Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Claude Bouchard - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Best-Selling Author Claude Bouchard. He writes Mystery & Thrillers novels in the Vigilante Series. Also he is a prolific twitter host.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Website: Claude Bouchard Books - Crime Thrillers and other Stuff...
Twitter: @ceebee308
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description: I was born in Montreal, Canada, where I still reside with my spouse, Joanne. I completed my studies in human resources, accounting and management at McGill University and worked in various management capacities in the fields of HR and finance for a handful of firms for what seemed like decades, because it was. I should also mention I love pizza, but who doesn't and, in my opinion, nothing rocks more than cooking on the grill.

My first stab at writing was in 1995, the result being my first novel, Vigilante. This was subsequently followed by The Consultant (1996) and Mind Games (1997), all of the same series. Professional obligations and other creative interests led me away from writing for a number of years but I found myself busy at the keyboard in 2009 with The Homeless Killer after having finally published my first three novels. I then followed up with 6 Hours 42 Minutes in 2011, also part of the Barry/McCall Series born from Vigilante. In July 2011, I released ASYLUM, my first stand-alone novel and Discreet Activities, my sixth Barry/McCall crime thriller was published in January 2012. In October 2012, I penned and released Something?s Cooking, a faux-erotica parody and cookbook under the pseudonyms RĂ©al E. Hotte and Dasha Sugah. I think I'm really starting to like this writing thing.

Besides writing, editing and promoting my work, I also spend some artistic energy with my five guitars, oil paints and watercolours. Other passions include cooking (big time with fine wine to go with it, of course), reading, traveling and working out just enough to stay fit. It should also be noted that following several years of practice, I now excel at being cat furniture for Krystalle and Midnight, or so they tell me.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called Femme Fatale, the seventh in the Vigilante series. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I’m well aware of that rumor, particularly because I’m the one who started it. I expect to release Femme Fatale in late February/early March. Those who have read the previous books in the series are familiar with the gorgeous Leslie Robb, a brilliant spitfire lesbian operative who joined us two books ago in 6 Hours 42 Minutes. Most of the latest story takes place in Paris where Leslie is off to vacation with her new girlfriend, Dominique. Less than 24 hours after her arrival however, Dominique and her sister disappear and that’s when the real fun begins.

You have a tremendous twitter following. How important have your social media relationships been to your writing success? Do you use the ‘list feature’ of twitter to separate followers from authors, friends and readers, etc.?

Though not quite the same question, I was asked something similar a few months ago regarding my monthly book sales as a direct result of social media and here was my response: The honest and correct answer is, “I don’t have a clue.” I do have people occasionally telling me they just bought one of my books but most don’t. Twitter and Facebook are communication mediums which have definitely served me well in getting my name out there as an author. I have no doubt this has resulted in some direct book sales but it has also led to network development with writers, bloggers and other creative types. Social media has opened doors to interviews, such as this one, book reviews, hell, I even found an agent along the way for a time, though that’s a subject best not discussed on a public forum. All of the above contribute to generating sales and all stem from social media. If you insist on a specific number of monthly sales directly attributable to Twitter and Facebook, I’ll go with the Doug Adams theory of 42. As for using the list feature on Twitter, I don’t. I’m generally on my ‘Mentions’ page in order to see tweets which people send me or mention me in so that I can respond as required.

A long with that, I read your blog How I Really Got a 1/4 Million Followers which is a MUST read for any author trying to build a social media audience. Another Spotlight author, M.R. Mathias @DahgMahn, recently published a book called The First Ten Steps. Both are written along the same lines proving valuable information to other authors.

Have you ever considered writing a book about social media and marketing on the online book industry?

So far, I haven’t had to think about it because people have done so for me as was the case with Susanne Lakin suggesting I write that blog. To date, it hasn’t been a priority with me because I don’t think I could come up with sufficient worthwhile material to make a book out of it. Case in point, the above-mentioned post was all of 1,229 words. The few “How To” books I’ve looked at ended up being 20% substance and 80% filler. Though I’m not familiar with M.R. Mathias’s The First Ten Steps, I certainly must commend him on its length, 38 pages according to Amazon, so little filler is likely.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

I thank you for the compliment because I did all my own covers. I purchased images for two, did the watercolour artwork for two others, and the remaining three are two photos I took and one taken by my wife. I don’t like things to be too busy so I keep my covers simple and stark. The font I’ve used for all but one cover of the Vigilante series is Mom’s Old Typewriter. I just love its old-fashioned, messy look and its repeated use has led to branding. When putting together a cover, I generally get a vision in my head then find, make or photograph what I need to make it happen. I often design the cover well before I’ve finished writing the book as it seems to serve as a stimulus of sorts. Being of a rather independent nature, the only input I seek is my wife’s.

