Monday, December 26, 2011

Scott Nicholson free kindle books

If you like to share with your friends, feel free to copy and paste in Twitter, facebook, and your favorite book forum: Scott Nicholson is giving away free Kindle books this week!

(UK Kindle owners, just replace "com" with "" and you go right to the correct page for Amazon UK)

Mystery Dance: three books-The Skull Ring, Disintegration, Crime Beat

Amazon UK:

Share today from my Facebook wall to be entered for signed copy of "Disintegration"

(UK only) horror thriller The Gorge by Scott Nicholson

story collection Head Cases by Scott Nicholson, bonus tales by Willie Meikle and John Everson

That should keep you reading a while! Please tell your Kindle friends and look for an EPIC kindle giveaway coming soon!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa Scott free Kindle book giveaways

I'm shuffling down the chimney and handing out goodies for all the good little girls and boys who awake to find Kindles and Kindle Fires in their stockings (but you don't have to own a Kindle to read free Kindle books -- you can read them on your phone, iPad, computer, etc. What a truly marvelous age we live in!)

Free today, Dec. 24, is the paranormal mystery Transparent Lovers by Scott Nicholson

and the mystery thriller Disintegration

Coming soon: Duncan the Punkin, The Skull Ring, and As I Die Lying. Please tell all your friends and pass the freebies along. Amazon Kindle books have been very good to me and my family and I am happy to share. Check this post daily for the next week for updated giveaways. Now I need to shake off this chimney soot. Ho ho ho!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Liquid Fear, Chronic Fear, and the rebirth of a writing career

By Scott Nicholson

Today, Dec. 21, marks both the solstice and the two-year anniversary of my indie publishing experiment. On a gray day as the sun reached its nadir across my northern sky, I clicked a button that sent Burial to Follow into the digital world.

I had no idea what I was doing, only that I had nothing to lose. Part of me was afraid, as those old whispers came. You know, the ones drummed into writers since the dawn of time: (“Only hacks self-publish! You can’t do anything without an agent! Just keep sending out query letters and focus on writing the next book! Self-publishing will kill your career.”)

In truth, the original act was a mix of desperation and inspiration. Despite six books in traditional publishing, I was basically dead in the water, haunted by midlist numbers. New York thought it knew what I was and had the data to prove it. I knew better in my heart, but I was unsuccessful in convincing my potential partners, and the world of publishing had grown harsher and colder, to the point of “Only responds if interested.” All I could think was “Maybe you’re not interested, but I sure am.”

The Burial to Follow novella was respectably published in a hardcover by Cemetery Dance, so it had provenance. I figured I’d hedge my bets against what my peers thought (not that peers were paying any attention at all to me in 2009) by self-publishing backlist so I would have a built-in defense. I created a terrible but sincere cover with art from my DIRT comic book and hit the Amazon button.

I believe I got one sale through the final nine days of the year, but it was fun to wonder about that one stranger who had clicked and purchased. So I prepped The Red Church, a novel that had been successful in its short life but had fallen out of print for five years. Again, I had the self-defense of prior publication. “See? I’m a REAL writer and I am just making these ‘legitimate’ books available again.” And then sales started trickling in, and the book steadily rose up the charts. People liked it! But the most immense satisfaction was in being able to reach readers years after New York was done with it. The story was still fresh, maybe even timeless. At least timeless enough for now.

Cool things happened. My daughter was most impressed when I hit #1 in “Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy” (boy, the categories were wild in those days), not because I was above Stephen King but above C.S. Lewis. I think that was the first time she ever viewed me as a “real writer,” despite the stack of my dusty paperbacks in the closet.

I was still sending stuff to publishers and agents during this time, because I was a “real writer” and that indie stuff was just a sideline until I got a “real deal.” My goal at the time was to earn enough to pay my power bill. So I clumped together some stories that had also been professionally published, and the nickels turned into dimes. There was also an exciting and growing indie community, writers either frustrated by the traditional system or new to the entire game and having no pre-conceptions. That was matched by the enthusiasm of readers who saw a whole new world of choice open up to them. The universe was opening to possibility in odd and thrilling ways.

By mid-2010, I stopped sending stuff out to agents and publishers because the power structure had shifted. Readers now ran the industry, although none of us really understood the concept, or maybe it was too large and simple for us to grasp. Readers created bestsellers, they created careers for writers, they created new genres and cross-genres and niches and book blogs. The whole job for a writer shifted from finding the intermediaries who would deliver an audience to removing as many obstacles as possible between you and your readers. I uploaded original novels that I had been sending around, and I wrote new ones with the sole intention of self-publishing.

By the dawn of 2011, I was able to leave my day job and fulfill the only personal goal I’d ever had as a writer. I had some luck with a couple of bestsellers, and Amazon picked up Liquid Fear for re-release, and the sequel Chronic Fear. Amazon is awesome to work with and has been the most enthusiastic partner of my entire publishing career.

I don’t know if there is a “next level.” I certainly don’t need any more to be happy, and I am incredibly grateful and humbled. All I did was do what I love and click a few buttons, and I happened to be doing the right thing when the right time came along. I wish I could make ego claims of genius and talent, but it’s simply the blessings of good fortune, simply doing what God made Scott to do that no other person can do.

Today, Amazon launches Liquid Fear and Chronic Fear. Two years after the sun hit its lowest point and started ascension. Two years to the day after I first hit a button and said “Yes.”

I still say it today. Thank you, God and the universe. Thank you, readers and friends. Thank you, my wonderful, beautiful family. Yes.

