Tuesday, September 2, 2014

HBS Author’s Spotlight – Class of August 2014

This month we have a group of interesting writers with worlds of knowledge and expertise. The author interviews are a MUST read.

Be sure to check out what they have coming next for their readers. I try to pick authors who are interesting studies and ask them unique questions for our Q/A section.

Check out the Showcase feature of the HBS Author's Spotlight. I have included those authors in this class. Also, we have added the Author Bundles and Co-Authored writings we have posted this month.

Thanks to the following outstanding authors for a great month. Here is a summary of our August 2014 crew.

Sally Berneathy

Author Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Romance

Website: Sally Berneathy
Twitter: @sallyberneathy
E-Mail: sally@sallyberneathy.com
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: I am currently working on the 5th book in the Death by Chocolate series, tentatively titled Fatal Chocolate Obsession.

Social media: The whole world has changed since I sold my first book in 1992! In those days I sent a printed manuscript to my publisher and sat back while they did the marketing. I got snail mail letters from readers, replied, and that was the extent of our interaction. Now I get on Facebook, meet my readers, interact with them, get to know about their lives, their pets, their families… It’s much more fulfilling to actually be able to talk to the people who read my books.

Bundles: Our first venture into the author bundles was Mirth, Murder & Mystery. Several of us with mystery series contributed the first book in a series. Mine is The Ex Who Wouldn’t Die. This was to be a temporary experiment to increase sales of the other books in our series. However, the collection has been such a huge success, selling a lot more copies than we ever anticipated and increasing sales of the other books, that it’s still available.

Book Promos: I republished six of my out-of-print romance novels, and each time I brought one out, I had a freebie weekend for it. It was a great way to find new readers and get reviews. I sometimes have $0.99 sales on my mysteries.

Getting reviews: I rely on my readers to review my novels. I read all my reviews. Sometimes I have to grab a handful of chocolate before reading the bad ones. I’d rather just skip them, but if someone has a problem with my work, I want to know and try to do better the next time.

Author's Book List
The Ex Who Conned a Psychic
Private Vows
Shifting Shadows
Chocolate Mousse Attack
The Ex Who Glowed in the Dark
Anything You Can Do
The Great Chocolate Scam
Ghost of Summer
Murder, Lies and Chocolate
The Ex Who Wouldn't Die
Secrets Rising
Secrets Among the Shadows
Undercover Secrets
Death by Chocolate

For the rest of the story...View Sally Berneathy - HBS Author's Spotlight

Russell Blake

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Author's Blog: Russell Blake - Author Spotlight
Website: Russell Blake Suspense Writer
Twitter: @blakebooks
E-Mail: books@russellblake.com
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: The Eye of Heaven coming in September with adventure author Clive Cussler.

Also coming soon: Requiem for the Assassin also being released in September.

Social media: I spend what time I do online not promoting books, but interacting with readers and alerting folks about new blogs I’ve written. I don’t try to use social media to sell books. I don’t believe that works. I also don’t believe that touting one’s books on forums does anything but annoy people, so I prefer to interact, offer opinions, and if they’re compelling and interesting enough, perhaps readers will take a gander at one of my books.

Author bundles: Well, they were overwhelmingly successful. The first bundle sold over 170K units, and the second turned in respectable performance. The objective was purely to find new readers who otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to our work.

Free Books: Perma-free is the single most powerful exposure tool indie authors have. It’s responsible for much of my success, I believe, in that the more readers you reach with your work, even if free, the more likely they are to then read through your backlist…I encourage authors to use this on the first book of a series.

Blog: I view the blog as a pressure valve, to let off steam, nothing more. I write my blog mainly for other authors, so not a lot of books being sold that way.

Congratulations on JET being nominated for an award in the Beauty And The Book contest.

Author's Book List
JET - Sanctuary
JET - Justice
JET - Legacy
JET - Reckoning
JET - Vengeance
JET - Betrayal
JET - Ops Files
BLACK To Reality
BLACK Is The New Black
Upon A Pale Horse
Fatal Exchange
Blood of the Assassin
Return of the Assassin
Revenge of the Assassin
King of Swords
Night of the Assassin
The Geronimo Breach

For the rest of the story...View Russell Blake - HBS Author's Spotlight

Ben Coulter

Author Genre: Thriller, Crime, Contemporary

Website: Ben Coulter
Twitter: @BCoulterAuthor
E-Mail: bencoulterno1@yahoo.co.uk
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: I am currently working on my fourth novel. It’s completely separate from the Poisoned Saints trilogy. It is an anti-war novel, set in the U.K. West Africa, Afghanistan and Malaysia.

