The business of being an author is tough and AuthorRise is here to help. They offer a set of tools for authors that connects social marketing outreach to results and uses data to help determine what sells books and what doesn’t.
I was interviewed for their blog and they asked seven great questions about writing, reading, marketing and self-publishing. Here’s how the conversation went:
7 Questions for Nikolas Allen by AuthorRise
Today, we’re featuring Nikolas Allen. He’s a Contemporary Pop Artist with a background in advertising, music and video production. His book, Death To The Starving Artist, is an art marketing book for ambitious artists who want to reach a wider audience with their work.
AuthorRise: What’s your favorite thing about being an author?
Nikolas Allen: I’ve been an artist most of my life and my medium of choice ebbs and flows over time. Whether making music, short films, graphic design, or fine art I always need to have a creative outlet. I’ve also always loved grammar, words, and the English language, and I’ve enjoyed a career as a creative in Advertising. To me, being an author is a perfect amalgam of all these endeavors. Producing and marketing my own book encompasses everything I’m passionate about, and there’s nothing quite like reaching people around the world with your work. I’ve published two non-fiction marketing books so far, and am currently writing my first novel. The process is long and arduous, but I’m having lots of fun with it.
AuthorRise: How do you find new authors to read?
Nikolas Allen: I’ll read book reviews in the many magazines I subscribe to and notate which books sound interesting. I’ll visit book stores and simply browse the shelves looking for cool covers and intriguing back page summaries. Then there are certain names that keep coming up like Michael Chabon, Chuck Palahniuk, and Jo Nesbo which, I’ll either seek out or stumble upon and decide to give ‘em a try. And, of course, Amazon is a pretty awesome discovery engine for books.
AuthorRise: What’s your biggest publishing pain point?
Nikolas Allen: Just like the music industry, the publishing industry is a slow-moving dinosaur for which innovation doesn’t come easily. With only two books under my belt, I’m pretty new to the publishing game, but I can already see how old-paradigm thinking keeps things stagnant. I self-published both my first book Death To The Starving Artist, a non-fiction marketing book for artists, and my second, Heavyweight Marketing, a marketing book for small biz owners.
Self-publishing is great, but all the work falls on the author’s shoulders, so you really need to work hard to make anything happen. There’s also a bit of a stigma surrounding self-published work due to the low barrier to entry. Even big publishing houses these days are requiring the author to do a lot more of the legwork, publicity and marketing than ever before. To me, that defeats the whole purpose of trying to get a publishing deal (not that I wouldn’t entertain one if it came along).
AuthorRise: Who are your favorite people to follow on Twitter and why?
Nikolas Allen: I follow close to 2,000 people on Twitter (find me @nikolas_allen) and only derive true value from a handful of them. My favorite people tweet interesting links that inform, educate and inspire. Some people are super funny, others sublimely sardonic, and some share photos and videos that are quite creative. There’s so much noise, negativity, nonsense and self-promotion on Twitter that I can only take it in measured doses. Plus, it’s a great time-waster, and authors have more than enough challenges in that area.
AuthorRise: What’s the most effective thing you’ve ever done to sell your books?
Nikolas Allen: Since my book is for artists, I was invited to be a featured guest, along with two dozen other experts, on an online summit for artist that featured interviews, giveaways and downloadable resources. The audience was huge and I had crazy Twitter engagement for two weeks straight, got over 400 email subscribers and sold lots of books. Another technique that worked well was buying advertising on a website offering business resources for artists, and submitting monthly guest posts for the site while the ad was running.
I also had a book signing at a local book store during our town’s monthly art walk. Since I’m involved in the art community, and the business community, and I’m a marketer by trade, I had a strong turnout with good sales that impressed the bookstore owner. The key to all of these techniques is to target your ideal audience, and to piggyback on something else that’s bigger than what you could do by yourself.
AuthorRise: Do you think about marketing your book while you’re writing it? If so, how does it affect you?
Nikolas Allen: Well, I’m a marketer, so I think about marketing 24/7, but I wouldn’t recommend getting too far ahead of yourself. That said, there are certain things you can plan during the later stages of writing such as which thought leaders, bloggers or reviewers you can target with preview copies of your book. As your publishing date draws near, you can start contacting venues to set up a release party or book signing. It’s also helpful to build anticipation for your book’s release before it comes out. For example, when I was deciding on the color scheme for my cover design, I posted both versions on Facebook and asked my followers which they preferred and why. The response was both tremendous and helpful. A lot of my first sales were from my community of social media friends and followers because I had built anticipation for my book.
AuthorRise: If you could give a new author one piece of advice about getting started as an author, what would it be?
Nikolas Allen: Talk less, write more. New authors are so excited about the “idea” of writing a book that they yammer on about it endlessly. My advice is shut up and get to work. Writing a book takes WAY longer than you think it will, and there are so many steps, pitfalls, challenges, frustrations, highs and lows along the way that your focus needs to be on one thing: Finishing. Your. Book.
Here’s the ironic part: once your book is written, that’s when the real work begins! Yup, especially for self-published authors, you have a long road of marketing, promoting, and selling your book ahead of you. Save your ebullient babbling and loquacious enthusiasm for when you really need it: the marketing phase of your publishing journey.
Good luck and keep writing!
Nikolas Allen is a Contemporary Pop Artist with a background in advertising, music and video production. He is passionate about art and marketing and wrote his first book, “Death To The Starving Artist – Art Marketing Strategies for a Killer Creative Career” to help ambitious artists reach a wider audience.
Learn more about Nikolas Allen at: nikolasallen.com.