Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blog Tour tomorrow-- coffee and keyboard ready

Well, here we go...the craziest thing I've ever done in my life. Well, maybe not my entire life, and maybe only involving books, but here comes 90 days of nightmares, three months of mischief, an autumnal adventure, a...well, you get the picture.

If you don't, here's one, as I go from the World's Laziest Hack to the Ugliest Hillbilly On The Internet, the Steve Buscemi of paranormal fiction, the Johnny Depp of supernatural suspense, the Seth Rogen of--oh wait, I don't want to be the Seth Rogen of anything.

Be sure to check back here tomorrow when bestselling mystery writer Vicki Tyley flies in from Australia for a visit. And the day after that, the unquenchable Zoe Winters will be here, who is conducting a Kindle Giveaway tour of her own!

I will pop in here at the blog from time to time with news, but will have a roster of guest bloggers checking in, too, so give them warm treatment! (BTW the Pandora's Box is now up to 71 ebooks).

My wife doesn't really understand how the whole thing works, but I explained that I was finally telling my whole story--the full Scotty--in all my crazy glory, and of course she instantly took credit. The best thing about the new era and Act II of my career is that I get to do whatever I want. Unlimited dreams. The only people I need to worry about are you and my other readers. If I can't turn this into a spectacular failure, I haven't tried hard enough. But you know what? I am having a blast. It feels like this is what I'm meant to do right now. Fourteen years of writing. A stack of books. And the Internet. This couldn't get any better unless they invented virtual chocolate.

I hope you follow the tour and comment. Spread the word. Laugh at me or with me, as long as you laugh. Best of all, have fun. I am!


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Czerwony kościół by any other name

Through the wonders of Facebook, I have learned The Red Church has now been published in Polish. Way cool. Great cover. Looks like it's been out since spring and I haven't seen copies or a check so I didn't even know it existed. Thanks to Mateusz Bandurski for the heads up. Maybe I can do a trade to get the translated edition for digital release. The title also seems to be the name of an actual village in Poland. Hmm, guess I will have to learn more.

In the meantime, I have translators working on French and Italian editions, and a Spanish edition was supposed to be published in paper this year. It's very exciting to see all these markets opening up. A midlist writer may soon be able to earn a blue-collar income sitting in sweatpants at home...

Shout outs to Lost for Words, Inside of a Dog, and Larissa's Bookish Life for hosting spots on the Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour. As you can see on the sidebar, it's nearly two-thirds full now and about to gear up with a vengeance. Please pass around the press release because the better the tour does, the more stuff I can give away. Hooray for everyone!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

House-sitting writers

While I am away (mostly) on my Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour, other writers will be providing guest posts here--among them Zoe Winters, Debbi Mack, and Vicki Tyley.

They are among the growing list of writers who have contributed to the Pandora's Box of free e-books--I hope to get a few hundred in there by the end of the tour on Nov. 30, when I will be back here with a wrap and a long winter's nap. Writers who want to donate can send mobi, PDF, and epub file(s) to pandorasboxebooks AT yahoo.com, or a Smashwords coupon valid at least through the end of 2010.

Look for three new releases during the tour--the metafictional thriller As I Die Lying, the science fiction pulp thriller Forever Never Ends, and Gateway Drug: Mystery Stories. I will also be releasing a novel co-written with J.R. Rain.

Hope you join in, spread the word, celebrate books and bloggers, and most of all, have fun!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Writer at the Crossroads

I love success stories such as Amanda Hocking's, who took the Kindle bestseller list by storm--part serendipity, part timing, but most of it built on hard, persistent work. But now at 26 she is at a huge crossroads of entering the traditional realm or sticking with the independent vision that brought her success. I wrote this on her blog comments as the advice of one guy who has been there and watching this writing business closely (and I see it as a "writing business," not a "publishing business," because publishing has no defined meaning anymore):

This is a beautiful, beautiful story and one I want my daughter to read. Just this morning I was talking to her about how other fifth graders might need a "How to Survive Fifth Grade" ebook and she said, "No, it should be 'How I Survive Fifth Grade." A brilliant distinction.

Amanda, I've followed you career a good bit since even BEFORE you were cool. And be careful when you open yourself to advice because you will get a lot of it. Well meaning, maybe, but from personal perspectives and agendas.

Here's my perspective based on six books in NY and now a handful of indie books (though I am nowhere in the same league as you):

Last year, it may have made sense to do what Boyd Morrison did and sign with an agent, because he had a dream of getting published in NY and seeing his books in stores. Sounds like you had that dream. Is it still your dream? Your primary dream? Or is it to connect with readers, which you can so easily do now?

Would you really want an agent now after they wouldn't take you before? It's sort of like the girl who takes off her glasses and gets the makeover and THEN the star quarterback notices her and asks her out. That's what I call a lazy agent. I've worked with five or six agents on different things, and they can be useful if you trust them. But make no mistake, they will always do what's best for them instead of what's best for you. That's just human nature. And they have other clients, friends in the industry to please, and ego and standing to consider--things that likely will be more important than you.

