Thursday, May 2, 2013

Matt Iden - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Matthew Iden. He is the bestselling author of Crime fiction, suspense, dark humor, fantasy, science fiction and more.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction & Fantasy,non-fiction

Website: Matthew Iden
Blog: Google +
Twitter: @CrimeRighter
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
Matthew Iden writes fantasy, science fiction, horror, thrillers, crime fiction, and contemporary literary fiction with a psychological twist.

An eclectic resume--he's held jobs with the US Postal Service, international non-profit groups, a short stint with the Forest Service in Sitka, Alaska and time with the globe-spanning Semester at Sea program--has given him inspiration for short stories and novel ideas, while trips to Iceland, Patagonia, and Antarctica haven't hurt in the creative juices department, either. A post-graduate education in English Literature wasn't necessary, but it helped define what he didn't want to do with his life and let him read a great deal of good books.

Matthew lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. Let’s start with what’s next. Do you have another book on the horizon? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Absolutely--I'm seven chapters into book four of the Marty Singer series. I'm hoping to have it to my editor by early June and that means, fingers crossed, it will be available by mid-summer. Book Five is outlined and my hope is to have it out by late Autumn, in plenty of time for the holiday season. J

In #4, Marty is witness to a terrible killing in Washington DC's subway system (known as the Metro). Hired by the family of the victim to look into what seems on the surface to be a random murder, Marty uncovers some inconvenient facts about the tragedy and gets pulled deeper and deeper into a sandtrap of shady corporate deals and multi-million dollar swindles that a few people of power would rather never saw the light of day…

The story features the return of a character from a previous Singer novel, which I hope drives fans of the series crazy until the book comes out.

How important have your social media relationships been? Do you see a carry over to your writing success? How much has it changed your book launch process?

Funny you should ask--I just did a presentation on the importance of social media with fellow scribblers Karen Cantwell and Misha Crews.

To be blunt, once you're past issues of the writing craft, there's nothing more important to a writer's career than taking advantage of social media, and this applies to both traditionally published authors as well as independent authors such as myself. The landscape of the market has changed--if you want to make connections with your readers and reviewers, you must use social media to reach out to them.

Having said that, I think one mistake is attempting to try everything at once: setting up a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Pinterest board, a tubmblr page, etc. all on the same day. You'll spend too much time on technologies and not enough time connecting with people (and writing).

A second mistake is sticking with a social media channel that you don't enjoy using or don't understand. For instance, I was a professional web designer and IT manager for years, but I can't wrap my head around Twitter. It's not intuitive to me and I don't use it. It would be a mistake for me to make it my go-to social media channel. But I'm simpatico with Facebook and I love Goodreads, so I spend a lot of time on both and it pays dividends in the form of fantastic contacts, an increase in sales and reviews, and just generally spreading the word about my writing.

Regarding the book launch process: yes, I use social media to spread the word when a book has been released and also when it's free or a low price. It would be crazy not to.

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?

Now that the Marty singer series is on the third book and going strong, I've recently started doing the local signing circuit in and around Washington DC. Folks can get updates by checking my Facebook page at and my blog, but here's a short list of my appearances and signings this year:

May 4
Cascades Library, Local Author Fair
10 am - 5 pm, Potomac Falls, VA

May 18
Frederick Book Festival - Frederick, MD -


September 13-15
Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity conference (Also featuring authors Austin Camacho, John Gilstrap, and Jeffery Deaver!)
Hunt Valley Inn - Baltimore, MD

I do a lot of ad hoc signings in the DC area and I also have contacts in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Venice, Florida. I'm happy to let people know when I'll make appearances there.

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 very much. I'm doubly flattered because I do the covers myself. My background in web design helped out immensely here, especially in the early days when writing a check for $200 or more to a cover designer--though normally well worth the money--wasn't an option.

I have to say that I feel I do a better job than most designers might, not because of any innate skill or talent, but because I've got the vision of the story locked inside my head.

The ideas for my covers occur to me organically as I write the book and, honestly, by the time I finish, I know exactly how I want it to look. Making it match my vision is another thing entirely…

My wife, who also has a background in design, helps me iron out the details and I'll often throw a cover up on Facebook or my blog to see what people think. Sometimes the vision in your head isn't as slick as you think it is, and the objective critiques I get from friends and fans are indispensable.

