Welcome to the new series of the Sunday Show. Over the next few weeks my guests will be talking about their work and also sharing some personal reflections on Defining Moments in their lives.
Most of us begin our journey in life with a rough map drawn up of where we want to be at various stages along the way and also what we hope to have accomplished. Of course much will depend on circumstances and events that happen to us but also there is an element of luck or perhaps fate in the eventual outcome.
Today my guest is an author and blogger with a wide ranging audience who appreciate his posts on writing and publishing as well as advice on marketing our books. Nicholas C. Rossis is the author of the epic fantasy series ‘Pearseus’ and a science fiction short story collection, the ‘Power of Six’, both of which are consistently at #1 on Amazon. He is also a prolific writer of children’s stories and recently published ‘Runaway Smile’, his first book for younger readers.
You can read Runaway Smile for free online on http://nicholasrossis.me/childrens-books/
As if he was not busy enough with his writing and blog, Nicholas has also enjoyed a long and successful career in web-related industries and is the founder of Istomedia Ltd in the UK and in his home of Athens, Greece. His specialties include: Book marketing, Corporate Profile, Web and multimedia design and development and SEO.
To give you a brief flavour of his books to date here is a summary of the first book, Schism, in the Perseus series.
It’s New Year’s Eve, the year of 2099, but the distinguished guests aboard the Pearseus won’t get to countdown seconds; soon they’ll be counting bodies and survivors after the spaceship’s crash landing on another planet.
The good news? The planet is seemingly hospitable both in resources and in terms of the natives’ attitude towards earthlings.
The bad news? They might have come on this planet bare of possessions, but what they haven’t been able to shed are the shortcomings of their human nature. Will that be the sole threat to a unified future, or is the new land and its first inhabitants not as innocent as they look?
You will find the links to all of Nicholas’s books and blog at the end of the post.
Welcome to the hot seat Nicholas and before we begin congratulations are in order.. A first place and second place in the Rave Reviews Book Club awards in the Best Blog category, for your blog and your On the Shelf interview! A great start to 2015 and I am sure just the start of achievements for the rest of the year.
Like so many countries in the EU, your own has been in the news over the last few years as the financial crisis deepened. Perhaps we could start with some personal reflections on the developments in Greece over the last few years. You studied and worked abroad in the UK for many years and I wondered what you felt were the major changes in the country on your return? Is there now a more positive attitude to the future?
Hi Sally, many thanks for inviting me! It’s quite the honour to be here. And I see you start with the tough questions, huh?
Greece is certainly an exciting country. Electra, my wife, and I returned from Edinburgh in 2000. In 2004, Greece hosted the Olympics and joined the Euro. The feeling was one of unbridled optimism; it was a “we can do anything” time. Pretty exciting! The country showed its best side to the world, and it was breathtaking.
Then, in 2009, the credit crunch hit us, when decades of poor public policy caught up with us. Greece is a country of only ten million people, but has almost one million civil servants. Add almost six million pensioners, children and unemployed, and you’re left with a workforce of three million people. Which means that every Greek has to work to support three people. The country desperately needs to strengthen its private sector, especially exports, and stop using the civil sector as a means to combat unemployment. Sadly, this has not happened yet. Populist parties of all colours have preferred a narrative of victimhood instead, portraying Greece as the victim of forces beyond its control.
As of last week, we’re heading into premature elections. The current mood is a gloomy one. As the Chinese curse goes, “may you live in interesting times.” Sadly, times are certainly interesting in our neck of the woods.
Whilst we all might live in our own individual countries we are lucky enough to be able to take full advantage of the developing technology that offers global communication. You have been involved with the Web for over 20 + years and hold a doctorate in digital architecture from the University of Edinburgh. There is no doubt that the development of the technology to where we are today has been rapid. Have we reached a plateau or is the next phase in development likely to be as fast?
The notion that there has to be a limit to our progress is not a new one. According to Mr. Charles Duell, Commissioner of US patent office, “everything that can be invented, has been invented.” Of course, this was back in 1899.
