Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Rhoda D'Ettore - An Author Interview at the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Rhoda D'Ettore. She writes Historical Fiction, Humor And Comedy, and Paranormal novels.

Author Genre: Historical Fiction, Humor And Comedy, Paranormal

Website: RD
Author's Blog: Lacey Lane
Twitter: @RhodaDEttore
E-Mail: rhodadettore@gmail.com
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:
Rhoda D'Ettore was born in Woodbury, New Jersey, into a family of 5 siblings--which has provided her with plenty of comical material. She began working at the United States Postal Service at 25 years old, and over the past 15 years has accumulated many humorous stories about situations that the public never gets to know about. Her first ebook, "Goin' Postal: True Stories of a U.S. Postal Worker" was so popular that readers requested it in paperback. Recently, she published the humorous "Goin' Postal" in paperback along with another story entitled, "The Creek: Where Stories of the Past Come Alive". Combining these two into one book may seem strange, as one is humorous and the other is a heart wrenching historical fiction, however, doing so proves to the reader Rhoda D'Ettore's versatility.

Rhoda D'Ettore received her degree in Human & Social Services while working at USPS, has travelled extensively, and loves history. Over the years she has volunteered for several community service organizations, including fostering abused and neglected dogs for a Dalmatian rescue.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Zodiac Lives. 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 am currently working on Richard's Regrets: Book 2 of The McClusky Series. Tower of Tears was my first novel about Irish immigrants building a life in Philadelphia in the 1820's. I weaved murder, mystery, betrayal, and a touch of romance into a historical novel. Richard's Regrets continues the family saga by unearthing family secrets and suffering the consequences and choices of the past. Publication of this book was delayed due to a conflict with a publisher that acquired it. In the meantime, I published a historical suspense and a thriller. Now that the dispute is resolved, I hope to have Richard's Regrets published by October.

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 the best avenue for me. In the beginning I made the rookie mistake of putting up posts about my books in every group and not interacting with others. I did not want to waste time helping other authors, but I expected them to help me. What I forgot is that authors are readers, and readers are my audience. I began forging friendships and assisting other authors which helped me compile a ton of useful information about publishing and writing. Social friends and authors will often share posts and spread the word for each other, expanding the social media reach of both authors involved. At first I noticed the majority of my sales were from authors I met online, but as they reviewed and blogged about my books, my sales increased. I also put free chapters of all my books in the back of each book which cross sells my books.

As far as niche writing, I'm rather eclectic. I haven't quite decided in which niche I fall. I hate predictable books and love history, so most of my stories revolve around true historical events or people. At the same time, I love suspense and have a sarcastic personality. Therefore, some readers have told me they laughed even during parts of my book Newborn Nazi which follows a family who becomes twisted in the Nazi party, yet determined to save the lives of others. I expected women to like Tower of Tears, but men enjoyed the murder and mystery. Newborn Nazi has espionage which attracts men, yet the women readers enjoy the sentimentality of it. However, I have written humor and erotica as well. Crossing genres creates a greater fan base, but only if the author writes what he or she knows. There is no way I could ever write a romance because it is not a genre I read, therefore it would not appeal to true romance readers.

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?

Last year I did quite a few book signings, and I found them to be very successful. I started with my local area and spiraled out. I love doing these because it is an awesome way for readers to get to know me as a person. I have also been to events where other authors just sit there and do not engage the customers. That is a huge mistake. With my first book fair, I had one table cover, a stack of books and a stack of business cards. As people approached I asked them about what they read, not about what I write. Even if people do not like my genre, they are more likely to look over the books and consider buying them as a gift for someone else if I engage them. Huge expensive banners and novelties are not necessary if you smile and get people to like you as a person. My next event is the Collingswood Book Festival scheduled for October 1st, in Collingswood NJ. As far as contacting me, at the moment, the best means if through Facebook.

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 created the trailers with the free Windows Movie Maker. Because my novels usually focus on real events, it is much easier for me to find images that directly correlate to my work. For example, Zodiac Lives is a fictional account about a real serial killer in the San Francisco area. He was never caught which allowed me to build suspense and intrigue. Using the real newspaper clippings and real suspect sketch has made viewers respond with “Wow.” I also think music choice makes a huge difference in trailers. I have yet to determine the effectiveness of the trailers, but I do believe they are important. Even people who do not view them think having websites, trailers, and audiobooks give an author more credibility.

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?

Audiobooks have been a great way for me to reach a new audience. My first book included “Goin' Postal: True Stories of a US Postal Worker”. This book was well received in the postal community with most of the audiobook sales coming from letter carriers who would listen while they walked their routes. Last summer I left the USPS and became an over the road truck driver which exposed me to a wider audience. Truck drivers love audiobooks, and now I promote myself at every truck stop giving out business cards. I can see the cross over sales in both directions. If I give an Amazon freebie, the audiobook sales increase. If the books are promoted on an audiobook site, the ebook sales increase. Again, readers find authors with audiobooks to be more professional and in demand. And as I list on my site, it is possible to create an audiobook with no upfront costs if you are willing to split the profits with the narrator

You have written several short stories. 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?

