Thursday, February 19, 2015

Jennings Wright - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Jennings Wright. She is the bestselling author of the The Quinn Adventures and The Ixeos Trilogy series.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Romance, Young Adult

Website: Jennings Wright
Author's Blog: Jennings Wright
Twitter: @JenningsWright
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
I am an eclectic writer... Or maybe ADD. I can't stick to just one genre! I've written action/adventure, Christian historical romance, dystopian, and my next project is a YA dystopian low fantasy. I like interesting locations and engaging characters, and whatever genre is best to tell their story... That's what I write.

I am a lifelong traveler, and am always looking for my next trip, whether near or far. I've traveled to Uganda six times in the last few year for my non-profit there, and hope that my love of Africa is reflected in the Quinn's adventures in Solomon's Throne. I also love history, and all my books have historical elements, even those set in the future.

There are many more adventures in my future -- I'll try to share them with you in my books!

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Let’s start with what’s next. Do you have another book on the horizon? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

My next novel will be a 3rd book in the Quinn adventure, with a little switch: it will be more about Mac than Rae and Gideon Quinn. We’ve got so much going on at the moment that I haven’t done more than “work” on it (meaning think about plot ideas while I’m driving, mostly!). But it will be in 2015, hopefully in time for summer/beach reading.

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?

I am so appreciative of my Twitter followers! I built a good, quality base with the help of JustUnfollow and (now) ManageFlitter. Those types of websites help weed out spam accounts and the like, allowing you to grow your following with real accounts. I don’t Tweet overly much about writing – I try to include my nonprofit, blog posts, and writing updates, along with “life” stuff. I do really not to use it as a sales platform, just as a way to be real and communicate. I have a good group on Facebook, too, and follow the same principle there. If I can bring interesting content with some personal stories, I think people will continue to follow and become more interested I my work. I have not had great success with newsletters, although I know a lot of people do. That may be a project for later in 2015!

Do you do 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 actually do those things more with my nonprofit and some other things in my life than my writing, but I love talking about writing, too. If anyone is interested in any of that, they can contact me through my website.

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 love my covers! I am very involved conceptually – in fact, the original IXEOS cover came from a friends photo, posted on Facebook, of her daughter in a playground tunnel. I saw it and just knew it was exactly the concept I wanted for IXEOS. My cover artist (Glendon at Streetlight Graphics) is fabulous at taking my thoughts on what I do and don’t want to see and coming up with the perfect cover. That being said, I ended up changing the Undaunted Love cover. While I loved the first one, it wasn’t “romancy” enough for readers to tell at a glance the type of book it is. The new cover has been extremely popular (and the girl looks a lot like my daughter, which was a happy accident).

You have several great book trailers. (See links below.) They look very professional. Do you know how much impact they have had on your book’s success? Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailers?

I did the trailers using Animoto, which is a great video creation website. I’m a very visual person (when I had more spare time, I was an artist, too), and really enjoy making videos. I’ve done some for other people, too. Making a trailer is a lot like writing your back cover copy – and it can be hard to boil a 90,000 word book down to such a short summary. Basically, just like with the copy, you want a video with a punch that leaves the viewer really wanting to know what the book is all about.

Book trailers aren’t a huge part (yet) of sales, but since I can do them for free and enjoy it, I think it’s a good time investment. I’ve actually gotten a more involved program to do it on my computer, but I haven’t had time to play with it yet – so there may be a new one with the new Quinn book!

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

We moved last year, so I lost my in-person writing group. I am in Melissa Foster’s group on Facebook (Fostering Success) and also a member of ALLi. Both are very active with people in all stages of self-publishing, and I’ve gotten a lot of great information and support from both in all areas of the process.

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 have always published in both ebook and paperback format. Even though I am a die-hard bookie, I have to confess that I mostly read on my Kindle because I travel A LOT. One thing on my list for 2015 is to make the books more interactive, which I think is a great benefit of ebooks. The beauty of ebooks is that they will never go away… The virtual bookshelves will just keep growing. So you don’t have to become a huge success in the first 6 months; those books will be there, and you never know when fans will discover them. Think about it – selling even 10 books a month at an average of $2.50 per book is $25 per month, or $300 a year. That’s $9,000 in 30 years, and you really don’t have to do much at all to keep that going. If you have several books or higher average sales, it may not replace your day job, but it definitely adds up!