If you want to go even further back, you can always refer to Ecclesiastes 1:9: “There is nothing new under the sun.”
Every time someone thinks we have reached a plateau, events prove them wrong. What is next? I have no idea, and one of my favourite pastimes is to check out predictions for the future – from a few decades ago. As we don’t walk around covered in tinfoil clothes or hop into a spaceship to Mars just yet, we still have a long way to go.
Because the technology has developed so quickly, is there a risk that companies in particular have fallen by the wayside because they were unable to adapt to the new business culture?
Short answer: yes. It’s sad when companies fail to keep up and close. But it’s infinitely sadder when people find out that their skills are obsolete. With paradigms shifting constantly around us, flexibility is becoming an ever-increasing necessity. Both companies and workers need to realise this, and focus less on acquiring specific skills, say a specific programming language, and more on developing their ability to rapidly adapt to an ever-shifting environment.
In a sense, it’s all very Darwinist: When Darwin mentioned survival of the fittest, people assumed he meant the strongest, or fastest animal. In fact, as nature demonstrates through creatures like the slug or the sloth, neither is necessary. What guarantees survival is how well a creatures fits its environmental niche.
The arts also benefit from new technology and certainly writers are in a very different position from where they were even 15 years ago when options were very limited outside of mainstream publishing. What do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages to the E-book revolution as far as writers are concerned?
Although self-publishing is the most visible aspect of the e-book revolution, it’s not the only change e-books have brought along. The traditional storage and distribution models have also been turned on their heads. For example, I can now carry a couple of thousand books in my Kindle and server farms have replaced logistics centres.
Having said that, I personally feel that the greatest impact of the e-book is, indeed, allowing self-publishing at an unprecedented scale. Having practically zero distribution costs, it allows anyone to publish a book at the click of a button. How good or bad is this?
We have all heard the tirades against the so-called tsunami of crap that has, supposedly, been unleashed upon unsuspecting readers by Indie authors. However, I have yet to come across a truly dreadful Indie book. So far, my experience has followed a traditional Bell curve – i.e. some books have not been to my liking, some I have loved, and many were in between.
As this has been my experience with traditionally published books as well, I have so far failed to find a connection between the publishing model and my enjoyment of a book. What publishing companies usually do well is proofread their publications. However, they tend to streamline authors into a homogenous set of “rules.” For example, editors often come up with rules for each genre that are stifling and lead to boring, repetitive books. The same applies to writing.
Indie authors, on the other hand, can be as creative as they like. This has been a hit and miss affair. When it works, however, it allows for works that bristle with creativity.
The second charge levied against self-publishing is that, with everyone becoming a writer, we will run out of readers. This reminds me of a common fear a few years back, when I kept reading articles on how the Internet was bursting at the seams and we would soon run out of bandwidth, domain names, servers… You name it.
What these articles failed to take into account is that, any system growing rapidly, will also have more resources at its disposal. The millions of people joining the Internet fed its expansion. As a result, we now have ever increasing capacity and millions of unused names.
The same applies to books. For example, ever since I published my first book, I have been reading at an exponential rate. I can only hope that everyone becomes a writer, as this creates a whole new generation of readers.
As an avid reader and a successful author perhaps you could share the three key elements you consider are necessary to stand out from the crowd?
Lol – thanks for the “successful” bit. It’s a relative term, of course. I am more successful than some authors, and less so than others. I think the important bit here is to not lose track of the goal, which is to write. Once someone focuses on one’s “competition,” that is inevitably lost.
In my case, I have developed a very simple marketing strategy, that can be summed up as follows:
- Be real,
- be fun,
- be helpful.
If you do that, people will buy your books simply because they like you and will want to support you. In other words, “if people like what you’re saying, they’ll like what you’re selling.”
You’re probably wondering just how effective this can possibly be. Well, let me offer an example. About a month ago, I hosted a Facebook party for an hour. The organizer had told me to use that hour to promote my books. Instead, I invited my friends and asked them to talk about their books.