Liquid Fear and Chronic Fear are $2.99 for Kindle, also available in paperback and audio. Current freebie  through 12/25 is Transparent Lovers for Kindle. Thanks for your support and friendship, and tell your friends about the freebies. My pledge is always: The more I get, the more I give away.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Speed Dating with the Dead free for Kindle

Okay, today's gift is Speed Dating with the Dead, a supernatural thriller. Inspired by an actual paranormal conference I held at a haunted Appalachian hotel--in the book, ghost hunters accidentally stir up demons. Free for two days! 

Burial to Follow is still currently free at Amazon but probably not for long.

I'll be signing paper books at Black Bear Books in Boone (Dec. 20) and City Lights Bookstore in Sylva (Dec. 21).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The screenplay of the novelization of the book

I'm one of the tens of thousands of authors trying the Amazon KDP Select program, where you make a book(s) available in the Prime lending library for a 90-day period. And the books are exclusive to Amazon during that period, too. Amazon also allows you to make an enrolled book free for up to five days during that period. It's too new to tell how this is going to affect the ebook scene, but I decided to roll out The Gorge: The Screenplay for a five-day giveaway.

I have never really promoted the screenplay, which I released as a Kindle-only ebook probably a year ago. It's my original screenplay adaptation of They Hunger, which is still in print from Kensington Books in the US and Canada, although I have released a digital version under the title The Gorge in all the other world markets. In case you are not yet confused enough, I also have a graphic novel in development called The Gorge, of which we've completed one issue.

All this is to say, well, grab the screenplay while it's free!

If you are outside the US/Canada, the novel version is on Amazon UK. The Kindle and paperback editions in US can be ordered at Amazon.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Win signed copies of Liquid Fear and Chronic Fear!

Preorder Chronic Fear and be entered to win a signed paperback set of Liquid Fear and Chronic Fear! These books will be signed with "First copies off the press."

Chronic Fear is available for Kindle, paperback, and audio at Amazon, and at in paperback. After ordering, simply email hauntedcomputer AT with "Chronic Fear" in the subject line. Thanks and good luck!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

KDP Select, aka Amazon lending library

Having been put in the "stir" by the L.A. Times, and since every writer with an opinion (which is basically all of them--which is why we are writers) has to chime in on KDP Select*, here's my take:

1. More books for more readers.
2. Chance for writers to meet new readers.
3. Chance for readers to meet new writers.

Risks? Sure, but mostly for authors. This could signal the downward spiral of the value of ebooks, which could lead to fewer people bothering to write them and eventually fewer new books for people to read.There's the possibility a writer choosing Amazon exclusivity will alienate fans in other markets, but the author can opt in and out of the program every 90 days. That should give anyone truly interested in the author a chance to buy in the non-Amazon markets. Plus paper copies will be exempt from the exclusivity requirement.

Those who are screaming that Amazon is taking away the hard-earned freedom of indie authors, I have to snort coffee through my nose. Indies earned nothing (unless you were one of those who succeeded selling paperbacks out of the trunk of your car). Indies were just sitting there, largely either unpublished or cast off by the industry, when Amazon created a huge market and then let them in it. Amazon created the device, the market, and the audience, and Amazon's success forced other competitors to open up to indies and offer excellent compensation and terms. Any author who claims Amazon is "the enemy" is not working from facts but from emotion.

Every single move Amazon has made resulted in MORE money for all participating writers, MORE ebooks for all readers, and MORE opportunity instead of a monopoly (if you follow me at all, you know I'm a contrarian and I see huge, huge opportunity in the other markets now, which of course will have to do something to counter Amazon's big move.)

As The Dude says, "There are a lot of angles to this thing," but it looks like everyone wins for now. Who knows what the future will be, but did we ever know that anyway?

*This is basically a lending library for anyone who is enrolled in the Amazon Prime program. You can check out any book in the library for one month.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Book That Killed My Career

Back in the paper stone ages, I had a nice start to my writing career. My first paperback The Red Church got a second printing and was picked up by the Mystery Guild Book Club as an alternate selection and sold a lot of hardcovers. My next book, The Harvest, sold even faster out of the gate, but it wasn't as good (I'd written it before The Red Church). At the time, bookstores were getting five to 10 copies of each book. I could go into a store and see a block of Scott Nicholson on the shelves.

And then The Manor happened. I didn't realize it at the time, but the old "order to the net" effect had hit me. If a store ordered five copies and sold three, they'd only order three the next time, and you'd sell two. With The Manor, I was only getting two copies on the shelves. Hard to find. It didn't help that the publisher's chosen title was bland, the cover said nothing, and that I was engaging in self-inflicted personal drama at the time. But the end result was that my traditional publishing career ended right there. The tragic part was that I'd just signed a three-book contract on the strength of the first two books, so I was stuck with a publisher that didn't have much stake in me anymore.

I can still remember the chill that went through me when I got my royalty statement. Sales had declined by nearly two-thirds. And I could not do much about it, because the stores would be making future orders based on The Manor's (lack of) performance. Meaning I would have an uphill fight to sell even that many copies on subsequent books. However, things did get a little better and They Hunger, the last book of the contract, was on the upswing (it's still in print, actually, for reasons I can't understand at all).

Despite my agent's best efforts and support, the numbers were a difficult obstacle to overcome, since New York works on perception--New York thought it already knew what I was, a low-performing mid-list writer. I can't really blame the industry. I guess they have to use some criteria, because so many books are of equal quality and they spend more energy weeding out books than they do selling them.

