Friday, February 14, 2014

George Wier - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on AuthorGeorge Wier. He is the author of the The Bill Travis Mystery series.

Author Genre: Mystery

Website: George Wier
Twitter: @BillTravisWrite
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
I was born in East Texas and spent most of my life there, principally around the Bryan and College Station area. I moved to Austin, Texas, in 2002 and shortly thereafter began writing The Bill Travis Mystery series. I currently live in Austin with my lovely wife, Sallie, along with two cats and two dogs.

Writing is both my avocation and my vocation, but to add to these I play both classical violin and country fiddle, and I dabble in art (mostly drawing and painting), photography, and book cover design.

I began writing in earnest in 1986, although I have been creatively writing far longer than that, practically since I could read (at a very formative age.) I find that I have far more ideas than I could ever write down, and so I pick and choose only the best story ideas. I write what I, myself, like to read, and nothing more.

I am always happy to talk to a reader and would dearly love to hear your comments. Please visit my website at or my series website at There you will find free short stories, anecdotes, and links to other books and writers.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called 1889: JOURNEY TO THE MOON. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I got this rumor started when I showed up at a steampunk convention this last October and began passing out copies (with the full-color cover) of the first 25-pages of 1889. I gave them away like candy, and the attendees loved it! Very few people have been permitted to read the full book, and that's because it is most likely not going the Indie online publishing route. Billy Kring (my co-author) and I have procured one of the top book and film agents on Earth, and the book, the first in a series we're calling The Far Journey Chronicles, is currently being marketed as part of a deal for a book/movie tie-in/graphic novel/videogame package. We are currently banging out the second book in the series: 1899: Journey to Mars. That's the inside skinny on it.

And you want a tease, huh? Alright, I'll bite. The following is from the “Letters and Articles” section at the front of the book. It is a letter from Bill Gostman (actually Billy the Kid) to Pat Garrett:

October 1, 1889
Pat Garret
c/o Sheriff’s Office
Lincoln County
New Mexico Territory

Dear Mr. Garrett,

This new typewriter invention is something else. It will probably take me an hour or more to write out what I could have told you in a minute. Per our arrangement, I was supposed to let you know if and when I might depart the country. Also, I was supposed to drop you a letter once a year to let you know how I was getting on. I apologize for the last two years, but as you said I have been trying to re-invent myself. Not sure what that means, but I’m learning. Figured I’d be dead long before now, and probably would have been if you hadn’t changed your mind when you got the drop on me.

Anyway, this is to let you know that I am leaving the country. I guess you can say that I’m leaving all of the countries. Don’t know if and when I’ll make it back. If you don’t hear from me by, say, Christmas, you’ll know I’m dead anyways.

I haven’t killed anyone since I last saw you. That’s about eight years. See, I do keep the important promises.

Your friend,


Needless to say, Billy the Kid is bound for the Moon in the year 1889.

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?

I do have an excellent twitter following, and they are extremely interesting and invaluable people. First of all, they trumpet your work like crazy when they love it, and it's apparent to me that these folks are into my writing. Second, I do my best to return the flow, trumpeting their work the best I can. My following is really mostly friends. I don't consider that I have “fans”, but instead I have friends who read my books. There was no real forum, other than that many were added one at a time out of common interest, or added themselves via my website. I don't do a newsletter. I simply don't have the time, or I can't make enough time for it. As far as method, real, live communication between people, one at a time--that's what works. That's what generates interest. In this great dystopian computer age, the paradigm for success as a writer applies the same as it did a hundred years ago—the best advertising is word-of-mouth. But first, you have to write a book that people will want to talk to each other about. There's nothing more exciting than someone genuinely excited over something “new and wonderful.”

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?

