Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ellie Campbell - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Ellie Campbell (Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell). They collaborate to write Contemporary Women's Fiction.

Author Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction, Chick Lit, Romance

Website: Ellie Campbell
Author's Blog: Chicklit Sisters
Twitter: @ecampbellbooks
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Ellie Campbell is a pseudonym for sisters, Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell who collaborate across the mighty Atlantic from their respective homes in Surrey, England and Colorado, USA, finding writing together a great excuse for endless phone conversations. Together they have written four novels How To Survive Your Sisters, When Good Friends Go Bad, Looking For La La and To Catch A Creeper. They love any chance to connect with their readers.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: To Catch A Creeper. First things first. Let’s start with what’s next. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Yes, you could call it a chicklit mystery novel. Like its predecessor, Looking For La La, it’s a funny entertaining rollercoaster ride about Cathy, a chaotic North London wife and mother who having just returned to the workforce in a job that’s really over her head, once again finds herself involved in solving a murder, while surmounting marital crises, career crises, friendship crises and everyday parental challenges. This time there’s a burglar terrorizing the neighborhood and a transvestite as the prime suspect. Of course Cathy’s female friendships are a vital part of the story as are her issues with her long-suffering husband. We intend it as the second book in a series but we also wanted it to stand alone if someone hasn’t read the first.

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?

As indie authors our social media relationships have been crucial – we couldn’t survive without readers, bloggers, fellow authors and media people taking the time to post interviews, review our books, offer advice and generally spread the word.

No forums so far but we’ve made good friends through Twitter and our following has definitely increased since we started retweeting favorite photos and interesting or useful articles from other writers and bloggers – we like to keep it fun as well as informative. At the start our Ellie Campbell Facebook page was mainly about us, our books, offers, promotions, giveaways, but these days we also share funny stories, animal videos, anything that makes us laugh or that we feel strongly about.

Downside is, there’s a huge amount of fascinating articles out there and it can suck up an enormous amount of time if you’re not careful. And coincidentally we’re just starting a quarterly newsletter –we’ve added a sign up sheet to our website and look forward to being able to communicate with our fans in this way too.

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? How do you handle this living so far apart?

With our first two novels published by Arrow in the UK, we did several book signings, print and radio interviews and even two launch parties – all of which Lorraine flew over for. Now we’re self-publishing and most of our sales are ebooks, we’ve been doing mainly online interviews which we repost on our blog - - in case people miss them. We’ve also done conference phone interviews (for Radio) – waking Lorraine up at 3 a.m. in one case – and we have a video interview scheduled for when Lorraine is next in England. As far as readers wanting to meet us in person… well, we’ve had several bookstores contact us recently, wanting to take on our novels. And we love any excuse to get together… Another good reason to sign up for the newsletter.

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?

We have been lucky enough to find a great designer – Andrew Brown, Design for Writers who makes the process extremely easy. For each novel we fill in a very long questionnaire including our ideas and thoughts of what we want to achieve, then we have various discussions about what we like and don’t like. And then we leave it to the experts. We are writers, they are the designers. We have been thrilled with the result.

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?

There is a lot of debate about whether giving away books for free is counter-productive? We have participated in KDP free promotions and giveaways with Goodreads and through Facebook and our blog page. We’ve found it a great way of exposing our work to new readers and have actually reached No 1 in the free charts for two of our novels. True, it doesn’t earn us any money but if it leads to readers seeking other Ellie Campbell books we consider it a success and our subsequent Amazon ratings have always been the better for it Another advantage is that the more people who read the book, the more chance of reviews, vital for any author.

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?

First we contact bloggers who have reviewed our previous novels, asking if they would like an advanced reading copy, which we send out with our fingers crossed.

We write to everyone who has posted about us in the past to inform them of the event and ask if they would like a feature or an interview, asking that everyone post it on launch day or at least the same week. This time, with To Catch a Creeper, we asked Fiction Addiction to arrange a Book blast, whereby 18 different sites feature a novel all on the same day. We also informed our Facebook fans, sent out a lot of tweets on launch day and we held a Goodreads event, along with a giveaway of our other books. It’s hard to say which methods were the most successful – everything happened concurrently.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. 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?

Well, thanks! We never have enough time! If we did, we could do it so much better. Our primary goal for our blog is to keep readers that are interested informed of offers, upcoming promotions and news of our latest novel, as well as providing more information about us for anyone interested. We don’t put up posts nearly as often as we’d like to but if we do a guest post or interview elsewhere, we usually include those as an extra bonus. And of course we now have the newsletter sign-up we mentioned earlier. We’re hoping to build a mailing list so we can send very occasional newsletters to inform readers of special occasions and offer a more personal communication. But as for the time to write our novels, it’s a real struggle not to be consumed by the marketing aspect and to carve out a regular writing schedule in all this, especially since Pam also has a part-time job and Lorraine spends quite a bit of time training horses. We burn a lot of midnight oil.

