Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nick Stephenson - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Nick Stephenson. He is the author of the Leopold Blake Series. He writes mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels. Also, he has a book written just for author to help them with Book Marketing.

Author Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Mystery,Book Marketing

Website: Nick Stephenson - The Author of Mysteries and Thrillers
Twitter: @Nick_Stephenson
E-Mail: nick_stephenson@hotmail.co.uk
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
Nick Stephenson was born and raised in Cambridgeshire, England. He is a fiction author and novelist, writing in the mysteries and thrillers genre. His approach to writing is to hit hard, hit fast, and leave as few spelling errors as possible. He writes mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels, as well as the occasional witty postcard, all of which are designed to get your pulse pounding. Don't let his headshot fool you - he's actually full colour, on most days.

The author's books are a mixture of mystery, action, and humour. If you're looking for a good place to start, take a look at his Leopold Blake series of thrillers, available now. You can grab copies in either ebook or paperback. To get an email whenever the author releases a new title, simply click the link to the right ->

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

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

Up next, I’m starting work on a new series. I’m in the planning stage right now, so things might change – but I’m taking more of a Police Procedural slant this time. I had loads of fun with the Leopold Blake series, which combines quite a few genres – there’s some straight-up action thrillers in there, and some that are more crime focused. Those books were very plot/action oriented, and, with the next series, I’m looking forward to spending some more time building up some more character-based stories. Something a little less grandiose, a little more down to earth. I can’t wait to get cracking!

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?

Social media, for me, is a good alternative to email. It’s a lot less intrusive. I try to take a more passive approach to Twitter and Facebook, and let readers come to me. I try to stay away from too much overt promotion, and focus more on communication. It’s also a great way for people to get in touch with me, which they do on a daily basis.

I’ve found that greater exposure via book sales leads to higher social media followings, but very rarely the other way round. It’s just not a selling environment – I try to treat it as such and not worry too much about who’s clicking links or liking posts. It’s more important to me to just provide interesting content for people to enjoy.

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?

Building up my email newsletter has probably been my most successful approach from a marketing perspective. I maintain a list with Mailchimp (an email marketing provider) and direct readers to my signup form via links in all my books. To encourage them to sign up, I offer them a freebie. The approach works well – I see anywhere between 500 – 1,000 new email subscribers every month, depending on how hard I’m promoting. Around 5% - 10% of them will buy a new release as soon as it hits the shelves, so it’s a great way of launching a new title.

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’ve never done any personal appearances or book signings. I’d happily consider it if the opportunity came along, but with 99% of my sales digital, I find more effective approaches online. That might change with time, though – but for now, I’m just focusing on getting content out there!

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?

I work with a very talented cover designer – so I can’t take much of the credit! I’ll usually send him a selection of other authors’ covers that I like, and pick out the themes and styles I want to use. He’ll usually get back to me with a handful of designs, and I pick the one I like the best. A few tweaks later, and we’ve got a cover! Then, it’s just a case of using the same template and branding across the series. I figure, if you can close one eye, take five steps back, squint at the computer screen, and still recognize my branding – it’s working.

You have written a novella called Paydown. Can you tell us if it had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s going to 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?

It’s hard to measure, really. Each new release has a noticeable effect, and “Paydown” was no different. I was rather surprised; this title sells just as well as the full novels – probably because it’s strongly linked in to the rest of the Leopold Blake series. Considering it only took about 4 weeks to write, I’m definitely considering getting more out there. It gives me something to do while I’m waiting for editing and proofreading to go through!

For “Paydown”, I just had a story in my head and wanted to get it down on paper. I knew it wouldn’t flesh out to a full novel, but I felt like I just had to write it. I never figured it would sell as well as it does, so I’m very grateful for that.

I think people do enjoy shorter works, and Amazon now has a specific category called “short reads” for that very purpose. There’s always been a market there, but it’s only in recent times that technology and costs of publishing have gotten to a point where it’s a commercially viable option. So I think we’re going to see a lot more short works finding an audience going forward.

I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of a novel collection called Eight the Hard Way. What was the impact on your other sales? What was the main objective of bundling your works with other mystery authors? How did you put something like that together?

