Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chuck Barrett - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett. He is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Website: Chuck Barrett
Author's Blog: Chuck Barrett
Twitter: @Chuck_Barrett
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Chuck Barrett is the bestselling author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series. Breach of Power--Winner of the 2013 Indie Excellence Award Political Thriller category and Finalist in the 2013 International Book Awards Thriller/Adventure category, The Toymaker--Finalist in the 2013 International Book Awards Thriller/Adventure & Mystery/Suspense categories, and The Savannah Project--Finalist in the 2011 International Book Awards Thriller/Adventure category, Second Place in the 2011 Reviewers Choice Awards Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Horror category, and Honorable Mention in the 2011 ForeWord Reviews Book-Of-The-Year Awards Thriller/Suspense category.

Barrett is a Florida native and a graduate of Auburn University. He is a retired air traffic controller with over 26 years experience and veteran commercial pilot & flight instructor spanning over three decades of flight experience.

Chuck also holds Dive Master and Rescue Diver certifications. He enjoys hiking in the Rockies with his wife, Debi and currently resides in Northeast Florida.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

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

The timeline for my next release date is still pending but now I’m anticipating a release date somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas. When I have an exact date, I will announce it via newsletter, blog, Facebook, and Twitter—so the whole world will know! As far as a tease...hmmm, I have no log line yet but I can tell you that it involves a witness protection detail gone wrong where a witness’s identity has been breached and my main character gets unexpectedly and reluctantly involved and in the course of saving the witness from certain death, he becomes a target too.

You have a great 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 with the Facebook page and Twitter about 4 or 5 years ago...before my first book was released. In the early years I found that my Twitter following and book sales were definitely connected. It isn’t as easy to draw that same nexus these days, although my Twitter following does continue to grow. I still use the same methodology now for book releases as I always have and that’s a media blast across the board—social media, press, radio, television. I send out personal invitations to book launches either via social media outlets or snail mail...I pound the streets and put ads in newspaper and magazines. If something new comes along, I’ll try it too.

You do a lot of book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

I try to get as much face time as I can. I think it’s important to connect with the reader, not to mention fun. All of my appearances are posted on my websites under ‘EVENTS’—here is the link: I also encourage people to sign up for my newsletter which I only send out 2 or 3 times a year. You’ll only see a newsletter when something exciting is upcoming…like the release of my new book. Sign up for my newsletter here:

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?

After the book is finished, I sit down with my graphics designer...usually at a restaurant...and we discuss the book and any ideas or thoughts I might have for the cover. She and I will exchange several emails before the process is complete. Sometimes my ideas and her ideas collide, but she has such a good eye for details (and clutter) that I generally yield to her better judgment. The only exception was BREACH OF POWER. I had an idea and presented it to her a lunch...she drew it out on a napkin, and we both loved. Best cover yet in my opinion, although I do get many favorable comments about THE TOYMAKER cover.

Several of you novels have been converted into audio books. What has been the 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?

Audible approached me last year about turning my novels into audiobooks, something I’d thought about but never took any steps in that direction. Within a few weeks, we (Audible and myself) had reached an agreement and signed a contract for all three Jake Pendleton novels. And to top it off, the narrator Audible used was the incomparable Scott Brick. I have been delighted and honored to have him narrate my books. Audible has been good at promoting my audiobooks, including giving me promotional codes for giveaways. It has helped my ebook and print book sales as well. I think new authors should let their best judgment guide them on audiobooks. Before an investment is made in audiobooks, I think a new author needs to see some success with print and ebook sales first. When the time is right, do it.

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

I don’t really belong to any writers groups except the local one where I live and one where I vacation in Colorado. I have a core group of readers, some who also happen to be writers and subject matter experts who get first crack at reading and critiquing. These are people I trust to give my honest, unbiased input. I value each one’s input. Marketing and publishing are handling in another manner.

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

Ebooks has changed the volume of books I sell, not how I write the books. I don’t write FOR any particular format, I write the story for ALL formats. The boom of ebooks certainly helped with exposure and increased my readership exponentially above print format alone. The overwhelming majority of book I sell are ebooks and that popularity and success has connected me with so many wonderful people.

