Nick Spalding is the UK’s most successful indie author of 2012, with incredible sales of his comedies. He’s just announced a traditional deal with Coronet Books and is an example of someone whose life has been transformed by self-publishing.
Nick and I will be appearing on a panel together at Self-Publishing in the Digital Age, a conference aimed at writers that is being organised by the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. It’s on Nov 3rd in London and full details can be found here.
Over to Nick, who I asked to share the secrets of his success.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your books?
Here’s my bio: Nick Spalding is an author who, try as he might, can’t seem to write anything serious. He’s worked in the communications industry his entire life, mainly in media and marketing. As talking rubbish for a living can get tiresome (for anyone other than a politician), he thought he’d have a crack at writing comedy fiction – with an agreeable level of success so far, it has to be said. Nick lives in the South of England with his fiancée. He is approaching his forties with the kind of dread usually associated with a trip to the gallows, suffers from the occasional bout of insomnia, and still thinks Batman is cool.
How successful have you been?
In self publishing terms I’d have to say very at this point! I’m approaching 400,000 total ebook sales on Amazon, which I guess would put me in the top bracket. This has led to a great publishing deal with Hodder and Stoughton.
How does this compare to what you expected?
Well, when I first published Life… With No Breaks I wanted to make enough money to buy me and my other half a decent meal, so you could say it’s exceeded expectations by some margin! I’ve now reached the point where I can write full-time, which is a dream come true.
Apart from write good books, can you pinpoint anything you did that helped your sales rocket?
Honestly? No! I posted on a few forums, started up a blog and started tweeting, but I don’t think any of those things contributed to my success to be honest. It really does come down to writing the right book at the right time for the right people. You also need a good cover and good blurb. See below answers!
How important is a good cover?
Very. It’s the first thing the punters see and if it doesn’t catch their attention you’re sunk, especially in the first few weeks and months of having a book online. Make it eye-catching, simple and bold. Don’t try to be too clever with it, that’s the main thing. Hit the right notes for the genre you write in and you’ll give your book the best chance.
How important is a strong description?
Also important. It’s the second bite of the cherry so to speak. If you’ve got the reader interested in your cover, then a strong blurb will probably carry your sale for you. The two things together can work wonders for your books chances of selling well.
You use ‘subtitles’ on your books, e.g. ‘a laugh-out-loud comedy’. Do you think this has made a difference?
Not a clue to be honest It certainly hasn’t hindered the book’s success, but I couldn’t tell you the subtitles were instrumental in getting sales or anything. I’d suggest a bit of experimentation for those thinking about using subtitles and see whether it works for you.
Do you use social media, and how?
I have a Facebook page, a blog and I tweet. I’m not an avid user of any, but I always like to read what the audience think of my work and social media gives me a chance to interact with them, even if it is sometimes on a superficial level due to workload. The best thing about social media is that it gives readers a chance to communicate directly with a writer, which I’ve always thought is pretty cool. I don’t think it helps with sales much though, in my experience.
Have you experienced or witnessed any unpleasant behaviour in the indie world?
There’s the odd occasional thing where one author takes exception to another, and the whole sock-puppeting thing is getting a bit silly, but to tell the truth I steer clear of getting involved in anything like that and rarely come across it. Most people are just trying to sell books and build a good reputation. There are some bad apples I guess, but that’s true of any community isn’t it? It’s just best to ignore the nasty stuff and concentrate on your work. Nothing good ever came of engaging in online arguments
Can you recommend any other good self-published books?
I’m afraid I’ve been terrible and not had time to read many books at all recently, self pubbed or otherwise, but off the top of my head I’d say that Hugh Howey’s Wool was a great read. My partner read and really enjoyed Lexi Revellian’s Replica. Dan Arenson’s fantasy novels are cracking – he does a very professional job with all of them. Carl Ashmore’s Time Hunters is a good children’s fantasy and I liked Stephen Leather’s self-pubbed stuff at lot too.
Well, I’ll probably go make a cup of coffee in a minute and go for a dump, but I don’t see how that’s any business of yours sir – oh, you mean with the writing? Well, there are brand new versions of Love… From Both Sides and Love… And Sleepless Nights being released by Coronet Books in the next couple of weeks so I’ll be promoting those. I’m also in the middle of writing the third book in the trilogy called Love… Under Different Skies, which will be out in 2013. All three are also out in paperback next year.