Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bernard Schaffer - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Bernard Schaffer. He is the author of the Grendel Unit, Way of the Warror and Superbia series.

Author Genre: Contemporary, Crime, Mystery & Thrillers

Website: Bernard Schaffer
Author's Blog: Bernard Schaffer
Twitter: @BernardSchaffer
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:
Bernard Schaffer is the author of multiple books that span a wide variety of genres, including literature, police procedurals, and science fiction westerns. He has worked on several projects with famous authors such as Harlan Ellison, Alan Dean Foster, and Bill Thompson (the editor who discovered Stephen King and John Grisham).

Recently, he collaborated with J.A. Konrath on two books that feature Konrath's best-selling Lt. Jack Daniels characters and Schaffer's own Superbia series.

A lifelong resident of the Philadelphia area, he is the proud father of two children. In addition to writing and publishing, he is a decorated police veteran detective and expert witness in narcotics distribution. In the late eighties, Schaffer was a child actor who appeared on stage and screen, including starring in the Nickelodeon series, "Don't Just Sit There."

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Grendel Unit 4. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I learned the hard way not to talk about timelines or promise projects before they're finished. I tend to write in sprints on various projects, stirring several into a frenzy, until one finally breaks loose and runs off with the show. Right now, I kid you not, I have eleven works in developmental stages, and three more that are still just simmering concepts.

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?

I've abandoned the idea that social media ties in with publishing success. In the old days, there was a mad push to build as large an audience as possible on Twitter and Facebook and Linked In and wherever the hell else. It's all a big waste of time. I decided a few years ago that I was better off writing. I could not care less about having a large audience or following on any of those sites, because it's all just voices shouting at one another in the stadium seats.

The actual game is on the shelves of the digital book stores. That's where I do my work. The only benefit, and I really do mean only, is that your readers can interact with you via the accessibility of social media. I don't care if you have 5 followers, or 5 million. I've made friends with readers from all over the world. What I see a lot of other authors/publishers doing is trying to recruit large numbers of followers, and sell sell sell to them. That's obnoxious and amateurish.

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'll do an interview if I'm asked, normally. I don't seek out publicity. I don't want to go to old age homes or libraries and lecture about book publishing. I keep my head down and write. That's the only way it has ever been done, and the only way it ever will be. Each of us only has so many years at this, and so many books we can physically produce, before fate intervenes.

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?

I spend a great deal of time trying to find the right artwork for each title. It's a slow, time consuming process. I've recently begun doing all my own covers, in both digital and print, and it's a serious job to do the formatting, titling, and sizing. It saves money and affords me much more control. I don't do the artwork though. I either hire people to do original art, or try and find that one exactly right piece that's already in existence. Artists, all artists, are crazy people. I have never met an artist yet who was not. They probably say the same thing about writers, but who cares, this is our forum. They are kooky.

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?

Short stories are definitely they're own creature. It's a different method of pacing and narrative structure. Short stories are damned troublesome, to be honest. If they're too short, nobody will buy them because really, who spends .99 on a fifteen page story in this day and age? If they're too long, around the 12,000 word mark, people will complain that it isn't a novel, and you ripped them off for selling them such a short book for .99 cents. And finally, if you bundle a bunch of short stories together and call it a collection, it will not sell. Because short story collections have a bad habit of not selling. Ever.

A good use of short stories can be in keeping an established series going, in between larger projects. Or to flesh out smaller characters in your canon that didn't get enough shine, if you want to. I do not recommend them. Too many writers chomp on short stories like candy, or fast food, when they should be taking the time to measure out their ingredients and chop up the veggies to make a gourmet feast. But I understand. Writing novels is much harder work.

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

Bundling is good because it automatically gives you more digital shelf space, and a fairly decent-sized chunk, at that. It gives you more pricing options as well. If you're selling three novels at $2.99 a shot, and bundle them for $4.99, you now have four titles to play with that you can give away for free, or discount, or whatever you prefer.

