Thursday, June 18, 2015

Vered Ehsani - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Fantasy and Mystery Author Vered Ehsani. She is the author of the Ghost Post Mysteries, Dragon & Myth and the Society for Paranormals series.

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

Website: Me & My World
Author's Blog: Vered Ehsani
Twitter: @VeredEhsani
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:
I’ve been a writer since I could hold pen to paper, which is a lot longer than I care to admit. As in: since I was seven. Yes, that long ago.

My first story was about a naughty unicorn. I wrote it out by hand (this was way before the computer got personal) and illustrated every page with candy-coloured pencil crayons. It was the first and last time I did my own cover art.

I always hesitate when people ask me where I’m from. There’s no one-word answer to that. Born in South Africa and raised in Canada, I’ve lived in Kenya since mid-2000 with my husband, our two children and an assortment of animals with varying degrees of wildness.

When I’m not writing, running a radio show or daydreaming about African ghosts and myths, I pretend to work as an environmental consultant. Don’t you just hate it when work gets in the way?!

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Revenge of the Mantis. What do you have on the drawing board next? Rumor has it that you have book 4 in the Society for Paranormals series coming in August (The Fourth Mandate). Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Thanks, James! The Society for Paranormals series is having a great run on Amazon right now. And the rumours are true. The fourth book will be available for pre-order late July. The Fourth Mandate picks up where the Revenge of the Mantis leaves off - our heroine Mrs Knight and her supernatural crew are recovering from an epic battle with a shape-shifting demon, and everyone is looking forward to a wedding. This being Africa, nothing goes according to plan. The pre-order version of #4 will include a free novella as well, a way to say "thank you" to my subscribers / fans and will focus on a disastrous mission that Mrs Knight had in Lagos.

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How did you build your following in your niche? How much has it changed your book launch process?

Social media is a funny business. I've been at it for a few years, and what I've learned is that people should be where they are comfortable. For example, I have far more interaction with readers on Facebook and on my website than on Twitter. And yet I never set out to use Facebook in that way. I just hang out there, find interesting articles, see cute cat photos etc. I think building a "following" is really about building sincere relationships.

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 live in Kenya, and most of my readers are in the US, so the only appearances I'll be making are the digital kind! The best place to find me online is my website. I always respond to people, and I love getting emails too.

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?

Thanks, James - to be honest, it's been a learning process. I think I've finally tapped into where I'm supposed to be with my latest, Kenyan-based series (Society for Paranormals). For that series, I hooked up with a cover designer and we crafted the first 4 covers together at one go. I gave her suggestions on the imagery and symbology that I wanted to communicate, and she came up with a killer design for the first book. We then used that same basic design for the rest of the series.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, working, 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 you sort of play it by ear?

It's a tough slog, let me tell you! My kids are young teens and need my attention, so a lot of my 'free time' at home is spent with them. For me, I write my best in the mornings. It's the quietest time and I'm at my most creative. As I'm a consultant, there are times when I'm unemployed. During those work-free periods, I spend half the day writing while kids are at school. When I am employed, then I squeeze in my writing whenever I can.

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 first book of the Society for Paranormals series - Ghosts of Tsavo - is permanently free, and it's been the best decision. My intention was to attract people who like this sort of story and encourage them to take a risk on a new author. The free book has had well over 30,000 downloads since end of May, and this has translated into over 8o reviews to date (most of them 4 or 5 star), a number of very kind emails, and steady sales for books 2 and 3. All 3 books are on category-based Bestseller lists on Amazon. I'm so grateful for every reader who loved the first book enough to read on, although free books do tend to attract a few trolls.

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?

My most success has been with my newest series. I first focused a lot on building my email list by giving away a free compendium on African paranormal and supernatural creatures, available from my website. That helped with boosting the pre-order sales which helped push the books up the rankings on launch day. I also ran a BookBub promo on the first book.

Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?

Absolutely - I want to keep in touch with my readers and make sure they get all the special deals I offer! As mentioned before, I give away a free book from my website for subscribers. I don't send out a lot of newsletters and when i do, I make sure it's of value to my subscribers. I know I don't like to be overwhelmed with a lot of emails so I'm sure they don't either. At first, the list grew slowly but since Ghosts of Tsavo went perma-free, the list is growing daily.

Living in Kenya creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation?

My biggest audience seems to be from the US, which is awesome. I started writing my Kenyan-based historical series because I want to give another perspective on Africa. And of course, I have no other options except to market online. For me though, 'marketing' means relationships. I don't like spam or "buy buy buy" sort of messaging.

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 approached a number of book bloggers, but most of my reviews for my current series comes from readers. I do give away a short story to people who post a review (assuming they email me and let me know!); there's one short story associated with each book, and they give more background to some of the characters.