Social Media is extremely important. It’s the main way I promote my books. I’ve used various approaches. One that seems to work very well, is, finding other users (Twitter) who like the genre of my books, or follow a similar author already, and then following them.

Book trailers: I had the trailers made for the first two in the Poisoned Saints trilogy and I still don’t know if they really help or not, hence not getting one made for the third book. That’s just me being honest. They get views, but that may just be via other visitors to my YouTube channel, I’m sure they do help the book throughout the promotions though as they are very well made.

Giveaways: It’s been great, hence why my books are only available through Kindle as I chose to stay with KDP for their free promo services. Free giveaways really help pull in new readers who would just not bother otherwise. The sales for the other books always go up around the time of a giveaway. Some people see it as losing money, I don’t, I see it as gaining readers,

The U.K. is definitely my biggest audience, the Poisoned Saints trilogy is very much an English lifestyle being portrayed and probably best understood by people who can relate to it because of this, or fans of U.K. crime in specific.

Author's Book List
When The Saint Comes Marching Home
Keep on Running
Poisoned Saints

For the rest of the story...View Ben Coulter - HBS Author's Spotlight

Jeff Gunhus

Author Genre: Children's, Young Adult, Fantasy

Website: Jeff Gunhus
Twitter: @Jtmonsterhunter
E-Mail: jgunhus@aol.com
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: Night Terror, the sequel to Night Chill, ready for release.

Social media: I genuinely enjoy connecting not only with readers of my novels but just people who love reading and story in general. I think people have a pretty good BS meter so they know if you're just posting and tweeting self-serving ads all the time. I try to use social media with the same mindset as mingling at a party. No-one enjoys a person who endlessly talks about themselves (or tries to sell you something.

Reader list: …blog tours are great opportunities drive people to your reader list, especially if there is a rafflecopter/giveaway involved. However, the most valuable readers to capture are your raving fans who are willing to spread the word about your work. I try to target them and do things to make them feel special such as ask them to be early readers, send them paperback copies, visit their blogs, etc.

Appearances: I really enjoy being in front of people. Nothing is better than face-to-face contact with readers.

Book trailer: I actually did the trailer myself just to see if I could do it. I used iMovie on the Mac and stock images and video that I was able to license for use. It took far more time than I imagined it would but it was a lot of fun. Since then, I discovered Yvi Jone at http://loewenherz-creative.com who is doing my trailers.

Audio books: I think in today’s market you need to offer your audience whatever experience they want to have when consuming your story. ACX is such an author-friendly platform that they are really revolutionizing the audio book world. I don’t understand why an author wouldn’t be in audio. It just makes sense on every level.

Free books: I’ve participated in several types of giveaways and have found them to be very helpful. Goodreads has a great system for giveaways which increased discoverability on their site. I also use giveaways during blog tours to encourage participation.

Reading skills have consistently shown to be a leading indicator for academic success for young people. The earlier the appreciation of books starts, the better chance we have of creating life-long learners… It feels great to support their program with 100% of author proceeds from the book.

Author's Book List
Night Terror
Killer Within
Night Chill
Jack Templar And The Lord Of The Vampires
Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy
Reaching Your Reluctant Reader
Jack Templar Monster Hunter

For the rest of the story...View Jeff Gunhus - HBS Author's Spotlight

Jenny Hilborne

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Literature & Fiction, Psychology

Author's Blog: Jfhilborne's Blog - Author of mystery and suspense
Twitter: @JFHilborne
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: My next book is a mystery/suspense called Easy Target and is the sequel to No Alibi. In Easy Target, a suspect in a murder investigation forces a homicide detective into dark territory with both his son and the woman he loves. The anticipated release date is the end of 2014.

Social media is essential for building relationships first, and then sharing news about my work. I've met some terrific people and made some lasting friendships. Like most authors, I use social media to enhance not just my career but the the careers of others, sharing their successes and challenges. It's a great online community.