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 love giving books away for free. I think it's a wonderful way to introduce new readers to your work, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to connect with so many of them. It's been an evolving process since Amazon first introduced the program, and I'm still learning from it. Getting eyes on your work is never a bad thing. In the early days, I did other kinds of giveaways involving print editions, but that's just silly. It's too expensive, and you only reach a handful of people.

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 have a mailing list people can sign up for, but I don't have to maintain it. It's automated. I use MailChimp, and when I remember to do so, I fire off an announcement to the folks there. I tend to use my Facebook author page a bit, because I enjoy interacting with people there. We have a good time, especially when I get drunk and invite them to ask me any questions they want. Ladies, ladies, ladies…sigh. It's all in good fun.

For me, and this is really the most important thing I think I can say to anyone interested in the mechanics of reader lists and twitter followers, is that the numbers mean nothing. It's all about engaging people on an individual level. I respond to every email I get, and normally wind up shooting the breeze with people on Twitter, Facebook, text messaging, or wherever else they can find me. I get to know them, and they get to know me. That's all that really matters. I'm a down to earth dude. Give me a shout.

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?

Strictly audience driven. If somebody tells me they like a book on Twitter, I might gently (GENTLY) ask them to consider putting up a review on Amazon, but that's it. I do not solicit reviews, pay for reviews, or give a damn about professional reviews. I love intelligent, informed reviews, and yes I read all of them. Even the bad ones. I've learned from them, and in some cases, even thanked the people for pointing out formatting errors and offered them free stuff. I now include a Quality Control section in the back of my book so that if you find an error and notify me, I will send you something cool.

That all being said, I am running a contest this summer (see my blog for details) that rewards people for posting a review. I have a few books I'd like to see a few more comments on, and if people take the time to do so, they have a chance to win some truly unique things.

With your background in law enforcement and television, have you thought about writing a screenplay or a TV series? I can see a child detective series in your future.

Absolutely no thoughts on screenplays or TV series. Script writing is its own unique animal, and has nothing to do with the creation of novels. If anyone ever wants to make a movie out of something I wrote, I'd be more than happy to help, but I look down on authors who write books only in hopes that someone will come along and make a movie out of it. Writing is my craft, and I work damn hard at it. I sacrificed a lot to get to this point, and I'll sacrifice more to get where I'm going, but when I'm finished, there's going to be a lot of books left in my wake.

Author's Book List
Grendel Unit 4 - Any Means Necessary
Grendel Unit, the Unification government's most powerful weapon against terrorism, are declared enemies of the state.

Stripped of their ranks and freedom, the Grendels will stop at nothing to free the galaxy from the rule of a madman.

One of the team receives a mystic vision of the future, and a dire warning of the consequences that come with it.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Grendel Unit 3 - Fight the Power
Grendel Unit is Known for Taking on Crazy Assignments
...But this is Suicide

Captain Victor Cojo and the loyal Mantipor soldier, Monster, have been sentenced to life imprisonment in the galaxy's most notorious high-security penitentiary. It's a hell hole filled with terrorists, murderers, and Sapienists, and now they've got Vic and Monster at their mercy.

The remaining Grendels have been ordered by the Unification government to forget their former teammates and be good little soldiers, but these black ops soldiers leave no man, or Mantipor, behind. Now, they'll sacrifice everything to rescue their former comrades. It's time for Grendel Unit to FIGHT THE POWER.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Grendel Unit 2 - Ignition Sequence
Things Have Never Looked Darker for Grendel Unit
...That's When They're Truly Dangerous

They are the universe's most dangerous operatives. A covert group of military specialists who take on the hardest targets and never miss. Now, their team has been dismantled by the dangerous political maneuverings of their commanding officer, General Milner.

