Friday, November 3, 2017

Rob Blackwell - An Author Interview at the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Rob Blackwell. He is the author of The Sanheim Chronicles and The Soren Chase Series. Rob writes in several genres including Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, and Science Fiction & Fantasy.

Author: Rob Blackwell

Author Genre: Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Website: Rob Blackwell
Author's Blog: Rob Blackwell
Twitter: @abwashbureau
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:
Rob is an award-winning journalist with 15 years' experience and the author of The Sanheim Chronicles and The Soren Chase novels, two series that combine urban fantasy, mystery and suspense.

His first novel, A Soul to Steal, was featured on USA Today and praised by book bloggers and readers alike for its great plot and "fantastic ending." Many of his other books have been Kindle bestsellers in the Dark Fantasy category.

As a journalist, Rob has won several Virginia Press Association awards and was co-winner of the Jesse H. Neal Award for Business Journalism. He has appeared several times on other media outlets, including NPR, BBC, CNBC and C-Span.

Rob lives in Virginia with his wife and two children.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: The Woman in the White Mask. 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’m working on two new novels. One is 99% done, and I’m considering how it should be published (whether traditional or indie). The other is 60% done. Both are separate from anything I’ve done before. The first is actually a mix of urban fantasy and the western genre. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the Old West. I’m excited about getting it out there, hopefully soon.

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How did you build your following in your niche? How much has it changed your book launch process?

Twitter is terrible for selling books, in my humble opinion. I barely even try. I’m fortunate enough to be a journalist in my day job, and I think most of my followers stem from that. To be sure, there are some book fans there as well, but it’s just not a great venue for selling novels. I’ve seen authors tweet out “BUY MY BOOK” six times a day, and it doesn’t work. My thought is to engage people on other issues and if they’re curious, maybe they will buy a work of mine. Or maybe not. But I don’t try and force it.

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?

To be honest, I don’t do many book signings. They make me nervous! Public speaking doesn’t usually bother me, but something about signing books is different

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 hire it out. I usually suggest several ideas at the beginning to give a sense of what I’m looking for and then they come back to me with proposals. “The Woman in the White Mask” is very close to what I originally suggested and Travis Pennington ( did a terrific job making it a reality. That said, oftentimes Travis or Deranged Doctor Design, who I’ve also worked with, will come back with something different than what I suggested. Sometimes that results in a great cover that’s nothing like I planned but is excellent in its own right.

You have converted ‘A Soul To Steal’ into an audio book. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience for you?

I’ve come to realize audio listeners are a very different readership group. I’m not sure there’s much overlap. Having an audio book helps find you additional fans, but those who read often don’t care about the audio version, and vice versa.

I love getting audiobooks out there, though. My narrator, Brian Gill, is a professionally-trained actor (and professor of acting) and does a terrific job bringing the novels to life. It’s a joy to see what he does with them.

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? Do you feel short reads are a product of our email and smart phone age?

I wrote the novellas as a way to introduce readers to Soren Chase without buying a full book. I offer Closed at Dark for free on Amazon, while Carnival of Stone can be obtained for free in return for giving me your email address.

The idea behind that was to give people a sample of the kind of books I write. I also enjoyed the challenge of offering a shorter adventure. Overall, the strategy works. Closed gets several downloads a day, and from what I can tell, many of them show up to either join my email list or buy the full-length novels. To me, it’s a fair trade. They get to see if I write the kind of novels they enjoy without committing to a purchase. If they like it, they buy more.

I like the idea of bundling a series of novels. You have put together two sets of your novels: The Sanheim Chronicles and The Soren Chase Series. What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?

I created a boxset for Sanheim Chronicles because it seemed like a good way to offer a value-sized way to buy all three books at once. I set the price low so that it’s cheaper than buying two of the three books, much less the entire set individually. I’ve found people respond well to it. Indeed, they might be willing to take a chance on it because $6 for three novels is a deal any way you slice it.

I don’t actually have a boxset for The Soren Chase novels because two of them are published by Amazon’s Kindle Press. So I don’t own the rights to them. So unfortunately, there won’t be a boxset.

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’ve given away more than 100,000 copies of my first novel, A Soul to Steal. Several years ago, it was a great way to reach new readers and I picked up a lot of fans, and real sales, after each free promotion. But that doesn’t really work anymore. For the most part, people download the book and let it sit on their Kindle unread. It’s a fairly common issue for authors now.

I do still offer the free novella, because there is a steady stream of readers who DO discover the books this way. But I’m done giving full-length novels away for free. There’s just too much work that goes into them.

What is your primary genre? What has been your best marketing approach to this group?

Urban fantasy. My books are more of a mix of mystery, thriller and urban fantasy, but I primarily market to urban fantasy readers. Mostly I use Instafreebie and targeted Facebook ads to find potential readers.

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, I have a readership list. One of the biggest ways I get new signups is through Instafreebie, which offers free books in return for email addresses.

I use the list primarily to tell people about when I have a sale or a new novel out. I have a separate list of hard-core fans who will sometimes receive beta copies of unfinished novels. They help me catch any remaining errors in return for getting the book for free.

This July you published ‘Cursed - Night of the Dead’ in German. What was that experience like? How is your audience abroad? When will this book be released in English?