Reader list: My reader list consists mostly of people I meet at book events who sign up voluntarily to be added to the list. I send newsletters about twice a year about new releases or significant book news.

Short story (False Pretense): False Pretense is loosely based on a real life event. It's very short and carries a powerful message. I think readers have bought the short based on the strength of the novels rather than the other way around. Shorts are a great way to sample an author’s work and perfect for those with a busy schedule.

Giveaways: Free is still popular among readers, though I think less so among authors. As artists, it's difficult to give our work away free, but when you're trying to build recognition, it does provide some visibility, though perhaps with diminished results compared to a couple of years ago. Goodreads giveaways are a way to boost a new title and achieve legitimate reviews.

Blog: As recommendation is one of my primary sources for buying books and trying new authors, I use my blog to spotlight my own work and that of other authors…

Author's Book List
The Blackest Night
No Alibi
Stone Cold
False Pretense
Hide and Seek
Madness and Murder

For the rest of the story...View Jenny Hilborne - HBS Author's Spotlight

S.R. Johannes

Author Genre: Young Adult, Mystery & Thrillers, Children's Books

Website: S.R. Johannes
Twitter: @srjohannes
E-Mail: shelli@srjohannes.com
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: I am working on a project…Nature of Grace Book 4 (untitled) is currently scheduled for 2015.

Social media: I have met amazing people. I believe social media helps your exposure. I consider it building relationships as opposed to a following. That is always my goal.

Reader list: I have an email list and street team that readers subscribe too. I collect these at book fairs/festivals/school visits as well.

Personal appearances: I am currently visiting libraries in the state of Georgia. I also do high school visits and skype visits with book clubs.

Novelettes: I wanted to give readers a choice. These novelettes are fun to write in between books. I plan to release another one, Breathe, before Christmas.

Free books: I have always tried to have free sales to attract new readers to my series. I feel that helps. Untraceable is perma-free now. The others are only free for a few days as a treat.

Non-fiction book: Marketing Your Words: I did this for mainly my blog readers. This is a combination of all my blog posts that centered around writing with other marketing tips.

Author's Book List
Marketing Your Words

For the rest of the story...View S.R. Johannes - HBS Author's Spotlight

Merry Jones

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Author's Blog: Merry Jones
Website: MerryJones.com
Twitter: @MerryDDJones
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: IN THE WOODS comes out in England in October, in the US in November. It's the fifth Harper Jennings novel.

Social media have changed EVERYTHING in terms of promotion and publicity. As to building a "following," I'm not sure I've done that yet--I think of online relationships as a community in which people share common interests and concerns. I contact members of my "community" when I have news, and some of that news is about my books.

Great book trailer for The Trouble With Charlie: I hired a trailer-making company as an experiment. They actually took information from me, I picked the music and they compiled the trailer with stock images…Problem was, I didn't know how to get the trailer circulated widely. I'm not sure what/if any effect it had on book sales. But it was fun to work on.

I love audio books myself, especially on long car trips. And I think they're great for people who are visually impaired. I'm not sure that audio books enhance regular sales; I'd be interested to find out.

Giveaway: My giveaways have been at book events, like Book Expo, through bloggers who handle the logistics themselves, and through Goodreads. I hope readers who've won the books have been happy. For me, getting free books out there is a way to stimulate word of mouth and positive reader relationships.

My newsletter is a way of keeping readers informed about upcoming work/ current releases. I try to build the list of readers/ potential readers. And I send it out only four times a year, so I don't harass people with too many heavy-handed flyers. I try to keep it short and interesting, sometimes add a contest or a question. But mostly, it's a no nonsense, simple, eye-catching way of reaching a group of pre-selected highly motivated readers, along with family and friends.

Author's Book List
Elective Procedures
Outside Eden
The Trouble With Charlie
Winter Break
Behind the Walls
Summer Session
The Deadly Neighbors
The Borrowed and Blue Murders
The River Killings
The Nanny Murders

For the rest of the story...View Merry Jones - HBS Author's Spotlight

Paul Levine

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Fiction, Crime

Author's Blog: Paul Levine
Website: Paul Levine
Twitter: @Jake_Lassiter
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: I’m just finishing the first draft of the 10th Jake Lassiter novel. This one has a couple surprises by the name of Solomon & Lord. Yes, it’s a “crossover,” as they say in television. Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord, those mismatched lovers and law partners, are featured in the new Lassiter.

