Friday, July 25, 2014

JT Brannan - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author JT Brannan. He is a Political Thriller and Sci-Fi Action author who writes the Mark Cole Thriller series.

Author Genre: Political Thriller, Sci-Fi Action

Website: J.T. Brannan
Author's Blog: J.T. Brannan
Twitter: @JTBrannan_
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
J.T. Brannan is the author of high-concept action thrillers STOP AT NOTHING (Amazon Bestseller - Political Thrillers), ORIGIN (translated into eight languages in over thirty territories) and EXTINCTION (his latest all-action novel), as well as the sci-fi action short story DESTRUCTIVE THOUGHTS.

Trained as a British Army officer at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, before deciding to pursue a writing career, he is a former national Karate champion and bouncer.

He now writes full-time, and teaches martial arts in Harrogate, in the North of England, where he lives with his wife and two young children.

He is currently working on the second novel in the Mark Cole series.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: WHATEVER THE COST. What do you have on the drawing board next? Do you have another book on the horizon? Rumor has it that you have a second novel in the Mark Cole series in the works. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Hopefully the next Mark Cole novel - BEYOND ALL LIMITS - should be out in the fall, and involves American white supremacist gangs, African terrorism, human trafficking and the modern-day slave trade; all tied together with the usual twists and turns and frenetic action scenes!

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?

In terms of twitter, I just write the tweets and my amazing wife has done all the work building the audience, and she’s done a fantastic job. Great opportunities have come through the social media networks – like this interview, for instance – but in terms of directly helping to build an audience for my work, I’m not sure how useful it’s been. I think that the audience for the Mark Cole series, for instance, has been built by Amazon. I’ve written things that people seem to like, but I can’t take credit for any brilliant marketing strategies, unfortunately!

You do 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?

My website – – is the best place to keep up to date with appearances. I’ll be at the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate this week, and then the next thing up for me is a talk on writing a novel to a local library group, followed by a short creative writing course I’ll be running from October. Being based in the UK, all the events have been here so far, but with the success of the Mark Cole series in the US it would be great to be able to make a trip over to the States at some stage!

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?

For the novels published by Headline, I made some suggestions to my editor, and then the creative team came up with the finished products. For the Mark Cole series, self-published on Amazon, it’s all the work of my very talented wife! We discussed what we thought would hopefully be an eye-catching design, given the genre, and then she came up with really great covers. I’ve not got readers involved in the design process to date, but I’m always open to suggestions, which can be made via the website!

You have written a short story, Destructive Thoughts. 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’ve always wanted to have a go at writing a short story, and my editor at Headline asked me to write one in the build-up to the release of EXTINCTION. I leapt at the chance and – although it’s not normally the genre I write in – I decided to do a sci-fi action tale, as I feel science fiction lends itself very well to the short story dynamic. I’m not actually sure what effect it had on sales of my novels, but I definitely had fun writing it, and might well write more in the future.

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

It’s changed things very markedly actually, yes. STOP AT NOTHING was the first novel I wrote, but my agent didn’t manage to sell it to a publishing house. I then went on to write cross-genre action thrillers, which were picked up by Headline in the UK and various foreign publishers around the world. But I still really liked my first book, and with the advent of the Kindle self-publishing phenomenon, I decided to release it directly myself, and now the Mark Cole series is outselling my traditionally published books, especially in the US. This has had a profound impact on my work, meaning that I’m concentrating almost exclusively on self-published e-books at the moment. It means I can write exactly what I want, how I want, and the whole thing offers a fantastic opportunity to writers everywhere. Whether for my traditionally published or self-published books, I always like to receive feedback from my readers, and I always take into account people’s comments.

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?

The five days that STOP AT NOTHING was free on Amazon was incredible, there were literally thousands of downloads, and I think that helped to build up the initial audience. We’ve also done physical giveaways for both ORIGIN and EXTINCTION on Goodreads, which had a really good response. I think short free periods, and free giveaways are a good marketing tool, and reach a wider audience which will then hopefully go on to buy other things. The process has been pretty straightforward, and I’ve been pleased with the results.

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?

For my traditionally published novels, Headline deals with publicity and so on; that being said though, I pushed them hard myself via Twitter and other social media, book signings, etc. I’ve done the same for the self-published books too, but to be absolutely honest, Amazon do the bulk of the work themselves; they seem to effectively market it to the correct demographic, and whatever they’re doing seems to be working!