But even as Captain Cojo and the loveable Mantipor called "Monster" are hauled off, the remaining Grendels are planning their next move. Grendels Never Say Die.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Grendel Unit 1 - Bad Day at Khor-wa
Grendel Unit: The Galaxy's Elite Black Ops Team
...And Now They're Really Pissed Off

They're lovable. They're hysterical. But when a fanatical terrorist blows up a school and kills a bunch of innocents, they'll stop at nothing to cross his name off their to-do list.

Meet Grendel Unit, the galaxy's most elite black ops group.
The first episode of the best-selling science fiction serial.

Join Captain Victor Cojo and the crew, including the massive, shaggy, Mantipor beast called "Monster," as they defend Unification and wipe out the maniacs trying to destroy it.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Superbia 3 - A Det. Frank O'Ryan Story
Everything Comes to an End

In the third installment of what has been called "The Most Dangerous Police Book Ever Written," the epic journey of Detective Frank O'Ryan comes to a heart-stopping conclusion. Frank has made a career out of fighting the corruption that plagues police work, but now the rules have changed and it will be all he can do to survive his last few days on The Job.

He's in a race against time to beat his enemies to the finish line of his career, as long as he can avoid winding up dead or in prison.

Over one hundred thousand readers around the world have declared Bernard Schaffer the successor to Joseph Wambaugh, Ed McBain, and Michael Connelly, but the Superbia series stands alone. It is the funniest, rawest, most penetrating look at what life is really like for the cops who put their souls on the line just to get the job done.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Superbia 2 - A Det. Frank O'Ryan Story
Frank is Back...and He Wants Revenge

At the end of Superbia 1, Detective Frank O'Ryan was faced with the loss of his partner and the promotion of the cruel, power-hungry, Chief Erinnyes. Now, he's driven with the desire to take revenge and somehow avoid the same soul-crushing destruction that ruined Vic Cojo.

Superbia 2 continues the scariest, funniest, most subversive, police series ever written.

Just pray to God some of it isn't true.

Order the Book From: Amazon

Superbia - A Det. Frank O'Ryan Story
It starts with a gunshot. Police Officer Frank O'Ryan gets hit in the leg, setting off a series of events that lands him working with the most disliked man in the department. Detective Vic Ajax isn't like other cops. He doesn't like them and they don't like him.

Frank enters a world where being real police means laying so much of your soul on the line, you might not make it out. But as Vic explains, if it keeps a little girl from having to testify about what some monster did to her, it's worth it.

Together, they'll resort to any means necessary to take down the scumbags, even if it means employing the interrogative services of a man in a six-foot bunny costume called The Truth Rabbit.

Superbia is the first installment of Bernard Schaffer's best-selling series about what real police officers see and experience every day. Both hysterically funny, and mind-bendingly dark. Whatever you might have read or seen before about the lives of cops, it doesn't come close to Superbia.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Whitechapel - The Final Stand of Sherlock Holmes
A madman loose on the foggy streets of London, driven by dark urges and uncontrollable violence.
A hero, lost in the grip of addiction.

This is the story of the greatest, most desperate criminal investigation in history. A tale so terrifying and shocking that it has never before appeared in print.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Way of the Warrior 2 - The Philosophy of Law Enforcement
Stopping Mass Shootings, Training Techniques, Informant Handling!

It is a trying time for Law Enforcement professionals, faced with mass violence, and higher degrees of public scrutiny, than ever before. The Way of the Warrior series is designed to celebrate, inspire, and teach the men and women around the world holding the True Blue Line.

Take the Next Step in the Path of the Warrior!

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Way of the Warrior 1 - The Philosophy of Law Enforcement
In his first non-fiction essay, best-selling author Bernard J. Schaffer takes a break from writing about historical serial killers and space aliens to examine the culture of law enforcement. Part-biography, it is an inspirational discussion about the men and women who protect and serve the public, at any cost.

Behind every real cop's badge and gun lies the heart of a warrior. Unleash your inner hero. That is the Way of the Warrior.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS Author's Spotlight
eBook Author’s Corner
Top Shelf Author Advice
Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

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