But, damn it, it was my book! I took my shot but a couple of months under a stacked system of disposable products wasn't worth sitting there with an out-of-print book for six years.I was so fortunate to be able to revive it, revise it, give it a new proof, cover, and title, and completely re-invent it. I am not saying I am a better publisher than my publisher, although I have a goal of selling more copies in a month than the publisher sold in seven years. I am saying I care a billion times more about the book than the publisher ever could--they have other books, other writers, other business pressures. I only have one me.

I revised it, got great editing and proof help from Neal Hock at Hock's Editing Services and a great cover from Neil Jackson, support from a bunch of great book blogs, and published it in every major ebook market. It's out there for all the world to love or hate or ignore.

I only have one career. I only have one book named Creative Spirit. Hell, the title pretty much sums up the theme of the book. You can't keep it down. This sucker is crawling out of the grave. It may not change the world, or prove that anyone did anything wrong back in 2004, but it is back! The manor is dead but creative spirit lives forever.

Welcome home, kid.


View or sample Creative Spirit at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kobo, Smashwords,, or Goodreads.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why This Country Is In Bad Shape #112

Here's what happens when you write a letter to your Congressional representative, in this case opposing Stop Online Piracy Act. I used a recycled envelope, sent to me by some bulk mailer. I taped a label over their return address, applied my own "Forever Stamp" (complete with an American flag, of course) over the "Put stamp here" block, and mailed it. There were no markings to indicate it was a recycled envelope.

Today it came back with the label peeled off, a "Return to Sender" sticker applied, and "cheap ass prick" handwritten near my return address.

So we have someone either in a Congressional mail room deciding what type of envelope is worthy of entry, or we have a U.S. Postal Service employee playing political mail cop. There were no markings on the envelope and nothing to indicate it was a recycled envelope. I think recycling an envelope is the very type of thing our esteemed Benjamin Franklin, our famously frugal and first Postmaster General, would have done.

So my conclusion is this. I may be "cheap," but I am not a prick. I pay my debts and taxes and own my house. I am cheap because somebody has to be--whether you are the government or its contracted employee. You've helped put my children's financial future and security at risk. You've overspent to the point that I have to give you all my savings. I don't think I can ever be cheap enough to take care of you.

In fact, You Who Didn't Have the Balls to Sign Your Name, I pay your salary. And maybe I'll stop. Maybe I'll vote against whoever put you in your job. Maybe I'll rethink what type of delivery service I use. I hear the USPS is making huge cuts, and maybe you're next on the list, because I am forwarding this information and your clever little critique to the Inspector General's office, because I hear tampering with the mail is a serious offense. Perhaps tampering with Congressional mail is an additional felony or two.

BTW my Congressional representative has an email address, too, so I can save my 42 cents as well as the cost of a new envelope. Happy Holidays, and let freedom ring.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Book success and the art of the ego

It's terrible to be a writer. We're all crazy. Writing--the act, the art, and the career--is a specific set of mental defects grounded in the most outlandish insecurities and wrapped in a poisonous atmosphere of ego. It's bad enough to think what you have to say is worth anyone's attention, but then you want money for it? Puh-leez.

I've served as therapist for several writers over the past year, and it's almost entirely about their numbers. I can't recall one writer saying "I'm stuck in my writing, and I need some inspiration." Instead, all I hear is "Oh my gosh, my numbers are down" or "Sales are hot, how can I keep it going?"

Because I've had exhilarating success and abject failure in my writing career, it's easy for me to seek the middle way. Being a taoist libertarian works fine when I'm sitting here in a Blue Ridge Mountain hollow with nothing out my window but the garden and the trees, but I can't afford to be a taoist unless people buy my books. Indeed, the primary goal of The Indie Journey: Secrets of Writing Success is to define happiness as apart from money while at the same time offering you tips to sell more books. The inherent contradiction drives me nuts, but at least I am not tricking you into believing you can sell a million copies. Because you won't. Neither will I.

So my advice to writers worried about their numbers is, "The numbers are numbers and the words are the words." I am not sure what that means, except after 15 years I've come to believe that sales are largely due to luck. Talent is luck, the mental stamina to work hard is luck, and getting book sales that stimulate book sales is luck. Indeed, in the larger picture, all writers sitting right here in the Great Digital Gold Rush of 2011 are lucky. It won't last, of course. No good thing ever lasts. But there will be a next good thing, and a next, just like always.

Nothing sells like sales. Nothing writes like words. I don't know if that's taoist or not. But your numbers are no more real than the stories themselves. This entire thing is impossible--from writing a book to finding a reader. The fact that it has happened once or twice doesn't make it any less impossible. You, as a person, are not your numbers any more than you are the words you put on a screen.

My thriller Liquid Fear hit the Kindle Top 20. Right now it's probably around #12,000-15,000. Yet it's the same book. Amazon will publish it Dec. 20th, and it will likely be a hit again with their promotion. Great editorial assistance aside, it's basically the same book. So am I the indie rock star from April, the forgotten shmuck from November, or the Amazon poster boy of 2012? All and none. All and none.

The book that didn't sell at first is still the same book as when it breaks the Top 100. No better or worse. You as a person and as a writer have no more inherent value than you did before or after your stardom. You will be forgotten. You will go out of print. We all do.

So what are you so worried about?

What am I so worried about?

