Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author AD Starrling. She is the award-winning author of the action thriller series Seventeen.
Thriller, Suspense, Fiction
A. D. Starrling
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AD Starrling’s multi-award winning thriller series Seventeen combines action, adventure, science, and a dose of the supernatural to make each book an explosive, adrenaline-fueled read.
When she’s not busy writing and reading, AD can be found looking up exciting international locations and cool science and technology to put in her books, eating Thai food, being tortured by her back therapists, drooling over gadgets, working part-time as a doctor on a Neonatal Intensive Care unit somewhere in the UK, reading manga, and watching action and sci-fi flicks. She has occasionally been accused of committing art with a charcoal stick and some drawing paper.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Congratulations on your book: Mission: Black. 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 waiting to get Origins (A Seventeen Series Thriller Book 5) back from my editor, Sara Litchfield of Right Ink on the Wall. I am super excited about this penultimate novel in the Seventeen series and I hope it will grab my fans and take them on an epic thrill ride that will leave them breathless. The provisional release date is Tuesday 21 February 2017 and here’s the rough tagline:
The Gifts bestowed by the One not of this world, to the Man who has lived longer than most.
The Empire ruled by a King who would swallow the world in his madness.
The Warrior who chooses to rise against her own kind in order to defeat him.
Discover the extraordinary beginnings of the Immortals and the unforgettable story of the Princess who would become a Legend.
Next up is Mission: Armor, the second novella in the Division Eight series, followed by Destiny (A Seventeen Series Thriller Book 6).
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?
In this day and age, I believe the three important tools an author needs to establish an internet presence is a website, a mailing list, and one or more social media profiles. Social media is a fantastic place to connect with other authors, influencers, and fans but it needs to be handled in a strategic and fun way so as not to become an unproductive, frustrating time sink.
Facebook remains my favourite place to date for talking with my readers and author friends. I still have to make a conscious effort with Twitter, where most of the influencers hang out. I built my following on all my platforms slowly and organically over 4 years, and I have to admit more people come to me than I go to them! Instagram is my next challenge. I think it’s a great platform for reaching new fans.
As for your last question, yes, as more connections bring more networking opportunities from the business point of view and increased exposure to potential readers and fans.
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 have done a range of those in the past, the most notable being invited to speak on a panel chaired by Draft2Digital at Book Expo America 2015, which was an amazing experience. I would love to do more speaking engagements in the future, both in person, and on podcasts. I will be updating my website and LinkedIn profile shortly to advertise this.
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! I just redid all my covers this summer and relaunched the Seventeen series with an edgier look. This was a result of seeing what Indie pros like JF Penn and Mark Dawson had done with their own rebranding and realizing that my first covers were not really saying “action thrillers”.
I have had the same designer since 2012, Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics. I normally give him a brief of what the story is about, what I would like, give him links to covers that reflect the style I want to achieve, and let him get on with it. Glendon “gets” me and always manages to surprise me. No cover is ever what I expect it to be, yet is always better than my original brief.
I can get very hands on in the final stages and we finalize the more challenging projects by Skype, with me viewing Glendon’s screen as he works on the last touches. That never gets boring!
As for input, I often survey author friends in some of the private Facebook groups I belong to. They make a great sounding board for when I have doubts. I have not surveyed my readers thus far with regards to cover options but have done Pickfu surveys.
A couple of your novels and several of your short stories 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?
Funny you should say that. I did some ad stacking around the relaunch of the Seventeen series this autumn, with the biggest ad being a Bookbub feature on October 10 for Hunted (A Seventeen Series Thriller Book 1), my permafree first in series. My sales and the book’s rankings on Amazon, iTunes, and Nook were truly amazing following that ad, with Hunted reaching number 4 on the Amazon US Kindle Store and number 1 on the Amazon UK Kindle Store and iBooks. The longest tail remains on Amazon, with the book still featuring well in the top 10-50 of multiple categories.
The biggest shock however was the impact on audiobook sales. These doubled fairly quickly and have now nearly tripled from before October 10. I have a lot of fans who are into audiobooks and I established an official Audiobook Club for them a few months ago, in addition to the advance reviewer/launch team which I have had for nearly two years.
I am definitely seeing more fans finding me through audiobooks and I am amazed at how well they are selling. I am hoping to have the entire series out on ACX and iTunes by 2018.
The biggest selling audiobook remains Hunted and I always notice a jump in sales following a promotion of the ebook.
You have written several short stories and 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?
Hunted started life as a short story and I have found the format quite easy to handle. I wrote the Seventeen series short stories for three reasons.
One, they were fun to do and a great way to tell the background stories that are alluded to in the novels but could never make their way in those.
Second, they make my product page look busy, which tells readers I publish often and consistently, and also offers them more items to consume.
