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Self-Publishing Success Stories: How I Do It – With John Nicholl

Self-Publishing Success Stories: How I Do It – with John Nicholl

Headshot of John Nicholl

British crime writer John Nicholl shares his best advice for indie authors

This week in our series celebrating super-successful indie authors, we talk to former British police officer and child protection social worker John Nicholl, bestselling author of three dark pyschological thrillers. Read on to find out how he does it, and to be inspired for your own self-publishing career, whatever genre you write in. 

What is the secret of your success?

I sometimes think more luck than judgement!

cover of White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl

John Nicholl's debut novel

Writing my first book, White is the Coldest Colour, was a steep learning curve. I was contacted by Sue Ward, a popular blogger, shortly after publication. She loved the book, and it progressed from there.

Within fifteen days of release, it was flying up the Amazon UK bestseller chart. Not everyone liked the book, of course, but I think that writing from real life experience contributed to its success.

I’ve been extremely fortunate in that the book blogging community has been supportive of all three books. That makes a real difference.

What was the single best thing you ever did?

I think deciding to become an independent author in the first place.

The publishing world has changed, and it's never been easier to get your work out there. Let the public decide if your books are worth buying. Being an indie gives the author control of the entire process, and for me that’s a plus. Never say never, but I’ve chosen to remain independent up to this point despite offers from publishers, with the exception of foreign rights deals. I’m always open to offers, of course, but I think it’s a mistake to accept a deal if it’s not right for you.

How do you get/stay in a creative mood?

I tend to write when the mood takes me. Sometimes that means writing for a couple of hours a day, sometimes all day, and sometimes not at all.

I sometimes feel driven to write, and that’s when I’m at my most productive.

How do you prioritise?

I like to do things sooner rather than later to avoid any sort of backlog.

I think that stems back from my working life with the police and child protection services. I’m quite a focused person, and don’t find prioritisation difficult.

What’s next?

I’m in the process of editing book four in consultation with my literary agent. Then it’s a matter of deciding how to take the book forward. It should be available to buy in the not too distant future.

What’s the highlight of being an author – publisher for you?

Cover of "When Evil Calls Your Name"

The second in John Nicholl's series

I love the creative process. The writing, the inevitable rewriting, the cover design and eventual launch. Being an independent author is demanding, but it’s rewarding too.

There’s no reason why an independent author can’t be just as successful as an an author with a major publishing house.

Ebooks are becoming increasingly popular and 80% of the world’s books are sold on Amazon. There’s a great deal of competition. But it can be done.

What are your top tips for other indie authors?

  • Cover of "Portraits of the Dead" by John Nicholl

    John Nicholl's latest dark psychological thriller

    Produce a good quality product

  • Pay close attention to detail
  • Learn how the Amazon system works

There’s a sea of books out there, and so you have to give yours every advantage you can.

  • Cover design matters
  • Your Amazon product page matters
  • Key words matter

Do all you can to bring your books to at the attention of readers via social media, blogs and other book platforms.

And finally, join Alli. It’s a mine of useful advice and support.

Psych thriller writer @nicholl6 shares his top tips about #selfpublishing Click To Tweet

Author: John Nicholl

John Nicholl is an ex-police officer, child-protection social worker and lecturer. He is the author of three darkly psychological thrillers,
"White is the Coldest Colour", "When Evil Calls Your Name", and
"Portraits of the Dead", each of which have been Amazon international bestsellers, reaching #1 in multiple categories in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Australia, Canada and the USA. You can find out more about John’s books at www.johnnicholl.com. Rights enquiries should be directed to Mr Toby Mundy, literary agent at TMA.


This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Great to read of such success. I’m struck that nowhere is it mentioned whether he publishes e books or printed copies as well. Is this because self publishing equals digital in most people’s minds? As a self published writer of (printed) children’s books I’m always intrigued to read stories of huge financial success. Invariably these turn out to be in genres well adapted to the e book market – thrillers, crime, romance and erotica – which have low production costs. Terrific achievement in a competitive market – but it can give too rosy a picture of self publishing as a whole.

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