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?

This is a moving target. When I first started, the free book giveaway was really help to get follow up sales. I have had some great success with it – I’ve had over 100,000 downloads. Those downloads definitely led to sales, either after the giveaway when the book was still on best seller lists, or from people who read the book and then wanted more of my writing. However, several things have changed this dynamic – the market is flooded with free books now, and it has led to people who never buy books. That’s bad for authors. Amazon has stopped using your free downloads towards your paid ranking, which killed a lot of the sales you used to get after a free promotion. Kindle Unlimited has also really changed the dynamic of the free book, as well as the Kindle Countdown Deal, which is a discounted/sale promotion. My last few promotions (and I only do one or maybe 2 per book per year) were down considerably over previous ones, even using BookBub as advertising. Of course, marketing is always an evolving art form, so we just have to keep throwing stuff out there to see what will stick.

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?

Before the book is ready, I start talking about it on my blog, and on social media. I do a cover reveal a couple of weeks before release across those platforms. It’s always exciting to get your first print copy, so I post a picture holding the new book, too – I don’t care if it’s your first or seventh, it’s exciting, and people like to see that you’re a real person. One thing I DON’T do is a ton of sales type posts on Facebook or Twitter – that’s a guaranteed turn off to people.

I like to talk about the book, let people know what it’s about and if it’s part of a series. For new series, I have done blog tours as a way to get the word out. Unlike traditional publishing, you don’t have to have a huge first week or month – as I said before, the book is out there forever!

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 any software – I just write really fast! To be honest, when I write quickly (I’ve written most of my first drafts in less than a month), I’m able to keep the plot and characters in my head. Okay, yes, sometimes secondary characters names mysteriously change… But overall, I use some sticky notes and scribble location research in a notebook while I’m planning. I don’t really do outlines. I know the beginning and end, and I know the locations where the characters will go. Then I just write! That first draft just needs to get written – you can fix it later. I do use Scrivener to write, and then transfer it to Word during the editing process.

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 done blog tours, which usually can get you a few reviews. It can be hard to get those first few reviews, but 10 or 11 seems like the number where, all of the sudden, you get them regularly. Otherwise, though, I don’t solicit them, never pay for them or use professional reviewers, and have just been blessed to have readers who’ve taken the time to do it.

Author's Book List
IXEOS Trilogy
When humanoid aliens infiltrated Ixeos, no one knew they were there. When they used EMPs and WMDs to decimate and enslave the human population, it was too late. Now, thirty-five years later, the burgeoning rebellion is without technology or power, and it's leader has been imprisoned. There is no hope.

When teenagers from Earth are mysteriously transported to Ixeos, they find that their purpose is to help the rebellion win the world back for the human race. Neahle, Clay and Marty McClelland discover mysterious tunnels that can lead them all over the world, a thriving community of outsiders, and a rebellion coming together.

The Firsts are soulless, emotionless monsters who are unprepared for the rebellion's creativity, but they are ruthless and will stop at nothing to keep the planet they have stolen. Can the outsiders free Darian, the rebel leader? Can the rebellion get organized and fight a war on a global scale? Can the humans reclaim their world and rebuild it?

The IXEOS Trilogy is an exciting adventure of destruction, enslavement, treachery, brutality, hope and purpose sure to please science fiction readers of all ages.

Order the Book From: Amazon
IXEOS: Darian's War - The IXEOS Trilogy Book 3
After the decisive Battle of La Defense, Darian and the rebellion try to cope with the loss of Landon and with his warning: It won't be as easy as you think. With the transporter under outsider control and all the slaves and rebels willing to fight, Darian should be able to win. But the Firsts seem to have eyes and ears everywhere, and they have weapons and capabilities no one dreamt of. How can Darian win a global war without destroying the planet the humans will need to rebuild their civilization?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
IXEOS: Rebellion - The Ixeos Trilogy Book 2
With rebel leader Darian free at last, the humans and outsiders on Ixeos must find a way to join forces and defeat the Firsts. The problem? All slaves are tracked with GPS, the Firsts are the only ones with power, and roving gangs hate the rebels just as much as they hate the aliens. As Darian and the outsiders from Earth travel the globe through the mysterious tunnels in Paris, they learn that the Firsts are preparing to launch another wave of biological warfare. With a transporter that will allow the aliens to target any city, anywhere on the planet, the rebels know they must stop them at all costs.