Social media: I’ve used Facebook a lot, both a personal page and my author page. To tell the truth, I don’t think you sell a lot of books on social media. But it’s fun for readers (and the author) to communicate.

Audio books: My success in audio has been rather modest. I’m not sure there’s any relationship between ebook, paperback and audio sales.

Novella and short stories: I’m giving away “The Road to Hell” as a sort of introduction to my work. Same with “Solomon and Lord Sink or Swim.” They’re both free ebooks on Amazon, and they’ve led readers to my regular ebooks and paperbacks that are very reasonably priced, too.

Author bundles: The idea was for each of us to pick up some of the other writers’ readers. I’d say the results are okay, but not earth shattering.

Free books: Other than those short story samplers, giving books away for free is a losing proposition. My opinion. Not shared by everyone, of course. But I believe that creating hundreds of thousands of readers who expect books to be free is very damaging to the sale of books in the long run.

Reviews: I believe in getting advance review copies to reviewers. These days, that includes more bloggers and less newspaper reviewers for reasons that all your readers understand. To do that, I hire a publicist.

Author's Book List

For the rest of the story...View Paul Levine - HBS Author's Spotlight

Nick Stephenson

Author Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Mystery,Book Marketing

Website: Nick Stephenson - The Author of Mysteries and Thrillers
Twitter: @Nick_Stephenson
E-Mail: nick_stephenson@hotmail.co.uk
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: Up next, I’m starting work on a new series. I’m in the planning stage right now, so things might change – but I’m taking more of a Police Procedural slant this time.

Social media, for me, is a good alternative to email. It’s a lot less intrusive. I try to take a more passive approach to Twitter and Facebook, and let readers come to me. I try to stay away from too much overt promotion, and focus more on communication. It’s also a great way for people to get in touch with me, which they do on a daily basis.

Building up my email newsletter has probably been my most successful approach from a marketing perspective. I maintain a list with Mailchimp (an email marketing provider) and direct readers to my signup form via links in all my books. To encourage them to sign up, I offer them a freebie.

Novella: It’s hard to measure, really. Each new release has a noticeable effect, and “Paydown” was no different. I was rather surprised; this title sells just as well as the full novels – probably because it’s strongly linked in to the rest of the Leopold Blake series

Author bundles: There wasn’t any immediate effect – but the book is starting to grow in popularity. As there are seven other authors involved, it’s not been a massive source of new readers for me personally, but it’s a great book to recommend to my own fanbase – they get to try out seven other writers, and hopefully find something they like.

Free promotions have worked amazingly well for me. I’m not a household name, and I don’t have a national advertising budget – so I need other ways to get people to give my work a go. Offering free copies has been a very effective way to do this, and is probably the only reason I’ve been able to grow my fanbase as much as I have.

Supercharge Your Kindle Sales: Feedback has been amazing so far! When I first got started in this game 18 months ago, I found there was very little practical advice out there. I’m a very results-oriented person, so I wanted to know what approaches work, and what results to expect. That just wasn’t something that was available at the time.

Author's Book List
Supercharge Your Kindle Sales

For the rest of the story...View Nick Stephenson - HBS Author's Spotlight

Richard Stephenson

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

Website: Collapse
Twitter: @CollapseNovel
E-Mail: collapsethenovel@gmail.com
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Next: The third and final installment of the New America series, entitled “Redemption” is my current work in progress.

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.

eBooks: 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…

Free books: 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.

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.

Author's Book List

For the rest of the story...View Richard Stephenson - HBS Author's Spotlight

HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

Mark Barnes
Featured Book: Teaching the iStudent

Author Genre: Educational, non-fiction, mystery

Website: Mark Barnes
Twitter: @markbarnes19
E-Mail: mark@thepaperlessclassroom.com
Google+: Check Out Google+

Author Description:
A nationally-recognized speaker and education writer, Mark Barnes is the author of Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom, named a 2013 Best Professional Book by Teacher Librarian Magazine, and The 5-Minute Teacher: How do I maximize time for learning in my classroom, both published by internationally-recognized education publisher, ASCD.

Mark is also the creator of the award-winning website for educators, Learnitin5.com. A popular keynote speaker and presenter, Mark has written for many education magazines including, Learning and Leading with Technology, eSchool News, SmartBlog on Education and ASCD Express.

