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, BN.com, 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 BN.com 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!