As things get more dangerous on Ixeos, the outsiders find that they're pushed to their limit. Will they fight for freedom, no matter the price?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
BUT GOD: Two Words to Freedom
So what's it about? Ask yourself these questions:

Do you find yourself unsatisfied with "church as usual," but don't know why?

Do you wonder if the Christian life you're living, which is like all the other Christians around you, is all there is?

Do you wonder why all the exciting stuff in the Bible seems so far from your own life?

Jesus came to set us free, but most of us don't know what that really means. Find out in BUT GOD: Two Words to Freedom! Each chapter expands on the definition of Godly freedom in this life, and is followed by study questions to help you fulfill the purpose God has for you in His Kingdom on earth. Find out how living outside the Christian box; following Biblical principals regarding debt, forgiveness and relationships; and acknowledging the battle we face if we are advancing God's Kingdom can set you free to be all that God created you to be. Buy your copy now and start your path to true, godly freedom!

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
IXEOS - The Ixeos Trilogy Book 1
The McClellands are enjoying a lazy summer vacation at the beach when they are lured from our world into Ixeos, an alternate Earth. Finding themselves lost in a maze of tunnels under Paris and surrounded by strangers, they discover that they have been brought to Ixeos for one purpose: to take the planet back from humanoid aliens who have claimed it. With the aid of the tunnels and a mysterious man named Landon, the teens travel the world seeking the key that will allow them to free Darian, the long-imprisoned rebel leader.

The aliens aren't the only problem on Ixeos -- the McClellands have to deal with brutal gangs, desperate junkies, and a world without power, where all the technology is owned by the aliens, and where most of the population has been killed or enslaved.

The worst part? There's no way home.

Book Trailer: IXEOS

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Hoard of the Doges - The Quinn Adventures Book 2
When her boss finds an Old Master painting buried under centuries of junk in a Venetian cellar, restoration specialist Rei Quinn is over the moon. When she gets kidnapped and the ransom demand is the painting, her enthusiasm understandably wanes. Along with her husband, security specialist Gideon, and their pilot friend Mac, the Quinns discover and decipher a map encoded in the painting. Taking off for Venice and her bygone territories, they begin the search for a treasure hidden since the Crusades. Hot on the trail are members of an ancient crime family, determined to finally claim the Venetian wealth. Who will be the first to find the hoard of the Doges?

The Hoard of the Doges, book 2 of the Quinn Adventures, is a fast paced adventure, whisking the reader back to Venice in the Middle Ages and forward to the Greek Isles and beyond. Buy your copy now and join the adventure!

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Undaunted Love
NEW EDITION with corrections and new editing, but same great story! What are people saying about UNDAUNTED LOVE?

Hugh Byrd, the cold, ambitious patriarch of Byrd's Creek, is used to getting what he wants. And what he wants is the Colton's prime land and the destruction of the Colton family. What he doesn't count on is his own daughter falling in love with Rafe Colton.

Ripped apart by the Civil War, the young couple must find a way to keep their secret love alive. The end of the War should mean a joyous reconciliation, but when Rafe is accused of a terrible crime, he runs away, leaving Livvie behind once again. Will this finally break their bond, or will their love survive?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Solomon's Throne - The Quinn Adventures Book 1
After a daring robbery, Rei and Gideon Quinn are recruited by their boss to recover a lost family heirloom: a letter written by St. Paul that could rewrite the history of the Church. What they discover is that an old journal, also stolen but little thought of, was the real object of the theft. An art preservationist, Rei begins to decipher clues in the journal, and finds that they lead to a treasure: the long lost throne of King Solomon. As they embark on a treasure hunt, following the Portuguese Spice Route through east Africa, the Middle East and into India, they must rely on letters from a long dead Jesuit priest. They must also keep one step ahead of the secret militant order that carried out the robbery and is after the same goal: the prize of a lifetime.

Filled with fast paced action and having broad appeal, Solomon’s Throne is an ingenious adventure that sweeps the reader around the globe in a race against time. The Quinn Adventures continue with The Hoard of the Doges, figuring out secrets from the Crusades. Buy your copy today!

Book Trailer: Solomon's Throne

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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