All and none. I told you all writers are crazy.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Creative Spirit by Scott Nicholson U.S. ebook launch

"Scott Nicholson explores the dark legends of the southern end of the Appalachian mountain chain, a nightmare country that ends in Stephen King's yard."-- Sharyn McCrumb, author of The Ballad novels

A paranormal thriller by Scott Nicholson

After parapsychologist Anna Galloway is diagnosed with metastatic cancer, she has a recurring dream in which she sees her own ghost at Korban Manor. She’s compelled to visit the historic estate to face her destiny and the fate of her soul.

Sculptor Mason Jackson has come to Korban Manor to make a final, all-or-nothing attempt at success before giving up his dreams. When he becomes obsessed with carving Ephram Korban's form out of wood, he is swept into a destructive frenzy that even Anna can’t pull him from.

The manor itself has secrets, with fires that blaze constantly in the hearths, portraits of Korban in every room, and deceptive mirrors on the walls. With an October blue moon looming, both the living and the dead learn the true power of their dreams.

View or sample it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kobo, Smashwords,, or Goodreads.

CREATIVE SPIRIT is Scott Nicholson’s revised edition of the 2004 U.S. paperback THE MANOR. Scott is Kindle bestselling author of 12 novels, including THE RED CHURCH, DISINTEGRATION, LIQUID FEAR, and SPEED DATING WITH THE DEAD. Connect with Scott on Facebook, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Twitter, blogspot, website or Amazon page

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Meme addiction. One day at a time.

Instead of listing the many, many things I am grateful for today, I want to confess: I have become a meme addict. Yes, I have entered the land of Conspiracy Keanu and Excited Soccer Kid and Successful Black Man and my personal favorite, Disaster Girl.

I could go into how Pepper Spray Cop memes tell the story of the entire Occupy Wall Street movement, or how it is either an important social communique or a cultural touchstone or an example of technology running faster than our ability to process information. Yeah, the academic stuff that's not even cool enough to be geeky. There's even a site that analyzes the creation of a meme, charts its history and stats, and gives historical background. While talking heads and sociologists analyze what it means, the average person just looks at it and laughs and "gets it," or else gets furious. (Although I'd guess the memes mainly reaches the audience that gets it, because the fuddy duddies are too busy watching Fox News or reading the Wall Street Journal.

I haven't created my first meme yet, but I am considering ways to use it to promote the things I believe in. But I guess we all do that, by sharing and posting the memes we like, the ones that tell a bigger truth in one sentence or image.

I don't know whether to be overjoyed or very, very afraid.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Creative Spirit: Bonus Edition With Screenplay By Scott Nicholson

If you've known me a looong time (at least in Internet years), you may remember a little mass-market paperback called The Manor. If so, you are one of the few, because it didn't sell a whole lot of copies. I worked very hard on the book, although I may have over-edited it in a misguided attempt to "broaden my market appeal." In short, I took out all the cussing and sex. I thought it would be the book that would launch my career, because they used to say the third book was the make-or-break point for a writing career. (Turns out a lot of what they used to say was wrong, but I was too dumb to know it.)

Seven-plus years and a rights reversion later, I get to find out if the book is truly not that good or if I was simply a victim of bad circumstances. The publisher did what publishers do, and the bookstores probably ordered like they always do, based on the previous books' sales, and the system worked the way the system worked. And The Manor was just one book of many, there for a couple of months and gone, pushed aside for the next run and never heard from again.

Until now.

I revised it, restructured it slightly, and generally went through to make sure I was happy with it. Yes, I am still happy with it. Maybe it's not Stephen King or Dean Koontz or James Herbert, but it is solidly Scott Nicholson. I didn't insert any cussing or sex in it just for fun, but it has a few "hells" and a romantic conflict at the core. It has some ghosts, a little violence, a lot of suspense, a fairly big cast of characters, shifting third-person viewpoint, and a little metaphorical theme that I didn't even figure out until years after it was published. I like it. It's part of my family and now it's back in the fold after a long journey abroad, sequestered by strangers in an unforgiving land. It's home again.

Creative Spirit (my preferred title) has been out for the UK Kindle for a year and is one of my bestselling books there. Now it's time for the U.S. release. I just released the bonus edition for Kindle with the novel, my screenplay adaptation, and an article about the real manor (you can read the article here.) I am putting out the basic novel, at a temporary lower price, after Thanksgiving if you prefer to wait, or you can get it at for Nook, all formats at Smashwords, or at Kobo

I believe readers will like this. Seven years later, I don't think the book is dated, because it's a modern Gothic removed to a remote location (it doesn't matter if the characters don't have a cell phone or wi-fi). And I have this goal: I intend to sell more copies of Creative Spirit than the publisher did.

The publisher had its chance. Now it's my turn. And your turn. Thanks for your support.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kindle Lending Library and Amazon prime membership

The big bubbling news of Amazon is the launch of the Netflix-style pool of ebooks rolled into the membership. Not trying to be a know-it-all since I am the world's dumbest genius, but this was an inevitable move that I predicted last year. I just didn't expect it to happen so soon. The initial pool of books is around 5,400 titles as of today. Expect that to blow up very soon, because of the other big development in the rumor stage: Amazon is looking to let self-published authors opt in to the library. I don't know anything of substance but The Passive Voice works off of an "informed tip" to explore the issue.

For readers, it is an amazing deal. Most Amazon customers would have Prime anyway, just to get the movies and the free shipping and the other benefits. Now you basically get 12 free books a year--and good ones, not just stuff an indie author made free (not that there is anything wrong with indies, but you will not see The Hunger Games free elsewhere.) More reading is always A Good Thing.

