Monday, March 18, 2013

Terry Ambrose - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Terry Ambrose. He is the author of the Wilson McKenna series.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Funny Mystery, Suspense

Website: Terry Ambrose - Mysteries with character
Blog: Google +
Twitter: @suspense_writer
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
Terry Ambrose started out skip tracing and collecting money from deadbeats and quickly learned that liars come from all walks of life. He never actually stole a car, but sometimes hired big guys with tow trucks and a penchant for working in the dark when “negotiations” failed. A resident of Southern California, he loves spending time in Hawaii, especially on the Garden Island of Kauai, where he invents lies for others to read. His years of chasing deadbeats taught him many valuable life lessons including—always keep your car in the garage.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Let’s start with what’s next. Do you have another book on the horizon? Are we off to Hawaii again? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I actually have two books in the works. The first that will be coming out is the sequel to PHOTO FINISH and we’ll be visiting the Garden Isle of Kauai with McKenna. This time, he’s the victim of identity theft and, still buoyed by his success as an amateur sleuth, decides to go after the person who stole his identity. When he stumbles on an island meth lab, McKenna again finds himself up against an island drug ring and a killer.

You have a great following on Twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

Social media relationships are an integral part of any writer’s promotional toolbox. The biggest problem that I see with social media is that users are bombarded from every direction by social media chatter. With that said, the one thing I never want to do is to be one of those authors who posts 50 times a day to “buy my book!” I find those posts obnoxious and counterproductive.

You do a lot of book signing, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

The next big appearance will be at the LA Times Festival of Books. I’ll be in the Murder, We Wrote (Booth #935). I’m also doing a presentation at a Temecula high school later this week to talk about the importance of writing in a career, no matter what career you choose. I’d also like to try generating a little excitement for the creative process in the class by running through some steps to quickly develop a story. After that, I’m trying to line up an appearance with Wounded Warriors in San Diego to help those servicemen learn how to avoid scams and cons. Those guys are victimized way too often and if I can raise their awareness even a small amount, I’ll feel as though I’ve been successful.

You have great covers. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Thanks for the compliment on the covers. The PHOTO FINISH cover was done by my wife Kathy, who took one of my photos that I’d taken in a Honolulu hotel and added a bunch of special effects. The cover for LICENSE TO LIE was a royalty-free photo that we purchased and then turned over to the publisher so they could add the text, do final positioning of the photo, etc. I love the idea of getting readers involved in the cover-development process and am thinking about ways we might be able to run a contest to let readers join in.

You have several great book trailers. (See links below.) Do you know how much impact they have had on your book’s success? Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailers?

I think trailers have only a small impact on book sales. The fact is that they’re a way to hook a reader that might have otherwise passed you by. The trailer development process for PHOTO FINISH was pretty intense. We already had a couple of great soundtracks from music we’d purchased years ago. But, I wanted to include a short video along with the still shots. I have tons of still shots that I’ve taken in Hawaii over the years, so we only had to purchase a couple of the really unusual photos. After that, Kathy took everything into iMovie and created the trailer. I hate boring trailers and those that try to tell me the full story, so we keep ours short and try to convey the essence of the story, not the story itself.

What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I’ve been in local critique groups for many years. I found a new group just over a year ago that listens to my first drafts, make suggestions, etc. I’m also involved in a group of authors who are cooperatively marketing ourselves via a website at Each month we do a giveaway and provide information about other contests from authors in our group.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, the and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it?

In addition to everything you mentioned, we also have a web design business that can keep me very busy at times. Most of the time I’m able to put in time writing at some point during the day. I’ve experimented with different options, but the best one so far seems to be getting out of the house so that I’m away from the phone, email, and all outside distractions. The change in location helps me to focus, and I can get more done in two hours than I might have accomplished in half a day if I’d have stayed home.

I noticed you give a Short Story away. What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I’m one of those authors who think that giving away books is a bad idea for authors. I’ve participated in two Goodreads giveaways, one for PHOTO FINISH, the other for LICENSE TO LIE. I would do that again for a new book, but would want to do those giveaways prior to publication. My suspicion is that Amazon has realized they don’t make money when authors give away 20,000 books.

