Saturday, July 7, 2012

Indie Spotlight: Nicholas Dettman

Every writer has a story. The story of how they first came to be a writer: What or who influenced them to write a book - a family member, an author they met, a life experience; How the idea for that first book came to them - feverishly in the middle of the night, slowly and surely over the course of many years, accidently....

Nicholas Dettman, a first time, self-published author, recounts all of those things and more in today's Indie Spotlight. Taking the leap from writing for the paper to writing for the masses, he discusses who most influenced him to become a published author, how his book came to him, and what gave him the courage to self-publish: 

"A Life Worth Dreaming About” is my debut novel. It was released in February.

I was inspired to become a writer when I was eighth grade when I attended my mom’s cousin’s wedding. At the time, he was working for the Chicago Tribune as a sports writer and told me that he got to interview a lot of interesting people, such as Michael Jordan. I thought that was pretty cool.

When I got to high school, I joined my high school newspaper and really enjoyed it. It didn’t take long for me to make my decision that I wanted to pursue a career in writing.


Well, I’m an outgoing person who likes to talk and share stories. It seemed like a perfect fit to combine that characteristic with writing. Almost instantly, it proved to be a perfect fit.

I have worked at newspapers in Idaho, Indiana and Wisconsin, as well as contributed to many newspapers around the country, such as the Houston Chronicle and the Baltimore Sun. Sports have always been the focus with my writing career. That was until I saw my uncle release his first book.

I thought it was so neat to see someone I knew write a book. That’s when I decided I wanted to write a book some day. I believe I was about 20 years old at the time. I just needed a topic or story.

My book, “A Life Worth Dreaming About,” really just came to me overnight. I have a notepad that sits on a nightstand next to my bed. Anytime I have some kind of writing idea whether it is book related or something else, I jot it down. Well, when the idea to do “A Life Worth Dreaming About” came to me, I was up for almost two hours in the wee hours of the night. Even as I tried to get to sleep, I struggled. The next morning, I was at the computer with the notebook at my side. The next thing I knew, I typed more than 20 pages. I constantly found myself thinking about it and it didn’t take long to put it all together.

I finished “A Life Worth Dreaming About” in less than a year. However, I encountered a number of other problems I never counted on that slowed the process down.

I obviously knew getting published through a traditional house was going to be tough. I sent in the manuscript to a couple companies and didn’t get a response. Then, after a conversation with a former colleague at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he introduced me to the idea of self-publishing. Everything sounded great, until the cost came into play.

For a year, the project sat untouched on the hard drive of my computer. I doubted my story would ever get published. It was highly frustrating and disappointing.

That’s when my family stepped in. With their help, we were able to collect enough funds to finally get the project off my computer and into print. Three months later, I held the physical copy of my book for the first time. I was so excited. A dream had been realized, three years later.

Since then, I’ve found out the pros and cons of self-publishing. The pros include getting the project published, being able to show it off and see it on store shelves. However, the cons include self-promotion, which has been the toughest out of the whole experience. It has taken a lot of time and a serious commitment. Promoting it has taken a great deal of time. At times it has been rewarding, but most of the time, it has been disappointing. Why? I believe it is a great book and one I’m extremely proud of. But, like publishing houses, customers aren’t taking a whole lot of chances on first-time authors. Of course, a tough economy is not helping my cause.

I dream of one day being a best-selling author. I love to tell stories. My specialty in newspapers is feature writing. I’ve won seven sports writing awards – all related to feature writing. I have discovered a passion to write and enjoy doing so. I hope my writing comes out that way to readers.

“A Life Worth Dreaming About” has some characteristics from authors that I admire, such as Mitch Albom, Rick Reilly, John Grisham and Tom Hallman Jr. It was Hallman that made the biggest influence in my career. I attended a workshop he hosted in Chicago a few years ago about narrative storytelling. He had my attention for the duration of the eight-hour workshop. The great influence was how he showed the people there that day how to turn the smallest detail into the greatest story.

For example, Hallman, who is a features reporter at the Oregonian in Portland, Ore., was to write a story about a politician’s funeral. Instead of taking the route most people would do and recall the good things he has done, he spoke with the person who dug the grave. It turned out that the grave digger hated him. Hallman taught me how to see, in a lack of a better term, outside the box.

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback regarding my novel, “A Life Worth Dreaming.” One of them include: “I read the novel cover to cover in just 24 hours. I could not stop. I can’t remember the last time I did that. In fact, I am sure I never have. At first I thought the extensive detail was too much, but as I kept reading, the extra detail painted such a clear picture of who Carl was and who he became after his experience.”

If or when you get the novel, I want to know what you think of it. What did you like about it? What didn’t you like about it?

And besides, who wouldn’t want to change a thing from their past? 

Bio: Nicholas Dettmann is a veteran journalist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has worked at daily newspapers in Idaho Falls, Idaho, Michigan City, IN and West Bend, WI. He has also appeared in numerous newspapers around the country, including the Houston Chronicle, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Baltimore Sun. He has won writing awards at the local, regional and national levels. Nicholas was first published in 2001 at only 19 years old when he wrote a poem, “Remembering,” honoring the death of a classmate. It received an Editor’s Choice award from

His writing idols include Rick Reilly, Mitch Albom, John Grisham and Tom Hallman Jr. In his spare time, Nicholas enjoys reading and spending time with family and friends. Nicholas’ specialty is writing personality profiles. He is married to his wife, Elizabeth, and they have two cats, Daisy and Dory.

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