You have published your books in other languages. How is your audience abroad? Does marketing online help in this situation?

The audience abroad really seem to have enjoyed my work, which is very rewarding. It’s hard to say how much my own online marketing has helped in this situation, as again each foreign publisher is responsible for their own marketing and each one will approach it differently. I don’t really have much direct involvement once the book has been sold on to foreign publishers, but I love receiving the foreign editions, it is always very exciting!

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?

My publicist at Headline dealt with getting reviews for ORIGIN, my debut novel, which I believe he did by distributing free copies to the Amazon Vine program, as well as to mainstream media channels in the UK. Otherwise, it’s just been readers who’ve submitted their own reviews. The 96 reviews I’ve got so far for STOP AT NOTHING, for instance, have been entirely unsolicited, which has been really pleasing.

Author's Book List
WHATEVER THE COST - A Mark Cole Thriller
A Chinese cargo ship is hijacked off the coast of Indonesia by ruthless pirates; North Korea is involved in a covert plan to reunify the country by taking control of the South; and in Saudi Arabia, a terrifying new terrorist group has emerged that threatens to destabilize the entire world.

Adrift and psychologically damaged after the brutal murder of his family, ex-covert operative Mark Cole stumbles across a clue which might lead him to the hijacked ship. Realizing that it offers the opportunity to give him a purpose in life, Cole sets out to find the ship in a bid to earn redemption for his past.

From a gun market in the ancient jungles of Cambodia, to the teeming streets of Jakarta, Cole stumbles upon a plot far greater than the simple hijacking of a ship; and as he battles against North Korean agents and Islamic fundamentalists, he promises himself that he will do whatever it takes to stop the unleashing of a terrifying jihad which threatens the Western world like never before.

Order the Book From: Amazon
An extraordinary discovery in the Sahara desert will turn history on its head... A series of unexplained phenomena create shockwaves across the globe - a huge religious statue moves its arm, and there's a spate of floods and earthquakes. Many think it's the end of the world... Investigative journalist Alyssa Durham receives a call from an old friend claiming that these phenomena may not be entirely natural, but when he is assassinated in front of her, she finds herself on the run for her life. Alyssa teams up with Jack Murray, a scientist from a secretive government research laboratory, to uncover the truth. But who wants them dead, and what are they trying to protect? As chaos descends, Alyssa and Jack are drawn into a battle against an unknown enemy with the highest possible stakes, because one thing they've learnt is that nothing is safe from extinction…

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Mark Cole is a deniable operative for the US government, a patriot who is always willing to give his life for his country. Living in the Caymans with his wife and two children, he is no longer fully active, but due to his unique abilities he is called upon to perform a difficult assassination. The target is the Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service; but after the mission, Cole becomes a target himself. And as the forces against him mount up relentlessly, he realises that greed and hunger for power at the highest levels means that he can trust nobody. Cole discovers that not only are thousands of lives at risk, but his own wife and children are threatened. Pushed into deciding whether to protect global security or to save his family, Cole vows that he will stop at nothing to do both – whatever the cost.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Destructive Thoughts - A Short Story
In a world where the Federation controls your mind, the wrong thought will get you killed. Ben Carver is a wanted man for treason but knows he's innocent. As time runs out, he must find out why he's being set up, and who wants him dead. DESTRUCTIVE THOUGHTS is an explosive action short story with J.T. Brannan's trademark stunning twist at the end.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
For millennia it has lain there undiscovered. Now the time has come... Research scientist Evelyn Edwards always knew the Antarctic held deep secrets but the discovery of a 40,000 year old body buried under the ice caps surpasses even her wildest expectations. But just as her team begins extracting the body the dream turns into a horrific nightmare as they are targeted for death by someone who wants to keep this secret buried. Evelyn barely escapes with her life... On the run, alone and desperate, she turns to her ex-husband Matt Adams, a former member of an elite government unit, for help. Soon, they find themselves caught up in a frantic race against time, which takes them from Area 51 to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, as they try to uncover the biggest conspiracy of all time before it's too late for everyone... If mankind thought it knew its origins, the time has come to think again because its every belief is about to be challenged…

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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