From a practical perspective, the minute you sign with an agent, here's what you get: someone who is likely to get you an advance and MAYBE a movie deal if you are lucky (though most deals are options that will pay you about what you look to be earning this year and you'll probably lose the whole series).

You will probably get a really good advance and be a full-time writer--for the near future. I know several people who got snazzy deals, but by Book Two the publisher dumped them and their careers were dead. One nice check, a couple of years to write, then back to Walmart or Burger King or house painting, and worst of all they'd lost rights to their own books. They didn't even own the one thing that was truly theirs (though it used to be you could eventually get your rights back). Your career is living and thriving now.

With a publisher: You will get 25 percent royalty, with luck, on your ebook sales, instead of the 70 percent you now get. It's possible and maybe even likely that your paper sales will far more than offset that, but only in the short term. Modern publishing clauses basically keep the rights forever, so you will be losing MORE per sale than you are getting, possibly as long as the book is in copyright, past your own life and into the life of your heirs. Hard to think about when you are 26, but you are in a good position to think long term.

If you sell to a publisher, it's likely you will have to take your books down from Amazon and then have a year or 18 months of waiting for a book to come out from a publisher. That's lost sales and lost readers--forever.

What exactly is a publisher going to bring you at this point that you can't already get? Only one thing--your books in stores. And I believe bookstores are going to be dying as fast as video stores have done in the last five years. It's like jumping off your own sound boat that you built yourself and climbing aboard a sinking boat that has someone else at the helm and they tell you to sit in the back and shut up.

Amanda, your industry is Amanda, not the publishing industry. Are you willing to give up control and vision of My Blood Approves to people who will never care as much as you do, no matter how hard they try and how much they say they do?

This is all heavy stuff, and things I've been mulling all year. A publisher may promote you if you are already a bestseller or they invest a lot of money. An agent may get you some foreign, audio, and maybe even a film deal, but people are getting that kind of interest without having agents. (At that point you'd probably need an agent or lawyer to handle a specific negotiation, but if they want to control everything, then you need to ask them all these hard questions. Many agents are in total denial about what's happening--clearly the ebook era is growing rapidly and clearly publishers are no longer necessary for success, as you and others have proven.)

I'm not one of these people gleeful about the "demise of the publishing industry." I think it will survive and find its own way, but with painful changes like any other business. You're already finding your way, and you did it your way, believing in yourself. How much do you want to turn that over to another person now? You can find editing, graphic design, formatting, and other services independently, people without any agenda except making your work the best.

I'd suggest you talk to some people in your genre who have agents, and talk to several agents. Don't forget (though many agents have), the agent works for you and you are basically hiring an employee, though it's also a bit like a marriage and hopefully a friendship, too.

Good luck, and most of all, enjoy it!

Scott Nicholson

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Money Can't Buy Me Love

I've largely left the publishing industry behind because it is only marginally my industry. My industry is Scott Nicholson (and it's cool to refer to myself in third person, though I need an LLC or Inc. to be even cooler).

But when Publisher's Weekly, the publishing industry flagship, starts selling its last shred of respectability under the guise of serving books, it's a clearer sign than ever the publishing industry is dying, or at least evolving beyond all recognizable form and tradition. You likely could care less unless you are a writer or work in the publishing industry, but PW is charging $149 for a segregated listing in a supplement, with a slim chance that you might actually get reviewed. Even the press release is smug and demeaning--because this is about putting indies in their place and highlighting the fact that "You are not one of us but you can drink at the water fountain if you pay plenty for the privilege."

PW is an industry magazine, so even if an indie (or any author) paid to be in it, all you are doing is getting seen by a handful of agents and editors and assorted hangers-on. Those are people who should be sharpening their own resumes or building their own individual industries. They are not going to be flipping through to discover new writers. They should be looking at the want ads, not the writer lists. They don't need any more writers. They had way too many already.

IndieReader has started a similar pay-to-play review policy, and the formerly esteemed Kirkus also sold its soul a few years back. These people want your money. The publishing industry is the least efficient way to sell your book right now. Putting it in a bookstore is going to cost you most of your profit and you still have to do all the work of building the audience, so why share that with dozens or hundreds of people who add little to the actual product, which is your words?

Look. Give them money and you are hurting your business. Whatever emotional tug you feel at joining their exclusive club, if you pay them, you are added to a list that at best will be ignored and at worst will be ridiculed. You're basically paying to be on a blacklist.

Maybe someday enough writers will figure out this is a business of writing. The rest is just smoke and mirrors and corporations.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Roundabouts and quick bits

More Scott babble about the ebook era at Darlyn & Books

The venerable Publishers Weekly turns into vanity press while segregating indie writers and letting them pay dearly

I am formatting the new release As I Die Lying--which is quite possibly the WORST novel ever written! Launching soon.

