Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Greg Spry. He is the author of the Beyond Saga series. Greg writes Science Fiction and Fantasy novels.
Science Fiction, Ebooks, Fantasy
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Greg Spry has immersed himself in science fiction since he was old enough to obliterate Lego star ships with Lincoln Log photon torpedoes. He writes fast-paced yet thought-provoking science fiction with thoughtful, tortured characters caught up in ethical dilemmas where the fate of the universe hangs in the balance. He's a forward-thinking person who always has an eye on the future, although he yearns for the good old days when there were nine planets in the Solar System (props to you, Pluto).
Since graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001, Greg has worked in the IT and computer programming industry. During that time, he's learned web design, search engine marketing, entrepreneurship, and other skills which help aid him in developing his author platform. He's also participated in multiple writing and critique groups, honing his craft while helping others to do the same. An M.S. Space Systems degree from the Florida Institute of Technology helps him craft sci-fi that's as realistic as possible.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Congratulations on your book: Beyond Yesterday. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Thanks! I’m presently working on the fourth and final book in the Beyond Saga, Beyond Existence. After traveling back to the past in Beyond Yesterday (book 3), Maya must somehow foil an occupation by aliens that are much more advanced than humans in book 4.
I’m also beginning to write the first episode of Bears in Space, a series of sci-fi comedy short stories. And I’m just starting to think about the Destalis book series that will follow the Beyond Saga.
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?
Honestly, I was diligent about social media for the first couple years after I published my first book, Beyond Cloud Nine. Tweeting and posting to various sites took up a great deal of time while generating minimal sales. Then I was lucky enough to have a great promotional service find me because they liked the author platform that I had built. The quarterly promos that they do generate many more sales than my best social media efforts. So now I’m freed up to put more time into writing. The number one thing I still have to do on my own is solicit reviews.
That said, I always enjoy interacting with individual readers. Their praise for my work is what sustains me.
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 run my cover creation process like a project manager in a software company. I draft specs with detailed instructions and stock images for the designers that convey my vision for each cover. Then it’s an iterative process of them creating drafts, my providing feedback on the drafts, them making tweaks, and repeat until we get to the final design. I start by having the mechanical and character designers create the ship/fighter plane and character(s), respectively. Then the overall cover designer integrates those items into the final cover. To date, I haven’t solicited or applied any design ideas from readers in my covers, but it’s an interesting idea.
Besides the Independent Author Network (IAN), what other writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
I'm a member of the Fantasy & Science Fiction Network (FSNet), Rave Reviews Book Club (RRBC), and several other groups. I have to admit, somewhat guiltily, that I’m not very active in those groups. Per my answer to #2, the sales my efforts generate pale in comparison to those produced by my book promo company, so it’s not as worth my time to be active.
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 strategy used by my promo company is to get thousands of people to download my book for free. Then when the book switches back to costing money, people buy it in larger numbers due to the visibility it gained. I also give books away in Goodreads giveaways in hopes that people will review them; that generates a higher percentage return on reviews (maybe one out of every five to ten winners actually read and review) compared to Amazon purchases (< 1% of buyers leave reviews). The Goodreads giveaways are starting to get pricy seeing as how it costs $8+ per physical book shipped to a winner, so I’ve been scheduling each giveaway to run for longer. Finally, readers who sign up for my mailing list at https://bit.ly/bc9mail
are generously rewarded (hint, hint).
All in all, in the current marketplace, an author has to leverage “free” in order to succeed. Giving books away for free increases your visibility and generates sales. You’d be amazed by how many people choose to buy a book even though they know they could get it for free for various reasons (convenience, supporting the author, etc.).
What is your primary genre? What has been your best marketing approach to this group?
My primary genre is science fiction and primary sub-genres are space opera and hard science fiction. Why? I believe science fiction always has the potential to be better than any contemporary story because science fiction can be the contemporary story plus much more (advanced tech, settings beyond Earth, etc.). But notice how I used the word “potential.” Well done science fiction can be better than anything. Poorly executed sci-fi can be ridiculous, so there’s a greater range.
See my above answers for marketing approach. I think I’ve covered that in enough detail.
How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?
I brainstorm, outline, write, and repeat. I create an initial rough draft with plenty of holes and then add the meat in the second draft that goes to beta readers and the editor. Before I start writing, I typically know how I want to start the book, how I want to end the book, the key characters, the main plot points, and a handful of scenes that will occur throughout the book. Put another way, at the beginning I know A and Z and maybe F, L, R, and U. Then when I start writing, I have to fill in B, C, D, and so forth, which often requires going back to brainstorm and outline at certain points. I use MS OneNote to brainstorm & outline (the tabs, pages, and sub-pages are nice for organization) and MS Word to write. Nothing fancy.