At first I did the book covers myself. Those original covers have stood successfully in front of my content for the last two years. I have recently, however, procured the services of one of the best book cover graphic artists in the business. At the risk of losing her because she'll be too busy doing covers for everybody else, I'll let the secret out—her name is Elizabeth Mackey. If you need what I call a “killer cover”, she's your ticket to the front of the list. Elizabeth took my original images and re-branded each of my books with a distinctive style that is both dark and colorful, mysterious and yet simplistic, and utterly eye-grabbing. I do sometimes involve readers in the process. Many of my readers become Facebook friends (I'll admit, I have a hard time not friending everyone) and I'll typically run two or more sample covers of one book by everyone and let them vote. I'm amazed at the response. I'll even sometimes run a contest and give away some free material, or a signed book or an original manuscript, for the best commentary on the cover. Again, it's the readers who decide what's good and what's not. The earnest writer can't afford to ignore them.

You have converted The Last Call into an audio book. Has there been an impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience? Do you recommend new authors going this route to get more exposure?

I'll say there's been an impact. The Last Call is my first audiobook. It's just now out there and is gaining some serious recognition. The numbers (sales) are jumping up in leaps and bounds. There is one untapped market out there that I decided to focus on. Here's the big secret: When was the last time you took a road trip from coast to coast? Okay, whether it was twenty years ago or last week, the following question is likely going to have the same answer: how many 18-wheel tractor-trailer rigs did you see on the Interstate? That's the untapped market. Those men and women ply the highways night and day. And guess what they listen to. That's right, audio books. So, I introduced The Last Call into this new market two weeks ago, and sales have jumped right up there. As far as more exposure, new authors can do all the same old stuff that everyone else is doing (blogs, ezines, etc.) and will see some measure of success. But you have to also learn to think for yourself and find your market—or the BEST possible market—and get those audio books out there, man. Let word-of-mouth go through them like wildfire. That's starting to happen right now for me. My narrator, Frank Clem, an excellent Hollywood actor and voice artist, is busily working on book two of the Bill Travis series, Capitol Offense, and it should be out in about two to three weeks. I'm hoping to get it out there in time to catch the crest of the wave.

You have written several short stories. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?

I wouldn't say the shorts have impacted my sales terribly. I'd say it works the opposite direction. A reader of my series is more likely to purchase a short story story simply because they trust me. They know I write a story rich in character, location and plot, and when they see I've put out a new short story, many (though not all) snap it up. So far, I've garnered some good reviews. No, for me, short story writing is not a marketing ploy. A story idea will sometimes come along that is too good to pass up. It'll hit me between the eyes and get my attention, and I'll say, “Who the hell are you? You're obviously not a book. I've got enough books to last me!” and it'll say, quietly, “Maybe so, but I'm here, and I'm too good to pass up.” For me a short story doesn't get written unless I can write it faster than greased lightning. I don't ruminate long on a short story. I tell you, I'm one of the laziest people I know. Really. So a short story—which is not a novel, and is not ever going to sell like a novel—has to write itself. All it needs from me is an hour or two, and sometimes less. I never wrote one so folks could sample my work. I wrote it because the damned thing wouldn't leave me alone.

I like the idea of bundling a series of novels. You have put together two sets of your novels called The Bill Travis Omnibus series. What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?

I'll take that one in reverse. The main goal was in reaching those folks that had price tag as a consideration. Hey, it's an investment to buy all of the books in a mystery series. Even at $2.99, buying eight of the things is a minimum of about $24 bucks. By bundling them, I give fiscally-conscious buyers the chance to read my books as well. I didn't do it for me, I assure you, but for them. And so far, they're loving it. There has certainly been no negative impact on my sales. I don't think I've ever lost a reader, or even lost money, by selling them that way. Most readers, I find, are not all that conscious of cost. They want something for their money, sure. But they're willing to risk $2.99 one book at a time, mostly. Actually, I never worried about it much. I never gave it a second thought. It seemed like the logical thing to do at the time, and I certainly haven't regretted it.

Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, getting the book to your readers and the relationship with your readers and fans?

