Interview with Zack Nolan

How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I normally discover new ebooks by word of mouth, from blogs and Amazon. The great thing about ebooks, is that you can access a wide array of independent authors and tap into their experiences. I love reading, especially non-fiction. The fact that you can pick up a book and get expert advice from those who are successful is worth its weight in gold. It gives you a viable road map to pursue your dreams.

The mainstream (what's on the NY Times best seller list) is a mere fraction of what is out there. A best seller doesn't necessarily mean it's the best book on the subject. To me, the publishing industry is very much like the music industry. There are a ton of great bands out there but will never make it to the level of success as a major recording artist because the odds are so stacked against them. Those who do become wildly successful (what I call "the two percenters"), have done so through hard work, connections and let's face it...a good deal of luck. Often, it has nothing to do with how "good" a band is. There are plenty of "unsigned" indie bands that are incredible with an established fanbase. Such is the same in the book publishing industry and indie authors. In this day, indie is no longer an "amateur" word.
What is your writing process?
Some writers like to start with an outline to gather their thoughts. I just start writing! When I write, one thing leads to another. My thoughts and experiences are often triggered, for example, by a paragraph and I build on it. I find that my writing becomes more real and I'm able to flow better, rather than trying to sit down and write an outline that can be more contrived and unnatural.

Of course, organization and format are important. Those processes I actually do all at once. Then, when I feel I'm finished writing and I have an idea on how I'm organizing my chapters, I go back over and edit (and edit, and edit!). The editing process is a very important step and can mean the difference between a decent manuscript and an exceptional one.
How do you approach cover design?
The cover design is certainly one of the most important elements of a book. The old adage "don't judge a book by its cover," can't be helped! Everyone judges a book by its cover. The visual aspect of marketing is paramount in branding. This is why videos and images work so well in social media over just mere words. To quote another adage...a picture is (truly) worth a thousand words. Branding is about consistency. If the imagery is not consistent with the message, there is a disconnect.

I'm a marketing man. I have a degree in marketing and my day to day activities revolve around marketing as an entrepreneur. You can have the best book on a given topic, but without marketing, it's dead in the water. It's not easy and I think that's where many authors get tripped up.
What do you read for pleasure?
I'm a non-fiction junkie. My wife thinks I'm nuts, but to me, I get off on reading biographies and memoirs. The chance to get into the minds of some of the most successful folks in their respective fields is amazing. I also love "how-to" books. Anything that I can take from a book and apply to my life is where it's at for me.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have an iPad with the Amazon app, the iBooks app and also, ebooks. I also have the Amazon app on my Samsung Note 2.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Speaking on non-fiction, one thing I've learned is that there is rarely anything new under the sun. However, if you can present it in a way that is intriguing or if you can simplify say, technical methods or processes for anyone to understand, you are on to something.

I was having a conversation with an author the other day, and they were complaining to me about a (non-fiction) "how-to" book that was written by another author within the same genre and same subject matter. This author was selling books, while my colleague was not. The reason was because the other book was organized in a way that people could relate to. The title and cover was catchy and the information was presented in a clever manner.

To me, non-fiction writers really need to have a sense of marketing. It's no different than songwriter writing a hit song. They understand that principles and elements of what make a song, great and "identifiable."
Describe your desk
It's actually fairly organized. However, in the midst of writing, it can get quite cluttered with ideas on various scraps of paper and notebooks!
What's the story behind your new book?
Personally, my eyes were open to the fraudulent practices of the consumer debt collection business after going through some hard times a few years back. Let's face it. Who doesn't know someone who hasn't had financial challenges? It happens, particularly with entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, I was involved in three separate debt lawsuits where I decided to represent myself. At first, it was a bit intimidating, but I'm a resourceful guy. I did some heavy research by going to my local law library and what I found out really floored me about how junk-debt collectors do business.

It's a very touchy subject for some, because they have no perspective. I often get the "why didn't you just pay your bills" rant, but it was never my intent "not to." Folks get in a jam and keeping on the electricity and paying your mortgage becomes priority. The thing is, third-party, junk debt collectors have a nice business model that makes them loads of money. First, they buy aggregate debt (thousands of debts from debtors) for mere pennies on the dollar. There is rarely ever an "assignment," which gives them the "right" to collect the money. They know this. They also know that 94% of those who they sue will never answer their lawsuit and because of that, a default judgment is handed down. It's easy money. The problem I have with it, is that they have no legal right to collect, because they have no assignment. They aren't the original creditor and though they bought the debt for nothing, they continue to go after the full amount plus interest.

The devious practices that I've encountered from both the debt collectors and their attorney's were ridiculous. Threats of jail and prosecution, manipulating discovery documents to illicit a given response, failing to answer my interrogatories...the list goes on. Long story short, I won all my debt lawsuits. So many folks are going through what I am going through and I wanted to give them a guide that they could give them all the information that I had to spend hours researching. I've also fully experienced in and out of court, exactly what they are going through. Writing about something you know is one thing. But writing about what you've experienced is quite another.

There is a good deal of information out there on the topic, but some of the books written about debt collection lawsuits are lacking in quality content. Some are just poorly organized, difficult to follow and have many typos. Thus, my idea to write No More Suits came to fruition. It's my hope and goal that readers can identify with it and it will help to protect their interests.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Expressing myself and relating my experiences and knowledge to others. Although I am a decent speaker, I find that I am able to express myself far better on paper.
What do your fans mean to you?
They are everything. Without them, I am nothing. It always amazes me when I encounter "prima-donna" authors. That tells me they are very insecure. You're nothing without your fans. They buy your books.
Published 2014-07-02.
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