Nikki Ashton is the best-selling author of six books with the seventh coming out early in 2017. She is an indie author whose sales figures are huge on Amazon – so much so that she turned an Amazon publishing contract down and Amazon admitted that she made more money self-publishing than any contract they could offer. With a legion of dedicated readers, Nikki is modest about her success and a staunch supporter of the indie route. It was a great pleasure to interview Nikki and learn more about her life, writing and future projects…
Tell me a little bit about yourself…
I live with my husband, two dogs and mother-in-law in Cheshire and am an auntie to 16 nephews & nieces, who I absolutely adore. Apart from writing, I also work part-time for a software company that does ticketing software, predominantly in sport. I have a few different groups of friends but am blessed that they are all bloody wonderful people who I’d be lost without.
When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?
I never actually thought I was going to become a writer, always thinking it was a pipe dream. My desire to become a writer happened at an early age. I was around 7 or 8 when I wrote my first story for a project at school. It was about two rival gangs of children and it took up practically all of my work book because I included pictures too. I remember my teacher smiling and saying ‘it’s very good Nicola, but perhaps a little too long.’ Not a lesson that stuck with me because I still tend to write ten words when three will do – thank God for my editor!
How does it feel to be an Amazon best-selling novelist?
I find it a little unbelievable if I’m honest. I still wonder how I’ve managed to sell so many books and feel extremely lucky. I’m proud of myself too because it isn’t just the sales that make it worthwhile, it’s the messages that you get from readers. When someone tells me that I’ve made them laugh or cry and they are desperate for my next book, it’s an amazing feeling.
Personally, Indie is what works best. I love creating the whole package, from the story, to the cover and the blurb, and I think if I went the traditional route with a publisher a lot of that control would be taken away from me. Also, I set my own deadlines and while I always have a release date in mind to work towards, I won’t ever be rushed to finish a manuscript and release something that I’m not happy with. Success or failure is all down to me.
Has your route to success been difficult? If so why?
The difficulty I had initially was trying to get a publisher to even look at my first manuscript. It was around the time of the incarnation of ‘Bridget Jones’, and so chick-lit was born and flooded the market place. Therefore, as a brand new, unsolicited author, I wasn’t getting anywhere close to getting published. The emergence of the eBook was a dream come true for me and I was fortunate enough to get my book out there almost at the start of the phenomena that is Kindle. With no advertising, other than a message to my friends on Facebook and a catchy title I sold 5.5 K of my first book in its second month of release. I got my second book out quickly after that, because it was already written, and people who had bought the first one and liked it, bought the second one too. It was when I changed the title of the second book to No Bra Required, in its fourth month of release that sales jumped from around the 3k mark to 16k. Due to the massive sales of that book and its fantastic reviews my following increased, which means I usually get some decent sales figures with every new release. With a good following comes the added bonus that each book is generally received well; I keep a winning formula but try and mix it up a little. While I wouldn’t say success has been easy, it hasn’t been hard either, but a lot of luck and good timing is to thank for that. Also, I’m told I write a good story, so that can only help.
Do you have a special place for writing and dedicate a certain number of hours per day and are you self-disciplined enough to stick to it?
I have a desk in a corner of our lounge and will write as and when the mood takes me. If I have set myself a deadline then I can be self-disciplined, but that usually comes when the panic sets in and I realise I’ve only got days, weeks or hours left to get something to my editor! Is that self-discipline – no, probably not! Having a desk in the lounge works really well for me. Some people like solitude, but that’s not me, so working against the background noise of the TV or music, or chatting with my husband helps me immensely. It also means I don’t have to keep shouting to him when I’m stuck on a word or phrase, or need to know how a man feels when he reaches that ‘special moment’.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
I am voracious reader and while I used to read a lot of chick-lit, nowadays I tend to read contemporary adult books. Not for the adult content necessarily, but for the style. I’m always considering how I can adopt certain things in my own writing to make my books a little different. For example, my sixth book ‘Cheese Tarts & Fluffy Socks’ was written in the first person both from the female and male point of view; a style adopted by most Contemporary Adult writers but not necessarily used in my genre. It got great feedback from my readers and lots of commendation for doing something different. I think if I read books in my genre I wouldn’t try anything new.
