Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Mikey Campling. He is the author of The Darkeningstone Series and The Downlode Heroes. Mikey writes Science Fiction, Thriller and Horror novels.
Science Fiction, Thriller, Horror
Mikey Campling Author
Mikey Campling Author
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On Mikey's first day at school he discovered the wondrous world that is The Book Corner, and he has never really left it.
On writing, Mikey says: "I love the savage magic of wordcraft - it's edgy, exciting and much harder work than everyone thinks."
He lives in the UK on the edge of the wilds of Dartmoor, with his wife, two children, and a Labrador called Lottie. He has more books than are strictly necessary, but not quite enough to have his house reclassified as a library. Apparently.
You can find out more on Mikey's website: mikeycampling.com
You can also get exclusive free books, free audio stories and free artwork by joining his mailing list at: mikeycampling.com/freebooks
Now we bring you the anecdote:
Mikey has had lunch with the late Sir Terry Pratchett a couple of times. And you'll be pleased to know that Sir Terry was just as warm and humorous as his books.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
The next release will be the second book in my Downlode Heroes series, and it will be called The Trust. It is currently at the final edit stage, so it should be released within a month - I'll put it up for pre-order for a couple of weeks to give the fans a chance of grabbing it at a lower price. This book takes the protagonist from the first book, Cheatc0de, and takes him through the next step of his journey as he learns to come to grips with his ability to interact with the VR systems of the near future, where full neural integration is present in all realms of life, from kids playing games to military cyber warfare applications. Here's a tease from the book's prologue:
Corporal Sanjay lies very still. The warm moisture from the flattened undergrowth beneath her body seeps through her uniform and creeps across her body, prickling her skin. But she stopped noticing the itch over an hour ago. The ceaseless scratching of a wet uniform, the cloying stench of decay in the air, the constant prickle of sweat on her scalp; all these come with the territory. And this is the toughest virtual territory of them all: Jungle Combat.
This is nothing, she thinks. Nothing. She’ll be fine so long as she keeps her focus and follows the plan. But even as she takes a long, slow breath, she realizes she’s grinding her teeth together. And a nagging voice in the back of her mind reminds her that she’s got to nail this mission if she’s going to make it onto the Beta Program. Not only must she complete the mission, but she must come through uninjured, with every difficulty setting maxed out to the limit, and every safety protocol turned off. The Beta Program is only for the elite, and she wants to take her place among them. She wants it so bad, she can taste it. I’m a Beta to the core, she tells herself. They’d be fools to turn me down.
In theory, all she has to do is make it through the next couple of hours, and then find one of the three hidden exfiltration zones where she’ll be able to log off safely. “Evade and survive,” she whispers. “Evade and survive.” But she shakes her head to push those comforting words from her mind. Not good enough, she thinks. Not by a long stretch. This mission is a test of initiative; to be certain of a place on the program, she’s got to show what she can do. She’s got to find the find the patrol that’s been sent to capture her, and she’s got to kill them. She’s got to kill them all. And nothing will stop her.
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 some value in providing extra value to my readers, e.g. I have a Facebook group for my street team, and I try to deliver snippets from my daily life, photos and so on, but I don' think that it brings in many new readers. I don't see social media as effective promotion for direct sales. I prefer to share things that I genuinely think are interesting or humorous, or both. I do place a lot of value in teh genuine connections that I've been lucky enough to form through social media, like Facebook groups. The indie author community is very supportive and we often try and help each other out and give each other support. Making friends with other authors can also offer up some great opportunities for collaboration.
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?
One day I would like to develop some personal appearances, although I live in remote rural location and that doesn't make things easy. Many of my readers are in the USA, so the best way to keep in touch with me is to visit my website at mikeycampling.com and you can see all my other links from there, e.g. I occasionally post videos on Youtube where I read my stories. The very best way to keep in touch is via my newsletter (The Awkward Squad) since I spend a lot of time writing proper newsletters that are actually worth reading - recent topics include the real life locations that inspired J.K.Rowling, and an item on the house where Orwell wrote 1984 - did you know you can rent that house out for a holiday? You just need a boat and 4x4 to get to it.
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?
Most of my covers are made by me. I do have a background in designing websites and I enjoy the process. I also like having that degree of control and the freedom to change the covers easily if I change the tag line. I'll ask my street team for their opinions when I'm trying out new covers, and I also ask the members of The Collective SciFi, which is a group of authors that formed via connections on Facebook
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've always loved the short story format, so they are done more for the love of the craft than for sales reasons. There is one novella, Breaking Ground, which I did write to give a flavour of my Darkeningstone books, and that novella is free on all platforms. It's hard to say whether it brings new readers in, but it gives some extra value to existing readers as I wrote it to be a prequel - it can be read after the first full-length novel to discover some background depth to the characters.
I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of a SciFi Short Story collection called The God-Machine. What was the impact on your other sales? What was the main objective of bundling your works with other SciFi authors? How did you put something like that together?
The God Machine isn't a collection but a collaborative short story. The three other writers wrote a chunk each, and then I rewrote it and expanded it into a unified piece. We intended to develop this into a series, but the challenge of getting several people to collaborate have defeated us so far. It's an intriguing short story and free on all platforms. Perhaps if we sense a greater demand for sequels we'll be able to pull enough people together to write a longer piece as a follow on.
I like the idea of bundling a series of novels. You have put together a set of your novels called The Darkeningstone Series. What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?