And co-writing a novel with J.R. Rain, he's good, check him out.

September is full for the Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour--you'll find guest posts here on my blog while I am away.

Authors who want in the Pandora's Box can check out the page for details

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Kindle Giveaway and new releases

Dark Eva says it better than I can--the tour is about to get underway. Three (or four) ways to win. I'm already putting together the posts and prepping a couple of more titles--Forever Never Ends (formerly The Harvest), the crime thriller Disintegration, and the metafictional thriller As I Die Lying for release during the tour, as well as the mystery story collection Gateway Drug. Join us!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kindle Giveaway ramp-up

The Pandora's Box of prizes is growing with the addition of M.J. Rose, Zoe Winters, Vicki Tyley, Debbi Mack, and more, and I will be adding the "bonus Kindle 3" if any of my books break the Top 100 in the US or UK Kindle store.

If you are interested in how the tour came together, I posted at the writer/industry blog Buzz, Balls, and Hype. Help spread the word--the bigger it gets, the better your chances of winning, because thee will be more to give away!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

TWO kindles for giveaway!

Thanks to generous support from sponsors (Amazon, Kindle Nation Daily, and Dellaster Design), I now have TWO kindles to give away as part of the Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour.

A Kindle DX will be given away through the participating blogs--simply visit the blogs and comment at one or more of my guest posts. You can only enter once per post, but you can increase your odds by stopping at all 90 posts. Winner will be randomly selected at the Watauga County (NC) Library in early December.

Another way to win a Kindle 3 is to subscribe to my Inner Circle newsletter at scottsinnercircle-subscribe@yahoogroups.com to get tour updates and a link to each day's stops--do both and double your chances!

And if that's not enough, sign up to follow my Twitter account at www.twitter.com/hauntedcomputer and be eligible for another prize package of ebooks and signed books.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Defining Success: Sometimes it's just survival

A writing friend of mine was wondering what he was doing "wrong" in not selling as many books as he'd like, and I shared this little story:

I just watched Ralph Stanley, old timey music legend, in a concert, and he did his thing pretty much the same all his life, lots of shows and albums, and while he was always known in his niche, and respected by musicians, it wasn't until O Brother Where Art Thou that anyone outside that regional musical circle heard of him. He was about 76 then (he's the KKK guy who sings "Oh Death" in the movie). When he sang that in the concert, 1,700 people were stone silent--even the little kids. You could feel the transcendent chill sweep over the audience. That was what you call a "moment," the phenomenon to which most artists aspire and which are precious and rare--the three-pointer at the buzzer, the essential stone in a chimney, the orchid of a hothouse gardener.

I bought a CD after the show just because Ralph Stanley joked that if we bought from him, he'd get all of the profit. He is amazed by his current success at 83 and he's enjoying it and grateful for it.

Hopefully we won't all have to wait that long for our own success, whatever that looks like. But you just never know when your time is right or when the world is ready for you. Do your thing and let the world catch up. Better to have potential than have peaked. You still have 6.5 billion people yet to discover you.

I was on a BBC radio show Wednesday and it reaches 40 million people and I am not sure I even got a single sale from it. One person emailed me and said they'd heard it. It was fun. I went to a comics convention yesterday, sat all day, maybe made $30. But an old friend from my radio days came by and agreed to do some audio of my work. And I met writer James Robert Smith, whose career is getting a big boost with a movie deal for his thriller The Flock. Maybe that was the reason for the "wasted" day.

You just never know which is the right thing, so do the things that feel right. I'd been active on the forums but now they have no conversation, just ads. I'd been tweeting a lot about the problems of the publishing industry, but honestly, nobody cares much except a handful of people in the industry. Readers sure don't. And even if it sold books, I am not sure I'd want that to be my "job." Running the indie books blog is one of my favorite things, and I am not sure it gives me any attention, but at least it adds something to the world.

I looked at my web visitor patterns yesterday--they come for the FBI profiler article, the Appalachian legend articles, the paranormal articles. So I know I need to work on those instead of more writing advice if I want to communicate and offer something to my visitors. I don't know anything about writing anyway, except sitting down and typing.

My approach is foundation building. Sure, I get a mild panic when my rankings slip, but this is like stocks--they rise and fall but they're always paying dividends. The worst thing you can do is not be ready when your time comes. When I had my most "success" in paperback, I was an alcoholic getting divorced. I was drunk when I wrote half my books and I made mistakes that probably prevented me from having an ordinary career, where you write a book a year and slowly build an audience--I was checking out at the time I should have been growing, because I didn't want to deal with people.

I don't know if those were related but I sure do know what I don't want out of a career. If I had been a bestseller I'd probably be dead. But that's just my story. I guess I'm just grateful if I can reach even one reader today.