said, NO CALLS!”

The door cracked open, and Bryan popped his head in. “Bad day?”

“What the hell are you doing here? You should be halfway to Malaysia by now. Damn it. Doesn’t anyone listen?”

Bryan walked in with a smile and pushed the door shut behind him. “Cool it. There aren’t any flights available until tomorrow. I just wanted you to know.”

“This’ll be another wasted day.” Eric let out a long, slow breath. He rested his elbow on the cool surface of his desk and propped his head on his fists. “Have a seat, Bryan.”

“What’s gotten into you? You used to be a lot of fun.” His friend walked to the two-seater against the wall, plopped down, and hooked a leg over the arm.

“Argh.” Eric tilted his seat back and pressed his head against the back of the leather chair as he stared at the ceiling. ”I’m screwing myself left and right.”

“What’s up?”

Eric brought his chair forward and considered his buddy who’d taken to hanging his head over the other arm of the love seat. As stupid as his friend looked with his oddly colored hair dangling wildly, he hesitated. “You’re going to think I’m an idiot.”

“Trust me.” Bryan laughed. “You’ve done plenty of idiotic things before. I doubt you could surprise me.”

Eric glared. “A lot of help you are. I don’t know why I bother. You can’t take anything seriously.”

Bryan lifted his head with the stupid grin still plastered on his face. “Come on, man. Spit it out.”

“Fine. Effin’ Angelica’s got my number… asked me to marry her last night.”

Bryan sat straight, all hint of amusement gone. “What?”

“Damn it. I’ve been sleeping with her for months. I didn’t—“

“You’ve been sleeping with her for months?” Bryan crossed the room and slapped his hands on the desk. “Have you lost your mind?”

“Get off my back.” Pushing away, Eric left Bryan hovering over his workspace and took up residence in front of the window. Beautiful skyscrapers towered New York City, playing tribute to his corporate world. While below, cars lined the streets, jam packed like a congested road in Sim City—the tangled mess a replica of his life. “It just happened.”

“Are you crazy? Things like that don’t just happen. She probably planned it with her old man. He’s been gunning for your job since before your parents died.”

“I know. I know. Damn, you don’t have to tell me.”

“What did you say to her?”

Eric faced his friend. “What do you think I told her? I said no and kicked her out.”

Bryan brought a hand up and grinned behind his fist. “No you didn’t, man.”

“Grow up, Bryan. I’m sinking fast. I need a freakin’ break.”

“Okay.” Bryan’s smile faded as he shook his head. “I feel for ya. I really do.”

A deafening silence followed.

“Hey,” Bryan said. “Come to Malaysia with me. After we get those permits back, we’ll make a vacation of it. I don’t remember you taking any time for yourself since you took chair three years ago.” He smiled. “It’ll be an experience of a lifetime.”

“I don’t know.” Eric’s gaze wandered to the papers scattered across his desk, the piles mounting higher every day.

Bryan closed the distance and locked eyes with Eric, not a trace of humor on his face. “You need this. You keep going like you’re going, and you’ll burn out. Then you’ll be useless to the company. Even workaholics need breaks from time to time.”

Eric let out an audible breath, releasing some of the tension. “You’re right.”

Bryan placed his hand on Eric’s shoulder. “You good?”

“Yeah.” Eric walked around his friend to his desk and busied himself moving random papers. “Book the company jet. We don’t have time to wait. Stop by my place and grab me some stuff. I have a few things I need to handle before we go. Give me a couple of hours.”

“Right.” Bryan’s footsteps fell on soft carpet, and the door opened.

“Oh… and call the Corporate Angel Network and see if they have any patients who need a ride along our route.”

“Of course.” The door clicked closed.

Eric turned around, alone again in his office. A trip to Malaysia sounded good—tropical weather, maybe some rafting, and a little relaxation. If nothing else, it might give Angelica time to cool… and hopefully move on.

