About Nikolas Allen:
Nikolas Allen has enjoyed a 20-year career in advertising which has instilled a deep passion for branding, marketing and the entrepreneurial spirit. In 2010, he launched BAM! Small Biz Consulting to help small business owners reach a wider audience through effective online and offline marketing strategies. His latest book, “Heavyweight Marketing” features stories, examples and case studies directly from the small biz trenches. He is currently director of marketing at a renewable energy company in northern California.
An accomplished musician, contemporary pop artist and pop-culture junkie, Allen spent three years as marketing director for a non-profit art gallery and is currently a board member for Siskiyou Arts Museum. In 2013, he published his first book, “Death To The Starving Artist,” a marketing book for ambitious artists who want to reach a wider audience.
Nikolas has lived in Greece, Africa, Minnesota, Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico. He currently resides at the foot of a magical, mystical volcano in the far reaches of northern California.
What inspires you to write?
Life experiences are inspiring. I love words, language and vocabulary. English was always my favorite subject in school, and as a songwriter, poet and author, I enjoy putting words together in fun and original ways. I’m on an eternal search for the “perfect” sentence, headline, stanza, story or phrase. Both of my books are non-fiction business books dealing with marketing. While that topic can typically be dry, I have a lot of fun by infusing it with lyrical wordplay, linguistic gymnastics and plenty of personality.
Tell us about your writing process.
I find I’m freshest in the morning, so I get up around 6am every day and try to put at least an hour of writing in before work. On the weekends I’ll go longer if I’m feeling inspired. I collect vintage typewriters, but only because they’re beautiful machines – all my writing is done on a Apple MacBook Pro.
For my first book, I was teaching art marketing workshops and I had a detailed outline for the class. When I realized that a book would reach more artists than a workshop, I expanded the outline into a book. My second book started as a blog, and after writing about 80,000 words, I realized I had a book on my hands. I still updated, revised, fretted and stressed over the transition, but it was easier than starting from scratch.
I used to write screenplays, and I love the old index-card-on-a-bulletin-board technique to flesh out the story points. I’m currently outlining my first novel and that’s the technique I’m using. I’m sure there will be plenty of spontaneous discovery, but it’s helpful to have an idea of where you’re going in each scene.
What advice would you give other writers?
1) Write more, talk less – The “idea” of writing a book is romantic. The “act” of writing, re-writing, editing, etc. is not. It takes a lot longer than you think to complete a book, so keep your focus on the hard stuff (finishing your book) rather than the easy stuff (blathering on about the awesome book you’re writing).
2) Examine your publishing options – I love the fact that self-publishing exists. Many writers swear by traditional publishing. Study your options so you know what will work best for you.
3) Keep writing – I’ve got two books under my belt, which is great, but I aspire to be that author with 6, or 10, or 18 books to my name. The only way to get there? Write, write, then write some more.
4) Don’t skimp on editing or cover design – If you use a publishing house, you’re pretty well covered, but if you self-publish make sure you allot a budget for a professional editor and an excellent cover designer. Just because your book is self-published doesn’t mean it should LOOK like it.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
A colleague published a couple books through Createspace, and told me about it. I looked into the self-publishing site and was sold. My career has been an advertising creative, so I knew I could design my cover, layout the interior and put a book together that looks professional. There was a learning curve on my first book, but the second one came together a lot quicker. I also produced my book trailer videos, built my book websites, and designed all my social media promo. Because I possess these skills, self-publishing is a no-brainer for me. However, if you need to hire all that out, self-publishing could get a little spendy to put all the elements in place.
If a publishing company wants to work with me some day, I would consider it. But they would have to prove their worth by dedicating resources and promotional muscle to really get behind me and help me reach a wider audience. Until then, DIY, Baby!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I see a lot of parallels with the music industry. The Old Guard has trouble adapting to change, and maintains a rigid paradigm of “how things should be done.” Then they fight tooth and nail to hold on to their positions. Innovation has a tendency to ruffle feathers. Look at Airbnb and Uber: They are disrupting the hotel and taxi industries, which is causing a lot of fear among people who control those spaces. But you can’t stifle innovation, eventually change happens no matter how much people resist.
Same goes for publishing. Self-published authors often aren’t taken seriously because they haven’t been “annointed” by the so-called purveyors of legitimate literature. In time, that will change. It’s true that a low barrier to entry means more quantity and less quality. That simply means people have to work harder to stand out, to be heard, get discovered, and reach their audience. The same way that talent agents look to YouTube for the next superstar, talented self-published authors will eventually earn the respect they’re due. More boutique publishers will spring up, and new methods of distribution will take hold.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: branding, business, marketing, social media, pop culture, non-fiction
What formats are your books in?: Print
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