Yes, it has changed my writing. I write much better. I write faster. I'm conscious—very sharply so—of my readers and their needs and wants. And what they want is MORE. I'm doing my best to give it to them. They are patient, to a point. But it's best to oblige them whenever you can. You do that only through production. Essentially, I like to think that two things met at the right time and place, fell in love, and lived happily ever after. Those two things were: 1) the technology of publishing via computers and electronics, and 2) my ability to write. It was a match made in heaven. I was ready to write. I simply had to have the right tent under which to write. That was Amazon, Nook, Sony, Kobo, and Apple.

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 give only one book away for free, and that's the ebook version of The Last Call. I may be about to change that, however. I'm still dithering on it. The deal is that I've had over one million (that's right, I said “one million”) downloads of The Last Call. I don't think it'll hurt if I start charging, say, .99 for it. But like I said, I'm dithering about it. Back in December of 2011, I set the price at “free” and watched that month as 140,000 people downloaded the book. The book went to #5 in all free books on Amazon U.S. My January 2012 sales on all my other books went through the roof. Suddenly, I could quit my job in a high-stress law office and concentrate more on writing. I haven't looked back since. My goal was to get some exposure. I got that, and in spades. The only obstacle I ever encountered along the way was people trying to tell me what I should and shouldn't do. I learned early on to listen to the one person who counts—myself!

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 don't know that I really have a process to get a new book out there. I've established enough of a following that all I have to do is throw it out there. Oh, of course there's a little tweeting to be done, a little facebooking, all the pertinent social media. That goes without saying. But it's really not much of an effort. There's no marketing budget. There's just me.

You website has a section called Videos. It provides useful information to other writers and a must listen. 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?

My goal in doing the writing videos was to reach out to those few out there that needed to hear what I had to say. I was once struggling. Struggling to heard, to be found, to be appreciated. Oh, sure, there's an awful lot of data out there, but I found that most of it was flat unworkable. Here's one that you'll hear time and time again (and I address this fully in one of my videos): “What you should do is find the genre you want to write in, read a lot of books in that genre, then you'll know what's expected and how to write in that genre.” Balderdash. That one will twist you up in knots, and guess what? You'll be far more confused than you ever were before. No. The answer is the exact opposite! My video tells you exactly why. There's another whole herd of George Wiers out there, and they want to write the Great American Novel. I wanted to find them and help them, the only way I know how—by talking my fool head off! So far, though, folks are really digging those videos.

Okay, next question: time. It's my contention that there is no such thing as time. There is only now. Now is when I write. Now is when I do an author interview. Now is when I work on my blog. And, oh boy, sometimes it all seems to come in at once. But the secret lies in separating your actions. Grab one thing and do it! Do it exceedingly well. And most importantly, finish it! Then, guess what? It's another now moment. So, grab something else and do it! And that's the whole thing. Time? Forget about it. Just get busy.

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 never, ever ask people to write a review. For me it is unseemly. It's like asking for a license to survive. Forget about reviews. Concentrate instead on writing amazing stories that people will want to review. That's the ticket.

Author's Book List
Arrowmoon - The Bill Travis Mysteries
What do a leather journal from a previous century, a loaded pistol, and an old safe hidden in an aging barn have to do with a court order that halts the completion of a Texas highway project? Why are snipers taking pot-shots at Lief Prescott, the highway construction manager, and Bill Travis, whom Lief has called in to help?

To answer these questions, Bill Travis must get to the heart of a century-old conspiracy before he himself becomes a casualty in a secret war.

This is the eighth book in the Bill Travis Mystery series.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes
Caddo Cold - The Bill Travis Mysteries
Why is the fifty-year-old secret of a missing military transport plane motivating some desperate men to begin setting deathtraps for Bill Travis, his client Holt Gatlin, and anyone else involved? To what lengths will they go to stop Bill for good? Does Holt Gatlin hold the cure to mankind's myriad diseases and possibly the answer to immortality itself, or is he instead the host for an ancient evil? To find the answer Bill must have the help of the most unlikely sidekick of all.

