Friday, December 6, 2013

Ed James - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Ed James. He writes Crime and Thriller novels including the Scott Cullen series.

Author Genre: Crime, Thriller

Website: ed james crime fiction author
Twitter: @EdJamesAuthor
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Ed James writes crime fiction novels, predominantly the Scott Cullen series of police procedurals set in Edinburgh and the surrounding Lothians. The first in the series, GHOST IN THE MACHINE is FREE has been downloaded over 33,000 times. Books two and three are available now and book four will be released in late June.

Ed lives in the East Lothian countryside, 25 miles east of Edinburgh, with his girlfriend, six rescue moggies, two retired greyhounds, a flock of ex-battery chickens and rescued ducks across two breeds and two genders (though the boys don't lay eggs). He works in IT, but doesn't wear sandals or have a beard.

His blog - - is a log of his work, his thoughts on his writing, and a place for his word count OCD to express itself. His music tastes will creep in now and again.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Shot Through The Heart. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Thanks. The next two books I’m going to do are book five and six in the Scot Cullen series. I enjoyed writing Shot Through The Heart (it really scratched an itch in terms of writing about vampires) but the Cullen books are my bread and butter.

Book five is Bottleneck, which is set around the restructuring of Scottish police from disparate divisional forces into a centralised model. I’ve been setting this up over the last few books by reflecting the reality of it, the posturing by management and so on. It’s also personal to me - it features the Scottish indie music scene and also Cullen’s (fictional) home town of Dalhousie, drawing on my influence of Iain Banks, particularly works like The Crow Road and Stonemouth.

Book six will be Cowboys and Indians and will be set largely in Edinburgh. Most of my books have tended to wander a bit…

After those, I’ll get around to Crash Into My Arms, the sequel to Shot Through The Heart, more vampires but set in London, and it may be a police procedural.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that?

It’s been really important to me. I’ve had so many fans that I’ve met through Twitter mainly - Facebook terrifies me - including my current editor. I tended to just acquire it over a long period of time. I do have a blog and also a newsletter which give a bit more detail to what I’m doing.

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 haven’t done any of that yet. The only thing I’ve done was to be interviewed on BBC Scotland’s Radio Scotland on their flagship show, Good Morning Scotland. It was mostly talking about my now-notorious writing on public transport - I work in London but live near Edinburgh so I’ve got a lot of travel time…

As I’m predominantly an eBook writer just now, it’s probably not particularly relevant for me to tout my wares in the local bookshops…

Your covers 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?

The covers were done in collaboration with my girlfriend (i.e. unmarried partner!). I’m not much of a photographer or a designer. Broadly, we looked through her collection of photos from the last few years and found shots that matched particular books, e.g. the shot along the promenade in Portobello which is Edinburgh’s seaside district and also where Cullen lives. That’s pretty much it. It’s all driven by looking at the bank of photos and tying it to the work. The next two things I’ll release have custom photo shoots - for Bottleneck, we took some photos in Edinburgh a week or so ago that have turned out really well, and I’m going to do a collected edition of the first four Cullens and we’ve got a brilliant couple of shots to choose from there.

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?

At the moment, it’s over 135,000 copies since GHOST went perma-free. I’ve done KDP free days, particularly for Ghost, and got to no 11 in the Kindle chart in the UK last September one weekend. I did a freebie day for Shot Through The Heart when it came out as a thank you to my long-term fans and also so that people didn’t buy it thinking it was Cullen 5…

The main goal was to get a profile and get people interested in the subsequent books. I think that’s working, though the pick-up rate from GHOST to DEVIL is something like 5%, which tells me that a lot of the freebie people tend to hoard eBooks. That said, I’ve got pretty healthy sales, so that number of people that love Ghost seem to buy the remainder.

How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?

I’m pretty bad at that. Most books have been finish editing and upload, spam it on twitter and that’s it. For Shot, I did it differently and hired a PR agent for that - I got a fair amount of press in the north of Scotland where the book is set and that helped with the initial launch of the book. For the next Cullen, I’ll be doing a few things - getting paperback editions ready for day 1 to send for reviews and so on.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

It’s tough… At the moment, I stay in London during the week so I get a lot of time to do stuff. I try to focus at least 80% of it on the writing, but try to do the blog and newsletter whenever I’ve got a break. I don’t think I’m spending enough time doing it justice but I try to keep it fresh.

What is the objective for your newsletter? Do you try to build a list of readers? Do you see a carryover to the sales of your novels?

It’s more to keep the long-term readers informed of what I’m doing, when stuff’s coming out but also give them something more. For example, I deleted a chapter from the start of Dyed in the Wool and published it through the newsletter, which was well received. I get a lot of good feedback from my readers from it and I enjoy doing it. Additionally, it’s the time where I get to focus on longer-term objectives, e.g. next books, etc.

Living in England creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation?

Tut tut. I live in Scotland, a different country to England, both part of Great Britain, though there’s a referendum on Scottish independence next year. That’s like confusing the US and Canada. ;-)

My biggest audience is in the UK, about 75%, but I’m astounded by the number of sales (as opposed to downloads) I get in the US, which is over 20%. There is a rabid appetite from ancestors of Scots to read current fiction based in Scotland, and authors like Ian Rankin have a huge following, so it’s nice to piggyback on that in some way.

