Thursday, December 17, 2015

DV Berkom - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author DV Berkom. She is the bestselling author of two award-winning thriller series (Leine Basso and Kate Jones).



Author Genre: Crime, Suspense, Thriller

Website: DV Berkom
Author's Blog: DV Berkom Books
Twitter: @dvberkom
E-Mail: dvb (at) dvberkom (dot) com
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Google+: Check Out Google+
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Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Amazon Author Profile


Author Description:
DV Berkom is a slave to the voices in her head. As the bestselling author of two award-winning thriller series (Leine Basso and Kate Jones), her love of creating resilient, kick-ass women characters stems from a lifelong addiction to reading spy novels, mysteries, and thrillers, and longing to find the female equivalent within those pages.

Raised in the Midwest, she earned a BA in political science from the University of Minnesota and promptly moved to Mexico to live on a sailboat. Several cross-country moves later, she now lives just outside of Seattle, Washington with the love of her life, Mark, a chef-turned-contractor, and several imaginary characters who love to tell her what to do. Her most recent books include Cargo, The Body Market, Bad Traffick, A One Way Ticket to Dead, and Yucat√°n Dead.


SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Cargo. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Thank you! I’m very happy with the response for the latest Leine Basso thriller—especially since the book took me way outside my comfort zone. As for what’s next, I’m working on the currently untitled prequel to the series. I received several emails from readers asking me to write a book about Leine’s early life as an assassin and what led to certain events I describe in Serial Date and Bad Traffick, such as the Frenchman (an arms dealer), and Carlos (Leine’s first love interest). I’m planning to have it available the first part of 2016. After that, due to multiple reader requests I’ll be writing the next book in my other thriller series featuring Kate Jones. I’m really looking forward to getting inside her head again. That should be ready to go later in the year.

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 key to building a solid reader base, and is a great way to connect to other authors. I’ve also met some great book bloggers/reviewers, many of whom have become friends. The impact of social media on my success has been tremendous. The ability to connect with readers who enjoy my work is so important. I doubt the majority of an independent author’s success would be possible without the reach social media provides. My book launches are certainly more effective each time I do one, due in no small part to that same social media following.

You do a lot of book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances. 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 available on all the usual suspects like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al, and LOVE to hear from readers. I also have an event page on both my website and blog, so readers can go there and check out whether I’ll be in their area in the future. I also let my reader list know whenever I’m going to be somewhere, since they tend to be from all over. Right now, I have a couple of local appearances planned for the holidays, and then I’m taking a much needed break so I can get caught up on my writing.

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?

Thank you! When I first started publishing, I designed my own covers, but since then have used a couple of different designers. I recently re-branded the Leine Basso series using Deranged Doctor Designs. I’m very happy with their vision for the series. I used the Killion Group for the last two books in the Kate Jones series, and intend to have them design the next one. I had quite a bit of input with both, although the finished product was definitely each designer’s vision.

Several of your novels have been converted into audio books. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience for you?

I love audio books, and was stoked to be able to offer that version to readers. The audio book segment of the reading public has exploded in recent years and I’ve certainly added new readers because of it. But, as I see it the main benefit is accessibility. I’ve been a huge advocate for accessible content for years—e.g., tweaking websites and blogs to make them easier for non-traditional users to access. Being able to produce a professional version to include that segment of readers is a fantastic opportunity. As for impact, audio book sales have become a significant revenue stream and I haven’t seen a decline in book sales because of it. Usually, once readers have purchased an eBook, due to Amazon’s ability to offer a significant discount on the audio book after purchase they’ll buy that version as well.

You have written several novellas. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work? Do you feel short reads are a product of our email and smart phone age?

My first published book was Bad Spirits, a novella and the first installment in the Kate Jones thriller series. I wrote it specifically for an online publisher who had read Touring for Death (now the fourth book in the series) and requested I write the back story for the character, Kate, to publish as a serial. Due to Kate’s popularity with readers, I then published Dead of Winter, Death Rites, and the aforementioned Touring for Death, all novellas, before continuing the series with full-length books. It was early days in eBook publishing and serials hadn’t caught on as much as they have now, so I decided to combine the novellas into a box set (Volume 1) for release. Readers can still buy them separately, but I priced the box set lower than the sum of the novellas together, so most buy the set.

Learning how to write novellas was like boot camp for writing lean—to strip out all but the most essential information. This has two purposes: one, you don’t waste the reader’s time with unnecessary fluff; and two, it allows the reader to become more deeply involved in the story by using their imagination to fill in more details. I still apply these same principles for my longer works—my main rule is to NEVER bore the reader. Another one is to never underestimate reader intelligence. I think the recent surge in the popularity of novellas is partly a product of how easy it has become to access content. We’re reading on our phones while we’re standing in line or waiting at the doctor’s office, and shorter works are great for that. I don’t think novellas and short stories cannibalize longer novels, though. Data shows there is still a huge market for novel-length works.