Mark's first novel, The League, was published by DNA Press in 2005. He rewrote the book in 2013 for Kindle and retitled it, The League: A New Game.

Mark is currently working on a new education book and outlining his next novel.

Author's Book List
Teaching the iStudent
The League
The 5-Minute Teacher
Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom

For the rest of the story...View Mark Barnes - HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

Teresa Burrell
Featured Book: The Advocate's Felony

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Thriller, Suspense

Author's Blog: Teresa Burrell
Website: Teresa Burrell
Twitter: @teresaburrell
E-Mail: teresa@teresaburrell.com
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:

Teresa Burrell has dedicated her life to helping children and their families in both the courtroom and the classroom.

As an attorney in San Diego, Burrell maintained a private law practice for twelve years, which specialized in domestic, criminal, and civil cases. Her work in juvenile court focused on representing abused minors and juvenile delinquents. Burrell has received several awards and special recognition from the San Diego Volunteer Lawyers for her countless hours of pro bono work with children and their families.

Burrell has also enjoyed a satisfying career as a teacher. She has taught children of all ages with diverse backgrounds and special needs. After creating an after-school program that kept kids off the street, she received a community service award.

Now in semi-retirement in California, Burrell continues to educate groups about social issues impacting children and write novels, many of which are inspired by actual legal cases. She is the author of The Advocate Series which now contains five novels: The Advocate, The Advocate's Betrayal, The Advocate's Conviction, The Advocate's Dilemma, and the Advocate's Ex Parte. She is currently working on number six in the series.

Author's Book List
The Advocate's Felony
The Advocate's Ex Parte
The Advocate's Dilemma
The Advocate's Conviction
The Advocate's Betrayal
The Advocate

For the rest of the story...View Teresa Burrell - HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

Mohana Rajakumar
Featured Book: The Dohmestics

Author Genre: Essays & non-fiction projects with young adults

Author's Blog: YouTube Channel - Mohana Rajakumar
Website: Mohadoha - Modern Mother, Writer, Scholar
Twitter: @moha_doha
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had two sons, and became a writer. She has since published eight eBooks, including a momoir for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me; a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies; a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories; and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace.

Her coming of age novel, An Unlikely Goddess, won the SheWrites New Novelist competition in 2011.

Her recent books have focused on various aspects of life in Qatar. From Dunes to Dior, named as a Best Indie book in 2013, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013 and is a literary romance set in Qatar and London. The Dohmestics is an inside look into compound life as well as the secrets kept between housemaids and their employers.

After she joined the e-book revolution, Mohana dreams in plotlines. Learn more about her work on her website at www.mohadoha.com or follow her latest on Twitter: @moha_doha. Mohana is currently working on her first historical novel, set in the East Asian country of Laos.

Author's Book List
Love Comes Later
The Dohmestics
From Dunes to Dior
Saving Peace
Hip Hop Dance
Mommy but Still Me
So You Want to Sell a Million Copies?
Coloured and Other Stories
Qatari Voices

For the rest of the story...View Mohana Rajakumar - HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

HBS Bundles and Co-Authored Showcase


Author: Dianne Harman

Available at Amazon: COYOTE SERIES

Author Genre: Romance and Literary Fiction

Website: Dianne Harman Author
Author's Blog: Dianne Harman Author
Twitter: @DianneDHarman
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Dianne Harman draws her stories and characters from a diverse business and personal background. She owned a national antique and art appraisal business for many years, leaving that industry and opening two yoga centers where she taught yoga and certified yoga instructors. Dianne has traveled extensively throughout the world, most recently dividing her time between Huntington Beach, California and Sacramento, California, where her husband was a Senator. An avid reader, Dianne brings the richness of her life experiences to her novels, Blue Coyote Motel and Tea Party Teddy.

An Award Winning Bestseller, Blue Coyote Motel was selected as a quarterfinalist in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award contest and Goodreads Psychological Thriller of the Month Book.

Her second novel, Tea Party Teddy, is a multicultural romance set against the political background of California. It is the story of Nina, who husband succumbs to the power of his office. Bigoted and biased, the ultimate irony occurs when she becomes romantically involved with the founder of the Republicans for Latinos and in the process, discovers herself.

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