Is it true that you should never say anything interesting to an author because you’re bound to see it in print eventually?
Yes, most definitely! We may change the names and the places but there are usually some real life situations in there. My first book was pretty much autobiographical and my friends all recognised certain aspects of themselves or things that they’d done or said over the years. If I lost my phone some of my best scenes would be lost forever, because as soon as I hear something that makes me laugh I make a note of it. So if you ever see me typing a note onto my phone maybe have a think about what you’ve just said.
Do you feel sad when you’ve finished writing a book?
I have mixed emotions when I finish a book. Sad to be leaving my characters behind because I’ve spent so much time with them that they’ve become my best friends, but I’m also happy. This is usually because I’ve got another plot running around my head that is desperate to be put into words
Why did you start to write?
If I’m honest the main reason is probably because I’m a romantic and love a happy ending, so the best way to ensure that they exist is to write one. However, that probably wasn’t the reason when I said I wanted to be a writer at the age of 7. I have never really thought about it, but maybe it was because I had a vivid imagination and yet was quite a shy child, so I could put my feelings out there without actually having to say them out loud.
Do you know the ending to your book when you start to write it? Have you ever changed the ending after you started to write?
When I start a book I always write the first and last chapter initially, so I always know the ending. I might tweak the last chapter but never the outcome. The route changes on numerous occasions, but never the destination.
How do you come up with your characters, are they based on people you have met or events that have happened in your life?
I don’t set out to base them on real people, but it often ends up that way. To start with I write down the character’s name, their age, physical attributes and personality traits and try and stick to them as I write. If I then create a scene that is based on a real life situation I still like the character to stay true to the personality that I have given to them. I wouldn’t have someone acting in a way that doesn’t fit their personality just because that’s how it happened in real life. However, the grandma in Guess Who I Pulled Last Night? was totally my own Nan. She was a funny lady without even trying and I felt everyone else needed to know her.
What’s the new book about?
My new book, Roman’s Having Sex Again, which I’m very excited about, is the story of an alpha male and his feisty PA. Sparks fly from the beginning and it isn’t long before the sexual tension between then is so palpable that it can’t be ignored, but two strong characters make for lots of heated words along the way. It has my usual elements of love, romance and humour but Roman, the male character, has some strong demons lurking and his past comes back to slap a great big obstacle in their path to happiness.
Do you go to many events to meet your public?
I’ve only recently started to go to events where I meet my readers, and to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised is an understatement. The readers and bloggers that attend show a massive amount of dedication to the authors and their books and I hold them in the highest regard because of this. To have someone excited to meet you and want your signature and photograph because of the words you’ve written is extremely humbling.
Twenty words on why your book should be a reader’s next read…
If you like a romance with a happy ending and some laughs along the way then you won’t be disappointed.
Have you any advice for author’s beginning their writing journey?
Firstly, write because it’s your biggest desire, don’t do it for the fame and money because you may well be disappointed and the pressure will stifle your imagination. Write from your heart, stay true to yourself and get a really good editor. Also, find a local group of writers that you can join, and if there isn’t one then start one yourself. The lovely members of The Cheshirati have given me advice, confidence and some damn good laughs that have helped me no end.
What’s next for Nikki Ashton as a writer?
Aside from the release of Roman’s Having Sex Again, I’m writing a Christmas Novella for my Rock Stars Don’t Like…series. After that I’ll be getting a story down that’s been running around in my head for the last few months. It’s going to be a series set around English women going to the USA. In the long term I’d love to break the American market and be recognised over there as one of the great British writers, so hopefully the English Girl In…series will help me to achieve that.
Any last comments for your readers?
I simply want to say thank you to everyone that has ever supported me, given me a word of encouragement or even the smallest snippet of advice. Without all of you I’d probably still be procrastinating over writing a third book, never mind be excited about the prospect of my seventh.
You can contact Nikki on the links below:
Facebook: Nikki Ashton Books
Amazon Author Page: Nikki Ashton
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