I like the idea of bundling a series of novels. You have put together a several sets of your novels and novellas. What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?

I like to make things easy for readers—box sets make it easy for folks to find and read all of the books in the series, and allows for a seamless reading experience. Also, I usually price them lower than if they bought them all individually. The sets do tend to cannibalize sales of the separate books a bit but I’d rather give readers more choice. Also, I love a deal and figure most people do, too.

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?

To paraphrase the saying, “Free has been very, very good to me.” Back in the old days of eBooks (ca. 2010-2012), as an unknown author with a small budget I didn’t have a lot of options for readers to discover my work. Giving away free copies worked really well. I doubt I’d be able to write full time if I hadn’t been able to take advantage of all the avenues to give away books, like Goodreads, LibraryThing, or having sales and using advertising sites like EReaderNews Today, et al. Putting my books on sale and for free makes reading my work a low- or no-risk offer, and I’ve gained tons of new readers by doing so. In fact, right now I’m giving away the first novel in each series to anyone who signs up on my website for my reader list.

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?

All of the above. I find a reader list to be one of the most valuable ways to really connect with readers who enjoy my work. As I mentioned in the answer above, I offer free books to all new subscribers, and I’ll do giveaways and special, subscriber-only offers for the list throughout the year. I have a link to subscribe in the back of each book, and there’s a sign up form on my website. I send out a newsletter when I have important information to share, which tends to be once every couple of months (give or take). I don’t send more than that, even though I’ve been told I should do it at least monthly, because I assume people are as busy as I am and they haven’t got time to read half of the messages in their inbox. I want people to be glad to hear from me.

I liked your idea of having a virtual Audio Book Halloween party. What a great group of authors. I have been fortunate to interview most of them. The next one you do, give a heads up and I will promote it. Who put this promo together? What was the goal? I like the covers presentation.

Author/artist Uvi Poznansky put the party together with the goal of introducing new readers to our audio books. I’ll make sure to let you know next time—thanks for the offer. We had a great turnout, and there were some fabulous audio books on offer! It was fun and I got to meet so many new readers and authors. I’ll make sure to tell Uvi you enjoyed the cover presentation—she created all of the promotional material—basically all we had to do was show up and post excerpts.



Author's Book List
Cargo - A Leine Basso Thriller
Money—the universal merchant. Anyone can be bought, anyone can be sold.

Anyone.

Haunted by memories of an op gone bad, former assassin Leine Basso travels to Bangkok in search of a missing backpacker. With help from an old contact, she discovers the man responsible for the girl’s disappearance is connected to a violent Hong Kong triad and is the linchpin of an extensive trafficking network—both animal and human.

Making enemies isn’t new for Leine, but making one in the triad is—she soon finds herself a prisoner on board a cargo ship headed for sub-Saharan Africa. To ensure her survival and to continue her hunt for the missing girl, she must join forces with Derek, an ivory poacher who promises to help her.

For a price.

As her involvement intensifies, Leine delves deeper into a disturbing and treacherous criminal underworld where everything has a price.


Order the Book From:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
KOBO
iTunes


The Body Market - A Leine Basso Thriller
A retired assassin is called in when a celebration south of the border turns into a nightmare.

Everything's for sale...

Former assassin Leine Basso is hired by a wealthy Beverly Hills power couple to find their missing daughter, Elise, last seen partying with her boyfriend at a club in Tijuana. At first, police believe the two teenagers are the victims of a carjacking. But when Leine finds their missing vehicle with the boyfriend’s mutilated body inside, and the local cartel warns her away, she knows if Elise isn’t already dead, she will be soon, or worse.

In the lethal world of organized crime, there’s always a worse.

As Leine races to uncover the reason behind Elise Bennett’s disappearance, she must also battle the powerful interests fighting to keep her from the truth.


Order the Book From:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
KOBO
iTunes


A One Way Ticket to Dead - Kate Jones Thriller, Book 7
Digging up the past can be deadly...

After years of running from her ex—a vicious Mexican drug lord—and his subsequent death, Kate Jones is ready to bury the past and try to piece together a new normal. But first there’s a loose end to tie and it involves digging up old ghosts that are best left alone.

Unaware her actions have attracted the notice of a powerful enemy Kate is plunged into a deadly fight for survival, as both her life and the lives of the children of a man she once loved hang in the balance. And, with the possibility of an informant inside the DEA, she doesn’t know who she can trust.

From the emerald green shores of Seattle to the lush Yucatan jungle and unforgiving Sonoran desert, Kate Jones must once again face her past...and hope she survives.


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


Yucatan Dead - A Kate Jones Thriller
She was a dangerous man's lover…now she's his dangerous enemy.

For Kate Jones, being on the run from her former lover—the vicious leader of a Mexican drug cartel—was never going to be easy. But with a new identity, a new lover, and a new life in Arizona, she was beginning to believe she'd made it through the worst.

