Tuesday, February 11, 2014

B. B. Griffith - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author B. B. Griffith. He is the author of the The Tournament Mystery Trilogy.

Author Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Mystery

Website: Digital HQ of authors B. B. Griffith & Becca Higgins
Author's Blog: Griffith Publishing Denver
Twitter: @GriffithPublish
E-Mail: info@griffithpublishing.com
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
B. B. Griffith was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in English and American Literature, he wandered the world a bit before returning to Denver to set up shop with his wife.

He is the author of The Tournament Trilogy:
1.) Blue Fall
2.) Grey Winter
3.) Black Spring

He also enjoys writing about writing and publishing on his blog.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Black Spring. 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! Black Spring marks the end of The Tournament Trilogy, so I've taken a brief break from that universe to start something completely new. I've just finished the rough draft of the first book in a new thriller/suspense series set in the American Southwest on a Navajo Indian reservation where people are disappearing and things aren't quite what they seem. I plan to have this book released by mid-year. There is also a fourth Tournament book in the works, set about ten years after the events in Black Spring. I'm going to be wildly optimistic and say I think that will be released at the end of the year.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that?

Social media is important for authors, but it's not as important as I think many authors would have you believe. Twitter in particular I think serves to make well known authors better known, but isn't very effective for new authors, and follower numbers can be deceiving. I have a good following, but it's mostly other authors and publishers that interest me and vice versa, not necessarily fans. What is integral, however, is a newsletter, and including a link at the end of all of your books where readers can submit their email for updates from you. Connecting with fans like this is perhaps the single most important social networking an author can do. Readers like to follow stories, sure, but they also like to follow authors. Only email you fanbase occasionally, though. No spam. Ever. I only email my fans when I'm releasing a new book, which is about two or three times a year. I know other authors that contact their fans much more frequently, with good results, but I'd rather not test that upper threshold.

Do you do 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 speaking engagements in the past, but only a couple, and only locally. I have no set schedule or plans for speaking engagements any time soon, although I do post to my blog at griffithpublishing.com/blog fairly regularly. That's sort of my digital stage.

You have great covers. 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! The cover development process has been long and painstaking for me, precisely because I think I was too hands on to start with. I've swapped out and redone several of my covers because it's been a learning process. They were always professionally done, but in the beginning I just did what I wanted to see, not what was expected of my genre. Take a look at the top sellers in any genre and you'll see that all of them have a similar theme. Like it or not readers expect certain things. Pro cover artists know this. The key is to let the professionals do their thing while still guiding them towards your basic vision. I do get my beta readers involved in my cover art once I have a couple of options back from my designers.

I like the idea of bundling a series of novels. You have put together a set of your novels called The Tournament Trilogy. What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?

It's hard to sell books, but I think it's harder to sell stand-alone books. Readers love series. They want to follow characters for a while and really get invested in them. Plus, having a series of books allows you more marketing options. You can discount early books in the series or set up tiered pricing, and you can make the first book permanently free if you want. The key is to get your book in the hands of readers, and series allow that to happen in a lot of different ways.

What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I use the Writer's Cafe at Kindleboards as a sounding board for almost all of my marketing decisions. There are some real pros there, people who have sold hundreds of thousands of books, and they all are really accessible and friendly. Plus, the threads there are integral for anyone thinking of starting out in indie publishing. They helped me avoid a lot of mistakes.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, publishing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

Moderation is everything for me. I know many authors that pride themselves on writing a book a month, or 5000 words per day, or set aside huge chunks of time every for marketing and for writing, but that's just not the way I approach writing and publishing. There is a school of thought in self-publishing that says if you ever want to succeed you have to treat it like a job, and output is everything. I'm not so sure about that. I never want to think of writing as a job. I try to write for an hour a day and spend another hour throughout the day marketing in one form or another. If I don’t get to it, that’s fine.

Of course, the downside to taking your time is that sales build much more slowly. It's no secret that the more you publish, the more you'll be read. It took me seven years to write three books, and the first year I sold maybe 100 books in total. It’s taken me years to build up consistent sales. I'm getting faster, but I'm never going to be one of those people that can crank out many books a year. The key is being okay with that.

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?