He focused on his crammed briefcase. Besides, he could always telecommute.

Like it? Head over to Amazon or Smashwords and pick up your copy. Need more? Have a go at chapter 4.

Interview: R.C. Rutter on Editing

I’ve seen it; you’ve seen it. Self-publishing nightmares where authors take Do It Yourself (DITY) to a new level as they attempt to edit their own works. 🙂 Please welcome R.C. Rutter as he reveals pitfalls and helpful tips on editing.

Tell us a bit about your work.

My name is R.C. Rutter and I am the author of the fantasy novel Cave of Forlorn which is available in Kindle (ebook) and (paperback). When considering all the options of publishing, it became obvious that the best method to publish is as an indie author/writer. Yes, there are challenges but the rewards far outweigh the negatives.

Okay, I’m an indie writer; I’ve bypassed the editors at the traditional houses. Now I’m stuck finding a way to get my own work edited. How important is editing for indie writers?

Lack of editing or poor editing are the main reasons indie book writers have a bad reputation. Imagine trying to read a book that is full of grammatical errors. Or perhaps, the verbiage is correct but the story line falters; characters appear and disappear at will; or change locations
without moving. It would be very difficult to read a book like this. Yes, I have personally seen all of the above and more. Editing is a must!!!

Copy editing, line editing, proofreading, etc – what’s the difference?

All of the above terms define different levels of editing. Definitions will vary somewhat depending upon the person asked but we can summarize editing as follows:

Line editing is another term for copy editing. This is the tedious editing that looks at spelling, style, punctuation, grammar, and usage. This is done line-by-line in the book.

Overall editing: Story flow, character development, etc. Is it well written? Is anything missing?

Proofreading: final check of layout and punctuation (final step of editing to possibly catch anything that was missed in the line editing).

How much can a writer expect to pay for editing?

The cost for editing will range from several hundred to several thousand dollars depending upon the services requested.

Money’s tight. What are some cost saving techniques for writers wanting to present quality work?

This can be a very dangerous route to take. With very few exceptions, a writer cannot edit his or her own book. When writing the book, you already have an image of what the characters and scenes look like so you will have a tendency to gloss over or fill in the words in your book, ergo missing errors. If you take this route, I would recommend that you set aside the book for a minimum of thirty days. Don’t look at the book, don’t think about it. Then pick it up and do a quick read through, marking any problems. I am a firm believer in the barter system.

Do you have a service or product that you can trade for editing? Use your imagination!

An alternative is to give your book to someone for editing, perhaps a friend or family member. Can you trust that person? Would they give out copies of your work? Would they put their own name on it and publish it?  Would they steal your characters or storyline? Think carefully before you answer. You have just spent x amount of months and years writing.

As a test of your writing, give the first few chapters to people who are well read on your subject matter. Try to avoid anyone who thinks you are wonderful as that will cloud their judgment. Ask for constructive feedback. If they ask for more to read; that is a great sign that you are on the right track.

Do not overlook the title. That is the first impression! (And cover art as well!).

Where do I find editors?

The unemployment line! Yes, the major publishers have all reduced their editing staff and freelance editors abound. Local sources can be found at writers groups. Unfortunately, there is not one concise list and anyone can claim to be an editor.

It seems like people are advertising their editorial services at every turn. What are some tips on choosing an editor?

Experience and efficiency are paramount. A timeline should be discussed regarding the approximate date of completion. The date has to be fluid. The more work required, the longer it will take. An editor should have experience in the genre of the book. You must check references and examples of pre- and post work.

Any additional advice on editing?

When you think you are done, put the book aside and leave it for a few weeks. Then go back and do a quick read checking once again for story flow. Once you are satisfied that it is ready, you can then scope out the different ebook publishers to ascertain their required formats for uploading books. Will a MS Word document suffice? HTML? PDF?

Did you think writing a book was going to be easy?

For more information, where might folks find you?

Cave of the Forlorn is available at Amazon