Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Gary Haynes - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Gary Haynes. He is a Thriller writer & lawyer. His first series features Tom Dupree, a special agent in the US Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Author Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime

Website: Gary Haynes - Thriller Writer
Author's Blog: Gary Haynes - Thriller Writer
Twitter: @GaryHaynesNovel
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Gary studied law at Warwick University and completed his postgraduate training at the College of Law. As a lawyer, he specializes in commercial dispute resolution. Outside of work, he comments upon Middle East politics and keeps fit at his local boxing gym.

Gary writes cinematic-style, fast-paced, action-packed political/military/spy thrillers. He will be writing a series of novels based on his main character, Tom Dupree, a special agent in the US Bureau of Diplomatic Security. STATE OF HONOUR, Tom Dupree #1 is published by Harlequin.

His favourite quote is: You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: State of Honour. Rumor has it that you have another Tom Dupree novel in the works. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Thank you very much. The sequel will be out later in the year but the publishing date is decided by my publisher, Harlequin, now a division of HarperCollins.

The book deals with a massive terrorist threat targeted at military bases in the US. The threat is not what you would expect. There are no suicide bombers or the use of any conventional or biological weapons. My interest in the Middle East comes into play again, but rather than focusing on Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, the main focus is on Syria, Egypt and the Palestinian territories.

My readers tell me they like the unexpected twists, the cinematic action scenes and the well-rounded characters, so I’m hoping not to disappoint. I’m also looking to publish a WW2 novella and a standalone thriller in the near future.

You have a great 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?

First and foremost I believe that Twitter is a force for good in the world, disseminating valuable information in real time to a huge audience and I’m grateful to the founders for realizing their vision. Twitter has been very useful in giving me coverage in places that I’d otherwise find it difficult to penetrate, for example, India, where State of Honour was a bestseller. It has sold books, generated reviews and forged mutually beneficial connections.

If I just used it to push my book that wouldn’t work, so you have to tweet interesting content that attracts like-minded users. I tweet about geopolitics, terrorism and the writing life. I’ve also found my Facebook author page and Goodreads to be useful social media tools, as well as my website. I make a point of always replying to readers no matter how they contact me. It’s about building relationships and being honest. I don’t use forums or newsletters, because there is only so much time, but I do actively use social media on a daily basis, partly to stay visible and partly because I enjoy the interaction.

These days a writer has to be unashamedly out there, simply because there is so much competition.

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?

Due to time constraints and the fact that I’m based in the UK and many of my readers are based elsewhere in the world this isn’t something that I’ve pursued, but that may well change. If something comes up I will be sure to let people know via Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

I like your idea of using Tom’s Photo Gallery to give your readers an idea of Tom Dupree’s environment. Do you use the gallery in your character development? Are the pictures and background the way you see your characters and scenes? Do you know how much impact it has had on your book’s success? (will include a picture from the gallery)

I’m a visual person and a big film fan. I often go for long walks in the great outdoors and imagine scenes in my mind, both action scenes and dialogue. I will even act some of them out, which can be embarrassing if I don’t see someone coming up behind me. The picture gallery was put together for the reason you’ve stated, namely to give the reader an indication of Tom’s working environment and the threats he might face. I don’t use it for character development and it’s impossible to say how it has impacted on sales, but people have commented favorably upon it.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, working, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

I try to be an organized person, but I’m far from perfect. I have set times for writing and will often utilize a couple of weeks to just concentrate on a book. But spending time with friends and family is important, as is personal downtime. I don’t see myself as an observer in my working or private life, since the world I write about is so different from everyday life. I have a capacity to switch on and switch off, which is a great stress reliever. But I’m a hard worker by nature and my legal training has given me good research skills, which cuts down time considerably. But having a plan is important, as is a regular writing routine. I believe in writing through a writing block, rather than feeling depressed about it. A positive state of mind can be acquired and it’s the greatest achievement of my life.

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 haven’t given away books free apart from seeking reviews, which is standard. They can be substantially discounted but giveaways are not for me. If you’ve sweated over a novel of 100,000 words or more for a year I believe it has a value. I don’t mind that other people do, of course, but it isn’t something that I advocate. Undoubtedly though, discounted books boost sales, especially if the marketing campaign that accompanies it is targeted and professional. State of Honour reached #98 in the overall US Amazon chart, and #1, #2 and #3 in sub charts, and #14 in the overall Barnes & Noble chart, primarily due to a discounted price coupled with a solid marketing campaign, so it works.

