Monday, May 12, 2014

Brian D. Meeks - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Brian D. Meeks. He is the author of the Henry Wood Detective Series.

Author Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Historical

Website: Author Brian D. Meeks
Author's Blog: Author Brian D. Meeks
Twitter: @ExtremelyAvg
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
I am driven by the power of words to move thoughts and hearts. I like how some words, which don't belong together, when mixed, produce a delightful result. That is why I chose the moniker Extremely Average. A clever passage in a book makes me stop, reflect, and then I want to write.

It is later in life that I've discovered the joy of word smithing. I've been writing since Jan 2, 2010. It was my first blog piece and I've used the blog to complete 5 novels in the Henry Wood Detective series. I've also written the bulk of my new book, Two Decades and Counting, during the first three weeks in January.

In addition, I'll be releasing a thriller, "Touched", and a satire, "Underwood Scotch and Wry", plus the first in the "Secret Doors" series, called "The Challenge".

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. Do you have another book on the horizon? Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called The Challenge. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I have three books in my Henry Wood Detective series and the fourth, Edge of Understanding should be out in a couple of weeks. I also have my first satire, Underwood Scotch and Wry that is nearly ready to be published. The second book in the Secret Doors series (The first was called The Challenge) is being written. I've also got two works in progress, the 5th book in the Henry Wood Detective series and a stand along called Killing Hemingway.

Here is a sneak peak at Edge of Understanding cover.

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that? How much has it changed your book launch process?

I started on Twitter shortly after beta, but with a different account. The current one, @ExtremelyAvg I began sometime in January 2010. I built my following up to about 500 people that I conversed with fairly regularly. After that, I stopped pursuing followers and just let it grow by choosing to get to know people who reached out to me. I think Twitter has become less social over the last two years. I've found myself gravitating to Google Plus and Facebook.

Do you do any 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?

For my non-fiction, Two Decades and Counting, I did about 40 signings. They were a great way to sell print books, but a horrible way to make money. The costs with travel and such make that sort of marketing far less efficient than simply doing advertising of the ebook versions. I sold 1,100 print books, during that time and after all the expenses ended up making around $500.00. Compare that to a single $300.00 ad with Bookbub for a Free Day promotion, which yielded me $2,000 in additional revenue from post-promotion sales, and it is clear that focusing on ebooks sales is the prudent thing to do from a business perspective.

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?

I've been in the process of changing the covers on my Henry Wood series to one's designed by Aaron Wood, a genius designer. I'll include a copy of book one and four's covers, which you are welcome to use in the post.

What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I spend a lot of time in the Writers Discussion Group on Google Plus. It's one of the best out there. The moderating makes it a place with a lot of discussion and zero link bait.

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

No, I'm from the ebook generation. I never really wanted a print book and frankly, I've been bad about making the print versions available for the novels I have out now. A Touch To Die For, Secret Doors: The Challenge, and Henry Wood: Perception still don't have their print versions available. It would probably take me three to four hours to get them all out and over the last eight months I just haven't bothered.

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 didn't run into any obstacles. I've done quite a few Free Day promotions. The landscape has changed and unless one gives away more than 30,000 it has little benefit. To get those sorts of numbers one must run a Bookbub ad. I've tried piecing together groups of advertisers and managed between 5 - 6K for a promotion, but that isn't enough to see much of a bump afterward. The post-bump on my two promotions with Bookbub (34K and 40K) yielded $2,000 and $1,900 respectively, not to mention taking both books from mid-50's in the number of reviews to over 100.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to readers and 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?

I think "great" is stretching it a bit. If I'm honest, I mostly use my blog as a daily diary of what I'm doing with my books. A couple of years ago the posts were much better. I've been blogging every day since Jan 2, 2010, and the busier I get with writing/publishing, the weaker the daily blog posts get. That being said, I am going to write a 5-day long (updated about 20 times per day) blog post from May 11 - 15 which will chronicle my attempt at getting enough sales for Henry Wood Detective Agency to land on the New York Times list. I've been preparing for the week of May 11 since December. It should cover a lot of the analytical decisions I've made regarding the promotion. I'll be sharing hourly updates that include both my raw sales numbers, but also my revenue from the sales of all of my books during the promotion.

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?

I've been building my newsletter list for about half a year. I've yet to send out my first letter. I'm currently at 55 people. Creating a newsletter is an important part of the business and I'm much further behind than I should be, but one can't dwell on what one has done poorly, one must just strive to do better moving forward.

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 don't seek professional reviews. I do focus on getting the first 10 reviews. I have enough readers now that it isn't such a challenge. After 10, I stop bugging people to review, but I still read every one and track them using excel. I keep a lot of data and that's just one aspect.

If you asked me for one piece of advice to pass along to new Indie authors, it would be track everything you can think of, even if you believe that you can get the information from an Amazon report. Track when your reviews come in, how many sales you had each day, how much revenue it generated (you'll be changing prices so knowing the number of sales won't necessarily be enough.)