Giving away books is the best way to build an audience. I've given away tens of thousands of copies of Blue Fall, the first in my series. Initially it was through Amazon Select, but now I have set Blue Fall permanently free across all of the major platforms and I think it's been well worth it. And here's where the power of a series comes in again: If you set your first book free, more people are apt to try you out, and more people will buy your second and third books.

Giveaways have always worked out for me, but I do notice that when I've given away twenty or thirty thousand books at a time through promotions I tend to get read by people who might not normally read my genre of work. This can be good, because it expands my readership, but it can also result in some bad reviews because there are people that will snap up every free book at the top of the charts, even if they don't like my genre. The readers you want to reach are the people that look in your categories on the major marketplaces with your genre in mind, and they find you. These are the readers that you'll connect with best and that will follow your entire series.

How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?

After I finish my first draft I revise and edit it once myself, then I send it to my editor. I'll then revise again with the editor's changes in mind and send this second draft out to my beta readers. Finally, I'll incorporate their changes and send the final product to my digitizers and formatters. Meanwhile I'll have been working with a cover artist. A few weeks before I'm set to launch I'll send out the cover to my email subscribers and tell them when it can be purchased. I'll try to time a big promo for the week of the launch, too. In the past I’ve promoted the first in my series to coincide with the release of the second and third book, either through Bookbub or ENT. Then you just cross your fingers and hit publish. There's no hard and fast rule for a successful launch, and I don't think things need to line up perfectly. Just remember to keep in mind that you’ve accomplished something major. You’ve published. Raise a glass.

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 know that some authors think professional reviews are a waste of time but I think that they helped my book Blue Fall to get picked up by the big promo sites like Pixel of Ink and ENT when I queried them early on and they featured me even though I didn't have many reviews at the time. I think that they can really help lend legitimacy to the first book in a series, and they certainly help fill out a product page, but they aren't really necessary for subsequent books because the reader will either like your series or not based off the first book. I also did a lot of basic footwork to garner reviews starting out. I did Goodreads giveaways and focused on querying book bloggers for months at a time. I put a personalized request for reviews at the end of every book I published, which helped. Also, when you set a book permanently free, you get a fairly steady line of reviews provided you can keep it visible on the charts. Regardless, reviews are often slow coming. That's just the way it is. Patience is the key.

Author's Book List
Black Spring - The Tournament, #3
*Blue Fall, the first book in the Tournament Trilogy, is free on Kindle for a limited time!*

The Black House gathers power and the remaining teams are divided. The Tournament will fall into the hands of Eddie Mazaryk and Team Black unless Ellie Willmore and Team Blue can stop them. But to stop Black, Ellie needs to pull off a miracle: unite sworn enemies to beat the best of the best.

The stakes have never been higher. The winners own the Tournament. The losers forfeit everything...even their lives.

Ties of friendship, love, and hate are put to the test under a hail of gunfire in Black Spring, the spectacular conclusion to The Tournament Trilogy.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - iTunes - KOBO
Grey Winter - The Tournament, #2
*Blue Fall, the first book in the Tournament Trilogy, is free on Kindle for a limited time!*

Two players have been murdered. Two killers are on the loose. Nothing is what it seems.

The world is awake now. The Tournament has captivated everyone, but no winner can be declared until the mystery of what happened to Team Blue is solved. Meanwhile, three new players are chosen to rebuild the fallen team, but they are young and inexperienced, and instantly targeted. Their survival is dependent upon their existence remaining a secret. But in the Tournament, secrets are hard to keep.

New alliances are formed, old enemies are confronted, and the truth is finally revealed in Grey Winter.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords - iTunes - KOBO
Blue Fall - The Tournament
*A top 100 thriller bestseller for Kindle! (March, 2013)*

If you knew about The Tournament, you'd know why they want it kept secret. People don't like to hear that state-sponsored war games are going on under their noses, in their cities, and on their streets. The world isn't ready to know that the most powerful among us can shape the future by wagering on these fights. People wouldn't understand if they learned that teams in The Tournament have the freedom to do almost anything, anywhere, to win.

The Tournament was supposed to be the perfect game, and the perfect secret. Frank Youngsmith, a hapless insurance agent, was supposed to be a nobody, none the wiser. But sometimes things just don't work out like they're supposed to. When Frank stumbles into the dark world of The Tournament when the game is on, it's up to him to expose the secret...or die trying.

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