The biggie for writers will be: (1) compensation and (2) exclusivity. Amazon may well be worth the exclusivity. Obviously, I feel that way, having signed two books with them and happy to do more. A big library moves Amazon even further ahead of the other ebook markets, by orders of magnitude. It's the compensation question that's more of a concern, particularly long term.

One rumor is a payment fund by which writers will be compensated for checkouts. This is a good idea, but the size of the pie and the total number of slices are still uncertain. Even $100,000 a month is not very much if 100,000 authors are splitting it (I'd guess there are at least half a million indie authors at this point).

But writers ultimately write to be read. Back in the Stone Ages of pre-2009, we spent a lot of energy trying to get our books onto library shelves and getting noticed by readers. While discoverability will still remain a challenge, I like my odds a lot better when it's on a free digital shelf. Maybe those readers will connect and go on to try (and maybe buy) other books.

I write each book for one reader--the reader whose ideology may be changed, whose inspiration might blossom, or who might need those few hours of entertainment and escape. I don't know who that is. So I have to work as hard to reach as many readers as possible. The Prime lending library helps accomplish that mission.

If you have Prime, you can check out my Fear books (Liquid Fear and Chronic Fear are both releasing Dec. 20). I don't see a function to be able to "pre-checkout" but it's on the list of those available for loan. Maybe I'll have more there soon. Keep watching the skies.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stop Government Control of the Internet: Oppose HR 3261

(Are you  opposed to government control of the Internet, such as the oppressive first step of HR 3261 (Stop Online Piracy Act)? Feel free to pirate, steal, borrow or copy any portion of this post and use it in your own letter to your U.S. Representative and editor of your local newspapers. Such letters are best personalized, in your own words, and politicians in particular value handwritten or personally signed letters, which they equate with active voters--but perhaps you share some of my ideals and are welcome to my words. Value and protect Internet freedom, or soon you may not be able to read this.)

Dear U.S. Rep. ________ and Editor:

I am writing to express my deep alarm at HR 3261 (Stop Online Piracy Act) and any government intrusion into the Internet use of United States citizens. It is not only a horrible precedent blithely couched in the guise of an economic security measure, it is opening the door to further government control of our speech, thoughts, and communication—indeed, the very fabric of our free society.

As someone who makes a living selling original digital content, I have no worry over people “stealing” my content or even selling it for profit. In fact, most of my books are easily available in illegal torrent streams, and I don’t give it a second thought. Digital piracy is a very negligible threat, largely exaggerated by the fear and hysteria of industries that are afraid of change. Even if the United States could police its own servers, the illegal content would still leak from cracks all over the world. The only possible outcome would be bigger government, higher taxes, and repressive control of our speech—and once the government has its prying eyes deep inside our Internet, do any of us really expect the government to turn a blind eye toward anything else it might not like?

What is the TRUE threat is the government making any move, however well-intentioned, into the public’s largest and most immediate discussion forum. The Internet is the biggest tool for free speech in our civilization’s history, and any regulatory shadow cast over it stands in direct contradiction to our First Amendment and, indeed, the foundation of the democracy we claim to espouse and defend.

I don’t lose sleep over Internet theft. But I lose a lot of sleep over the idea of Big Brother reaching into my computer and telling me what I can’t read, see, or believe. Say "No" to HR 3261 and value individual civil liberty over despotic government growth. Thank you.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Nora Percival: Self-Publishing at Age 97

Yesterday I helped my 97-year-old friend Nora Percival publish an ebook. We're still in the upload process, and it was a great reminder of how wonderful the digital era is. While Nora is still hale, hardy, and bright at age 97, she has little incentive to wait years to look for publishers of her set of memoirs covering her parents' relationship in Russia, immigrating to America in the 1920s and growing up in the Great Depression, and the new book The Whirligig of Time about working in a World War II defense plant.

While a few of her books were already out for Kindle and in paper from small press, we're reformatting the files to make them cleaner and I will also be building a three-set memoir omnibus for her. She's most excited about getting to see the real-time sales data, as she has just started blogging and using Facebook, too. We also adjusted her prices to more realistic levels--her list of Kindle books is here.

I don't know anything about whether authors are better off using a traditional publisher, doing it themselves, or looking for other distribution options. But in this case, for this one author, there's absolutely nothing wrong with a little instant gratification. After 97 years, she's earned it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

German Covers and Life Ain't Too Shabby

It may not have been the best day ever, but it was typically cool. The morning started with signing a contract to publish The Skull Ring in Chinese, followed by sending a notice of a rights reversion for the book that shall be Creative Spirit (formerly The Manor), followed by receiving the translated file of Crime Beat (Ressort: Verbrechen in German from Stefan Mommertz), followed by writing some of the current thriller in progress, followed by helping the neighbor dress a deer. Plus I found my daughter's glasses that had been missing for a week, and I found where my wife has been hiding the cookies. I am so grateful to have such rich and abundant blessings (and the abundance is going to my belly if I eat too many cookies.)

