Maybe I should tell you a little about Nick. He cut his teeth in the harsh world of “Independent Publishing,” the world where the many release their books to the few. Ask him about his first hit and he will tell you about Terry Irving. Ask him about his home life and he will tell you about his girlfriend Lori. Ask him about the world of books and you will hire him. He has ideas that many people wouldn’t even think of.
It was a hot summer day, not a bad cloud in sight. Nick is an ardent believer in the Law of Attraction (LOA) and you will always find him sitting, thinking about his next move. Disturb the peace at your own peril. Looking like a country boy, he is at home in t-shirts and jeans. His hair always short and his accent very English. Let’s go take our lives in our hands and disturb his peace and quiet…
Q) Hey, Nick, what’s new with you?
A) Hola Chris. How goes my buddy, the bestseller?
Q) Pretty good! Okay, so I have been up all night racking my brains to think of things to ask you. You started as an interviewer right?
A) I did. I was a pretty green kid actually, asking questions that I thought were pretty clever. The fact is, I didn’t get really good until the first time an author got mad at me.
Q) What happened?
A) I asked him questions he didn’t like and he got so mad he left. I decided from that moment on, that you didn’t need to ask the most invasive questions to get results. You just needed to get your interviewee on side and find out what makes them tick.
Q) Did you always want to interview people for a living?
A) Hell, no! I loved it– but I didn’t want that career forever. I still enjoy it from time to time. Sometimes, I feel like returning to it, but that won’t happen.
Q) What is Hot Books?
A) Chris, Hot Books is a way of thinking. It’s a new idea I had to help move books. We list them and then buy a continual Facebook ad to keep the customers coming. They see a book they like, they buy it, and the page grows as writers come along and ask for their books to be added to the page. It’s a way of putting a lot of product out there without spending thousands on advertising. One page, one advert and one cost.
Q) Now, I have read somewhere that you have never worked with a flop? Is that true?
A) It’s a lie. I have worked with a flop. A book I once worked with was so bad it didn’t sell a single copy. I couldn’t get anyone to review it. I guess that’s what happens when an author writes a book about pubic hair.
Q) Why did you take it on?
A) Because I thought it might take off. I thought it could be a novelty– it wasn’t. It was an attempt to write something that would become a modern classic and frankly, it was so bad, the author eventually gave up trying to sell it. I think he wrote a straight-forward murder mystery next. I wasn’t asked to promote that one. I think my opinion of his ode to pubic hair pissed him off.
Q) How would you describe yourself?
A) Smart, intelligent, handsome… Nah, I guess I would describe myself as a modern day baby-boomer.
Q) You believe in the ethics of the baby boomers?
A) I think it worked at the time– that was probably the most productive time humans have seen in recent years. The recent move towards welfare dependency is rather scary, but I don’t talk politics.
Q) Why is that?
A) Because my job is to talk about books, writers, the great things people are putting down on paper. Nothing in my job description gives me the right to sanctimoniously rant about politics to people who want to hear about books.
Q) Do you believe other artists and promoters should feel the same way?
A) Not at all. Feel free to do whatever you want! Just don’t ask me to give my political opinion during an interview.
Q) So, what is different about your approach to the promotion of writers?
A) I believe that all books can potentially make money. I believe that all writers have the right to make a living from their books and my whole ethos is promotion for fair prices. I started Novel Ideas to work with independent authors who couldn’t get on the big rollercoaster called the “PR MONSTER.” You know, the ones who couldn’t afford the big guns to come out and spread the word about their books. The way my approach differs is simple– I do the leg work and appeal to the people who read books. I use the tools we all have–the internet–and I make sure everyone knows that the book exists without flooding the world and driving everyone mad.
Q) Do you think you are the future of PR?
A) No, I actually think I have more in common with the past. The way the record companies worked in the 50s and 60s. Back then, you knew a record was good if you could hear it endlessly without getting sick of it. I have the same approach. I take a writer’s work, and I submit it to the public in a way that they take without thinking “oh GOD NOT AGAIN”.
Q) Do you think many writers over-promote their work?
A) Yes, almost certainly! I think there are already so many books on the market and then people go crazy promoting their books and soon the whole market becomes so. People just walk away and look for new places to spend their money. It is so easy for a writer to scare away readers.
Q) Of all your interviews, which was your favorite?
A) I can’t choose a favourite, per se. I think my favourites have been the interviews I have done with guys like Boyd Lemon, Mike Trahan, Mike Walsh and Gordon Osmond. I also really enjoyed the interviews I have done with writers like Joseph Langan and Greg Eddolls. My first big interview was with Terry Irving. I am very proud of my body of work.
Q) Have you ever had a difficult interview? How do you deal with that?
A) Sometimes, you get people who don’t really know what to say. When that happens, you just have to go along with it and play it by ear. I think a good interview takes chemistry and to get chemistry you have to spend time building up a rapport. Take a guy like Mike Trahan– If you walk in there and try to shark him, he will kick your ass out of that interview quicker than a flash. You have to know what to ask and how. The boundaries are set by the interviewee, and if you want to be experimental, don’t do it with someone who is likely to dislike being experimented on.
Q) What would you class as experimental?
A) Again, politics is the number one NO during a general interview. Do not start a political flame war. Do not threaten the interviewee. Keep things above board and do not ask things that you would not like to be asked. You are not David Frost– therefore, do not pretend to be.
Q) What do you think of David Frost and his famous interviews with Richard Nixon?
A) There you go trying to be experimental.
Q) Is it true that you broke all attendance records on the weekly book webinar?
A) Yes, I did… But that was some time ago, now. I think that record must have been broken by now.
Q) What did you think of the interviews you have attended on that show?
A) Angie (Harris) is one of the most interesting interviewers I have ever come across. She has this way of putting people at ease. I think Gordon (Osmond) is crucial to the success of the show because he has such a literary knowledge. I think most writers would feel happy to be on that show. Lori (Nick’s fiancee) and I attend all the time.
Q) So, what is next for you?
A) Well, currently, we have highly-placed books with Terry Irving and J.W. Northrup. I think Ellen Mae Franklin is a forthcoming bestseller and we should find out where her book is headed over the next few weeks. My money, however, is on Mike Trahan. His E-book just came out and I think it might just be the biggest hit Novel Ideas has ever worked with.
Q) Thank you for your time, Nick!
A) Not a problem, Christopher.
Chris Keys is author of several books including the soon to-be-released novel “One Mistake.”
He currently lives happily in Tennessee with his wife, Donna. You can read more about Chris Keys here!