There wasn’t any immediate effect – but the book is starting to grow in popularity. As there are seven other authors involved, it’s not been a massive source of new readers for me personally, but it’s a great book to recommend to my own fanbase – they get to try out seven other writers, and hopefully find something they like.

For me, the main benefit was the networking aspect – I’ve made some good friends putting this collection together, so that’s the big win for me.

Also, I like the idea of bundling a set of novels. You have put together a set of your novels called Two Killer Thriller Novels which includes Departed and Panic. (see descriptions below) What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?

The main objective for me is to give new readers as many opportunities as possible to try out my work. Offering discounted bundles of my books is a good way to do this – those who liked one of the other books can pick up a double-set of the others and save a couple of dollars. I find, if you’re offering readers something of value, you’ll win them over.

The bundle sells pretty well, so I’ll continue to offer them so long as readers find them appealing.

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?

Free promotions have worked amazingly well for me. I’m not a household name, and I don’t have a national advertising budget – so I need other ways to get people to give my work a go. Offering free copies has been a very effective way to do this, and is probably the only reason I’ve been able to grow my fanbase as much as I have.

I’ve tried other types of giveaway – hosting competitions for free Kindle Fires, for example – but I’ve found that kind of approach only attracts people looking for free prizes.

Offering free (or very cheap) books, on the other hand, is a great way to find future buyers – as they’ll naturally gravitate toward my full-price titles if I’ve done my job and given them a cracking story. It’s a numbers game, though – you might only get 5% of people moving from a free book to a paid book, so pushing those download numbers is an important factor. It might get to a point where free books just don’t work anymore, but, for now, it’s still a strong source of new readers for me.

Helping other authors tackle the current marketplace has been the goal of my blogs for several years how. Explain to us why you decided to write Supercharge Your Kindle Sales to help authors market their novels? What has been the feedback from other authors? (I have purchased the ebook and plan to read it soon.)

Feedback has been amazing so far! When I first got started in this game 18 months ago, I found there was very little practical advice out there. I’m a very results-oriented person, so I wanted to know what approaches work, and what results to expect. That just wasn’t something that was available at the time.

So, I started a blog that aimed to do just that – detail everything I’ve done to grow visibility, and post detailed results and breakdowns. It got to the point where authors were emailing me and asking why I was giving away all this advice for free. I had my arm twisted a few times, and eventually decided to pick out two of my most effective strategies and use them as a basis for the book.

I’ve had a few authors get back to me with their results having implemented some of my approaches, and the impact has definitely been positive. I’m truly happy that I can offer something others find useful, and I hope people continue to let me know how they get on.

Author's Book List
Fallen - A Leopold Blake Thriller
Sometimes, the only justice is the one you make for yourself…

When a wanted terrorist voluntarily surrenders himself into FBI custody, expert criminology consultant Leopold Blake suddenly finds himself drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse - and he’s already several moves behind. As the shocking truth is uncovered, Blake realizes with chilling certainty that life as he knows it is over. An old enemy has returned after decades in hiding, and, for him, getting caught is only the beginning…

Left for dead and with nowhere to turn, Leopold will soon discover the true meaning of loyalty - and what it means to lose everything he holds dear.

For Mary Jordan, police sergeant with the NYPD, danger has always been part of the job description. But with New York City on the brink of a major attack, and with Leopold out of commission, Jordan is forced to seek out new allies. Together, they will need to push their skills - and their lives - to the ultimate limit. But who can she trust?

Fallen is the sixth book in the Number 1 Best Selling Leopold Blake Series of Private Investigator Thrillers, and can be read as a standalone novel.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Supercharge Your Kindle Sales
Get ready to Supercharge your Kindle ebook Sales!

Book marketing for authors can be a minefield of trial and error. We’ve all been there, right? Our book launches into the world, only to get lost in a sea of other titles. So, what’s missing? If you want to sell ebooks on Amazon, understanding the complex inner workings of the world’s largest bookstore is an essential part of any ebook marketing plan - but it doesn't have to be as complicated as you think.

This book has been designed to give you simple ebook marketing strategies that tie in to Amazon’s algorithms and give you the best chance of success. The first section will show you how to target popular categories and keywords within the Kindle ecosystem and give your titles a massive head start. The second section will show you how to build an author mailing list filled with hungry readers – ready to buy your books at the click of a button.