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?

I don’t use software. As a lawyer I have developed an eye for detail and the capacity to retain chunks of information. But I do plan a book in detail. I write chapter synopsizes that run to about 10,000 words in total, roughly 100 words for each chapter, although I don’t stick to it slavishly, and sometimes during this process I can write half the chapter. The first novel (unpublished) I wrote was based on the germ of an idea and I started writing it with just vague notions of where I was going and why. As a result, the plot wasn’t great, I have to admit.

My writing mantra is: the more you do in preparation the less you do in the actual writing. You can concentrate on crafting a scene rather than worrying about its relevance.

I love twists. I decide how much or how little prior information to add in at given points in the story and do most of this at the planning stage. But again anything can happen during the actual writing of the book, just as long as I don’t go off on too much of a tangent.

Planning also aids the pace of a book. I write thrillers, so my books are fast-paced. I can tell just by looking at my plan where a reader has to draw breath or where the pace needs to be ratcheted up a few notches.

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?

Thank you, although I don’t blog as much as I used to. I post my interviews there and write about foreign policy and the Middle East. My blog is part of my website but it appears on my author page and on my Goodreads author page automatically, and I post it on Facebook and tweet it. All my social media sites are connected, so people can easily find my website on my Twitter profile and so on. I’m passionate about writing and encouraging others, but also I like to inform people about things that affect all of us, such as the danger of militant Islam and the abuse of human rights.

As for finding the time to do what I do it’s all about choices. I used to help run a large law firm with over 100 staff and four offices, and spent almost three hours a day commuting. Now I live close enough to my office to walk to and fro and I resigned my partnership. People spend hours watching TV, or playing computer games or golf. That’s choice. I choose not to watch much TV. I don’t play golf or computer games. I don’t even have the time to read the books I’d like to, but that’s my choice. Also, I have three wonderful children but they are all adults now and as every parent knows, that frees up a huge amount of time. Finding the time is all about making choices.

Living in the UK creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation? Do you publish your books in other languages?

My biggest audience is in the US, followed by India and the UK, although I also sell in Canada, Austria, Germany and Australia. My books are available worldwide via Amazon and eBook readers, but my publishers don’t publish my work in other languages as yet. Writing in English is a huge benefit for a novelist, simply because so many people in so many countries are fluent enough to read an English language book. I purposely set out to write international thrillers, both because that is the genre I enjoy personally, and because I wouldn’t limit myself to a UK audience. I also use American English when I write, so it’s sidewalk instead of pavement, for example. Due to the prevalence of US films and television, people are familiar with American terms and it doesn’t cause a problem.

Marketing online and the rise of eBooks is the main advantage that writers now have over writers in the past. I don’t need to sign a new publishing deal with a publishing house in Mumbai to sell books in India, and that’s exciting. I believe that we are just at the beginning of what is possible in the world of writing and publishing.

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 haven’t achieved great success by giving away a NetGalley widget for a review. I rely upon readers to post reviews and I’m always humbled by the fact that they’ve not only bought my book with their hard-earned cash but have also taken the time to post a review. I also use social media, so, for example, if someone tweets me stating that they’ve enjoyed the book I’m not averse to politely asking them for a review, or asking them to let me know if they do post one, as a prompt. If you don’t ask you don’t get, but being pushy is counterproductive. Readers who have interacted with me before on social media are the most likely to leave a review. It’s all about building relationships.

Author's Book List
State of Honour
One man, one mission; prevent the outbreak of the next world war…

Live reports of an explosive attack in Pakistan are flooding the world’s newsrooms. The US Secretary of State is missing - and with tensions on the international diplomatic scene at boiling point Special Agent Tom Dupree has only three days to track down her abductors.

Linda Carlyle will be beheaded in three days if her abductor’s demands are not met. Except everyone knows that the US never negotiates with terrorists...

Saving Linda’s life = save the world from a brutal and bloody war: The stakes have never been higher…and a web of conspiracy, deception and betrayal leave Tom with no-one to trust, but himself.

Political thrillers don’t come more turbo-charged than this! Prepare for twist after twist right up to the electrifying climax in this high-octane political thriller.

Order the Book From: Amazon
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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