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?
Yes, one of the most important things any author can do is maintain a mailing list of readers. I use MailChimp to maintain my list. The members are the champions of your writing. They are fans who are most likely to leave all-important reviews. Readers who sign up for my mailing list at https://bit.ly/bc9mail get to be the first to read my books for free before they’re published.
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?
Yeah, I suppose my blog looks decent, but I should really post more often than I do. And yes, when I read and enjoy a book, I make a point to try to generate exposure for the author by making it visible on my sites and social media.
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?
Getting reviews is one area where I still struggle. I first try to get my beta readers and mailing list members to leave honest reviews for each new release. Now that I’ve published three books, I’ve generated a short list of bloggers and reviewers who have enjoyed my past books. I also do Goodreads giveaways (see above). I’ve even hired services to expose my book to potential reviewers (but I don’t pay readers for reviews, which would be against Amazon policy). But all these efforts still only generate a very finite number of reviews. I have yet to find a good way to generate the type of review numbers I’d like to see (in the hundreds for each book). Trad pubs have staff members devoted to soliciting reviews and rolodexes full of potential reviewers. We independents don’t have their resources.
Author's Book List
- Beyond Saga Book 3
After years of pushing the boundaries of interstellar spaceflight…
Commander Maya Davis is ecstatic when she is promoted to captain. But her enthusiasm wanes when she discovers that her new assignment is a one-way mission.
Trapped in the distant past, Maya must choose between a peace that could condemn humanity to perpetual slavery, or a fight for freedom that involves deception, rebellion, and mass murder. Whatever she decides, her actions may very well erase an entire civilization from history.
The best minds of her time say it's impossible to return to the present.
After taking command of the space-time vessel Yesterday, Maya must travel back in time to discover how and why a piece of 23rd century technology appeared 200,000 years earlier. It's an exciting opportunity--except for the one-way aspect.
Trapped in the distant past...
Maya must choose between a peace that could condemn humanity to perpetual slavery, or a fight for freedom that involves deception, rebellion, and mass murder. Whatever she decides, her actions may very well erase an entire civilization from history.
Order the Book From:
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Beyond the Horizon
- Beyond Saga Book 2
Humanity’s First Interstellar Exploration
Ensign Maya Davis has had her sights set on the captaincy of a starship since she launched her first toy rocket into Earth orbit as a child. After four years of study at the new Interstellar Expeditionary Force Academy, Maya achieves her lifelong dream of exploring the stars. She earns a commission aboard humanity's first deep space exploration vessel, New Horizons.
A Desperate Situation
Not long after New Horizons departs the solar system, sabotage cripples the ship killing a third of the crew and stranding the expedition light years from home under the siege of hostile forces. Only junior officers are left to command the ship. Without knowing who she can trust, Maya must risk her life to get the crew home and prevent the genocide of the very exospecies New Horizons set out to contact.
The Conspiracy Back Home
Forty-two-year-old civilian flight instructor Brooke Davis, Maya's aunt and former UN Aerospace Defense pilot, receives a disturbing visit from a covert operative. The visit prompts Brooke to head to the Martian south polar ocean, where she learns how a secret society known as The Vril manipulated the current political and social climate into being. She also uncovers the society's nefarious agenda regarding New Horizons' voyage. With time running out, Brooke races to save her niece light years away.
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Beyond Cloud Nine
- Beyond Saga Book 1
Brooke was flying high until abruptly halted by a mysterious crime
Ace fighter pilot, Brooke Davis, is speeding through Jupiter’s orbit, dreaming of becoming the first human to fly faster than light. Instead she is drawn into a criminal conspiracy— involving terrorists, aliens, and the highest level of government, including her boss at the U.N. — that threatens not only her shot at history, but the future of the solar system.
Will the entire solar system break down in this futuristic thriller?
The solar system is destabilizing. Separatists attempt to assassinate the U.N. Secretary-General. Territories are seceding and acquiring antimatter weaponry. Just as all-out war seems inevitable, alleged extraterrestrials attack colonies throughout the solar system, forcing humankind to work together to combat the invaders. If the U.N. loses its ability to keep the peace, human civilization may stumble back into the dark ages.
Brooke’s excruciating dilemma could determine the future of the human race
Brooke is ordered to keep quiet about the crime she witnessed by the U.N. Security Council President. As the invaders draw closer to Earth, Brooke must decide whether to reveal what she knows. Keeping quiet might allow mankind to triumph and usher in a golden age, albeit one based on lies and deception. But revealing the truth could send the human race down a path toward self-annihilation.
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