The strategies and book marketing resources explained in this book helped me boost sales from $2,000 per month to $10,000 per month – all from just a handful of simple tweaks. I also grew my mailing list by over 1,000 new readers each and every month, meaning my new releases hit the ground running from day 1 – and I’m going to show you how you can do the same, regardless of whether you write fiction or non-fiction, and in any genre.

All the ebook marketing tips inside this book are free for you to implement – they will only cost you a few hours of your time.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Ratio - A Leopold Blake Thriller
The Deadliest Game...

When an old acquaintance calls in a favor, Leopold Blake finds himself unable to refuse - despite his best efforts. A major political conference is hitting Seattle, and presidential hopeful Jack Melendez is fresh out of bodyguards - a problem that Leopold is in a unique position to remedy.

For June Kato, acclaimed neurosurgeon and martial arts expert, a weekend in Seattle was supposed to be the perfect getaway - an opportunity to connect with her new lover on a deeper level and finally enjoy some alone time. But fate, it seems, has other plans.

With all eyes on the Emerald City, Blake and his team soon discover that all is not as it seems. What should have been a simple protection job quickly turns into the weekend from hell, as powerful enemies converge on their position, bent on revenge. But who is the target?

As loyalties are tested and shocking secrets are revealed, Leopold and June find themselves drawn deeper and deeper into an elaborate and deadly trap that will change the course of their lives forever.

Ratio is another exhilarating instalment in the Leopold Blake series of thrillers, which can be read and enjoyed in any order. This book also contains a bonus short story, Divide and Conquer, featuring June Kato.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Paydown - A Leopold Blake Thriller
Greed can be murder...

When a high-flying Wall Street investment banker is found brutally killed, what started out as a simple fraud case turns into expert criminologist Leopold Blake's first ever murder investigation.

Now, with the financial world at the brink of collapse, Blake must put aside his differences and work with NYPD Detective Mary Jordan to find and stop the killer before it's too late. As the glamor of Wall Street is stripped away by a series of catastrophic discoveries, Leopold will have to decide how much he is prepared to risk in order to uncover the truth - and whether it's a price he's willing to pay.

Paydown is a novella of 25,000 words (approx. 95 print pages) set several years before the events detailed in the other books in the Leopold Blake series of thrillers.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Departed - A Leopold Blake Mystery / Thriller
Playtime's over...

Expert criminology consultant Leopold Blake is having yet another bad week. While tracking a psychopathic serial killer through the streets of London, the reclusive investigator realizes with chilling certainty that history is about to repeat itself - with devastating consequences. Where Scotland Yard and MI5 have failed, Leopold must find a way to hunt down and apprehend a ruthless maniac before he strikes again.

And the clock is ticking.

Now Blake and his team must face their greatest challenge yet: an unseen force, intent on wreaking havoc throughout the city, is hunting on its home turf - and Leopold is about to realize that the good guy doesn't always win.

Departed is another exhilarating installment in the Leopold Blake series of thrillers, which can be read and enjoyed in any order.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Panic - A Leopold Blake Thriller
Swift. Silent. Deadly.

Leopold Blake, expert criminology consultant for the FBI, had his weekend all planned out - and it didn't involve dealing with a murdered senator, a high-profile kidnapping, and at least three near-death experiences. Three politicians have been murdered in as many weeks, all expertly dispatched, and only Leopold can get to the bottom of it. Unfortunately, as all hell breaks loose on the streets of New York City, he soon finds himself the next target of a powerful enemy who wants him silenced. Permanently.

Against the backdrop of political corruption and murder, Leopold and his team must fight for their lives to uncover the truth before it's too late. Panic is another exhilarating instalment in the Leopold Blake series of thrillers, which can be read and enjoyed in any order.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
Wanted - Leopold Blake Series
Nowhere to hide...

What should have been a relaxing vacation in Paris turns into another unwinnable situation for expert criminology consultant Leopold Blake. Caught in the cross hairs of a ruthless assassin and on the run from the police for a murder he didn't commit, Blake and his team must fight to clear his name before it's too late.

As enemies close in from all sides, Blake is about to learn who he can trust - and who is determined to destroy him - as The City of Light becomes a new hunting ground.

Wanted is another exhilarating instalment in the Leopold Blake series of thrillers, which can be read and enjoyed in any order.

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