You can help me out by weighing in on these covers (the base image is the same as the English version, so it seems simplest to just re-use it, although I could also go back to the drawing board completely if you hate them both)


Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Unofficial Scott Nicholson Ebook Predictions for the Future of Publishing: Updated

Just for giggles, I thought it might be fun to go back to some of my "Predictions for the Future of Ebooks" I made in September 2010 at Debbi Mack's blog (complete post is here). I will give myself a grade from A to F based on what has happened since and where it may be trending. Even though the predictions were fairly tongue in cheek, they were based on what I knew at the time. As usual, I only learned that I don't know very much! Feel free to chime in with your own predictions.
1. The Kindle will deliver the knockout punch to the Nook, Sony Reader, and Kobo e-reader by Christmas 2011. 
GRADE: F. I clearly botched this one, but I do believe Sony and the Nook are about at the end of the road, and Apple has still not entered the ebook market. Kobo has made great worldwide steps and looks to emerge as Number Two behind Amazon's Kindle.
2. By December, many of the indie writers who jumped on the $2.99 pricing bandwagon for e-books will drop to 99 cents in an effort to drum up numbers.
GRADE: B. Most indie writers do price their books at 99 cents, although an increasing number of the more successful indies are moving to $3.99, and it seems to work. Apparently, the $2.99 price point, like the 99 cent price, has become for some readers a warning sign that the book is indie. An author who charges more is worth more, even if it's the same author! Why didn't I think of that?
3. The Big Six group of publishers will be down to the Big Three in five years, and Amazon will be a bigger publisher than those three survivors put together. 
GRADE: B. Still too early to tell at this point, but Amazon is trending up up up. I've been impressed by the transition big publishers have been able to make, steering the massive ship just in time to avoid a head-on with the glacier, but I still believe scraping the bow will be enough to sink her. Still, we can't discount the huge cargo of backlist she's hauling.
4. Small publishers with identifiable markets will adapt better than large publishers who have no identifiable markets, because publisher brands are meaningless to the average reader.
GRADE: C. Again, it's early, but a lot of small presses have done very well in the ebook era, thanks to low overhead and in the joy of ditching the whole bookstore distribution system that always freighted them with a disadvantage. But publishers have not lost their writers as fast as I thought they would, and there seems to be plenty more writers willing to board the sinking ship, just to say they were there when it happened. A small but vocal core of readers also seems to be demanding protection from those pesky indie authors and their millions of unedited books (while big publishers scan paper copies and dump out inferior formatting in far too many cases). I only give myself "average" because publishers have done better than I expected (for now).
5. In five years, there will be about 200 bookstores in the United States, centered in the major cities.
GRADE: A. And you can say good-bye to Barnes & Noble, which has pretty much gutted its shelf space to start selling Nooks and carpets and toys and beanie babies and iPads. (I guess it depends on at what point you stop considering B&N a "bookstore" and start calling it a "general merchandiser.")
6. In five years, there will be 10 million e-books for sale at Amazon.
GRADE: A. I'm sticking with this one. Ebooks passed the one million mark early this year and, at the rate at which indie authors are befriending me on Facebook and the frantic rush of veterans to get their ebooks out (not to mention everyone turning their short stories and articles and blog posts into ebooks), I'd buy stock in this prediction.
7. The publishing industry won’t exist in 10 years. Instead, we’ll have 20,000 cottage industries supplying digital content, very few beyond the hobbyist level.
GRADE: C. I believe something calling itself "the publishing industry" will still be around, but it will be fairly unrecognizable-- about on the order of what "record labels" and "movie studios" are now--a few big power brokers but tons of tiny cottage industries. And those agents are doing a pretty good job of turning themselves into epublishers, although I still don't see what advantages they can offer over doing it yourself.
8. In five years, even the e-book bestsellers will sell for 99 cents. Most of the rest will have no value. 
GRADE: B. I'm sticking with this but downgrading myself because it's going to be difficult to determine "value"--because advertising will make a big impact on book pricing.
9. The 20 surviving novelists still getting published in print in 10 years will make out like bandits.
GRADE: A. I'm sticking with this one. And I'll bet half of those bestselling authors will be dead, with the names farmed out. For the record, the complete prediction was based on rack presence in retail stores, not POD or those antique specialty shops we'll nostalgically call "bookstores."
10. The authors unfortunate enough to have been moderately published in New York this decade will be the worst off in 2020, when most sales are digital and they have signed clauses that basically grant their e-rights in perpetuity. 
GRADE: B. I've observed an interesting phenomenon with the authors who have signed major deals and kept publishing their own books. Their own books sell better than the major releases! Even at lower prices, they earn far more money. So they are using their major publishing deals as LOSS LEADERS!!! That is something I hadn't expected. But those authors locked in at 9.99 retail prices with publishers who have forgotten them will be lucky to ever see a nickel in royalties. And yet people are STILL querying agents, signing contracts, and banking their futures on someone else's needs.
11. The Big Three will have some spin-off revenue in enhanced digital books, but only for the brand-name authors who died and didn’t have heirs smart enough to start their own publishing companies.
Grade: C.  Well, Pottermore is attempting to launch, and Pattersonville, ClancyPants, and Cusslerland can't be far behind, but the only people who get even remotely excited about enhanced ebooks are the middle players who want to "intermediate" themselves into the production process. For money. That no reader wants to give them.
12. In a desperate survival attempt, publishers will move to a subscription model, similar to the Netflix model, where consumers pay a flat monthly fee for the books they want to read. 
Grade: B. I knocked this out of the park with Amazon, which last week announced it was rolling its own lending library into its Prime subscription (which is basically Netflix without the bad management). But I am flubbing on the feet-of-clay publishers taking advantage of their one main strength: an actual library of content. 
13. By 2013, 85 percent of the writers who published their rejected manuscripts in 2010 will give up for good, retiring with $200 in net profit and a good story for the grandchildren.
Grade: C. I am already seeing dramatic announcements of "I'm quitting" from writers who nobody knew had even started. But it seems like a lot of writers are earning at least a little bit, and since there's no overhead, there's no reason to quit. If nothing else, 2011 will be remembered as the year shameless self-promotion crested into a tsunami and flooded every social media stream. And way more people are entering the game ("Gee, I hear you can make a million on Kindle. I'm going to start writing!") than are leaving it.
14. The smart writers who are dumb enough to stick with it will earn their money through content advertising, product placement, multimedia branding, and tireless promotion.
Grade: Incomplete. I still think ads are coming, presaged by Amazon's Prime library and the reduced-priced "Kindle with bargains," but it is still too early in the evolution to pat myself on the back or kick my rear.
15. Half of these predictions will be wrong, and no one will be able to tell which ones they are, because this blog post will be stored in a free e-book that no one ever reads.
Grade: C. I don't think I've put this in an ebook yet because it will date badly one way or another. Sorta like the guy walking around with a "The End is Coming!!!" sign. Even if you're right, you're still an idiot.
16. I will still be writing in 20 years, and no one will care about my predictions. 
Grade: Makeup Test. Depends on how many people drop by to read this and comment.
Final Grade: Pass. By following what I believe, I've managed to carve out a career, so my predictions are working for at least one person. Okay, I admit, I graded myself on a curve. What can I say? I'm the teacher's pet.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Amazon's covers for the Fear series: Thomas & Mercer rocks it

