Monday, August 12, 2013

Alan Orloff - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Alan Orloff. He is a Agatha-nominated mystery writer.
Ride-Along - August 14 – 17, He will be giving away free Kindle downloads for RIDE-ALONG.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Young Adult, Horror

Website: Alan Orloff
Author's Blog: A Million Blogging Monkeys
Blog: Google +
Twitter: @alanorloff
E-Mail: alan AT
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Before Alan stepped off the corporate merry-go-round, he had an eclectic (some might say disjointed) career. As an engineer, he worked on nuclear submarines, supervised assembly workers in factories, facilitated technology transfer from the Star Wars program, and learned to stack washing machines three high in a warehouse with a forklift. He even started his own recycling and waste reduction newsletter business. Now he writes fiction.

Zak Allen also is the darker pseudonym of Alan Orloff, author of the Agatha Award finalist DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD (2010) and the Last Laff Mystery series (KILLER ROUTINE (2011), DEADLY CAMPAIGN (2012)), from Midnight Ink.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I’m in various stages of several different projects, including a thriller and the first book in a PI series. I’d like to be able to report a firm release date for something, but everything is up in the air at the moment! If you’re looking for some new work of mine, check out the current issue of NEEDLE: A Magazine of Noir (Summer 2013) for my story, House Call.

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

I’m very active on Facebook (Friend me!) and Twitter (Follow me!). I also belong to Google+, Goodreads, LibraryThing, LinkedIn, I have my own blog (A Million logging Monkeys) and I’m part of a group blog (Criminal Minds). It’s hard to quantify the importance of my participation in social media, but it’s fun and I’ve met a lot of great people. It also provides a necessary opportunity for procrastination!

Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

Yes, I do all of the above. Unfortunately, without a book release scheduled, I don’t have any appearances planned at the moment either. A listing of my events can be found on my website.

Today there is a buzz in the industry about high rankings on retailer’s lists because of the use of on-line advertising sites. Have you ever promoted your books with paid advertising? What has been your experience?

I haven’t done a lot of on-line advertising—not sure the results are worth the effort/cost. I will say, the one time I used BookBub to advertise a free download, the results were tremendous. The others? Not so much.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. 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! The covers for my traditionally-published books (DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD, KILLER ROUTINE, and DEADLY CAMPAIGN) were done by my publisher (Midnight Ink) and they have a fantastic art department. The covers for my ebook originals (THE TASTE, FIRST TIME KILLER, and RIDE-ALONG) were done by an equally fantastic graphic artist at Ink Slinger Designs (Hi Hoo!).

In each case, I described my vision for an ideal cover—important elements, theme, tone—and let the artist run with it. To date, I haven’t really asked my readers what they thought, but that’s a pretty good suggestion. I’m sure I’d get some interesting opinions!

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

No. There’s only so much time in the day and money in the bank account. Honestly, haven’t heard of many people who have found this to be cost-effective.

Besides MWA, what other writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I also belong to Sisters-in-Crime (yes, I’m a Mister Sister) and I’m a member of The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD (where I lead fiction-writing workshops). I find that networking with the members of these organizations is very valuable when it comes to both the craft and business of writing. I encourage all writers to find a group (or two, or three) and get involved!

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?

People do like FREE. Over the course of five days in the first quarter of this year, I gave away about 47,000 downloads of FIRST TIME KILLER. After the promotions, I did get a modest bump in sales and a ton of reviews. On the other hand, I recently gave away about 4500 copies of THE TASTE and didn’t see much change in sales afterward. So, who knows?

August 14 – 17, I’ll be giving away free Kindle downloads for RIDE-ALONG. We’ll see what happens. Even if the giveaways don’t generate a lot of immediate sales, it’s a good way to get your work read by others, rack up some reviews, and build a following.

How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?

There’s a lot of chaos in my mind. I don’t use any fancy software; I stick to WORD and sometimes EXCEL (if I need a spreadsheet). I try to outline my stories, in general terms, before I get started. Then it’s BICFOK (Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keyboard) until I’ve got a rough draft pounded out.

How important has Audio Books been to your success? Do you recommend new authors going this route to get more exposure?

The audiobook for FIRST TIME KILLER just came out a few weeks ago, so it’s a little too early to judge its success. I had a fantastic narrator (Bob Dunsworth) and I think it sounds great. So I’m hopeful. I used ACX, which was pretty cool—it’s like a dating site for authors and narrators.

A Comedy and Mystery novel is a unique combination. Do you see hardcore Mystery readers shy away or are they captivated by the combo? Does it give them a relief from the same old thing? What is your feedback on this?

