Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Rob Sinclair. He is the author of the Carl Logan Enemy Series.
Thriller, Crime, Mystery
The offical website of Carl Logan and author ROB SINCLAIR
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Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a 'can't put down' thriller.
Dance with the Enemy, the story of embattled intelligence agent Carl Logan, was Rob's first published novel and the first in a series of novels following Carl Logan.
The second novel in the series, Rise of the Enemy, was released in April 2015.
Rob is a qualified accountant. He has worked for a global accounting firm since graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels.
Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands (UK) with his wife and young sons.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
First things first. Congratulations on your book: Rise of the Enemy. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Rise of the Enemy is the second Carl Logan book. The third book in the series, Hunt for the Enemy, which brings the main story arc to a close, is now very nearly finished. I’m hoping to release it during winter 2015 should everything go to plan. I’m really excited about it as the plot is more ambitious than the first two - a lot of it takes place in the past and gives the reader a real insight into the man Carl Logan used to be, and how he came to be the character that readers know from the series.
After that, I’ve also now drafted a fourth standalone book which is something quite different to Logan, though it is still a thriller. It’s got a lot of potential I think, though needs a lot of work still!
I’m planning to start a fifth book later in the summer which may or may not be Carl Logan again - I haven’t decided yet, though I’ve got the bare bones of a plot in my head!
You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?
Social media has been very important to me. It’s been a great way for me to connect with readers and other writers and it’s nice to have a very open forum where I can chat to readers rather than just being a name behind a book they read. It does take a lot of time though. In many ways it can be quite addictive so I have to try my best not to let social media get in the way of ‘real’ life. I’ve invested a lot of time in growing my following, both through posting interesting things and interacting with readers and potential readers and I think that’s very important -social media is about being social. Yes, it’s a good tool that I think has directly led to many book sales for me but it’s not just about selling, you have to be personable and sociable too.
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’m hoping for some in my local area (West Midlands, UK) over the coming weeks and I’ll always post such events on my social media profiles. I’ve done numerous events recently from radio, TV to book festivals and I’m always on the lookout for more.
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?
For Dance with the Enemy I left it initially in the hands of a designer. I just knew I wanted something striking yet simple. For Rise of the Enemy, I thought about it a bit more myself. I wanted to keep a similar styling but use a different colour scheme to emphasise the setting of the story (which is in a Siberian winter). So the icy blue colouring was my idea and I had an image in my head of a silhouetted Carl Logan, a loner, so asked the designer to work around that. I was given 3 different mock-ups which I then shared with my readers (via my email list) to pick the favourite - luckily the majority all picked the one I liked most!
For Hunt with the Enemy I’ll look to get the readers involved again - I think it’s a nice touch to have those who are most loyal to me involved in the process. I think now the styling and branding is quite embedded so will likely be very similar to the first two but with a different colour scheme.
Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, 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 is very hectic. My wife works full time but also very long hours so I’m really in essence a stay at home Dad, taking care of the house and doing a lot of the child care. It means my writing time gets squeezed a lot so I have to be quite strict to make sure I actually find the time to write amongst the myriad other tasks needed to be an author such as promoting and marketing. I generally try to do 4-5 hours of solid writing on a good day. If I manage that I can blast through a draft of a book in a few months or an edit in a few weeks. Once I get to the end of an edit or a draft I usually take a week off just to recharge and catch-up on everything else. I’m always setting myself mini goals though. When drafting I like to hit 4,000 words a days. Some writers hate the idea of targets but I find it works well for me. On top of that I’ll generally have an idea in my head of when I want a draft or an edit finished and I’m consciously working towards that too. I have at least a couple of books on the go at any one time so it does get quite complex scheduling everything in but my previous job was a project manager so I think I’m used to dealing with those problems!
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 problem with marketing is that it’s hard to figure out exactly which specific elements were a success and which weren’t. I’ve run numerous giveaways whether on Goodreads or to my email list or on social media. I think the Goodreads ones in particular can be very effective as the “to-read” stats for my books sky-rocketed when the giveaways were first released.