Don't look now, but here are the covers for Liquid Fear and Chronic Fear, from Amazon's Thomas & Mercer imprint. After winnowing through a few choices, I really like this unconventional thriller presentation. But if we continue the series, we may run out of face!

The paperback or audiobook of Liquid Fear can be pre-ordered at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or bug your favorite bookstore to stock it. Chronic Fear can be pre-ordered for Kindle, paperback, and audio or for audio and paperback at Barnes & Noble. Release date is Dec. 20!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sean A. Lusher: Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

Something really weird happened to me recently and it led to a revelation that every other author has probably had, since I'm pretty far behind the times. Or, I might be somewhat unique and this doesn't happen to most people.

There's this drain in my laundry room that my washing machine drains into. It looks disgusting, the water stagnant and black, with some unknown green mossy substance growing in it. The sight has always creeped me out. The mossy stuff, though, is recent. And I found myself muttering, “What is that?”

As soon as the words left my mouth, I had an intense burst of ideas. Almost like a vision. A scene painted itself in my head, and, just like that, I had the groundwork for a new novella. It was as if the idea was locked in a box inside my head, and I just happened to find the key that unlocked it.

And that really got me thinking. Because, while not all my ideas are born of this manner, enough are to make me realize that this has been happening to me for years. I just never questioned it before. Well, I began to question it.

See, I've noticed that a lot of bigger name authors always skirt the edge of questions pertaining to where their ideas come from. I've always found it weird, until I began to realize a lot more about the publishing industry, human nature and the world in general.

It seems obvious now that ideas are generated from inspiration. And inspiration comes from a huge variety of places, but usually from other media. Books, films, art, etc. Personally, much of my inspiration comes from video games.

I think that a lot of authors feel awkward about admitting just where exactly they get their ideas from because, well, if you're a good author then generally you read a lot of books and, in turn, the books inspire you.

But everyone seems to forget that old saying, the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. Combine that with the fact that in our age of instantaneous information transfer and it becomes nearly impossible to be truly original. All you can do is put your own spin on the idea and deliver the best piece of work you can.

Now, personally, I'm super paranoid about imitation. There are some projects, what other people have told me are great ideas, that I'm still stalling on because I think they too closely resemble other, more official, pieces. With how sue-happy America is currently, well, it just gives me that much more of a worry.

But I wonder, am I a minority or do lots of others share this fear? And, if so, how many great pieces of work are we losing out on because the author is worried about ridiculous copyright infringement laws? Since my wife assures me that I'm being crazy and overly paranoid, as I'm wont to do, I haven't scrapped those ideas and still plan on using them. Someday.

Another reason I think we're afraid of fully admitting where our ideas come from is because we feel we might lose credibility. I mean, there's already enough people out there who think that writing isn't a 'real job' and doesn't even deserve payment. Why give them more ammo by admitting your latest idea came from watching an old episode of Scooby Doo?

In his book of short stories, Smoke & Mirrors, Neil Gaiman, the best living author I've ever read, gave a short explanation of each story. In one of them, he admitted that the idea came when a fan mistakenly asked him if he had written the script for a Baywatch reboot. (Neil had actually worked on the recent release of Beowulf.) And it was a great piece, too, made greater by learning its hilarious origin story. But, even then, at the end of it, he states, “Look, I don't give you grief over where you get your ideas from.”

But I think it would be better to 'cite our sources', so to speak. It's a way to help people understand what they're getting into. For example, if you say, “Well, my latest book was inspired by Stephen King's Duma Key and the video game Alan Wake.” Right off the bat, anyone who read Duma Key and played Alan Wake will have an idea of what you're talking about and might be that much more interested in seeing what you've got to offer.

Ultimately, I think everyone needs to be more open and free with where they gather their inspiration. The writing world would be a better place.

Author Bio: Sean A. Lusher is a horror/mystery author planning on expanding into more genres. He lives in Columbia, Missouri with his wife, some roommates and a few cats.

His novella, Liberation Road, is available for sampling at Amazon. His blog is This Thing Called Writing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Slow Zombies and Halloween

We hardcore horror fans think of Halloween as "Amateur Night," since we're 365/24/7, but there's no reason not to throw some extra monster love at the end of October.