Caddo Cold is the seventh installment of the Bill Travis Mysteries.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes
Slow Falling - The Bill Travis Mysteries
When the old man who is covered in dirt walks into the country honky-tonk and says "The Falling", right before dropping dead, Bill Travis has to penetrate the gathering dark cloak of secrecy surrounding his death and get to the truth before a team of nuclear regulators can rake the entire incident under the carpet. Bill, with his former partner, Hank Sterling, who has now been "recalled to life", must make a mad dash across the desolate West Texas landscape to save the life of Moe Keithley, a Harley-riding bankruptcy lawyer who is in over his head and may very well be the most radioactive man in the Northern Hemisphere.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes
Death On The Pedernales - The Bill Travis Mysteries
Who killed Edgar Bristow, millionaire philanthropist and war hero? In a small Texas town where everyone knows everyone else, the list of suspects can be every person you meet. What dark secrets wait for the man who is unafraid to turn over any stone? And will the killer strike again before Bill can get to the truth?

This is the fifth installment of The Bill Travis Mysteries.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - iTunes
The Devil To Pay - The Bill Travis Mysteries
Why would someone want to kill the curator of the Texas Rangers Museum? And why is Walt Cannon, a thirty-year veteran Ranger the chief suspect? And what could the murder possibly have to do with a very old arson case and satanic worship both north and south of the Texas-Mexico border?

To answer these questions, Bill Travis needs the help of the unlikeliest of all sidekicks, including womanizing insurance agent Perry Reilly and Bill's own adopted daughter, Jessica. Follows is a comedic yet tense plunge into the dark underbelly of a hidden world right under our very noses.

This is the fourth installment of The Bill Travis Mystery series.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Longnecks & Twisted Hearts - The Bill Travis Mysteries
What is the "blue bone" and what does a seventeenth-century French ship have to do with East Texas?

When Bill Travis gets the word that his best friend has been murdered, he not only has to take a trip back to the town where he grew up, he has to go up against some old ghosts who were better left alone.

What modern secrets lie hidden in the dark beneath the countryside where Bill grew up? And what darker, more ancient secret lies hidden beneath them?

Longnecks & Twisted Hearts is the third installment of The Bill Travis Mysteries.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - iTunes
Capitol Offense - The Bill Travis Mysteries
When Death Row inmate Norman Howell drops a tidbit about how he and his father once helped the current Texas Governor get rid of competing Vietnamese fisherman with the use of high-powered explosives, Bill Travis has to decide whether to kick (and awaken) this particular sleeping dog, or whether to let it go. But then the Governor's men come calling for him, and all hell breaks loose.

Capitol Offense is the second novel in the Bill Travis Mysteries.

George Wier is the author of "Duckweed" (Lone Star Noir - Akashic Books, 2010) and The Last Call. For more information, visit the author's website at or the series website at

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - iTunes
The Last Call - The Bill Travis Mysteries
THE LAST CALL starts with a protagonist on the edge of an impending midlife crisis. Add a blond and an old friend with a fetish for high explosives, and you have the kickoff of a first rate crime novel. George Wier writes with wit, verve, and a gut-bucket knowledge of Texas and those who people its quirky underside. This book does not disappoint.

—Milton T. Burton, author of Nights of the Red Moon and The Rogue’s Game.

George Wier's THE LAST CALL has it all: a great setting, characters you care about, a little Texas history, and a twisty plot that's built Texas tough. Get it before last call!

—Bill Crider, author of Murder In the Air.

?Bill Travis, an unmarried, unattached investment counselor rapidly approaching his fortieth birthday, conceives that he may not live the most exciting of lives, yet Julie Simmons, his first appointment that Monday, is deeply in trouble. She has taken a North Texas quarter horse racer and liquor baron named Archie Carpin--the last of a dynasty of criminals from the 1920's--for a ride and cleaned him out of a neat two million bucks. And thus begins the adventure of Bill’s life.

Ensues a chase north across Texas to recover the money and shake the pursuit of a couple of rednecks with a penchant for rifles and rigged explosives. Yet, through all this action the compelling tale of yet another mystery—an 80-year old missing person’s case—begins to unravel.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
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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