You have several book trailers. (See links below.) Do you know how much impact they have had on your books success?

Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailers? Do you use the trailer in your character development? Are the pictures, music and background the way you visualize your characters and scenes?

I really couldn’t say how much impact the trailers have; every little bit helps but I don’t believe they make a huge difference. I made all my trailers once the books were written so, no, they weren’t integral in my character development. I was looking to create short teasers to give potential readers something more than just a book cover and synopsis to pique their interest. Pictures, music, etc are reflective of my vision of the stories, in a 30 second flash.

In my research, I see you have a charity promotion for the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. How rewarding has it been to give back to an organization like this one?

I must unfortunately reply that t-shirt sales have been dismally low to date so I can’t say I’ve really had the opportunity to experience that rewarding feeling. Should anyone prefer to make a donation directly rather than buy a thriller t-shirt, that’s possible as well. The link is on my page (accessible via your link above) and donations are made directly to the Foundation with no involvement on my part.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, 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?

About the only thing which is set with my schedule is that I start my day when I get up, usually between five and six and end it at five when my wife gets home from work. During those 11-12 hours, it’s blogging, marketing, networking and writing time though I tend to do more writing in the afternoon. I generally try to finish my workdays by mid-afternoon on weekends. Evenings are reserved for family and leisure which often includes jamming on guitars.

You started to write in the paper world and then you found yourself in the digital world. Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, your marketing and the relationship with your readers and fans?

What ebooks have brought is much wider channels of distribution and the possibility to offer books to readers at a more reasonable price. Where distribution of print books has geographic limitations and can have costly shipping fees, ebooks can be delivered immediately and cost effectively almost anywhere on the planet, a huge benefit for both readers and writers. Over 95% of my sales are ebooks so I kind of like them.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in other types of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

Though it hasn’t been the case with everyone who has tried book giveaways via the KDP Select program, I have been fortunate enough to have several successful promotions. Explained in simple terms, if one gives away enough books and obtain a high overall ranking in the Kindle Free store, Amazon subsequently promotes the book once it’s back on paid status. Participating in KDP Select promotions allowed me to go from a little over 1K books sold in 2011 to 20K sold in 2012. The only other giveaways I’ve done were the occasional gifting of a book, generally related to some blog event somewhere.

Does living in Canada present any marketing and distribution problems? Where is your biggest audience, US or Canada?

My books, whether in print or ebook, are ordered online from retail sites so my physical location has no impact whatsoever. The bulk of my sales are ebooks and, until recently, Canadian Kindle customers dealt with so it’s difficult for me to determine how big the Canadian slice was. However, it’s fairly safe to say that my biggest market is the U.S., simply based on population. The U.K. is not a market to be neglected with several hundred sales per month.

Do you publish your books in other languages like French?

My books are currently only available in English. Vigilante is being considered for foreign rights by a large European publisher but these things take time, if they happen at all.

You have published several of your books in “Duo” combinations. How has that worked out? Do you run into any obstacles from the retailers?

The only reason I created the Duo versions was to make my books available outside the U.S. in print which, at the time, wasn’t possible via CreateSpace. Combining two books into one was more cost efficient when dealing with Lightning Source so I went the Duo route. Since, CreateSpace has started distributing print books in the U.K. and Europe via regional Amazon entities so my Duo versions have become somewhat moot which has definitely been reflected in my sales, or lack thereof.

Author's Book List
Discreet Activities
As a result of information gathered via electronic surveillance by intelligence agencies in the U.S. and Canada, a budding terrorist organization, the Army for Islam or AFI, is suspected of planning an attack, its target possibly NYC, Burlington, Vermont or even Canada's famed Montreal.