Third, they make a great an incentive to join my mailing list. I used to offer Void, then First Death, before the current boxset of three shorts and the four confidential data files on the characters of each novel.
I would say marketing short stories is rather difficult and I have seen more sales the other way around, i.e. people buying my novels will go on to buy my short stories.
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?
Making Hunted permafree was one of the best business decisions I ever made and I waited until my third novel Empire was published before I did this. It is definitely the most consistent way new readers discover me.
I regular host giveaways for my fans on my website and also participate in many others on bloggers’ sites, with author friends who ask me to contribute a book to their giveaways, and on specific marketing platforms. I did a recent giveaway with Booksweeps, which was terrific, and I am about to participate in my first Instafreebie cross promotion giveaway, which I am very excited about.
There are three reasons to do giveaways. One, to thank readers and fans. Two, to increase exposure to potential new readers through the share functions of your giveaways. No one does the latter better than Kingsumo. Three, to increase your mailing list subscription.
I have yet to run in any obstacles with participating in giveaways!
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?
As mentioned above, I have a mailing list, although I was late setting this up. Within this list is my VIP group, which consists of Team Immortal (my super fans and advance reviewers) and my Audiobook Club. I have been following Nick Stephenson since 2013, when he was still doing his Noorisha blog, and I downloaded his Reader Magnets book when he first launched it in 2014. I am also a student of Tim Grahl’s first Outthink Online Bestseller course, which was also aimed at how to set up a mailing list and what to do with it.
I started placing links to my mailing list at the front and back of all my books and short stories in 2014 and upgraded these to a full-blown graphic this year, when I reformatted my books with their new covers. I also created a landing page on my website for my mailing list in 2014 and am constantly reviewing this to make it more effective, as well as a pop-up box in my footer and an invitation to join the list at the end of every blog post and on every page.
I think making your mailing list invite visible is key. There is no point being shy about it but you also need to balance invitation with irritation. That’s why the only pop-up I have is in my footer. I get the most subscriptions through my permafree, followed by giveaways and cross promotions.
Living in England creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation?
My biggest audience is hands down the US and Canada. I am building a following in the UK and I now have fans pretty much all over the world. I think physical marketing is hard unless you have a lot of speaking engagements and hit influential platforms regularly. Online marketing is definitely the place where most authors concentrate their business strategies and efforts on.
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 did virtual book tours for my first three novels and also tried a PR firm for the third one. I definitely garnered my first reviews through the virtual tours and made national press in the UK and Ireland with the PR firm.
My other deliberate strategy for getting reviews was to enter my books in competitions. Bestselling author used to be a special term but stopped being so several years ago. I decided until the day came when I could genuinely call myself bestselling, and for me that means making the currently still well-regarded NYT and USA Today bestseller lists, being nominated for or winning awards was another way to stand out as a relatively new author.
From surveying my readers, I know that, in addition to a great cover, calling my series award-winning made a good first impression and convinced them to give my writing a try.
But my mailing list, my permafree, constantly reviewing my brand to see how I can improve it, connecting with readers on a personal level, having a 6-12 month business strategy that includes regular marketing activities to expose my books to even more new readers, are what have garnered me the most reviews in the last two years.
I also have a note at the back of every book, novella, and short story, right after “The End”, where I kindly request a review. Although a lot of writers think readers will automatically review their books and they should not ask for one, that is not the case and I know this for a fact from surveying my mailing list. That short note has definitely seen my reviews grow.
Author's Book List
- A Division Eight Thriller Book 1
A broken agent. A once in a lifetime chance. A new mission that threatens to destroy her again.
Rachel Carter has it all. A brilliant career in the DEA, a man she loves at her side, a future filled with possibilities. Until the night she loses everything.
Considered damaged beyond salvation by the people who once trusted her, Rachel enlists into the secretive Division Eight and becomes part of a new breed of special operatives working in the shadows.
When a critical mission goes wrong in North Africa, Rachel finds herself face to face with ghosts from her past. Embroiled in a deadly cat-and-mouse game against a brutal adversary determined to win at any cost, she must face her darkest fears in order to defeat the enemy who once tore her life apart.
Mission: Black is the first novella in the new action thriller series Division Eight, from award-winning author AD Starrling. If you like action-packed, sexy adventures with strong-willed heroes and heroines, then you'll love this riveting new series.
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The Seventeen Series Ultimate Short Story Collection
- Seventeen Series Short Stories #1-6
All six short stories in the explosive, action-packed, award-winning thriller series Seventeen in one ultimate collection!
FIRST DEATH #1
Discover where it all started...
DANCING BLADES #2
Join Lucas Soul on his quest to become a warrior.
THE MEETING #3
Discover the origins of the incredible friendship that defines Hunted (A Seventeen Series Thriller Book 1)...