I’ve also had recent experience using price promotion websites (following a recent 99c/99p promotion of Dance with the Enemy), with mixed results. Some were very useful indeed while others were not really worth the cost. But it’s hard to know why certain sites seemed to perform better, it could have been the day of the week the promotion ran or the mix of users who read their emails that day. Overall though the recent promotion I did was a success and it’s kept my US sales ticking over nicely some 2 months later which is great.
I’m planning my first ever free promotion (for Dance with the Enemy) over the summer so will be interesting to see how that works out. I’m planning to do a blog about both the free and the 99p/99c promotion once it’s finished to compare the results and give my verdict on which websites proved the most useful for me, so keep on the lookout for that.
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?
I have an email list but it’s nowhere near as big as my twitter following. I’ve found it hard to convert readers onto the list though I do get a steady trickle coming through from people following the links at the end of the books and I always get a bit of a jump whenever I promote the fact that the list exists e.g. on my twitter posts.
I’ll also maintain a list on twitter - which has many more people on it than on my email list - of all the people I know have read the book and/or have tweeted about it, which I guess works similarly to the email list and means I can stay closest to those people who are my biggest supporters.
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?
Finding time is always the problem! I do a lot of my blogs in the evening, after writing. Or, when I’ve got a particular back-log, I’ll set aside a full day to catching up on blogs and interviews etc - like today, as I’m writing this! I have two other blogs/interviews to do today plus a load of organising for the upcoming free promotion (and some gardening!) so I’m not planning on doing any real writing today!
My main aim for the blog is just to give readers and other writers a glimpse of me, the person behind the novels. I think it’s a useful way of connecting with others and also for sharing real life stories and ideas. I came into writing with no knowledge of the writing or publishing process and it’s been a long and difficult journey so I like to talk about my own experiences in getting to where I am in the hope that it helps or inspires other would-be writers. Writing a book isn’t easy and getting it published and to sell is harder still, so the more resource out there for would-be writers the better.
Living in the UK creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation?
I still think of the UK as my main market as in theory it should be the easiest for me to get into. That said, given how global social media is and also sites like Goodreads, it’s probably not a surprise that recently my book sales in the US have started to outperform those in the UK. It seems quite strange as I’ve really not done anything specifically to target the US market, whereas in the UK I’ve done a lot of promoting in the press and media. The US is undoubtedly the biggest overall market though so it’s certainly not a problem and as long as the sales keep coming and people are actually enjoying my work, then I’ll be happy!
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?
For the release of Rise of the Enemy I listed the books on NetGalley to get initial reviews. I’m not sure yet whether I was pleased with the return I got or not as it’s a very costly service for a standalone author. I also have a small list of bloggers/reviewers who I’ve met, largely through social media, who I sent copies to for reviews (both ebooks and hardcopies) and that list is growing all the time. Other than that, the majority of the reviews have just come through from readers.
Author's Book List
Dance with the Enemy
- The Enemy Series
Carl Logan was the perfect agent. A loner, with no real friends or family, he was trained to deal with any situation with cold efficiency, devoid of emotion. But Logan isn't the man he used to be, or the asset he once was. Five months ago his life changed forever when he was captured, tortured and left for dead by Youssef Selim, one of the world's most violent terrorists. When Selim mysteriously reappears in Paris, linked to the kidnapping of America's Attorney General, Logan smells his chance for revenge. Pursuing his man relentlessly, oblivious to the growing trail of destruction that he leaves in his wake, Logan delves increasingly deep into the web of lies and deceit surrounding the kidnapping. Finally, he comes to learn just what it means to Dance with the Enemy.
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Rise of the Enemy
- The Enemy Series Book 2
Everyone has a breaking point. Carl Logan might just have found his.
The Joint Intelligence Agency sends agent Carl Logan on a routine mission to Russia. It should have been simple. But when Logan’s cover is blown, he’s transported into a world of hell he thought he would never see again.
Something is different this time, though, and before long doubts begin to surface in Logan’s mind as to why the assignment went so wrong.
Logan has never been short of enemies. And sometimes the enemy is closer to home than you think.
Could his own people really have set him up?
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