Indie Author Scott Nicholson Signs Two-Book Deal With Amazon

Scott Nicholson has been picked up by Amazon’s increasingly busy imprint Thomas & Mercer. He signed a two-book deal which will include his self-published title, Liquid Fear, and the forthcoming sequel, Chronic Fear.

Both will be released by Amazon on December 20 this year.

Summer is traditionally a slow period in publishing. Not for Thomas & Mercer, who have also snapped up Michael Wallace and J Carson Black in the last ten days, adding them to their earlier batch of summer signings JA Konrath, Barry Eisler, and Blake Crouch.

Along with some of the popular backlist titles of Ed McBain, Thomas & Mercer have an extremely strong line-up heading into the holiday season and beyond.

I will save a more in-depth analysis of Amazon’s apparent strategy for another blog post, but it is very clear that they are specifically targeting successful self-publishers. And indeed, many of the writers they have signed have said that Amazon were the only publisher they would consider signing with.

Why? Barry Eisler gave some clues when he mentioned a competitive advance, an extremely equitable digital royalty split, and a generally author-friendly contract all round, including the freedom to continue to self-publish other projects.

Others will note the speed with which Amazon can bring titles to market, and that they are both willing to release the digital version first, and leave the self-published title up in advance of the Amazon release to continue building an audience.

Joe Konrath has explained the power of an Amazon marketing push, something they don’t restrict to new titles, unlike most publishers.

Amazon have mountains of data on millions and millions of customers around the world. They don’t just know what they viewed and what they purchased, they also know how likely a certain demographic is to sample or purchase a book if displayed the book cover. And they – and they alone – know which books are actually read, and which people read one chapter of and never finish.

They also know which writers lead readers to buy further titles after reading one book and which titles they select, and how quickly they do it. And they also know which customers will buy titles based on an emailed recommendation from Amazon.

But that’s just what they are doing now. Here’s what Scott had to say late last night.


I should have quit writing if I had a lick of sense. I was getting form rejections from my own agent, I was earning maybe $500 a year from my writing, and my traditionally published books were deader than Vanilla Ice’s music career.

But I’d always advised writers to never stop writing, because that was the only difference between writers who failed and writers who succeeded. I knew the publishing world was getting tougher by the day, and yet I still believed. Despite side forays into screenwriting and comic books, I kept writing novels even when I wasn’t sure they would ever reach an audience.

When the Kindle revolution came along, I was still bogged down in the “only hacks self-publish” BS that they teach you in Beginning Writer Boot Camp. I spent half a year studying what was going on, following my pal J.A. Konrath’s adventures like so many other writers did.

I was still a little ambivalent when I uploaded a couple of books at the beginning of 2010. I was still seeking a traditional deal, and my blog posts at the time spoke in an apologetic tone, that I was just dabbling in self-publishing with the goal of paying the light bill. Soon the indie income began paying the mortgage, and at the latest “I can’t sell this” from an agent, I realized they couldn’t but I could.

I began uploading all the books I’d been submitting, while collecting my stories into anthologies and writing new books. Indie became my business plan, and I found I enjoyed all aspects of being a creative entrepreneur in the digital age. After a little more than a year, I was able to write full time.

I quickly figured out Amazon understood what was going on in the book business and was three steps ahead of everyone else. When they began signing authors, I thought, “I can see where this is heading.” And when they approached me to publish Liquid Fear and a sequel, I was ecstatic. I understood their marketing muscle would benefit me in ways unimaginable and could reach much deeper and broader than I could on my own.

I am also pleased with my early experiences that show Amazon to be passionate about their publishing venture, approaching editing and marketing with the same progressive attitude they apply to the rest of the business.

In 21st Century publishing, Amazon is the place to be. I’ve been in the traditional press, so I don’t need the ego tug of “They really love me!” I am more interested in what is next, and what is beyond the horizon, and I am betting big that Amazon gets there first.


Congratulations to Scott, and thanks to him for sharing his thoughts on the deal.

Some self-publishers clearly have a publishing deal as their ultimate goal. Many would only sign a deal on certain terms with certain publishers. Others again have no interest in any kind of deal. Either way, Scott was only offered this deal because he sold lots and lots of books, which most of us are aiming for.

He said that he “always advised writers to never stop writing, because that was the only difference between writers who failed and writers who succeeded.” Sage advice.

Scott indicated on his blog last night that the price for Liquid Fear will be going up soon. If you were thinking of picking it up, you can still get it for 99c at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords if you act fast.

Print fans will be pleased to know that Amazon are planning paper versions of all the titles they have picked up (many of which have only been released in digital form thus far).

Industry watchers will be interested to see what kind of bookstore reach Amazon achieve, but, as Scott said above, he is “more interested in what is next, and what is beyond the horizon.”

Scott is a very smart guy, and he has an uncanny knack of cutting through all the crap surrounding a topic and boiling it down to the essentials. If you aren’t a regular reader of his blog, I highly recommend it. Maybe you will get to peer over the horizon too.