Author Nick Thacker writes fast-paced, high-concept action thrillers, but his business philosophy is more slow and steady with his focus on building a longlasting career instead of generating immediate returns. This week, I talk to Nick about the strategies he employs and why he thinks you should treat your writing career like a retail business.
Author.Email – Nick’s affordable author email platform.
Nick Thacker isn’t your typical high-concept thriller author. His degree is in tuba, and he enjoys very much and has no plans to quit his day job as a worship director for a church. Before getting into self-publishing, he wrote nonfiction via blogging, mostly about online marketing, personal development, and productivity. When Nick’s grandfather, who instilled in him a love of reading as a kid, passed away in 2011, he decided he would write a book for his dad, his grandfather’s son, as a Christmas gift. That book was The Golden Crystal.
Nick intended the book to be a one-off, just a fun read meant for his dad, but as he went through the crafting and editing process, he realized that writing fiction was for him…so he published it in 2013. Over the next two years, Nick wrote and published two more stand-alone novels, as well as the first books of the Relics series and The Lucid, written with Kevin Tumlinson. In 2014, right before he was to publish Enigma, Amazon contacted him with an invitation to write a seed novel in A.G. Riddle’s Atlantis: The Origin Mysteryuniverse. He was given a month to finish reading the series, conceptualize a story, write, edit, polish, commission a book cover, take care of the formatting, and get it uploaded to Amazon…which he did. The Atlantis Deception was published November 2014.
The Long Game
One of Nick’s favorite quotes comes from Russell Blake, which goes something like this: “When you decide to write and be a career writer, you’re not winning the lottery, you’re buying a retail business.”
Nick treats his career very much like a retail business. He’s committed to showing up every day and doing the work and building a business he hopes to enjoy far into the future. “I’m not worried about making money right now,” he says. “I’m worried about making money fifty years from now, right? That’s the long game part of it. Right now what I’m worried about is making sure people know that I’m an author they should be reading.”
To that end, Nick gives away his first three books on his website to build his mailing list, incorporating the giveaway with a month-long auto-responder designed to easily deliver the free content to his subscribers (BookFunnel), allow new subscribers to get to know him a little better, and to encourage new readers to leave reviews of his books on Amazon.
Nick has also used a free-book strategy to add to his subscriber list using BookBub. For his book Enigma Strain, Nick ran a BookBub ad for a free promotion with the goal to build up his subscriber list. He put the book in Kindle Unlimited, set it to free for the promotion, and it was downloaded 30,000 times. He made sure, of course, to put a CTA in that book inviting readers to visit his website to download two more of his books for free. That promotion added 2,000 people to his mailing list and generated a good amount of Kindle Unlimited commission on free borrows. While not at the same level, Nick has found similar success using other smaller promotional services in tandem.
Self Publishing Answers Podcast
In April of 2014, Nick started the Self Publishing Answers podcast with the aim of helping out other authors by answering questions about what strategies he was finding success with. From there, he moved into interviews, then into a more relaxed banter kind of show when Kevin Tumlinson came on, to its current incarnation, back to self-publishing basics co-hosted with Kevin Tumlinson and Justin Sloan.
If Nick could go back and give his beginning career self advice, it would be this: celebrate the small victories, and enjoy each bit of the process to make the best product you can.
On self-confidence: “If Dan Brown could do it, I can do it.”
On outlining: “The more specific I can get usually ahead of time, the better the end result is going to be.”
On the long view: “I’m not worried about making money right now. I’m worried about making money fifty years from now, right? That’s the long game part of it. Right now what I’m worried about is making sure people know that I’m an author they should be reading. That means I need to get better at writing. That means I need to get better at marketing. That means I need to focus on building that mailing list.”
The short of the long of it: “BookBub works…mailing list is important…oh, I should write another book. That’s it. That’s pretty much self-publishing in a nutshell.”
- Put Calls to Action in your Amazon Author Page inviting readers to go back to your website to receive free books or other offers to sign up for your mailing list.
- Be very specific with your promotional goals to measure its success. Are you looking to add subscribers? Are you looking to make a certain amount of money? It helps to know what the goal is.
- Experiment. Even though Nick had great success with BookBub, he still set out to see if he could duplicate that same kind of success using multiple smaller promotional sites. Even though it was successful on a much smaller level, it was still a step forward to many new subscribers.
- Don’t forget to celebrate the little victories. Simon likes to write certain goals or milestones on a Post-It and stick it on a bottle of champagne in the fridge, a great way to visualize one’s success.
- Write out your goals. Nick has a 10-year plan of all the books he wants to write, keeping his focus firmly fixed on the big goal, which is building a business that will support him and his family for years to come.
What’s your long view of your career? Where do you see yourself in 10 or 20 years from now?
Leave a comment below or get in touch with Simon by email at firstname.lastname@example.org