Do you publish your books in other languages? How is your audience abroad?

I’m going to do a German edition, hopefully early next year. My audience there is actually not too bad, with sales over 100 - astonishing when you consider that’s probably foreign language readers…

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

I’ve tried professional reviews and got a very small return on that. It’s pretty hard. I’ve never paid for a review. The reviews for my books have totally blown me away and they’re all genuine, as far as I can tell! A few of them are people I’ve met on twitter but so many of them are people who feed off the Amazon effect…

Author's Book List
Shot Through The Heart - Supernature
Mark Campbell, historian and author, is desperate to finish his new book on the infamous Highland Clearances when his researcher mysteriously disappears. Abandoning his depressed wife and new baby, Mark rushes to a remote Scottish village to investigate.

But when he gets there, all is not what it seems. Who is the attractive landowner, Lady Elizabeth Ruthven, and why is she housebound on a remote loch island? Why are wild dogs hunting him? What really happened to the researcher?

Mark's investigation is soon overwhelmed by a series of unnerving events, plunging him into a nightmare of vampires and devil worship. Can he make it back home to his family in one piece?

SHOT THROUGH THE HEART is a thrill-ride adventure set in the Scottish Highlands, cleverly weaving the supernatural with history. It will grip you right through to its shocking conclusion.

Book one of the SUPERNATURE series.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Dyed in the Wool - Scott Cullen Mysteries
Book 4 in a series of Edinburgh-based police procedurals starring DC Scott Cullen which have been compared favourably with Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham, Christopher Brookmyre, Ed McBain, Elmore Leonard and Stuart MacBride.

Detective Constable Scott Cullen finds his professional and private lives at opposite ends of the spectrum. While his career is stagnating - impacted by the jockeying for position ahead of the formation of the Scottish Police Service, as much as by his own inability to push his case for promotion - his relationship with DS Sharon McNeill goes from strength-to-strength, until dinner with both sets of parents is interrupted by a call to action.

A body has been found in a Range Rover at the foot of a shale bing in West Lothian.

Cullen is forced to go back to his old stomping ground, haunted by figures from his past. DS Colin Methven, the latest officer occupying the position that Cullen has long coveted, is intent on straightening out Cullen’s cowboy nature, which has fractured his friendship with DC Angela Caldwell. Lurking in the background is DI Paul Wilkinson, trying to push Cullen back to a recent major case. As the mysteries are compounded, Cullen starts to feel lost among the dyed in the wool.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Fire in the Blood - Scott Cullen Mysteries
"Rankin for the Xbox generation"

Book 3 in a series of Edinburgh-based police procedurals starring DC Scott Cullen which have been compared favourably with Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham, Christopher Brookmyre, Ed McBain, Elmore Leonard and Stuart MacBride.

Dunpender Distillery in East Lothian is steeped in the traditions of whisky-making. Approaching the distillery's centenary, a special edition is being readied for blending when something unexpected is found - one of the two barrels contains a male human body, battered and unrecognisable.

Detective Constable Scott Cullen, caught up in the maelstrom of managerial positioning surrounding the impending merger of Lothian & Borders into the Scottish Police Service, is sent out east again. Cullen is soon delving into the ancient history of the Crombie family, owners of the distillery, and investigating the disappearances of the owner's son, Iain Crombie, and an employee, Paddy Kavanagh, who both went missing around the time the whisky was distilled. Cullen is soon contending with the skeletons in the closets at the Distillery, DI Bain's desire for a quick collar and too many suspects with plausible motives, and finds himself hunting for a killer with fire in the blood.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Devil in the Detail - Scott Cullen Mysteries
"Rankin for the Xbox generation"

The second book in a series of Edinburgh-based police procedurals starring DC Scott Cullen, the first of which which has been compared favourably with Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride.

Garleton is a typical East Lothian town - affluent, historic and with a good school. The discovery one January morning of the body of Mandy Gibson, disabled daughter of a pillar of the community, tears the town apart.

Detective Constable Scott Cullen, still reeling from the events of a case the previous summer, is pushed out east to help solve the crime. Soon he finds himself stuck between his DI and Bill Lamb, the local Sergeant on whose territory they're trespassing, and becomes embroiled in a hunt for the town's bad boy. What does the small religious group that Mandy's family attend have to do with the crime? As the community closes ranks, Cullen has to resort to looking for the devil in the detail.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Ghost in the Machine - Scott Cullen Mysteries
Detective Constable Scott Cullen of Lothian and Borders has only been three months in CID as a full DC. He is assigned a Missing Persons case which has stretched his uniform colleagues. Caroline Adamson - a young, recently divorced mother from Edinburgh - has disappeared whilst on a date.

The more Cullen digs into her disappearance, the more he unravels her private life. Who was she on a date with? What happened during her divorce from Rob Thomson? As Cullen's own private life gets messier and the relationship with his DI deteriorates, Caroline's body turns up and he finds himself hunting for a ghost in the machine.

Book one of the Scott Cullen series.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS eBook Author’s Corner
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

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