It took some convincing, as they did not want to steal my moment on the spotlight, but they did. This was followed by a fascinating discussion on the present and future of publishing. The hour flew by, and still I had not uttered a single word about me or my work. The poor organizer kept sending me private messages: “You now have 45′ to discuss your books.” “30 minutes left!” “Ten minutes!”
Five minutes before my hour was up, I posted a couple of links with a simple “if you want to find out about me or my work, here’s the links” kind of message.
When I checked, I saw that I had sold eight copies within that hour, without even trying!
What projects do you have planned for 2015?
I would love to promote my children’s book, Runaway Smile, as I feel it’s my best work so far. I’d go as far as to say it’s my own “Little Prince” – even if this were the only book I had written, I’d be happy. I published it through Amazon, but it was picked by a traditional publisher in Greece, so I’ll be going to various events organized by said publisher in Athens.
In the meantime, I am currently editing the next book in the Pearseus series, called Pearseus: Vigil. In the following weeks I will send it to my beta-readers, then it’s off to my editor and proofreader, Lorelei Logsdon. After the final tweaks, it should be released mid-February.
Once that’s finished, I will start on the final book in the series. I am also writing short stories, with an aim of publishing a second short-stories collection.
Now to the theme of the Sunday Show. We would love to learn about some of the defining moments in your life to date that you feel had a long reaching impact on both your professional and personal life. Perhaps when effort was given a boost by luck or the intervention of what some might refer to as fate?
Ever since I remember myself, I have enjoyed writing. At school, many of my classmates dreaded essay-writing, whereas I could count on my essays to be read in class. So, when I finished highschool, I figured I’d try writing.
Expecting words of praise, I showed one of my short stories to a career councillor who was a family friend. Instead of the expected thumbs-up, she told me in no uncertain terms that I had no future in writing, and I had best focus my energy on a “proper” career.
So, I became an engineer, then an architect, then a web developer.
In 2009, I decided to try again my hand at writing. A newspaper had a segment called 9, that included a short science fiction story each week. Usually, these were translated into Greek, but every now and then you would see a story written by a Greek. So, I submitted my story, not expecting much.
They published it, and sent me a cheque for 150 euros. I was ecstatic. I quickly wrote another couple of stories and submitted them, but the newspaper had by then ran into financial trouble and discontinued that segment. So, I sent one of the stories to a short-story competition, and won. The story was (traditionally) published in an anthology called Invasion.
I then started working on my novel, Pearseus, which turned into a series. I first published that on Amazon in late 2013, certain that I was missing something: surely someone would call my bluff. Amazon would take a look and go, “hey, you’re not an author. What are you playing at?”
Instead, people bought Pearseus and reviewed it. They said nice things about it and actually paid to read my work.
Wow. People liked my work. This really was an eye opener, and I continued to write and publish. I’ve learned a lot, developed my voice and interacted with hundreds of wonderful people.
Then, yesterday, the funniest thing happened. Remember that councillor I mentioned at the beginning? Apparently, she read Runaway Smile and asked my mother for my phone number – remember, this is someone I had not talked to in over 25 years.
Her first words were, “I wanted to congratulate you on your book. It’s absolutely wonderful. It’s clear that this is where your future lies. Don’t give up writing, it’s who you are and what you’re meant to be doing.”
Needless to say, I almost dropped the phone with surprise. All I could say was “aha,” and “thank you.” Then, I hung up and turned to my wife. “You’ll never guess who that was…”
Well sadly before we run out of paper we have to end the interview there but thank you so much Nicholas for providing such an interesting look into your work and your life.
You can find out more about Nicholas and his work at the following links.
I’m all around the Internet, but the best place to find me would be my blog, http://nicholasrossis.me/ .
Anyone interested in my books can check them out on Amazon:
Also, people can read the first book, Pearseus: Schism, for free on Goodreads.