While I prefer ghosts as my favorite supernatural entity, if you take it to the level of creatures, I have to give zombies the nod over their fang-bearing, red-eyed brethren in arms. The Night of the Living Dead ranks in my Top 10 pantheon, and last year I even participated in first zombie walk  I just love the relentless nature of the living dead, their relatively calm persistence, their focus on the prize. As you may be able to tell, I am a fan of the Slow Zombie.

I remember watching Fulci's Zombie on back-to-back nights in a theater in Chapel Hill, NC when I was in college. It's the only movie I've ever seen twice in a theater, and I have no idea what I was thinking. I even went alone to that second showing, so I must have been seeking some private connection with the horrors that unfolded (or maybe I just dug the groovy synth soundtrack). I enjoyed 28 Days Later but I find most modern zombie movies are too jokey and self-referential and attention-deficit-disordered, as if zombies have now jumped the shark (cue that really cool scene in Zombie where...well, just watch it).

I guess it's hard to keep fresh, and NotLD definitely borrowed from the The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price. Even the old-school, Haitian zombie movies like I Walked With a Zombie captured an atmosphere of dread., instead of the shock-horror that modern audiences expect. I hate to sound like a grumpy old geezer ("Quit playing on my lawn, you kids!") but I would love to see a revival of the slow zombie, where the experience was less that of a shoot-em-up video game and more like, "It doesn't matter what you do, we're gonna get ya."

But, heck, I guess I'd still take a bad zombie movie over a good romantic comedy any day. Got any suggestions for good Slow Zombie movies?

(Zombie Bits, my Z collection with bonus material from Jonathan Maberry, Joe McKinney, and Jack Konrath, is available at Amazon, BN, Apple, and Kobo. The Murdermouth comic is still in development as I seek ways to raise funds for it.)

Thanks for sharing your list!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sean Platt: Yesterday's Gone serial ebook project

Sean and I have crossed paths here and there over the years, and when I found out about his serial ebook project, I had to know more. So here is Sean, in the digital flesh.

Hi Scott! Thanks for having me, it's great to be here.

1) Why a serialized fiction project?

Serialized fiction is something my writing partner David Wright and I have been interested in for a long time. In fact, we started our first serialized project more than two years ago at our website, Collective Inkwell. It was a horror novel called Available Darkness.

We published a new entry each Friday and developed a decent sized audience in a reasonably short time, but life nudged its way to the front and we both got busy with the immediate needs of life which forced us to pause the project. We resurrected it earlier this year and published it on Kindle and print this summer.

But our new project, Yesterday’s Gone, was an entirely different beast from day one!

By mid-summer, our small imprint had published five titles. Unfortunately, those five titles were in four different markets. We knew we really needed to fix this. It's difficult to hit critical mass on Kindle without multiple titles. But just because someone loves your book about vampires, doesn't mean they’re going to love your book about how to build an online writing business.

Yesterday's Gone was designed from day one to capitalize on the all-too-easy to click Kindle consumer phenomenon. This serial was a way for us to get six high quality titles to market that would keep readers at the edge of their seat, leave them wanting for more, and hopefully telling their friends about all the fun they had reading.

2) Did you choose a post-apocalyptic story because of the nature of the project, or was that always in the plans?
That's a great question!
Full credit for the premise goes to Dave. We were already discussing doing a serial, but to his way of thinking, it would be easier to get our first season to market if it was set in a world where we wouldn't end up drowning in research. With a post-apocalyptic setting, we essentially built ourselves a giant sandbox where we made all the rules.

Of course, there were still a ton of things to research and we had to make sure our dates and times all lined up, and that locations in our story matched locations on the map. This was especially difficult while doing some of the larger scenes in New York and Times Square, but was still significantly less work than it would have been if we were writing something set in the real world.

3) How does the collaboration work? Back and forth for each chapter, or write and rewrite?
Dave and I have been writing together for three years now. We met during what was the first few weeks for each of us online. Our collaboration is natural, organic, and wonderfully fluid. A project of this scope would've been impossible without it.

As far as Yesterdays Gone specifically, we started by writing the “pilot.” We decided there would be six characters and that each of us would handle the POV for three of them. Once finished, I sent my work to Dave and he pieced them all together.

For episodes 2-6, we each stuck with the characters we started with, following the same process, where I would write my three POV’s then send them to Dave for arrangement. I polished his copy and sent it back. Dave excels at structure, and I'm slightly better voice so that rhythm works really well for us.

4) How many episodes will you do, and what happens after they are finished?
There are six episodes in the first season, and right now we have at least three seasons planned, though if the audience is asking, we’ll definitely deliver more. We’re not sure six episodes is the perfect number for a season. Seems like there’s a lot to experiment with there. The next serial we have planned will have a different number of episodes and a slightly different page count for each one, almost for sure.

Dave's been getting the episodes to Kindle one at a time, but we’ve been fast-tracking the entire project since there isn't the big built-in audience that there will be for Season II. Once we’re in the second season, we’ll launch each episodes anywhere from a week to a month apart, depending on audience feedback.

5) Do you see other possibilities for invention and experimentation with form in the digital era?
Absolutely! I am thoroughly in love with where self-publishing is right now, and I think experimentation is everything. We have many, many plans, in multiple genres. And we can't wait to explore them all.

We hope you enjoy this trailer, and will share it on Facebook, Twitter and email. You can start with the pilot of Yesterday's Gone for just $.99 or get the entire season for $4.99, which is a super great deal!

If you’re a reader who likes the extra goodies (like exclusive chapters and sneak peeks), or an author who wants a behind-the-scenes look at the writing and marketing process for this project, sign up to be a “goner,” here.

Thanks for having me at the Haunted Computer, Scott.