Interview with Scott Nicholson

I met Scott Nicholson in 1999. We were both first place Writers of the Future winners that year, but Scott snatched the grand prize with his tale of a vampire shortstop. Scott was also the first of our WotF group to “make it big,” landing a deal with Kensington for his novel The Red Church  [Amazon | B&N]. Yes, I had much envy 🙂

These days, Scott has switched over to self-publishing, where he’s been quite successful. He and I may not agree on everything, but he’s certainly made it work for himself. I invited him to share some of his thoughts and experiences, and he was kind enough to accept. (Translation: I conned him into doing the real work for one of my blog posts while I was out doing a few school visits. Heh…)

Welcome, Scott! I wanted to start with a comment you left on my blog: “I don’t make the case for indie or trad because I don’t know what’s best for anyone else.” Why did you personally make the choice to self-publish your work, and have you been happy with that choice?

I’m ecstatic. Despite working with respected agents, I wasn’t seeing any decent prospects and I had wandered afield a bit into comics, where almost everything is self-published outside of the top few companies. So that made the “do-it-yourself” ethic cool, because there is no stigma in comics like there is in fiction publishing. I had received the rights back to The Red Church, my first novel, and I had explored various ways of getting it back into print, but ordering up a print run and investing thousands of bucks only to begin a distribution struggle just didn’t sound like a productive way to spend time. I’d been watching the Kindle a bit, but from failed dabbling in e-books seven or eight years back via Fictionwise, I’d concluded that there was no market.

I hedged my bets a little by figuring, “Well, this novel has already been published, so it’s vetted, even if I am self-publishing.” See, I was foolishly being guided by ego decisions and what I “thought I knew,” instead of what was really happening—just as I’d clung to the erroneous idea that “nobody reads e-books.” I published it on New Year’s Day, 2010, along with an out-of-print novella. It immediately found readers, just a few at first, and then more and more, and I realized there was an entirely new audience waiting that the book had missed by being dead for six years. I then began collating all my old short stories into collections—all stuff that had been professionally published. Somewhere during the summer, when I got the latest “I can’t sell this” from an agent, I realized, “You can’t, but I can.” I have not looked back since. Eventually the dinky little check I was getting every month became the little check that paid my mortgage, and by the end of last year, with multiple titles, my day-job check was the dinky little check in comparison, and that’s when I realized it was time to go for it without a net. More