Thursday, August 7, 2014

Richard Stephenson - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Richard Stephenson. He is the bestselling dystopian author of the New America Series.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction

Website: Collapse
Twitter: @CollapseNovel
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Richard Stephenson was born in 1975 in Denison, TX and spent his childhood in North Texas. In 1992, he graduated high school after only three years. He then pursued his degree at Oklahoma Christian University, once again accomplishing the task in three years. Richard then married his best friend before going off to basic training to be a military policeman with the US Army. With his new wife joining the adventure, they spent the next four years at Fort Polk, LA and had two children.

Just before his son turned five, Richard and his wife were told that their oldest child had Asperger's Syndrome. Nine years later, Richard's son would become the inspiration for the character of Howard Beck.

After leaving the armed forces, Richard continued his law enforcement career in the federal sector and has been with the Department of Justice for twelve years.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called Redemption. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

The third and final installment of the New America series, entitled “Redemption” is my current work in progress. I had originally planned to have it released this summer but I had to make a hard choice. I completely scrapped all of my work and started over from scratch. I just didn’t like the story I had mapped out. Writing it felt like a chore, like I had committed myself to a trilogy and had an obligation to write the final book. There was no spark, no excitement, and certainly no motivation to write it. I finally admitted to myself that the book I was writing was garbage. I had to take a step back and ask myself what I didn’t like about it. The first two books in the series were very political. Power hungry politicians, warring nations, and espionage. While I’m very proud of the first two books, I just didn’t have it in me to do it again. Once I stripped all of that away what I was left with excited me. Spark and inspiration found its way back into my writing and it was the best decision I could have made. The final book will be very dark and bleak in the same vein as Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”

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?

Social media has been a big part of my writing career. I’ve sold many books thanks to Twitter and Facebook. I’ll never forget the release day of my first novel. At 12:01AM I got a tweet from someone “Where is your book on Amazon? I’m ready to read it now!” Social media has proven to be a very effective advertising tool. It’s very time consuming but if you are committed to making it work for you it can prove effective.

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’ve done many interviews online like this one and maintain a blog. I’m in the process of transferring my blog to a dedicated website My contact info can be found there and I always welcome the chance to interact with readers. Venturing out into the public is something that I am not very comfortable doing. I’m a very private person and social interaction is not my strong suit. I’m not a fan of the spotlight, however, over time I hope that will change.

You have great covers. 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 have little to no artistic talent when it comes to drawing or graphic design. I had the basic ideas in mind for what I wanted in a cover. I forged a professional relationship with a graphic designer and relayed those ideas to her. She then sent me three designs and one of them appealed to me. I wanted a few minor adjustments made and she was happy to oblige. I’m very grateful for the fantastic job she did.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, work, 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’ve been fortunate in my writing career to not depend on my writing for financial stability. My wife and I support our family comfortably with our regular jobs so the royalties made from my books has always been supplemental. With that being the case, I can set my own pace and dedicate the time I want to writing. I’ve found that publishing a book can be mentally exhausting, so once I publish a book I have no issue at all taking a four to six month break before I start back up again. Writing for me is a passion, not a job. Having to stick to a set schedule and follow it day in and day out would take away the passion.

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

I wouldn’t be writing if it weren’t for ebooks. I started writing my first book just to see if it was something I could do. Once I had finished the first ten chapters or so I realized that I had something that could possibly amount to an actual book that people would read. I researched traditional publishing versus self-publishing and what I took away from it was that I could make more money self-publishing while remaining in control of my work. I haven’t crunched the numbers, but I can safely say that 95% of the revenue I’ve made has come from ebooks. If you sign with a traditional publisher, you keep 10-12% of the sales versus keeping 70% of the sales from self-publishing. The only downside to self-publishing is that your success is solely determined by how much work you are willing to do to make that success happen.

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?

Giving my books away for free has been the biggest factor in my success. Word of mouth sells books more than anything else. It also helps having more than one book to offer. If a reader decides to take a chance on a free book and they really enjoy it, it is almost a certainty that they will pay money your other works. KDP Select promotions have always given me a huge boost in sales.

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?

At the risk of sounding greedy, the primary goal of my blog is to drive sales. I’m sure any author with a blog will agree. The secondary goal is the satisfaction of helping my fellow indie authors so they won’t have to struggle like I did when I started out. It also helps that I’m very tech savvy. Before I started writing, my biggest hobby was a little side business fixing computers for friends, co-workers, and whatever business they sent my way. Anything computer related comes natural to me so I have been fortunate enough to be proficient at it.

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’ve never really made it a point to seek out professional reviews. Whenever I’ve had the chance to interact with fans via email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and they complement my work, I kindly ask them to leave a review if they are so inclined. I see no issue with it since they were the ones that reached out to me and I certainly don’t tell them what to say on a review. I also have a link at the close of each ebook encouraging the reader to leave an honest review on Amazon. It still shocks me to this day that I have close to a thousand reviews across my combined work. My reading audience has been very kind to me and they have my gratitude.

I like the idea that you promote your support group. You have Susan Hughes for your editing and Laura Wright Laroche for your covers. Many indie authors jump over these two major points. Discuss how the process works?

If you are talented at graphic design, by all means cash in on that talent and design your own covers. I would certainly do so if I could. Editing on the other hand is a different story. Editing involves a tedious amount of rules and no writer can possibly know them all. Even if you are a professionally trained editor, I still think it as a bad idea to edit your own work. I feel that editing should have a fresh perspective, a different set of eyes if you will. And make no mistake; just because your spouse has a Masters degree in English does not qualify them to edit a book. You need someone that is a professional editor with experience.

Author's Book List
Resistance - New America-Book Two
BOOK TWO in the New America Series. Eighteen months after the Collapse of 2027, the former United States is divided. On one side is the evil and tyrannical Unified American Empire, controlled by President Simon Sterling, the man responsible for the death of the last legitimate president, Malcolm Powers. On the other side, President Howard Beck controls the Pacific States of America, the last hope for democracy and freedom. The two adversaries become embroiled in a bitter game of deception, betrayal, and espionage while battling an even more imposing menace that could easily destroy the very nation they are both desperately fighting to control.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Collapse - New America-Book One
Over 10K paid downloads since July of 2012!
Finalist in The Next Generation Indie Book Awards!

BOOK ONE in the NEW AMERICA series.

What would it take for the United States to fall from within? In a not too distant future, America is put to the test. With the American people deep in The Second Great Depression and two of the most powerful hurricanes on record to contend with, the United States is in no condition to deal with hidden terrorists on its soil, maniacal politicians, and the most formidable military threat the world has seen since the Third Reich.

This is the story of three men from three very different walks of life: Howard Beck, the world's richest man, also diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome; Richard Dupree, ex-Navy SEAL turned escaped convict; and Maxwell Harris, a crippled, burned-out chief of police of a small Texas town. At first, they must overcome their own struggles and fight for their survival against impossible odds. In the end, the unlikely trio must band together to save their beloved country from COLLAPSE.

Empires topple. Nations crumble. Civilization is fragile. In 2027, America will fall.

Book Trailer: Collapse

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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