Linda Parkinson-Hardman is an author, social media strategist, and social entrepreneur who blogs at Women On The Edge of Reality. In addition to her own writing, she interviews fellow authors for her series called Thursday Throng.
Linda Parkinson-Hardman: What is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?
Nikolas Allen: I’m a pretty private person, so there’s a lot people don’t know about me. I also like to live in the present, so the people around me today don’t know, for example, about the 15 years I spent playing in rock bands. I was totally immersed in the world of writing, recording, traveling, performing—and partying—and had starry-eyed dreams of “making it” as a rock star. That era definitely informed my personal point-of-view, and while the “rock star” aspect of my personality is not as literal these days, it does emerge in different and unexpected ways.
What did the best review you ever had say about you and your work?
My first book, “Death to the Starving Artist” is a marketing book for artists who want to reach a wider audience. One reviewer said, “Nikolas Allen may be the Daniel Grant of my generation…Daniel Grant with an edge.” I’m not very familiar with Grant’s work, but I know he’s an established writer with an art-business focus. That the reviewer compared my new voice favorably with an established voice is pretty cool.
How did you choose a title for your book?
My new release is called “Heavyweight Marketing,” which comes from a marketing consulting business I ran for a few years called BAM! Small Biz Consulting. I built my brand around a boxing theme and billed myself as a Heavyweight Marketing Champion. Much of the book contains examples, stories and lessons learned through BAM! so this title was a no-brainer: clear, powerful, and concise.
As for my first book, it was written for ambitious artists and is titled, “Death to the Starving Artist.” My goal with that book is to help kill the outdated paradigm that being a starving artist is glamorous. Before the book was published, there was some concern in my camp expressed about the “negative” aspect of the title, but I was confident in my decision. A year later, the book has reached artists around the world and the feedback to the book AND the title has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Recently, I read an article by some tool who suggested self-published authors should be called ‘book-writers,’ rather than ‘authors.’ Bollocks!” — Nikolas Allen
Do you think there is any elitism attached to the different genres of books, both in the fiction and non-fiction worlds?
Sure, there will always be people who take certain works seriously while dismissing others. There’s definitely a bias against self-published authors who are often viewed as charlatans because they haven’t been “anointed” by the so-called purveyors of legitimate literature: The Almighty Publishing House. I even read an article by some tool who suggested self-published authors should be called “book-writers,” rather than “authors.” Bollocks.
The remedy to this is to find YOUR audience. You don’t have to appeal to everyone. Take Nicholas Sparks for example. Many people (myself included) find his work to be mawkish saccharine, but he’s got a million ravenous readers who will devour everything he produces. Forget the haters and the naysayers. Spend time building relationships with those who matter most – people who DO respond to your work. Then continue to serve them.
Have you ever written naked?
Yes, but it wasn’t a writerly technique used to strip away my shackles, delve further into the heart of the scene, or commune with my inner Lady Godiva. It was simply because I live in an apartment with no A/C in an arid region of northern California that reaches 100 degrees in the summertime. Sometimes, you just gotta take it all off.
Are you jealous of other writers?
Jealousy is a toxic emotion, so I don’t mess with it. However, I do find a certain frustration when I see the same old names trotted out year after year at the marketing conferences, expos, and events that I keep tabs on. On one hand, I’m happy for them because they’ve earned a seat at the table through their accomplishments. On the other hand, I’d like to see a couple seats at that table reserved every year for new names with fresh voices.
Have you had to learn new skills and tricks or attempted impossible feats in order to get a book finished?
Absolutely. The whole process of writing, designing, publishing and marketing a book is an epic feat that is not for the weak of heart. The first challenge is turning your idea into a finished work, which involves discipline of tremendous proportions. Once it’s written, you need professional editing, which leads to revising, reworking and rewriting. Then you have to make it look amazing, which means a professional layout and killer cover design.
If you choose the traditional publishing route, you need to court publishers, overcome rejection, and practice persistence. If you self-publish, you’re on your own for figuring out your chosen platform (I use Createspace.com), uploading, proofing and filling out profiles. THEN, once it’s printed, the REAL work begins, which is marketing. For my first book, I definitely experienced a learning curve with the whole process, but it gets easier every time. It would be great to connect with a publisher at some point, but that’s no silver bullet either—the author is still required to do plenty of work even with a publishing deal in place.
What is the book that you wished you had written?
I just read the most beautiful, poetic, lovely, well-written novel called, “2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas,” by Marie-Helene Bertino. It offers a glimpse into the lives of three diverse and superbly-crafted characters over the course of a 24-hour period on the day before Christmas Eve. Even the supporting characters are well-rounded with juicy back stories. Highly recommended. I can’t wait to read it again.
Do you have any favorite resources you would like to share with our readers?
There’s a book by Peter Bowerman called “The Well-Fed Self-Publisher” that has tons of great info and resources for DIY authors. I would also recommend checking out Createspace.com for authors who are interested in the self-publishing route.
There is a free PR service called Help A Reporter Out, or HARO, that sends emails three times a day containing a list of journalists seeking quotes, replies and pitches from experts on various topics. This is a fun and easy way to get press.
Otherwise, Google is your friend: whether you need help, inspiration or information it is only a few keystrokes away. There’s so much info out there you need to be as specific as possible with your long-tail keyword searches in order to produce the most relevant results. Otherwise, you’ll lose yourself in the rabbit hole of research when you should be writing.
What is your favorite TV moment of all time?
These days I don’t own a TV, but I’m a Gen Xer so I grew up with what I believe to be the best era for television. So many shows played an essential part of my youth and left an indelible impression on my psyche: The Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, Eight is Enough, Gilligan’s Island, Battlestar Gallactica, Buck Rogers, Laverne & Shirley, Hogan’s Heroes, Land of the Lost, Happy Days, Saturday Night Live (original cast), The Price is Right, The Fall Guy, The A Team, Six Million Dollar Man, Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, The Incredible Hulk, Scooby-Doo, The Rockford Files, Dukes of Hazzard, Beverly Hills 90210, Ally McBeal, Melrose Place, oh man, the list goes on and on. Could I even pick a favorite moment?
Not unless I could say EVERY moment I spent hypnotized by the multitude of magical stories beamed into my brain from the all-mighty idiot box.
Tea, Coffee, Water, Juice, Wine or Beer … which do you prefer when writing?
I’m a morning writer, so my sessions always involve plenty of coffee and lots of water. I still have journals full of songs, lyrics and poetry from my rock band days 20 years ago. Back then, my mind was altered most of the time so many of the pages are full of unintelligible scribblings that might have made sense at the time, but looking at them today I’ve got no idea what I was on about. Nah, these days all I need is a quiet morning, a hot cup of coffee, my unfettered imagination and the comforting glow of my computer screen.
About Nikolas Allen:
Author Nikolas Allen has 20 years of experience in advertising, as employee, freelancer, and entrepreneur. He is passionate about educating small business owners how to build meaningful brands, which is the focus of his new book “Heavyweight Marketing.” The book was inspired by his recent 3-year stint running his own marketing consulting company, and is written for small to medium sized business owners who want to build champion brands.
This interview originally appeared on the Thursday Throng interview series at womenontheedgeofreality.com.