Author's Book List
Revenge of the Mantis - Society for Paranormals Book 3
All is proceeding as it should for Beatrice Knight. That is, until the African Lightning God lands in her barn and announces that Mrs. Knight’s arch nemesis is about to pay an unsolicited visit. This time, the giant Praying Mantis Koki won’t be so easily dissuaded from exacting revenge against the intrepid paranormal investigator. Mrs. Knight must now answer one critical question: what, or whom, is she prepared to sacrifice in order to defeat the Mantis? As if that isn’t heart-wrenching enough, Mr. Timmons boldly presents a possibility too terrible to consider, yet too tempting to refuse. Now, if only she could survive long enough to make a decision…

Case 3 in “Society for Paranormals”: A series concerning dead husbands, African legends and the search for a perfect spot of tea. For those readers who adore “Pride & Prejudice” and who would appreciate a supernatural safari through colonial Kenya.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

The Automaton's Wife - Society for Paranormals Book 2
Beatrice Knight has enough to contend with: a zebra is dead on her lawn, her horse is possessed and a gentleman has arrived with the temerity to propose to her. To top it off, her dead husband Gideon has absconded with an automaton, threatening to return for his wife. The wife in question however soon has other issues, for a killer has moved into town with a nasty habit of carving up the victims. As luck should dictate, who should be the next target but Mrs Knight herself?

Case 2 in “Society for Paranormals”: A series concerning dead husbands, African legends and the search for a perfect spot of tea. For those readers who adore “Pride & Prejudice” and would love to experience “The Parasol Protectorate” set in colonial Kenya.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Ghosts of Tsavo - Society for Paranormals Book 1
Armed with Victorian etiquette, a fully loaded walking stick and a dead husband, Beatrice Knight arrives in colonial Kenya desperate for a pot of tea and a pinch of cinnamon. But she’ll need more than that if she’s to unravel the mystery of the Ghosts of Tsavo without being eaten in the process. All this while surviving the machinations of her best friend’s dashing godfather and the efforts of her safari guide to feed her to any lion willing to drag her away. What is a ghost-chasing widow to do?

Case 1 in “Society for Paranormals”: A series concerning dead husbands, African legends and the search for a perfect spot of tea. For those readers who adore “Pride & Prejudice” and would love to experience “The Parasol Protectorate” set in colonial Kenya.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO - iTunes

Dragon's War - Dragon & Myth Book 2
How do you stop a war you started? And should you, if your future depends on winning at all costs? These are the thoughts that plague Myth as she paces the fortress where she is being kept a prisoner ‘for her own protection.’ Meanwhile, Dragon is in hiding, hunted by the albino assassin and the city’s very systems that he once ran. As his backup reserves are depleted and the clock ticks down to the launch of a global virus, Myth must escape to save Dragon and together stop the war that they launched. But time is running out and the albino is watching.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO - iTunes

Dragon's Mind - Dragon & Myth Book 1
Ten years ago, an artificial brain was installed into a computer system. To most people, it is a non-living entity operating in the background of their lives. Only a girl named Myth knows better: his name is Dragon and he is very much alive. After ten bodiless years, Dragon has a dream that will change everything and will put his mind and Myth’s life in mortal danger. There are powerful forces that don’t want the truth revealed and they’re coming for Dragon. But where do you run to when you’re already everywhere?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO - iTunes

Fatal Secrets - Ghost Post Mysteries Book 2
Just when Axe Cooper thinks he’s safe, guess again. His memory is fading and unless he wants to lose his mind, he has to figure out why he buried an old friend in a swamp. And let’s not forget the ghost-eating Deathmark that’s developed an unhealthy interest in Axe and his friends. Being dead is no protection from the secret that is about to crawl back into his life. But he’s not the only one with something to hide and some secrets are deadlier than others.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Lethal Takeout - Ghost Post Mysteries Book 1
When Axe Cooper is murdered while picking up Chinese takeout, he’s pretty irritated about the loss of a good dinner, not to mention being dead. Not prepared to move on just yet, Axe decides to stick around and haunt his best friend Lily Chan while trying to figure out why anyone would kill a janitor. In the meantime, Axe is hired by The Ghost Post to track down recently deceased writers. As he learns more about his new phantom friends, Axe realises that his murder is not an isolated event and that if he doesn’t learn to fly like Superman, Lily could be next.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Where Shadows Dance - Ghosts & Shadows Book 2
Ash was looking forward to a summer of camping with friends and time travelling. Then his Great Aunt fades away (literally), his near-death nightmare gets even weirder and he keeps falling into someone else’s dreams. On top of that, his house is attacked and he gets trapped in the past while trying to help a new friend who isn’t too friendly. Juna isn’t having a great time of it either: having escaped from her parole officer, she barely survives falling out of a plane and getting sucked into a bizarre tornado that keeps appearing in the most unlikely situations. While Ash and Juna try to get out of the past and back home, events and dreams keep pointing them to the place where it all starts and ends, where shadows dance and time bends. If they can get there, they may be able to stop an implacable enemy from destroying their future. Of course, getting there means surviving first…

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Diary of a Part Time Ghost - Ghosts & Shadows Book 1
Fifteen-year old Ash wants nothing more than to be a normal kid and avoid trouble. And then his birthday gift transforms him into a ghost and zaps him back in time to the beginning of the American Revolution. If he thought that was bad, it’s about to get a whole lot worse. Armed only with an ancient history book and the quirky advice of an annoying mentor, Ash must rescue his ancestor from one danger after another, including an implacable enemy who controls the very shadows. What starts out as a brief experiment in time travel rapidly changes into a race for his very survival, and Ash is running out of time. Humorous and action-packed, Diary of a Part-Time Ghost will hold readers in its grip from the first sentence to the last.

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:
HBS Author's Spotlight
eBook Author’s Corner
Top Shelf Author Advice
Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

1 comment:

  1. Can I just say that I am a giant fan of her books? Well, whether I can say so or not, I am...