THE WARRIOR MONK #4
Experience Warrior (A Seventeen Series Thriller Book 2) from the eyes of one of the most loved characters in Seventeen...
THE HUNGER #5
Discover the origin of the love story behind Empire (A Seventeen Series Thriller Book 3).
THE BANK JOB #6
Join two of the protagonists of Legacy (A Seventeen Series Thriller Book 4) on their very first adventure.
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- A Seventeen Series Thriller Book 4
The Hunter who should have been king. The Elemental who fears love. The Seer who is yet to embrace her powers.
Three immortals whose fates are entwined with that of the oldest and most formidable enemy the world has ever faced.
1599. While hunting a deadly adversary who has eluded him for two hundred years, Asgard Godard falls into an icy tomb that leaves him frozen in time.
1969. After more than a century on the run, Ethan Storm finds himself at the mercy of the man who ripped his family apart and sent him into exile.
2013. Following a hundred years of solitary existence, Olivia Ash wakes from a nightmare to find the home where she has lived her entire life under attack by a deadly foe.
Linked by an incredible destiny and with time very much against them, Asgard, Ethan, and Olivia must keep ahead of their common enemy and the rogue branch of the US army at his command. But when an unlikely ally crosses their path, they come into possession of a set of clues that help them unearth their opponents' devastating plans.
With the future of the entire world at risk, the three immortals must form new alliances and draw on all their unique skills and abilities to defeat the man who has inflicted so much loss and misery upon their lives.
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- A Seventeen Series Thriller Book 3
An immortal healer. An ancient empire reborn. A chain of cataclysmic events that threatens to change the fate of the world.
Retired Bastian covert operative Conrad Greene has but one wish left. To live out the rest of eternity away from immortals and humans alike. But when a plane crashes into the Amazonian swamp where he has been hiding for half a century, the jaded immortal healer who was once the greatest asset of the Bastian First Council stumbles across a conspiracy involving the newly elected President of the United States.
Caught in the middle of the intrigue is Bastian intelligence operative Laura Hartwell, the one immortal on Earth most likely to put a bullet through Conrad's skull.
Coerced into returning to the life he had left behind, Conrad reluctantly agrees to assist the American government with their investigation. But as disturbing events start to unfold around the globe, Conrad and his team of elite human and immortal agents find themselves facing an elusive organization hellbent on shifting the power balance of the world.
As chaos descends on Western societies and an old empire rises once more, can Conrad stop the deadly countdown that threatens to alter the course of human history and regain the trust of the woman he loves?
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- A Seventeen Series Thriller Book 2
The perfect Immortal warrior. A set of stolen, priceless artifacts. An ancient sect determined to bring about the downfall of human civilization.
When a team of scientists unearth scriptures older than the Dead Sea Scrolls in a cave in Egypt, a mystery lost to the tides of time is uncovered. Heading the expedition is Dimitri Reznak, the Head of the Crovir Immortal Culture & History Section. But the monumental discovery is spoiled by evidence of looting and half the priceless artifacts Reznak has sought for centuries have disappeared.
Alexa King is a covert agent for the Crovir First Council. Cold, deadly, unrivaled on the battlefield, she is the perfect warrior. When her godfather Dimitri approaches her for a mission that could elucidate the enigma of her lost past, Alexa is drawn into the dangerous and shadowy world of secret religious societies along with Zachary Jackson, a gifted human and Harvard archaeology professor assigned to help her.
In their hunt for the missing artifacts, Alexa and Zachary cross path with a sinister sect whose origins are as mystifying as the relics they are searching for, and unveil a centuries-old plan that aims to shatter the very structure of civilized society.
From North Africa to the doors of Vatican City and beyond, Alexa and Zachary must outwit the enemy and uncover the astonishing truth behind the missing artifacts and Alexa's own unearthly origins before all is lost.
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- A Seventeen Series Thriller Book 1
'My name is Lucas Soul. Today, I died again. This is my fifteenth death in the last four hundred and fifty years.'
Soul is an outcast of the Immortal Societies. Born of a Bastian mother and a Crovir father, a half-breed who is abhorred by the two races, he spends the first three hundred and fifty years of his existence being chased and killed by the Hunters.
One fall night in Boston, the Hunt starts again, resulting in Soul's fifteenth death and triggering a chain of events that sends him on the run with Reid Hasley, a former US Marine and his human business partner. From Paris to Prague, their search for answers leads them deep into the Immortal societies and brings them face to face with someone from Soul's past. Shocking secrets are revealed and fresh allies come to the fore as they uncover a new and terrifying threat to both immortals and humans.
To defeat his enemies, Soul must embrace his tortured fate and become the Hunter. But time is running out. Can he protect the ones he loves and prevent another Immortal War before his seventeenth and final death?
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