Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Billie Thomas. Billie is a Mystery, Humor And Comedy, Chick Lit Series and author of the Chloe Carstairs Mystery Series.
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Billie Thomas is the pseudonym of a Birmingham-based author. After the real Billie passed away unexpectedly at the end of 2011, getting Murder on the First Day of Christmas, the first of a series, revised and published was her daughter’s top priority as a way to honor the mom who had given her a lifelong love of books.
In her real life, Ms. Thomas writes within the advertising industry and is a founding member of the writing collective, IndieVisible. She is currently working on the second Chloe Carstairs Mystery, Murder in a Two-Seater.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
What do you have on the drawing board next? Rumor has it that you have another Chloe Carstairs Mystery book, Murder in a Two-Seater, on the horizon? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Sure. Murder in a Two-Seater is the second in the Chloe Carstairs Mysteries series, following Murder on the First Day of Christmas. During a classic car show at a creepy old castle, someone close to Chloe is accused of murder, once again forcing her and her mother Amanda to investigate. I hope to have it out around Christmas 2013.
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?
I love Twitter, not just because it helps me move the needle in terms of book sales, but also because I love to connect with readers and other writers. I’ve learned about so many wonderful indie books on Twitter that both my nightstand and my iPad are overloaded. Nice problem to have!
Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
I’ve done very few book signings or appearances with this book. I’ve done most of my promotions through social media, which suits my introverted nature. I have a pretty intense day job so I’m really happy I can connect with readers via the Internet and still have time to write and maintain some semblance of a personal life.
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?
I’m a creative director at an ad agency so I’m very involved in the creative process through my job. It was hard for me to give up control of my cover, because there are still things I’d like to tweak about it. I knew I wanted a Santa with an icicle in his back though, so I love that part of it.
I see you belong to the IAN group. What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
In addition to the Independent Author Network (IAN), I belong to the Author’s Social Media Group (ASMSG) and am a co-founder of Indie-Visible, which I talk more about below. All these groups help me connect with other writers. I love writing but it’s not the solitary experience everyone thinks it is. You need to workshop your early drafts and network at conferences. You need have people to commiserate with when rejections start rolling in. And you’ll need connections to help you market your book – which you’ll have to do yourself whether you go the indie or the traditional publishing route. These groups are invaluable for that.
With your busy schedule, how do you have time to keep up with your followers? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?
I play it by ear. I don’t put any of my social media networks on autopilot with too many scheduled tweets or posts. Interacting is key. I check in several times a day but I don’t let it become a time suck like it was in the beginning when I was figuring everything out. I keep my social media time low key and fun, and try not to let it interfere with my writing.
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 did a GoodReads giveaway, which was awesome. It got a lot of attention for my book and I got a lot of positive feedback from the winners in the form of reviews on my Amazon page and GoodReads page. So I highly recommend doing this. The goal of any giveaway should be to get people interested, build contacts and get reviews. I haven’t made my book free on Amazon but I’ve heard other authors have great success with that as well.
Have you ever done a book tour? If so, did it contribute to the success of your book sales?
I recently finished a blog tour with Cozy Mystery Reviews and can’t recommend them highly enough. Bella McGuire has a genuine love of cozies and does a great job helping to promote them. I had such a great experience I signed up to be a tour host. And yes, I saw a boost in sales.
You have a great blog. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to write, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?
I want to help promote mysteries, indie authors and my own series with my blog. In that order. I let my main character Chloe be the voice of Chloegetsaclue.com. She’s got her own distinct personality, so I let her live in the spotlight. I prefer to stay under the paparazzi’s radar. As for when I find the time… it’s a constant balancing act. I have a come apart every now and then but luckily those are getting fewer and further.
I understand that you are the founding member of the writing collective, IndieVisible. Tell us a little about the group and how other authors can get involved.
We’re a powerhouse collective of indie writers who use joint resources and collaborative social media to deliver quality books to the masses. For readers, our site, indie-visible.com, is a destination for news about wonderful books of all genres and thoughtful interviews with writers.
For writers, we’re a resource for topnotch editors, illustrators, graphic designers, and PR gurus. They can connect with us on our site or by invitation in our community lounge on Facebook. Our motto is Literary Justice for All.
Author's Book List
Murder on the First Day of Christmas
- Chloe Carstairs Mysteries
It’s beginning to look a lot like murder.
Finding a severed hand at a client’s house might throw lesser decorators off their games. But Chloe Carstairs and her mother, Amanda, won’t let a little thing like murder keep them from decking the halls. With a body under the partridge’s pear tree and a dead Santa in a sleigh, they have to crack the case before the killer strikes again - this time much too close to home.
Filled with laugh-out-loud humor, romance and a delightfully difficult mother-daughter relationship, this new series from Billie Thomas offers a fast-paced caper as these two southern ladies try to keep their very merry Christmas from turning into the Noel from hell.
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Amy Metz is a Author of Mystery & Thrillers as well as a blogger and book editor.
Check out Amy's Author's Spotlight.