When four foreign students from Pakistan with known ties to the AFI's Montreal cell arrive in the area on New Year's Eve, Discreet Activities' head, Jonathan Addley, along with Chris Barry and other DA consultants are more than willing to take on the additional workload.

After two of the DA team members die violently in an AFI related suicide-bombing, the job becomes getting revenge on those responsible for this Holy War…
Buy Page: Amazon
Managing Director of the Montreal Hospital for the Criminally Insane, Doctor Matthew Russell, has always put his professional responsibilities ahead of all else...

...That is, until he one day realizes he is losing his wife, Cassidy, and his two children, Stuart and Jennifer...

With only his family in mind, Russell takes an adventure-filled, impromptu vacation of indefinite duration, leaving all else behind and stopping at nothing to show how much he cares for his loved ones in an effort to win them back...

...But, will he succeed, or…
Book Trailer: ASYLUM
Buy Page: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
6 Hours 42 Minutes
Though most of them dabbled in a variety of criminal activities, they weren't experienced in this particular field and had never been involved in a job like this before...

However, with proper planning, careful organization and the inside information available to them, they were certain that this bank heist would be a piece of cake...

...Ten minutes, in and out, was all it would take and they'd be sharing 2.5 million dollars...

Nothing could go wrong as they had thought of everything...

How could they possibly know that a new member of the board was visiting the bank that morning?

...How could they know that the new board member was Chris Barry?
Book Trailer: 6 Hours 42 Minutes
Buy Page: Amazon
Mind Games
Montreal is plagued by a string of vicious sex slayings...

Captain Dave McCall and his Special Homicide Task Force are in a frustrated frenzy as they try to bring an end to the savage butchery...

Assisting officially is noted psychiatrist, Doctor Samuel Bowman and unofficially, computer genius and multi-millionaire, Chris Barry...

With each passing day, McCall works his way closer to the truth...

Unaware that they are heading deep into the deadly core of...

Mind Games…
Book Trailer: Mind Games
Buy Page: Amazon
The Consultant
The friendly takeover of CSS Inc. leaves computer executive Chris Barry unemployed, very wealthy and pleased with the situation.

But the hiatus is short-lived...

As a result of his involvement in the recent Vigilante investigation, Barry is approached by Jonathan Addley and invited to join Discreet Activities, a government agency of the clandestine variety,

Accepting, he promptly takes on his first assignment under the guise of an IT consultant, to investigate possible links between a local import business and the murder of its MIS director.

As he discovers the firm is being used to import narcotics, his cover is blown and things get personal, spurring him to show that murderers, drug lords, biker gangs and kidnappers are no match for...

...The Consultant
Book Trailer: The Consultant
Buy Page: Amazon
Montreal . . . the long, hot summer of 1996. . .

. . . and in the dark of night, moving like a shadowy wraith, a vigilante prowls the city's streets.

The targets of his bloody rampage: the worst of the worst.

Murderers. Gangbangers. Rapists.

Six months. Sixteen murders. The harried police are still without a clue . . .

. . . until the day they receive an email from the assassin himself.

Lieutenant Dave McCall, head of Montreal's Special Homicide Task Force, needs help to crack the secrets of the killer's taunting message. He calls on an expert--Chris Barry, who runs a security firm specializing in computer communications.

Together, McCall and Barry launch a grim quest to track down a man who preys on predators--an urgent quest to bring this remorseless killer to justice.

But whose justice will prevail: theirs--or the vigilante's?
Book Trailer: Vigilante
Buy Page: Amazon
The Homeless Killer
The homeless of Montreal are dying at the hand of 'Allan', a serial killer set on ridding the city of street people...

... As the killer taunts the police about the increasing body count, Captain Dave McCall calls on the services Jonathan Addley and Chris Barry, both operatives with the government's clandestine 'Discreet Activities' team...

All while fighting the city's proposed by-law banning the homeless from downtown parks, philanthropist and activist, William Enright, joins the law-enforcement crusade to capture the assassin...

... But will the combined efforts of the law and old money be sufficient to stop the Homeless Killer?
Book Trailer: The Homeless Killer
Buy Page: Amazon
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the HBS Author's Spotlight plus the blog: eBook Author’s Corner. Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.


  1. A great interview, I enjoyed it very much. Best regards, Dean

  2. Hi, Dean, It's hard to have a lousy interview when one has such great questions. :)