Well, despite the fact that the protagonist of my Last Laff mystery series is a stand-up comic, the books aren’t funny-funny. They lean more to the suspenseful end (although there are some funny spots, natch). A lot of stand-up comics have led tragic lives, and I tried to explore that territory between comedy and tragedy. Readers have been receptive, for the most part, which is nice!

Author's Book List
Trey Powers never killed a cop before. Never had to.

But after his cousin Jimmy has been framed and murdered by Officer Karla Cheng, one of Hafton Police Department’s finest, Trey has no choice.

He must avenge Jimmy’s death, one way or another.

To get closer to his quarry, Trey joins the police department’s Citizen Action Team, and when a rival team member is killed, fingers point at Trey.

Now, he’s the hunted one, and the harrowing race is on: Can Trey bring Cheng to justice before she frames him for murder?

Or does something even worse?

Ultimately, Trey finds his life in jeopardy—along with the lives of those he loves—after embarking on a terrifying ride-along with Jimmy’s cold-blooded murderer.

Trey Powers never killed a cop before.

Never had to.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Deadly Campaign - A Last Laff Mystery
Comedy club owner and occasional performer Channing Hayes thought the comedy biz was tough, but it’s a stroll in the park compared to politics. When he and his business partner Artie attend a congressional campaign event for their friend Thomas Lee’s nephew, masked thugs storm in and break up Lee’s restaurant with baseball bats. The candidate’s people insist that the police not be involved, so Lee asks Channing to investigate. As Channing searches for answers, he finds himself plunged into a corrupt world of payoffs, gangs, illicit affairs, blackmail—and murder. A New Last Laff Mystery from Agatha Award-Nominated Author Alan Orloff

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
In shock radio, nothing is too far over-the-top in the pursuit of ratings.

Not even murder.

During his twenty-six-year career, D.C. radio talk show host Rick Jennings steered clear of outrageous radio. Wasn’t his thing. So when WTLK execs tap him for the Afternoon Circus to land a lucrative satellite deal, Rick struggles to maintain his standards—and his dignity. A chilling call (“I’m a long-time listener, first time KILLER.”) leads to the discovery of an intern’s arm in a trashcan. Rick spars with the “First Time” killer over the airwaves. The police are stymied. Ratings skyrocket. And First Time continues to knock off members of the Circus, phoning in to gloat afterward.

Order the Book From: Amazon
The Taste
After his mother dies, Jake Wheeler returns to his birthplace of Dark Springs, West Virginia, seeking solace among his kin. But his family’s unique comfort food includes some ingredients Jake's not sure he can stomach.

They eat dead people.

Discovering that skeleton in the pantry and adjusting to a new diet turn out to be the least of Jake’s worries. Storm clouds have gathered over Dark Springs, threatening the family’s peaceful existence. Ax-wielding clan patriarch Dallas Pike and his band of renegade followers have decided upon a violent plan to increase the dwindling food supply. Why wait for your next meal to die naturally if you can hunt it down instead?

With the survival of the entire clan at stake, Jake wages war against madman Pike.

He also battles an even more terrifying opponent.


After all, Jake has THE TASTE.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Killer Routine - A Last Laff Mystery
Comedian Channing Hayes survived a tragic auto accident that claimed the life of his fiancée, Lauren. Physically and emotionally scarred, he’s put his performing career on hold, resigned to getting laughs vicariously as co-owner of The Last Laff Comedy Club. There, he instructs Lauren’s sister Heather in the fine art of stand-up.

When Heather skips out on her set during the club’s comedy showcase, Channing searches for his AWOL protégée. Then Heather’s ex-lovers start turning up dead—and Channing must fight to keep Heather from being the next hit in this deadly line-up.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Diamonds for the Dead
Diamonds for the Dead is a 2010 Agatha Award finalist for Best First Novel.

When Josh Handleman returns to his boyhood home to sit shiva for his estranged father, he gets the shock of his life: his frugal dad was a diamond collector worth millions. Now the gems are missing and Josh begins to suspect his father’s death might have been murder, not an accident.

Hounded by grief and remorse, Josh resolves to find his dad’s diamond stash. His emotion-laden treasure hunt throws him into the middle of a feud between two stubborn old Russian Jews—and puts Josh squarely in the sights of his father’s killer.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Author Recommended by: Matt Iden
Author Matthew Iden is the bestselling author of Crime fiction, suspense, dark humor, fantasy, science fiction and more.
Check out Matt's Author's Spotlight.

1 comment:

  1. James, thanks so much for having me on your blog--the interview was a fun one!