I would like to start by thanking Nicholas for taking the time to answer my questions and to say how much I enjoyed reading his contributions. If you find his answers useful please follow him on Twitter, add your comments/questions below and Like/Tweet this post.
Nicholas A. Rose is the author of the Ilvenworld novels and novellas. He has read fantasy fiction for longer than he can remember and writing it for only a little less time. Love of the sea and ships; mountains and the outdoors; and the rather more sedentary pastimes of chess, real ale and reading have all influenced his writing.
Nicholas lives in and is inspired by North Wales and believes all his best ideas come when out in the hills.
For those who must know, the “A” stands for Andrew.
1. How would you describe yourself and your writing?
I tend to be a prolific writer. It’s always been fantasy for me. The boundaries between the sub-genres have become a little muddled over the years, but I would call my books epic and heroic fantasy.
2. How many books do you have published and tell us a bit about them?
So far three:
Markan Throne is the first book of a trilogy. Rival claimants battle for the right to be Marka’s first emperor for three centuries. The winner, Marcus, is implicated in a murder, so his claim is suspended. Marcus must prove his innocence, which means breaking a man free from jail and risking losing his right to the throne forever.
Markan Empire is book two, following on from Markan Throne. A new enemy threatens the stability of the new empire, while an old enemy lurks to one side. Marka cannot fight two wars at once, so spies are sent to Re Taura to learn what the new enemy is up to. But spies have a habit of being caught and killed on Re Taura.
And though Marcus has proven his innocence, Marka’s Senate is still not quite ready to grant his life’s dream and refuses to let him ascend the throne he covets.
Gifted Apprentice is a novella, separate from the trilogy, but using a central character who appears in those books. It marks the beginning of Sallis ti Ath’s journey from farmboy to feared bounty hunter.
3. Gifted Apprentice. Can you tell me a bit about how this book came about?
A minor character in Markan Throne sparked my interest. This is the bounty hunter Sallis ti Ath. When I first published online, I knew one book looked very lonely all by itself, so GA was born. It was one of those ideas that was so bright it almost burned, so the book had to be written. I feel this novella is an excellent introduction to the ilvenworld series and, while not strictly a prequel, will help make the world of the trilogy more familiar to readers.
If I’m allowed to make a selfish plug, this novella is free on Amazon.
4. What made you self publish your novels and what has the experience been like to date?
It is now almost impossible for a new writer to break into traditional publishing, so self publishing, or “indie” was really the only way open. Once I learned of the explosion in popularity of ebooks, then I was away.
I published MT in March 2011 and the experience since has been fantastic. (Sorry about the pun!) There is a wonderful and growing community of indie writers online and most of us are happy to share information. It’s been a steep learning curve and I wouldn’t kid anybody by claiming it’s easy, but I’m glad I came this way with my books.
5. Who have you published with?
ePublished, rather than published. My books are with Amazon and Smashwords. Amazon is the big beast of course, but Smashwords have connections with most of the other ereaders, such as B&N’s nook, Sony and quite a few others.
6. Did you prepare your ebooks yourself? Any pointers?
I did prepare them myself. This is the part many aspiring authors don’t like. The proofreading, copyediting and so on is entirely up to the author. In essence, the author is also the publisher and has to deal with the less glamorous aspects of that.
As for pointers, read the publishing guidelines that Amazon issue (and the Smashwords Formatting Guide for those going to Smashwords as the requirements are different) and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
I would recommend getting a copyeditor or, if that’s too expensive (most of us start off on a really tight budget), then get some beta readers. If anybody reads your published work and points out an error, correct it immediately and reupload the book. Amazon provides a useful guide how to do this in their help section.
But, if the choice is between spending on a copyeditor or really good cover artwork, go for the artwork.
7. Who does your cover art?
Joleene Naylor. Worth her weight in gold.
8. Do you do a lot of self promotion? How do you market and promote your work & what do you find are effective methods of self promotion?
Yes. I’m particularly active on Twitter. The most effective method of self promotion is to be accessible, friendly, polite and helpful. That’s to other authors as well as your readers. As for marketing your work, books are very hard to sell directly. People prefer to “discover” authors for themselves, or for those known to them to make recommendations. Being active on the social networks is probably the best way of promoting yourself, but it’s a fine line to walk. Kindleboards, for example, do not like overpushy authors plugging their work all the time. By all means jump into discussions, but be mindful not to cross the line.
The most effective method of self promotion is to ensure your name is familiar to people, rather than selling your book all the time.
9. You seem quite proactive in IAN circles. What are your experiences here?
IAN – the Independent Author Network – is probably where I’m most active right now. My experiences are good and I’ve made a lot of friends there. It’s a good place for a new author to go (the only requirement is that you have at least 100 followers on Twitter), and the guys you’ll meet on IAN are a really friendly and helpful bunch.
Another good place for a new author to cut teeth is Twitters #sampleSunday. That’s where I started out!
10. Do you find sales peak and then drop off after your initial self promotion?
Sales peak and trough all the time. I’ve found it impossible to directly link rises and falls to promotion. I would say that you need to promote all the time. There is a large element of luck when it comes to sales. But keep on promoting. All you need is the right person to notice, download, read and… hey presto! You’re selling. But that right person might be weeks or months in coming. If you stop promoting, that reader has passed by…
11. What advice would you give to a newbie to self publishing?
Get your book as professionally finished as possible. That means polished, edited, proofread. Get the best possible artwork for the cover, and ensure that artwork is unique. Get involved in social media, such as Twitter, Kindleboards, Goodreads and the like. Keep writing and get as many books up as you can. The more books, the greater the chance you’ll be discovered. Be accessible, friendly, helpful and polite. If unsure about something, ask questions. Read the publishing guides and follow what they say. Avoid shortcuts.
And DO NOT give up!!
12. What lies in store for Nicholas A. Rose?
2012 is promising to be as productive as 2011. The third and final book of the trilogy, Markan Sword, should be out in the middle of the year and the sequel to Gifted Apprentice should be out at the end of January. Beyond that, two more trilogies are planned. Exciting times indeed!
Thank you for interviewing me.
Markan Throne: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004SBZ16A
Markan Empire: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005OYDNYC
Gifted Apprentice: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005DZ4FJE