Monday, July 21, 2014

Rachel Abbott - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Rachel Abbott. She is the bestselling author on the Kindle charts.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Literature & Fiction

Website: Rachel Abbott
Author's Blog: Rachel Abbott
Twitter: @_RachelAbbott
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Rachel published Only the Innocent in November 2011. It raced up the UK charts to reach the top 100 within 12 weeks and quickly hit the #1 spot in the Amazon Kindle chart (all categories) and remained there for four weeks.

Originally Only the Innocent was a self-published title, but since the success of the early version, the novel was re-edited and the new version was launched in the US by Thomas and Mercer in paperback, audio and Kindle versions on 5th February 2013, hitting the number one spot in the Kindle Store in August 2013. Her second book, The Back Road, was also published by Thomas and Mercer.

Her third book, Sleep Tight, was published in February 2014.

Rachel Abbott was born just outside Manchester, England. She spent most of her working life as the Managing Director of an interactive media company, developing software and websites for the education market. The sale of that business enabled her to fulfil one of her lifelong ambitions - to buy and restore a property in Italy. Rachel now lives in Alderney - a beautiful island off the coast of France, and is now able to devote time to her other love - writing fiction.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Sleep Tight. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Thanks for the congratulations. It’s been an exciting few months! The next book is in development now. I’m hoping that it’s going to be out in February 2015 – just a year after Sleep Tight. As always, Tom Douglas is at the heart of the enquiry, but this time it’s all a little too close to home as he investigates what happened to his brother more than six years previously. But of course, he has his day job to worry about too, and when past and present collide in one of the most complex cases of his career; Tom has some very difficult decisions to make.

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?

My first Twitter account was developed as a result of my blog. Most posts early on were about the whole process of self-publishing, and so the followers came that way. But then I started a second stream that was more aimed towards content for readers – so I try to talk about other people’s books as well as my own – anything that might interest readers in general. I haven’t really been much of a newsletter person – although I have such fantastic readers that I am tempted to send out the odd one or two each year. I follow a lot of people, and if they follow me back, that’s a bonus, but I don’t really have a ‘build your Twitter followers’ strategy anymore.

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?

I do some personal appearances, when I’m asked. Again, I don’t have a PR agency setting up these types of events for me, so when they do come along it is nearly always because somebody knows me or has seen me speak before. I would love to do more, but don’t really have the time to chase the opportunities. I am, however, running a course in self-publishing on behalf of the Alderney Literary Trust, here on my home island of Alderney in the autumn. Anybody interested can contact me via my website – www. – and it would be great to hear from anybody who has thought of self-publishing but didn’t know where to start.

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 am SO lucky with my covers! I used to own and manage an interactive media company, and at some stage I employed a young guy straight from university as a junior graphics designer. He went from strength to strength, and now – about eighteen years later – he is a high flying creative and marketing communications director of a large company. But he still insists on doing my covers for me, and who can argue with that? In terms of the process, we talk through some ideas, but it IS a long process, and made worse by the fact that between me and my lovely agent, we go backwards and forwards many, many times! I don’t involve readers because it’s hard enough getting agreement between all the people involved!

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

I don’t belong to any specific writer support groups. My support group comes from my literary agency, David Higham Associates, where my agent, Lizzy Kremer, gives fantastic support and guidance. She has a team of people around her who are brilliant at giving their input into the whole process, and I couldn’t ask for more. I do ask for feedback from early readers, when the book has reached an appropriate stage, and I get help from the Alderney Literary Trust, who did an amazing job of helping me to marketing Sleep Tight locally.

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’m afraid I’m the wrong person to ask this question as I have never given my books away for free on general sales sites, such as Amazon. I sometimes offer them for 99p, but never free. I know this has worked successfully for others, but I have yet to try it. I have done giveaways on Goodreads – just a few copies made available at the time of launch. This is good publicity for a book when it’s first released, and so I think it’s worth doing.

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?

That’s a really great question! I do work very long hours. I’m writing this, for example, on a Sunday afternoon. I live next to a beach, which is beckoning me because it’s a beautiful day – but I have too much work to do!

My goal when I started the blog was to help other writers. It wasn’t easy to be self-published when I started, but I think it has become much easier, so the focus of the blog has changed to be more appropriate for readers who may be interested in the lives of writers, but are not necessarily trying to publish their own work.

I also have some help. I have had a marketing assistant now for about a year, and she does quite a bit of the work finding great content for social media. I’ve also just employed a virtual assistant who is going to do more of the admin tasks. They both work part time – probably only about 20 hours a month each – but it’s a huge help, particularly around launch time.