I published the short stories for free on Smashwords as promotional devices hoping they would convert into sales for the books. Unfortunately, there are so many free books on Smashwords and Amazon, I never did see the sales convert. Some of the short story readers explained to me that they only have time to read a short story once in a while, therefore they never get to read a whole book. However, other short story readers told me that they enjoy my novels because my chapters are usually short, allowing them to continue along at a slower pace, but not feel overwhelmed by the time consumption of the book. It was at that time I decided to write “Short & Silly” tales of my real life family situations on my blog. I actually found that to be more effective than the free short stories. People share and retweet the blog posts, giving me more exposure. Plus, they get a good laugh and see me as a person, which drives the sales up. I've had readers email me asking “What happened to your sister after she got fired from her job?” and other such comments. Many told me they could relate as a parent or sibling, which again, made me more human to the readers rather than just a name on a page.

I like the idea of bundling a series of novels. You have put together a set of your novels called Murder in the Family BOX SET. What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?

When Zodiac Lives came out, I gave the Murder in the Family box set for free. Doing this gave me great exposure for the new book, and I was finally able to make sales in some markets I had not yet reached. For the first time I made sales in India, Japan, Spain, and Germany. One of my best cross selling methods is the publication of sample chapters in the back of my novels. There are some blogs that claim box sets are the way to go, and although mine has done well, my individual sales still remain much better. I find the free chapters to be a better way to drive sales.

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 do have a reader mailing list, but respect people enough not to fill their inbox constantly. I usually only send out a mailing when I am giving away free ebooks or have a new release. One of the ways I built my list was by giving away free books on my website if they signed up for my newsletter. I have also done Rafflecopter giveaways which provided me with email addresses.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and helping other writers gain exposure. 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?

Unfortunately time management has become a huge issue for me since September. I changed careers and am now traveling constantly, often not having internet or even phone reception. Because of this my site has not been updated as much, and my writing time has been limited. That will soon be rectified. My initial intention for the website and blog was to drive traffic to my books. Having a blog strictly for readers was ineffective for me. However, when I began posting information for authors, not only did my traffic increase, but they began sharing my links with other authors and on their blogs. Since then, I compiled lists of “how to” information for authors, and even began podcasting author interviews.

You have a section on your website called Authors Helping Authors which is a list of resources for authors to help them publish their works for little to NO COST. It has links to free software to write, publish, covert, and format books. What a great help to other authors. How do you populate and maintain the list? Have you used all the resources? For more information, click here.

Most of the resources I have listed I have indeed used myself, including Xterraweb Editing Services, owned by Kelly Hartigan. When I began writing, I found so many companies willing to scam authors of thousands of dollars for services authors could perform themselves for little to no cost. An awesome side effect of my sharing this information is that author reciprocate by promoting my work. I am constantly testing new ways to promote my books and help authors. One never knows what will drive book sales. For instance, #ZodiacTed became a trend on Twitter in which Donald Trump accused Ted Cruz of being the Zodiac Killer. Another author posted my Zodiac Lives links on that hashtag and BOOM, sales for that book shot up for three days. I was too busy at work to notice the hashtag, but because I helped that author in the past, they helped me when I was unable. Authors have formed a great and supportive community.

Author's Book List
Zodiac Lives
No One Is Safe Because ... ZODIAC LIVES

In the 1960's and 1970's, a serial killer terrorized San Francisco, California. He taunted police and the media by sending them cryptic messages and named himself the Zodiac Killer. The killings stopped and he was never identified.

In 2000, a toddler began having nightmares about a murder 3,000 miles away--and two decades prior. When her dreams led police to clues which connect Zodiac to an unsolved murder, he emerged from his dormancy. Now no one is safe.

Book Trailer: Zodiac Lives

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Newborn Nazi
Germany, 1934 -- SS officers entered the house of Hedwig Schultz and ripped her 14 year old brother, Edmund, from her arms. He has been selected for an elite division of the Hitler Youth that will train him for indoctrination into the feared SS.

Horrified, Hedwig enlists the help of her brother in America to thwart Nazi plans regarding the Final Solution of the Jewish people. It becomes a cat and mouse game as the family enters a world of Nazi spies, double agents and the Underground movement. All the while, Hedwig must prevent their brother, Edmund, from becoming suspicious. One report of treason to his Hitler Youth instructors would result in death… or worse.

Book Trailer: Newborn Nazi

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Tower of Tears
Betrayal. Despair. Murder. Mystery. Blackmail.

In 1820, a young woman and her son leave Ireland for a better life in America. She soon suffers heartache and tragedy, while residing with family whom she has never met. Unbeknownst to her, the family had already set her up with employment in a factory--a factory run by a lecherous man.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Goin' Postal & The Creek
Alligators, Human Heads, and Anthrax, Oh My!

Goin' Postal: True Stories of a US Postal Worker takes you through the crazy days of US Postal Workers as they tackle live animals, hazards, and weapons in the mail. Sometimes co-workers are more dangerous than what is lurking in the mail. This series of anecdotes is sure to make you laugh, but don't expect a literary masterpiece--it's for enjoyment, not a resolution before Congress.

The Creek: Where Stories of the Past Come Alive takes the reader on a magic carpet ride through time along the same creek outside of Philadelphia. Spanning 200 years, the residents face war, love, death, disease, Prohibition, civil unrest, and family bonds. In the last chapter the reader is enlightened how the stories of the past can affect the present.

Book Trailer: Goin' Postal & The Creek

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

10 Shades of Blush - The Softer Side of Kink
Explore your fantasies. You know you want to. Good girls have naughty thoughts too.10 Shades of Blush plunges you into the kinky fantasies of everyday women who want to take a walk on the wild side, but have yet to do it.

This book has 8 different women's fantasies, written as if the woman is talking to her man. The final two chapters discuss tips for great oral and anal sex.

Order the Book From:

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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