The data is also a great source for writing posts about your experience. I am constantly looking up old promotions as a reference. When your running a promotion keep a separate sheet for just that promotion and track your sales frequently (I track them about every 10 - 15 minutes, usually for the first 20 hours of the promotion) and also track the ranking changes.

It is this data that has allowed me to boldly state that I'm going for the New York Times list starting on Sunday. I may fail, but I'm confident enough in my historical data that I know the sales numbers won't embarrass me.

Author's Book List
Henry Wood Perception - Henry Wood Detective series
The third book in the Henry Wood Detective Series continues its genre busting mysteries with Perception. Fans of Sam Spade will enjoy Henry Wood, who is cut from the same cloth.

As spring winds down there is only one thing on Henry's Opening day, 1955, is just around the corner and foremost in Henry's thoughts. He just wants to watch his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers and relax. Is that too much to ask?

The CIA, KGB, and a cabal of businessmen have their own agenda, and soon Henry stumbles into their world when he agrees to look into the open and shut case of suicide by Daniel Kupton.

If you like a mystery, then Perception is for you.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Henry Wood: Time and Again - Henry Wood Detective series
The second book in the Henry Wood Detective Series.

Fans of Dashiell Hammett, who long for days of Bogart and Becall, will appreciate Henry Wood's sleuthing.

1955, Manhattan, and Henry has just gotten the call. Mickey is dead. His long time mentor and friend, run down outside their favorite bar, The Dublin Rogue. It looks like a simple hit and run, but keen eyes notice there is only one empty parking spot on the street, and the pile of cigarette butts in the gutter tells a different tale. Somebody was waiting, but who?

A novel in black and white, it harkens back to the days before Google, cell phones, and computer data bases. Henry must use cunning to uncover the truth, because everyone connected to the case has an agenda. There is much sleuthing and just the slightest hint of science fiction hiding in the closet of Henry's basement. All of it, though, is there to give him a chance to uncover the answers.

Take a journey back in time and see Manhattan as it was when the Yankees always seemed to win, and Brooklyn had Ebbets Field and the Dodger. There is history, intrigue and hints at romance that will keep you turning page after page until it is time to flip off the light.

If you like a mystery, then Time & Again is for you.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
A Touch To Die For
Mitch is facing the real possibility that the woman of his dreams may actually feel the same way about him. He’s in love and blissfully unaware of the man who has been following him, a man willing to pin a string of murders on him in the name of revenge.

The murders begin in Italy. Alexis Liao, a former FBI agent, is brought in to consult on the case. After two bodies are discovered, both with the same ATM mark, she know they have a serial killer on their hands. There are just two problems, no reasonable suspects, and after the first two victims, the bodies stop coming.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Secret Doors - The Challenge
What if a girl who lost everything met a boy who had nothing? How might it change their lives?

For Abby and Stevie it’s the start of their Thanksgiving break. Abby’s foster family has left her behind, locked in their home with nothing but TV dinners and the walls for company. She has a plan, though, and a friend in Stevie that will make the weekend an adventure.

There ‘s more in store than she could possibly imagine.

Life can be challenging, especially when you’re twelve. For Abby and Stevie, the true challenge waits behind a tiny door at the back of Mr. Kim’s store. When Stevie tries their secret knock (as a joke, because the door is only big enough for a mouse), they are magically taken to a strange place where a room full of kids await selection.

The Challenge, which has taken place all over the world, every year for the last thousand, is for a special group of children. It‘s a test of team work, cleverness, and willingness to trust. For Abby, Stevie and their new friends, it is much more because there are those behind the scenes who are not playing fair.

It will be a grand adventure that, if they survive, will change their lives forever.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Henry Wood Detective Agency
Book one in the Henry Wood Detective series.

Jan 1, 1955
Henry Wood is suffering greatly from a festive night of saying goodbye to 1954. His world is one of black and white, right and wrong, but his life is about to change and there will forever be shades of grey. An average detective, with a passion for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Henry is about to be hired by a beautiful woman, to find her father and his journal. It seems simple enough, but when a second woman appears, wanting his services, to find the same journal, he suspects he might be in over his head. He’s right. They are the least of his problems. The local mafia boss, Tommy ‘The Knife’, wants the journal too. As long as it is missing, he is vulnerable, and the other bosses smell blood in the water.

Who can Henry trust? Henry has a mysterious benefactor that he has never met, but seems to have his best interest at heart. Will Henry take the help that is offered? Does he have a choice?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Two Decades and Counting - The Wins, The Streak, The Hawkeyes Thru the Eyes of Roy Marble
The expectations were high, and the results were record breaking.

Before the 1986–87 season began, the pre-season AP poll had the Iowa Hawkeyes ranked tenth. Iowa fans suspected it might be low as they had Roy Marble, whom Sports Illustrated had compared to another number 23, Michael Jordan.

The streak began at the Great Alaska Shootout and continued until they had won more consecutive games than any team in Iowa men’s basketball history. This is the story of that season, the players, the coaches, and what it was like to cheer for that very special team.

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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