With one of you living in England and the other in the US creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation?

Well, as we’ve said marketing online is essential for us – we couldn’t survive without the internet, it’s our major way of communicating, even between the two of us. We sell mainly through Kindle although all our books are available in paperback. We’ve had a lot of interest and publicity about the fact that we’re two sisters writing together, even though living thousands of miles apart – including an interview with on of the UK’s major national newspapers, which also involved a photo shoot. We’ve been delighted to discover that although our novels are set mostly in England, with our own unique sense of humour and quite a bit of British slang, they’ve been very well received in the USA and in fact the US is probably our biggest audience, although we also have a loyal fanbase in the UK. We’ve also been well-received in translation in Italy, Germany and Serbia and of course we sell all over the world – anywhere that Amazon operates. It’s always fun to hear from readers in Australia or the Philippines.

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?

If by professional you mean someone who charges, we have never paid for a review. We will, however, send out a copy of our novel in exchange for an honest opinion. Fortunately, there are a whole community of fabulous book bloggers and chicklit fans out there who are happy to add us to their reading list – for which we’re eternally grateful – and we have also contacted some of the Amazon top reviewers and Vine Voice readers when we could. This was particularly important with our first book when reader reviews were slow to trickle in. These days reader reviews are more consistent and after a promotion such as KDP free or Kindle Countdown, we might suddenly get a whole slew of them – we still get excited to read them.

Okay, two sisters apart and yet not apart. Besides the distance, the time difference to me would be a challenge. Do you split up the tasks in writing, marketing and publishing? Do you have a drop box (probably email) somewhere so if you get an idea in the middle of the night you can forward it to the other?

We have thought about a drop box, but we’ve never got around to organising it. We barrage each other with emails, sending documents that way and we also talk on the phone - a lot! Time difference is a challenge but also a blessing. When we are doing really well, one can finish for the day in the knowledge that the other one has taken over. If we’re doing a promotion, we can hit both time zones in the UK and the US and divide the load. We don’t really split up the tasks formally, we do what we can when we can (although Lorraine is much better on wordpress than Pam and Pam is more inclined to tweet than Lorraine). It all works out in the end.

Author's Book List
To Catch A Creeper
Cathy is riding high in her brand-new job at a (surprisingly bitchy) top London advertising agency working with best friend Rosa. But when Rosa’s pregnancy goes amiss and enemies sabotage her new career, she finds herself leading a chaotic double life of lies and deception, hiding a shameful secret from all, especially husband Declan who appears in the throes of a nervous breakdown. Meanwhile she’s agreed to unmask the notorious Crouch End Creeper, a burglar terrorizing their neighbourhood. Little does she know that her meddling, assisted by fellow mothers (the Wednesday Once Weeklies) and the Neighbourhood Watch, will lead their dangerous opponent to murder. And that it's not only the tall elegant transvestite who is placing herself at risk…

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
When Good Friends Go Bad
All through school, tomboy Jen, snobby Georgina, hippy Meg and gentle Rowan, were inseparable. Until, that is, the unfortunate consequences of a childish prank tore them apart. As adults an attempted reunion went disastrously wrong. Rowan failed to appear. Meg behaved outrageously and - sharpest cut of all - Jen discovered just how deeply Georgina had betrayed her.

So now, a mother herself, in the midst of divorce, the last thing Jen needs is a call from Meg. Or is it? Will Meg’s strange mission to track down the missing Rowan re-open old wounds or is it a chance to heal the rift – or to recover Jen’s never-forgotten, first true love? As their quest unearths secrets and feelings best left buried, Jen, Meg and Georgina will be tested on love, loyalty, and friendship, discover the truth about Rowan – and wake a danger that threatens them all.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
How To Survive Your Sisters
When it comes to sisterly rivalry, the McCleod family has a long history and with the social event of the year looming, there are bound to be some fireworks. Natalie wants the perfect wedding. Milly longs to be able to fit into something other than her maternity trousers. Avril secretly dreams of settling down with an unmarried man. And Hazel, the baby of the family, just wishes she was taken more seriously.

Forced together for the first time in years, it’s not long before they slip into old habits and childhood squabbles. But when tragedy strikes and all plans have to be put aside, it’s surprising who’s there to lean on. But all the more surprising are the skeletons that are about to come out of the rather crowded McCleod closet…

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Looking for La La
Bored stay at home mother, Cathy, finds her predictable routine upturned as she investigates a lipstick-covered love postcard sent to husband, Declan. Who is this mysterious La La? Could Declan really be having an affair? And - wait - is Cathy actually being stalked?

With all her friends hiding secrets, a sexy admirer igniting long-forgotten sparks, and the stress of organizing the school's Save The Toilets dance, soon it's not only Cathy's marriage that's in jeopardy. Add in the scheming antics of Declan's new assistant and a possible murderer on the scene and the stage is set for a dangerous showdown and some very unsettling, even deadly, revelations.

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:
eBook Author’s Corner and
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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