Have you created a book trailer for any of your books to promote them online?

I haven't yet. I've got very cinematic ideas of how I want them to look and definitely want to do trailers for each book soon, but I want them to be spot-on, which means paying for quality filming and production (let's face it, I also see the series as movies and am tempted to do a Kickstarter campaign to bankroll a skin-of-your-teeth production of A Reason to Live). When I feel I've got the financial cushion to dive into that process, I'll be taking a crack at it, definitely.

What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process? Did your book: A Beginner's Guide to Novel Writing expand your author relationships?

Writers' groups that have a high level of energy and commitment from its members have been critical to the success I've had so far. It isn't always about help or advice that is immediately practical or applicable (though there's reams of that)--it's often just as valuable comparing notes on the writing process, sharing news about conferences or classes, and simply communing with other people who share your passion. Don't underestimate the benefit of simply getting energized by hanging out with a group of like-minded souls.

My book A Beginner's Guide to Novel Writing hasn't expanded my author relationships (yet), but it was built at least in part on the many, many times I received advice and guidance from other authors.

Between your writing, blogging, marketing, family 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 by ear?

I have to admit, I play it by ear. In regards to the act of writing itself, I understand the value of having a set place and time to practice the craft, I really do. But, to me, insisting on writing in the same place at the same time is just another way of observing the BIC (Butt In Chair) rule: when you need to write, sit down and write. For me, that can be on the couch, in front of my desktop, at a coffee shop, and so on. The important thing is to meet the writing goals you've set for yourself.

The temptation for most of us is to spend too much time marketing, since there is no true end to spreading the word about your writing and your career. I spend hours each day on that. But I also know when I've gone down a rabbit hole and need to close my browser windows, turn off my phone, and get to work.

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?

Giving books away is, so far, the single most effective way of getting the word out about my books. Of course, as more writers enter the marketplace--and the ones already there produce more books--simply putting a strikethrough line on your price then waiting for success isn't enough. You have to take advantage of all your social media channels and contacts to get the word out and, increasingly, you have to be willing to spend money to expand your reach beyond your own personal networks. Towards that end, I've spent several hundred dollars over the last few months utilizing sites like Bookbub, Kindle Nation Daily, E-reader News Today, and others to try and put a booster rocket on my promotions.

For new authors reluctant to give away their baby away for free, who think this is tantamount to throwing money out the window…get over it, and quickly. Unless you have a novel, alternative method for getting noticed by tens or hundreds of thousands of readers, giving your book away is the only way to get the exposure you need—exposure that will eventually evolve your name into a brand that sells books.

The only obstacle I've run into is that there are only two methods for making your book free: Amazon's KDP Select program and "price matching." Unless you're making your title "perma free," using the latter method for targeted promotions is somewhat akin to hitting a moving target from the deck of a pitching ship…while being punched in the face. In case I'm not being clear, stick with KDP Select if you are doing giveaways that require specific days.

You publish under several genres. Does changing hats create any problems? Any tricks you can share with us? Which genre did you enjoy writing the most? Does moving from one to the other give you some breathing room or a change of pace?

My first reading love was epic fantasy and I'd always envisioned myself following in the footsteps of Tolkien, Anderson, Leiber, de Camp, and Howard. I have several fantasy short stories out that I'm proud of and I plan to tackle the genre fully in the future, but I found mystery and crime easier to write. Professionally speaking, it's also an easier genre to break into and, in order to make a splash in the market; you really need to have a series, so writing five books in five genres wasn't an option. Thus, the Marty Singer series was born and I'm having a tremendous time with it, since hard boiled crime is also a long-time favorite of mine.

One of the beauties of being an independent author is that I'm free to write in any genre I choose. Like many readers, I'll read anything that's well-written and engaging, so I'm interested in writing in all those genres as well. Having that freedom really does give me creative breathing room--I'd be seriously unhappy if I couldn't let my imagination wander and give those "other" stories a chance to get out of my head.

I have stayed in old town Alexandria several times. What a great traditional town. Does living in that type of environment figure into any of your plots especially with that mysterious town across the river?

