Guest Post: Scott Nicholson on Building a Book Audience

Who Can Build A Book Audience?

By Scott Nicholson

http://www.hauntedcomputer.com

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.

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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:

CRIME BEAT

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.

Guest Post: Scott Nicholson on Blog Tours

I put out a call to Indie Writers a week or so ago, and was lucky enough to have a quite few authors hit me up. Despite being eyeball deep in blog tours right now, Scott Nicholson was generous enough to offer a guest post. Thanks for joining us today!

90 Days of Nightmares
By Scott Nicholson

http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/

I like to create nightmares.

Mostly, I create them for myself.

I’m an “idea person.” I get an idea and I write a book about it. I get an idea and I create a lot of work. I invent trouble, and I stay open-minded. I prepare for the worst and live through the worst, and occasionally it all comes together.

I’ve always been a tireless promoter of my books, mostly from working in media, but the Internet has changed everything about the book business as well as most other businesses. Newspapers rarely review books, and book blogs are now where most of the enthusiasm and conversation generates.

I’ve done a few “book launch” events where I tried to do flash mobs and spur a flurry of sales, but noticed that the work involved wasn’t worth the temporary buzz. So as I was driving to work one late-August morning, I got the idea of doing a tour and launch for ALL my books at the same time. After all, I had none of the artificial panic caused by the traditional publishing system and its insane, upstream distribution system in which you have 30 days from release to determine the entire fate of your book sales (let’s skip the more complex reality that your book’s fate was determined long before you even signed the book contract).

Lots of authors were doing 30-day blog tours for a new release, often organized by a corporate publicist who could ply the bloggers with boxes of free books and other goodies. I decided to do mine the hard way, researching and personally contacting book bloggers to ensure a good match.

Originally I was going to give away one paper book at each stop (I own a few hundred copies of my first collection I bought cheap when the publisher went out of business). Including postage, the entire tour would have cost about $300. But then I realized my audience is primarily Kindle owners, and my future audience is future Kindle owners. So I decided to give away a Kindle. I contacted Amazon and asked for their support and they agreed to donate a Kindle DX and Kindle 3 for the tour, since I would be promoting Kindle and ebooks. I could then afford to throw in bonus Kindle giveaways if any books hit the Top 100.

I hit the ground running, with only a few weeks before the tour started. The whole thing was going to be improvised along the way, and as of this writing I still haven’t scheduled all the stops. But the response has been wonderful, and we’ve created a new community where authors, readers, and bloggers are meeting. Some just want to win a Kindle and that’s cool, while others are having fun, which is cooler.

It’s also been a great opportunity to learn about the blogging world. I admire those who use their spare time to share a passion for books. They are a critical force in this new era of indie publishing, helping overwhelmed readers decide which books are worthy of time, money, and attention.

I haven’t become an overnight success, and the highest I’ve hit on the bestseller list is #148, but my sales have steadily improved and my audience has expanded, mostly with people who spent some time on the tour getting to know me before trying my books. I’ve always been fairly reserved about my private life, but the tour has allowed me to open up a little and show my different interests and passions, as well as explore my real motivations for writing and connecting with readers.

Ninety blog stops. That’s a lot of extra writing, probably 200 pages by the time I’m done. I’ve probably emailed 300 or 400 different bloggers, which takes some time, but also has allowed me to build personal relationships with some of them. I probably could have used a professional agency to set up the tour, but I doubt they could have reacted as quickly as I did and it would have taken months and months through formal channels. Not to mention it probably would have cost me a few thousand dollars, which I’d rather spend on more Kindle giveaways or other prizes.

If you’re a writer, I’d say “Why not set up your own tour and have some fun?” Beats continually hyping yourself on the same old overcrowded, noisy forums. Whether it’s seven days or 30 days or 90 days, each stop is a chance to meet someone who has never heard of you. If you’re a reader, then I recommend hanging out at some blogs and catching the buzz and sharing the joy.

Best of all, it’s a chance to build new relationships and meet cool new friends who dig books. And that’s worth a little work and a few nightmares.

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Scott Nicholson is author of 12 novels, including the thrillers Speed Dating with the Dead, Drummer Boy, Forever Never Ends, The Skull Ring, As I Die Lying, 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.

To be eligible for the Kindle DX, simply post a comment below with contact info. Feel free to debate and discuss the topic, but you will only be entered once per blog. Visit all the blogs on the tour and increase your odds. I’m also giving away a Kindle 3 through the tour newsletter and a Pandora’s Box of free e-books to a follower of “hauntedcomputer” on Twitter. Thanks for playing. Complete details at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/blogtour.htm

Find works by Scott Nicholson at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || The Book Depository || Kobo || iTunes || Smashwords