Tim Knox: How Being Nosy Led To The Launch of Interviewing Authors

Tim KnoxI’m often asked what prompted me to launch the popular Internet-based, talk radio show, Interviewing Authors.

It wasn’t because I’m particularly enamored of my own voice or that I’m particularly gifted at asking questions others want answered.

The fact of the matter is I launched Interviewing Authors because I was, in a word, nosy.

And I wanted to learn how to sell a ton of books.

You see, I’m an old entrepreneur and as such, believe that success in any endeavor stems from a system of process and execution, meaning that a series of actions, reactions, and interactions, when skillfully executed, typically results in the outcome desired.

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Tim Knox Interview on WTKI

This audio interview is Tim on the Fred Holland Morning Show on WTKI-Radio. Click the Play button to listen and scroll down to continue reading this article.


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I believed, and still do, that successful authorship is a result of such a process and execution, mixed in with a good amount of talent, a decent sense of timing, and a whole lot of luck (luck being when action and opportunity collide).

I wanted to know how successful authors became successful authors. I wanted to know how authors who sell a ton of books sell a ton of books.

I wanted to know how John Grisham went from selling copy center books out of the trunk of his car to being one of the bestselling authors of all time.

I wanted to know how Hugh Howey went from being a yacht captain to the king of self publishing.

I wanted to know how Russell Blake churns out a new novel every 6 to 8 weeks.

I wanted to know the path they followed, the process they executed. I wanted to know their thought processes, their tactics, their strategies.

I wanted to know their secrets.

And I wanted to know all this for one simple reason: so I could replicate their model.

Here’s how it all began.

Everything I Know About Business I Learned From My MamaBack in 2007, I wrote a small business advice book called Everything I Know About Business I Learned From My Mama: A Down-Home Approach To Business and Personal Success.

The book was basically an edited compilation of some of the articles I’d written for my weekly, syndicated newspaper advice column over the previous five years.

I had written over 300 columns and had an abundance of content to work with, so it was a fairly easy book to produce.

Once I had the manuscript in what I considered a presentable condition, I researched the publishing process and concluded that all I needed was a good agent, who would sell the book to a large publisher for a fat advance.

How difficult could that be?

Fortunately for me, it wasn’t difficult at all (see reference to luck above).

I went to a writer’s convention where I knew agents would be. I met, schmoozed, and signed with an agent at the convention. He sold the book to a large publisher (John Wiley & Sons) the following week, I got my fat advance check, and some six months later the book hit the store shelves.

As most new authors discover, the publisher, while doing a great job of printing and distributing the book, did very little to market the book, but thanks to my own marketing efforts and connections the book sold moderately well.

I did a little book tour around the southeast, did a few book signings in large bookstores, launched a speaking platform, and milked it for all it was worth over the next few years.

Then my ADD kicked in. I grew tired of the whole process, so I went off to mark other things off my bucket list. I stopped writing the newspaper column, stopped speaking at events, stopped peddling books, and completely forgot about the publishing business.

In fact, I didn’t write anything else for several years. Not a book, blog post, newsletter, or article. While there was still plenty of water in the well, my desire to heft it up in buckets had dried up.

So I spent the next several years dabbling in one business venture or another. It wasn’t terribly satisfying work, but it paid the bills well and allowed the creative juices time to get flowing again.

Then, a couple of years ago, while watching a reality TV show (I forget which one because they are basically all the same) I had the spark of an idea for a story about a reality show where the guests actually die.

Angel of Mercy by Tim KnoxThe spark became a wildfire and within six months I had a finished novel called Angel of Mercy; the story of a prominent cancer doctor turned reality show host, who is accused in the mercy killing deaths of a dozen patients, and the overzealous young reporter in pursuit of the truth.

I attempted to repeat the process that had worked so well with my first book, but this time the outcome was far different.

I queried agent after agent after agent and over the next few months collected enough rejection letters to paper my master bath ( and I have a humongous master bathroom).

And without an agent, no publisher would even talk to me.

It was the classic author Catch 22: publishers don’t read manuscripts unless they come from agents, but your chances of getting an agent are about the same as being published without one. Zero, point, zero…

Then it finally hit me. I had to publish the book on my own if it was ever going to be read by anyone other than my mother and a handful of Facebook friends.

The only hitch: I had no idea how to publish a book. I had no idea how to build a brand as a fiction author. I had no idea how to attract a following. And worst of all, I had no idea how to convince eager readers to give me their hard-earned money.

So I got nosy.

Rather than reinvent the wheel I started researching authors who had already accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to learn how they became successfully self-published authors so I could replicate their process.

The problem was, I couldn’t find the level of information I wanted. I didn’t care that they had gotten from point A to point Z. I wanted to know how they got from point A to Z.

Don’t just tell me that you sold 1,000 books last year and 100,000 books this year. Dammit, tell me how you did it. Lay out the steps for me. Give me your process and execution. Tell me what worked and what didn’t. Come on, man, help a brother out…

Hampering my research further is the fact that I’m an audiophile. I’ve hosted talk radio shows for years and was an early podcaster. I didn’t want to read about authors’ accomplishments. I wanted to hear how they did it; from their lips to my ear; their journey described in their words; warts and all.

So I went in search of podcasts and radio shows that featured interviews with authors. Surely there were programs out there that had the information I wanted in the format I liked, but I found no such program that gave me what I wanted.

I didn’t want 45 minutes of an elderly author reading the first chapter of his book. I can read the damn book. I wanted to know how he came up with the idea for that book; how he published that book, how he developed memorable characters, how he built an audience that’s lasted forty years, how he’s making money now.

Again, I could find no such program to give me the inside information I wanted.

So, I decided to create one.

A short time later the Interviewing Authors podcast debuted with two authors that I had a personal connection with (that’s how they became my first guests).

My first interview was with bestselling author and adventurer, Homer Hickam, author of The Rocket Boys, The Coalwood Way, and many other great fiction and nonfiction books.

My second interview was with six-time NY Times bestselling author and television personality, Larry Winget, whom I had met during my time as a corporate speaker and remained friends with.

And from there the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, just a few short months later, I have interviewed over four dozen authors across all genres and sales levels on the topics of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing their work.

And thanks to the willingness of my guests to refer their peers, my interview schedule is now booked months in advance with amazing guests.

I’ve interviewed the likes of Outlander author Diana Gabaldon (20,000,000 books sold), eleven-time NY Times bestselling author Joseph Finder, self-publishing phenom Hugh Howey, legendary Playboy interviewer and biographer to the stars Lawrence Grobel, and the list of amazingly awesome authors (AAA, I call them) goes on and on.

And most importantly, I’ve made some great friends and learned a lot from them; inside knowledge that I can now use to create my own success as an author.

That’s right, they’ve shared with me their secrets, strategies, methods, and tactics for becoming incredibly successful authors.

And here’s the really cool thing.

They’ll also share it with you.

Just come to InterviewingAuthors.com and listen.


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