When I was first started to write mysteries, I set them in Arizona, South Dakota, all kinds of faraway places. Like an idiot, I'd then have to go online to find simple street names, the kinds of trees and shrubs they had, what the name of the local chain grocery store was called.

One day I woke up and realized I live near one of the most exciting places in the world, with its own dark history and not-so-safe present, interesting burgs (like Alexandria), and unexpected surprises (like the DC waterfront). A world of creative storylines was right outside my door. Now, I have a hard time imagining writing about any place else.

Author's Book List
A Reason to Live
In the late nineties, a bad cop killed a good woman and DC Homicide detective Marty Singer got to watch as the murderer walked out of the courtroom a free man.

Twelve years later, the victim's daughter comes to Marty begging for help: the killer is stalking her now.

There's just one problem: Marty's retired...and he's retired because he's battling cancer. But with a second shot at the killer--and a first chance at redemption--Marty's just found A Reason to Live.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Blueblood - A Marty Singer Mystery (Volume 2)
Four unrelated murders. Nothing special in Washington DC. Not even good enough to make the evening news. But then a concerned police lieutenant approaches retired homicide detective Marty Singer with a simple fact that changes everything. They were all cops. In a race to stop the killings, Marty tackles the case from the outside, chasing the killer from deadly Southeast DC to the heart of the Virginia gangland, on a mission to stop the spilling of yet more Blueblood.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
One Right Thing - (Marty Singer Mystery #3)
Retired DC Homicide detective Marty Singer is driving through Virginia when he sees a billboard by the side of the road with the picture of a man and a simple, stunning question:


To most, the message means nothing. But Marty stops the car, turns around, and rushes headlong into a deadly mix of drugs, lies, and double-crosses.

Because Marty's got his own history with the man on the sign...and he needs to find out who murdered J.D. Hope and why if he wants to do One Right Thing.
Order the Book From: Amazon
Finding Emma
No one likes Jack. His wife is gone and his neighbors avoid him. He's a recluse and a creep and that's just the way he wants it.

But when ten-year old Emma goes missing in the nearby woods, the eyes of his neighbors turn on him in fear and accusation, escalating as the days pass. The answers they--and the reader--get, however, are the last that anyone would suspect...

Finding Emma is a novella of literary horror totalling 17,500 words or about 70 paperback pages.
Order the Book From: Amazon
Telling Your Tale - A Beginner's Guide to Novel Writing
Have you always wanted to write a novel, but didn't even know where to start?

Telling Your Tale: A Beginner's Guide to Novel Writing will give you the tools, terms, and strategies to take the germ of your story idea and get you started on the path to writing your first novel.

Telling Your Tale answers the most basic--but often overlooked--questions, such as:

What is and isn't a novel?
How long should my novel be?
How much time will it take?
Should I outline? What are the pros and cons?
What are the basic terms I need to know to even start writing?
This concise guide of about 40 paperback pages is designed to get you writing as soon as possible, not spend days reading about the writing you should be doing.

Everyone has a story they want to share and Telling Your Tale will empower you to start that journey. Get your copy and start writing…your story is waiting!

Telling Your Tale: A Beginner's Guide to Novel Writing is an e-article of 10,000 words, or about 40 paperback pages. It includes a step-by-step introduction to the basic terms and concepts of novel writing to get the novice author started on the biggest step of their career: writing the first book. It also includes appendices with tips on combating writer's block, guides to finding or founding critique groups, and a resources section with suggested readings on craft, editing, and publishing to further help the budding writer improve their knowledge of the field.
Order the Book From: Amazon
one bad twelve
ONE BAD TWELVE is the master collection of the stories found in Three Shorts, Three the Hard Way, Three on a Match, and Three of a Kind as well as a short story unique to this volume, "Sixteen Steps". Thirteen tales had to be bribed, shoved, and bullied into the collection...these stories--chock full of dirty motives, relentless ambitions, and a lop-sided view of the world--aren't used to being pushed around. Most would be filed under Thriller or Crime Fiction or Psychological Twist, but each collection also has a humorous (okay, darkly humorous) story at the end to leave you laughing. Read them, buy them, or ignore them...just don't turn your back on them.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Author Recommended by: Jake Needham
Author Jake Needham is a best-selling Mystery & Thrillers Author. Click here to see Jake's Author Spotlight post.

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