So it actually IS already in English, it’s just called A Soul to Steal! The line “a soul to steal” comes from Charlie Daniels “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and I don’t think that song made it over to Germany. So when the novel was published there, they picked their own title. As for how it’s doing, it’s garnered some positive reviews. It was actually featured at the Frankfurt book festival, which is neat. I’m excited to have my novel in a language I can’t read!

Author's Book List
The Woman in the White Mask - The Soren Chase Series, Book 3
Eight years ago, Soren Chase was attacked by a vicious supernatural creature that murdered his friends and stole his memory. Now a mysterious woman in a white mask is forcing him to relive that night--as both the victim and the killer.

Her arrival couldn't come at a worse time. Someone is raising demons and setting them loose, and only Soren can stop them. But as the supernatural assaults grow more frequent, his visions of the past start to take an alarming toll. It's a grim race to see which might kill him first.

Order the Book From:

The Pretender - The Soren Chase Series, Book 2
A young girl slaughters her entire family in a quiet suburban neighborhood. The police say she snapped, but Soren Chase knows the truth. Having dedicated his life to hunting down the creature that murdered his best friend and left him framed for the crime eight years ago, Soren expertly recognizes the villain's hallmarks in the young girl's rampage: a pretender--a supernatural creature that can steal the identity and memories of its targets--has struck again.

Recently shattered by the realization that the monster he hunted for so long is far closer than he ever imagined, Soren needs to find a way to put the pieces back together if he wants to protect his remaining loved ones. To face this new threat, Soren must learn to cope with the past, forge an unlikely alliance, and battle an ancient foe with a sinister agenda that could kill millions.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

The Forest of Forever - The Soren Chase Series, Book 1
Soren Chase's life was shattered eight years ago after an encounter with a supernatural being left three friends dead and him branded as a murderer. Since then, he's become a paranormal investigator, facing off against a host of deadly creatures. But his investigation into the haunted Reapoke woods may be his most dangerous case yet.

Something evil is lurking in the forest. Some say it's the ghost of a preacher who vanished two centuries ago; others claim the woods are the site of sinister experiments by a shadowy organization. Hired to find a missing girl, Soren is determined to learn the truth. But what he discovers is far darker than he imagines--and it may force him to confront his own tragic past.

From the author of the bestselling Sanheim Chronicles, The Forest of Forever is the start of a new series that mixes urban fantasy, mystery, and suspense into a novel that you can't put down. Because nothing is what it seems in The Forest of Forever, and once you enter, you may never leave . . .

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

The Last Blog - A Short Story - The Soren Chase Series
Sean Gordon went inside Madison Manor on Nov. 14, 2010, and was never seen again.

The only clues to his fate were a series of blog posts he left behind, allegedly recounting his final hours inside one of the most haunted houses in the world. But what started as an investigation into the mysterious occurrences inside Madison Manor also revealed shocking truths about Sean’s own past.

Order the Book From:

Carnival of Stone - A Novella - The Soren Chase Series
When a small town is under siege from a horrific monster, only one man can help...

Supernatural investigator Soren Chase is having a rough day. He narrowly avoids being murdered by a pair of trigger-happy leprechauns (yes, leprechauns) before taking a case to investigate the disappearance of a graduate student in the mountains of Virginia.

But when Soren arrives in the normally sleepy hamlet of Hilltop, he finds the situation is far worse than he imagined. He's up against a creature unlike anything he's encountered before and it will take all his skills--and working with an unlikely ally--to survive.

Order the Book From:

Closed at Dark - A Novella - The Soren Chase Series
When a mysterious creature targets a young boy, only paranormal investigator Soren Chase can stop it. But can Soren save the boy in time?

For Soren, the case is personal. The boy's father was John Townes, Soren's best friend who died in a supernatural attack several years earlier. Soren will do anything to save John's son, but he must act fast. Because the kidnapper has a mission of his own, and he's willing to destroy anyone who gets in his way…

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble
KOBO Store

Give the Devil His Due - The Sanheim Chronicles Book 3
The stunning conclusion to The Sanheim Chronicles trilogy…
A Soul to Steal revealed an ancient Celtic myth in which a man and woman could gain tremendous power around Halloween, provided they faced and conquered their fears. Quinn O'Brion and Kate Tassel, two small-town journalists, became the Prince of Sanheim and used that power to defeat a serial killer.

In Band of Demons, Quinn and Kate battled a new threat, two legendary creatures who had already destroyed everyone in their path. But Kate and Quinn's victory came at a heavy price.

In Give the Devil His Due, Kate's only hope to save Quinn is to trust the man who took him from her. Don't miss the epic finale to the trilogy that has readers raving about its great characters, plot twists and deft combination of urban fantasy, mystery and suspense.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Band of Demons - The Sanheim Chronicles Book 2
The past is always at your heels...

Quinn O'Brion and Kate Tassel, two community journalists, tapped into a dark power last Halloween in order to stop a vicious serial killer. But they are still grappling with their new abilities--and wondering if what they unleashed may soon consume them.

While they confront what they have become, a new threat is hunting them--a force that could destroy their whole town.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

A Soul To Steal - The Sanheim Chronicles Book 1
A serial killer on the loose, two reporters in his sights, and a legendary ghost haunting the town...

Lord Halloween, a vicious murderer who targeted Loudoun County, Va., twelve years ago, has returned. Quinn and Kate, two community journalists, race to uncover his identity before a promised bloodbath on Halloween. But to stop him, they may unleash a far darker threat -- and pay an unimaginable price.

Order the Book From:
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.

No comments:

Post a Comment