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 see free giveaways of print books as a goodwill and promotional outlet. I do them with each book, but not many. Print books aren’t cheap and it can get costly very fast. Free ebook giveaways are a gamble these days. 3 years ago, I could do a giveaway and then for the next month or so, my ebook sales would be out of sight. These promotional tactics aren’t the boondoggle they used to be, but they still have an impact. They still increase sales. Typically I run 99¢ ebook promotions for a few days or weeks and then return the ebook price to normal. Advertising has become expensive so promotions need to be strategically planned and executed or they will show dismal results.

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 funny you say that about my blog because I feel like I’m one of the worst at keeping my blog up to date. I do like to reach out to authors who are struggling with the writing process or the publishing process. I strive to provide them with a little insight to help them through their crunch...whatever that might be. No one really showed or told me what to do, so I had to figure it out as I went along. I want to offer to spare others that same strife. Social media became a time hog until I was able to streamline my process. It used to consume 3 or 4 hours of every day. I’ve whittled that down to about 30 or 40 minutes a day. That frees most of my day for writing and editing. (yuk)

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?

With my first book, I spent a fortune sending off books trying to get reviews...sometimes I got them and most times I didn’t. Now I let my readers supply them. My faithful followers will always leave a review and I pick up new readers with each new book. I ask for reviews in social media and newsletters but I don’t hound readers for them—if they like a book and want to leave a review then I’ll leave it up to them. BUT, I always encourage readers to leave reviews for every book they books as well as other authors...because the more reviews a book gets, the better—unless they’re all bad. :-(

Author's Book List
Publishing Unchained - An Off-Beat Guide to Independent Publishing
Chuck Barrett, bestselling author of his award-winning books Breach of Power, The Toymaker, & The Savannah Project, shares his experiences with Independent Publishing and offers his advice for writers in this no-fluff, offbeat, and candid guide.

Publishing Unchained offers a glimpse at the options available for those authors wishing to self-publish or those who wish to take publishing to the next step: independent publishing. This book guides you through the benefits and pitfalls of print and eBook publishing, printing options, selecting a printing company, and more. It shows you how to treat publishing as a business and do it in a manner that aims you toward success.

Publishing Unchained is a must for those grappling with the decisions about how to break into the publishing world.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Breach of Power - Jake Pendleton series
A hiker finds a journal lost during World War II deep inside a glacier. On its frozen pages are etched the secret locations of treasures lost since the 1940s. But something more ominous is scribed in the journal, something that threatens the Presidency of the United States. Jake Pendleton and his new partner, Francesca Catanzaro, work for an "off the books" intelligence firm and are summoned to the White House where they are instructed to locate and acquire the book. Jake soon realizes there are others on a quest to find it as well.

Order the Book From: Amazon - KOBO
The Toymaker - Jake Pendleton series
Former NTSB Investigator Jake Pendleton faces a dilemma as the line blurs between right and wrong. After his judgment comes into question, Jake is entrusted to his new mentor, an eccentric old man who sees beyond Jake’s flaws. A man who makes ‘toys for spies.’

A man known as The Toymaker.

Jake’s first assignment reunites him with Gregg Kaplan in a daredevil mission to rescue a fellow agent held captive in Yemen. He risks his life to stop the first attack of an al Qaeda mastermind. But now, with no one to trust but himself, can Jake stop the terrorist from destroying what is most precious to the free world?

Unfortunately, more trouble comes his way as a killer from his past threatens something more important to Jake than his own life, leaving him to make the hardest decision any man ever has to make—

Who to sacrifice.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
The Savannah Project - Jake Pendleton series
The truth can be a dangerous thing.

Terrorism, duty, and personal safety collide when Jake Pendleton, an investigator for the NTSB, is called to investigate an aircraft accident in Savannah, Georgia during the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The accident, which at first appears to be quite run-of-the-mill, turns out to be anything but. Since Jake is not willing to pretend there are no suspicious circumstances and more than the usual share of rather unlikely “coincidences,” he sets off a veritable avalanche of secrets, violence and treachery. Aided by an unlikely partner, Gregg Kaplan, the air traffic controller who was the last person in contact with the airplane that crashed, Jake sets out to untangle the webs of deceit and to find a vicious killer.

Nothing is as it seems, nobody is who you thought them to be.
Nothing is sacred.
Nobody is safe.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
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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