The Darkeningstone novels are a traditional trilogy and I always conceived the story as taking three books. The books are unusual in that each book has at least three parallel stories set in different periods of history spanning 5,000 years. The trilogy is available in a box set, but I wouldn't describe it as a bundle - there are over-arching stories, characters and themes. I enjoy writing books that bust genres, but from a marketing standpoint it makes the books a harder sell. The books don't fit neatly into a genre or a type. On the upside, there's something for everybody!
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?
I have given away thousands of books, and it's part of the process of finding new readers. My mantra is that I'd rather have a reader than a customer. I hope that people will go on to buy my other books, but I try to deliver value than pester my readers about sales and special offers. I call my newsletter the Awkward Squad because I like to do things my own way, and I think that my readers probably share that attitude. I give away books via permafree titles on all stores, via instafreebie giveaways, and via BookFunnel when people sign up for The Awkward Squad. the last one is a bit different because I give away an exclusive Downlode story that isn't available for sale anywhere. I also have a free Story of the Month Club that delivers free stories every month for over a year, and people seem to like that. You could call it building meaningful engagement, but to me it's more about making friends.
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?
If you mean an email list, then yes, and I've covered quite a lot of that above. There are links to sign up on my website, my social media profiles, and in the front and back of my books. The single most effective thing in finding new readers has been instafreebie and group giveaways organised with other authors via Facebook. You have to be careful with this, because you don't want to pester existing fans with giveaways from other authors that they may not like. I tend to add a brief note toward the end of a more interesting newsletter and mention it there.
What is the objective for your newsletter? Do you try to build a list of readers? Do you see a carryover to the sales of your novels?
Having collected a list of subscribers, the important thing is to make sure you serve your readers, so I go out of my way to make it a worthwhile experience for my subscribers. I'm sure it helps sales eventually, and it helps with reviews. A lot of my readers were kind enough to download a book from Amazon when I'd made it free for a few days, even though I'd already given them the book for free. I really appreciated that support, and it made my day that people would go out of their way to show me support. I don't think they would have done that if all they ever heard from me was "Buy my book".
Author's Book List
- The Darkeningstone Series Book 3
The compelling story of supernatural suspense and mystery across time continues.
Don't miss the thrilling 3rd part in this gripping trilogy.
In the year 3550 BC, a woman runs for her life. She must find shelter before nightfall. But why is she so afraid?
In 1919, the new owners of Scaderstone Rock prepare to open a quarry on the site. But what will they discover? Will the secrets of Scaderstone be unveiled?
And in the future, what lies in store for Jake? He needs answers. But where can he turn? There is perhaps one person who can help him.
Scaderstone Pit looks forward into the future and peers even further back into the myths and mysteries of the distant past. But there's one thing you can be sure of: Somewhere, Sometime, The Stone is Whispering.
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- The Darkeningstone Series Book 2
No Ordinary Time Travel Adventure
The supernatural tale of mystery and suspense across time continues
In Outcast, the parallel stories of the Darkeningstone Trilogy continue to unfold.
In Trespass, we saw Jake caught up in a chain of events beyond his control. Now, lost and alone in a nightmare world, he must learn to fight back, learn to survive. He’s determined–whatever it takes, he’s going home.
3650 BC When Hafoc’s only family, his brother, is taken by the savage tribe known as the Wandrian, he’s determined to rescue him. But Hafoc is too young to face the Wandrian alone. Will his tribe fight alongside him? And can they rescue Brond before it’s too late?
2014 Tom lives a life of quiet, orderly routine. He needs it that way. But when he sees a mysterious stranger, his life begins to unravel. Who is watching him? And why do they seem hell bent on ruining his life? To find the answers, Tom must confront his inner demons. And finally, he must face his past.
2018 Cally is working hard on her studies at university, so when she’s instructed to drop her research, she’s devastated. Will she give in or will she rebel? The decision is taken out of her hands when she finds herself caught up in a conspiracy. Why are the authorities trying to stop her research? And who can she trust?
There are many new characters to meet in this adventure, along with some of your favourites from Trespass. Read on, and remember: Somewhere, Sometime, The Stone is Listening.
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Barnes and Noble
- The Darkeningstone Series Book 1
Not just an ordinary Time Travel Adventure.
Three parallel stories spanning five thousand years, united by one deadly secret: Somewhere, sometime, the stone is waiting.
Trespass combines gritty, edgy modern-day action with a thrilling adventure across time. Discovered over 5,000 years ago, the Darkeningstone affects everyone who finds it. These three parallel stories are set in the modern day, 1920, and 3500 BC. But what will happen when these different worlds collide? How will the tales unfold? And when it finds you, what will you see when you look into The Darkeningstone?
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Barnes and Noble
- The Downlode Heroes Book 1
Hank is a hero - he just doesn't know it yet.
Hank Settler is a gamehead - a hopeless high school loner counting the seconds until he can log in and play. But in the virtual battlefields of the near future, the world needs a new type of hero.
Most people play the game: total immersion VR with full neural sync. But Hank lives it.
In Unlimited Combat, he's one of the best. He makes his own luck. And he plays solo. Until now. When a player offers Hank fame and fortune, it's too good to pass up. To succeed, Hank must fight harder than ever before, pushing past the game's safety protocols. His life is on the line, and when he's captured, he knows he's in too deep. Can he escape? And who can he trust?
Join Hank in the game—if you dare.
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Barnes and Noble
- A Tale of Mystery and Suspense Across Time
In the modern day, Jake hopes to find buried treasure. But what will he unearth?
During WW II, Vincent takes off in a single-engine plane with three other men. One of them carries a deadly secret.
5,000 years in the past, Burlic hunts in the forest - alone. But what dangers lurk among the trees?
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Barnes and Noble
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