Then, in an act of twisted revenge, Kate's kidnapped and imprisoned by her deadly enemy, his intention to force her to pay back the money she stole before he kills her.

Fate intervenes and she finds herself working against the cartels deep in the Yucatan with a group of off-the-grid commandos. From peaceful northern Arizona to the steamy jungles of Mexico, Kate Jones must decide for herself if she'll continue to run...

...or turn and fight the evil that pursues her.


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


Bad Traffick - A Leine Basso Thriller
Dangerous obsessions take center stage when a former assassin and a homicide detective race against the clock to find a missing girl before she's sold to the highest bidder.

Identified as a person of interest in three cold case murders she didn't commit and required to stay in L.A., retired assassin Leine Basso accepts a temporary position as a security specialist for A-list actor Miles Fournier. Soon, a woman contacts Miles, claiming to be his long-lost sister. Her twelve-year-old daughter, Mara, has been abducted and she's desperate to get her back.

Leine learns from a contact that Mara escaped, but the traffickers are determined to track her down and deliver her to their powerful client. Running out of time, Leine must find Mara before they do, or she will be lost forever.


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


Cruising for Death - Kate Jones Thriller #5
Kate Jones and her lover, Cole are on a luxury cruise in the Caribbean when a passenger dies of an apparent heart attack and the ship is boarded by modern-day pirates. Along with two other passengers, Kate is kidnapped by a long-lost enemy who wants to settle an old score.

Kate's vacation turns into non-stop action when Anaya's gunmen board the cruise ship and she finds herself on a jet ski surrounded by sharks, kidnapped, held captive, staked down over a patch of fast growing bamboo, and drugged in a Voodoo ceremony. Add a 16th century Spanish shipwreck, hidden treasure, and an Obeah priestess and you've got trouble in paradise.

Will Kate escape certain death or end up as shark bait in the middle of the Caribbean?

It's adventure in paradise and promises all the fast-paced action readers have come to expect from the Kate Jones Thriller Series.


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


Serial Date - A Leine Basso Thriller
When a former assassin's daughter is abducted, she's drawn into the twisted game of a serial killer who may be a grisly remnant from her past.

What happens when a reality show turns deadly?

Determined to leave her old life behind, retired assassin Leine Basso accepts a job working security at one of television's most popular reality shows, Serial Date. When a contestant is found dead in the prop closet, it appears the killer is one of the 'bachelors' on the show- an ex-con billed as a serial killer- but the detective in charge of the case isn't so sure.

When Leine's estranged daughter is abducted by a man claiming to be the real killer, she's forced to rely on old skills to find her, and must come to terms with who she really is. She soon realizes the murderer may be a grisly remnant from her past and she'll need to use all of her cunning to stop him...

...and rescue her daughter.


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


Touring for Death - Kate Jones Thriller Book 4
Kate Jones is hiding out from her shady past driving jeep tours through the rugged high desert of northern Arizona, determined to stop looking over her shoulder and find peace from her mistake of a gun-toting, former life. Testifying against a Mexican drug lord and a dirty DEA agent didn't turn out to be a life enhancing choice and she's been on the move ever since.

Now, five years have passed with no sign of trouble and Kate's finally starting to believe she's safe. Her current goal is to make enough money so she can get lost in the tropics when the tourist trade dies off. Unfortunately, it's the tourists that are dying off and she may be next.

When Kate and Sheriff Cole Anderson join forces to catch the killer, sparks fly. Kate has to decide if it's safe to trust him with her secrets. But trusting him could mean death-

- for both of them


Order the Book From:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
KOBO
iTunes


Death Rites - Kate Jones Thriller Book 3
When Kate has to leave Alaska (and Sam) behind, she runs to the last place she remembers feeling safe: the North Shore of Oahu. Against her better judgment, she re-establishes old connections, and soon faces a new problem in Alek, a gifted carver and avid surfer.

Then a brutal murder and theft of a priceless artifact from a museum is discovered, and Kate's thrown into the middle of what appears to be a violent ancient sect come to life. Her only chance of survival is to rely on her wits...

…and the ancient gods of Hawaii.


Order the Book From:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes


Dead of Winter - Kate Jones Thriller #2
Kate Jones is hiding out in small town Alaska when she witnesses an execution-style murder. Convinced the killers are Salazar's men and desperate to stop them from finding her, she reports the crime to local law enforcement, hoping to put them off her trail so she can escape.

What she gets is Sam, an enigmatic officer with a mysterious past who's been assigned to watch over her as the hunt for the killers deepens.

Sam and Kate's obvious attraction to each other becomes a dangerous complication as Kate realizes the only way she can stay alive is to leave Alaska, trying to keep one step ahead of Salazar.


Order the Book From:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes


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

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for having me on your blog today, James! I enjoyed the interview :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good article on marketing, especially for new authors or self-pubbed. I recommend this to them.
    Chris

    ReplyDelete