Living on the island of Alderney creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation?

I love Alderney for more reasons than I could possibly list! But other than the great work done by the literary trust, who helped so much with the marketing locally, I don’t think that these days it matters at all where you live. My biggest audience is in the UK, but Sleep Tight also did extremely well in the US; at one point sales there were outstripping the UK – but the UK has just taken over again.

I do a lot of initial marketing online, but then if the book is successful it starts to get a life of its own, and the impact of my marketing efforts becomes less and less crucial to the sales numbers. But it’s the getting there in the first place that’s the hard bit.

You have published books in Spanish and German. How is your audience abroad? Did you see an impact on your English book sales?

The rights in Only the Innocent have been sold to quite a few countries, but as yet I haven’t been informed of the sales figures. It takes quite a while between the rights being acquired and the book actually being launched, and then I think that sales figures are only communicated every six months or so. The German version hasn’t been out for six months yet, and although the French version has, it was initially sold through a book club – which I think changes things (although I admit that I don’t really know the detail). One of the joys of having an ace agency behind me is that they take care of all of this.

I’m not sure whether there is an impact on the sales of the English versions of the book on foreign sites. I don’t sell many English copies each day on the German and Spanish sites, but whether that ‘not many’ is better than it would otherwise have been, I’m not sure. It can’t hurt, though, to have the name made more widely known!

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 have a database of reviewers who I believe to be fair and honest. I submit a request to them as soon as I have a version of the book that I am happy for them to read, and if they are interested I send them a book – in whatever format they prefer. And then I just cross my fingers (and toes) and hope that they like it.

I also send out to early readers – most of whom I have ‘met’ through social media. These tend to be people who are very active in forums, and generally seem to be interesting people who are voracious readers of different genres, not just thrillers.

The readers are amazing. So many of them take the time and trouble to write reviews, and I genuinely appreciate that. It’s very hard to thank them, because it’s impossible to know who they are – but when people drop me a line to say how much they have enjoyed one of my books, I try to respond – and when I do I also make a point of thanking them on the off chance that they have written a review. Better to thank too many people than nobody at all!

Author's Book List
Sleep Tight
How far would you go to hold on to the people you love?

When Olivia Brookes calls the police to report that her husband and children are missing, she believes she will never see them again. She has reason to fear the worst; this isn’t the first tragedy that Olivia has experienced. Now, two years later, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas is called in to investigate this family again, but this time it’s Olivia who has disappeared. All the evidence suggests that she was here, in the family home, that morning.

But her car is in the garage, and her purse is in her handbag – on the kitchen table. The police want to issue an appeal, but for some reason every single picture of this family has been removed from albums, from phones, from computers.

And then they find the blood…

Has the past caught up with Olivia?

Order the Book From: Amazon
The Back Road
In a quiet country village, secrets abound.

When a young girl, Abbie Campbell, is knocked over and left for dead on the back road of the village of Little Melham, waves of shock ripple through the small community and a chain of events, which threatens to expose long-kept secrets, is triggered.

For Ellie Saunders, the truth about that night puts both her marriage and the safety of her children in jeopardy–she has to protect her family, no matter what the cost. And Ellie isn’t the only one with something to hide. She and her sister Leo believe they have put their troubled childhood behind them, but Leo’s quest for the truth reveals a terrible secret that has lain hidden for years.

Ellie’s neighbour, former detective Tom Douglas, has escaped to Little Melham in search of a quiet life, but finds himself drawn into the web of deceit as his every instinct tells him that what happened to young Abbie was far more than a tragic accident.

In this gripping novel, the peaceful English countryside belies the horrible truths that lurk beneath the trimmed hedgerows, behind the closed doors of smart sitting rooms and within unspoken conversations.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Only The Innocent
Every moment of Sir Hugo Fletcher’s life has been chronicled in the British press: his privileged upbringing, his high-profile charity work to end human trafficking—even his two marriages. But when the billionaire philanthropist is discovered murdered in his London home, tied naked to a bed, the scandal is only a shadow of the darkness lurking off-camera.

Laura Fletcher returns from an Italian vacation to find her husband dead and her home under siege by paparazzi. Is she shocked? Yes. But is she distraught? Not exactly. Especially when Chief Inspector Tom Douglas reveals his suspicions that Hugo’s killer is female. Laura always knew she wasn’t the only woman in Hugo’s life. And she knows she wasn’t the only one with a motive to kill.

The deeper Douglas digs, the more sordid details about Hugo Fletcher he uncovers. And yet nothing compares to the secret Laura guards, a secret that could bring the guilty to justice—or destroy an innocent life forever.

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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