Eventually, I foresee free days on Amazon becoming less attractive for authors. Amazon has already changed the rules a couple of times, and I’ll bet there will be more changes coming. If anyone is waiting for me to put my full-length books up for free, they’re going to have a long wait.

With that said, I did give away my short story collection, LIFE’S SHORTS. It’s a collection short stories and vignettes that range from funny to very serious. I have a couple of additional free days available left on that and may do another giveaway of that collection again in the near future. But, the full-length books will not go up for free.

They like the idea of expanding their name recognition. The problem is; their name becomes recognized as one of those authors who are willing to give their stuff away. So, readers think, why buy? If the author is good enough, there’s a possibility that they’ll be the exception and get readers hooked. Andrew Kaufman is one of those authors who experienced phenomenal success because he gave away tons of books. Andrew would probably have been discovered even without giving away books because he’s an incredible writer who knows how to deliver what his fans want.

Have you ever done a book tour? If so, did it contribute to the success of your book sales?

I have not yet done a book tour, but would love to do one, perhaps in conjunction with a few other authors. Sometimes, the value of an event goes beyond the event itself. By that I mean that being able to talk about an event on social media lets an author tout his work without being obnoxious and begging readers to buy.

You write articles for the Crime & Courts Examiner. Do you see a carryover from your writing there to book sales in general?

I actually write three columns for, but the Crime & Courts column has the largest audience. It’s very difficult to tell whether the columns increase book sales, but writing for has had other important benefits. For instance, with the columns, I’m forced to fit my story within a specific word count.

This type of structure forces me to be more exact with my wording choices, which has translated over into my fiction writing. The columns do have another benefit—they’re helping me to build name recognition, which is a valuable asset for any writer to have.

You started as a self-publisher and now you have a publisher. What has been the major difference in the two situations in producing and marketing your novels?

I like having one foot in each world. My McKenna Mystery series will most likely continue to be self-published, and Oak Tree Press has agreed to publish the sequel to LICENSE TO LIE. Other than the obvious difference in money, the major difference between the two options that I see is one of control. As a self-published author, I have full control over every aspect of what happens in that next McKenna Mystery. However, with traditional publishers you lose some of the control—you no longer determine the exact publication date and may have to negotiate about things like cover design. But with a traditional publisher, you also gain some access to resources you might not have otherwise. Oak Tree Press has just recently informed their authors about two different resources to help promote books. I wouldn’t have found either of those without them.

Author's Book List
License to Lie
Never trust a soul—even your own. With Five Million Dollars and their lives on the line, can a determined criminologist and a beautiful con artist learn to trust each other—or themselves? Both are experts in the art of communications. Both are driven by their goals—but they’re on opposite sides of the law. When her father is kidnapped, they join forces—and learn that it’s hard to trust each other—or themselves.
Book Trailer: License to Lie
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Photo Finish
Catch island fever with this funny Hawaiian mystery set on the beautiful island of Oahu.

Wilson McKenna's newest tenant is hot, gives great hugs, and just saw a dead body being thrown from a plane. McKenna's not one to get involved in other people's problems, especially those of a woman half his age, but before he knows it, he's volunteered to track down the plane and its owner. In no time, McKenna has uncovered an island drug ring, pissed off a sociopath, and set himself up as the victim in a beautiful woman's con that could cost him his life.

Trouble? Oh, yeah. McKenna's found it. If only trouble didn't have such great legs.
Book Trailer: Photo Finish
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
Life's Shorts
A collection of short stories and vignettes on life, Hawaiian style, with a twist of grumpy. When you need humor, look to McKenna for a twist of grumpy. McKenna’s always a good lead-off player and his fans call him everything from delightful to a dirty old man. Sometimes, a look at the tragic side of life is just what we need and this short story of how quickly life can change will warm your heart. Hawaiian style is a taste of the islands…light and breezy with moisture-laden air, pupus, and even a talking duck.
Order the Book From: Amazon
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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