Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Bill Cronin. He is the author of The Song of the Mockingbird, Ruby's Story and Dial Tone.
Mystery, Contemporary, Fiction
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After a thirty-year career in the telecommunications industry, Bill sold a telecommunications and business management consulting practice in 2000 to pursue a writing career. Bill wrote for the Orlando Sentinel briefly following military service during the Vietnam War and during his career as a consultant, Bill wrote frequently for the NTCA Rural Telecommunications Magazine. In 1995, Bill wrote a non-fiction book on the opportunities for local telephone companies to resell long distance service.
In 1994, Bill began work on his first novel, “Dial Tone” which he published as an e-book on Amazon/Kindle in July 2012. Since, Bill has written “The Song of the Mockingbird” which he also published as an e-book on Amazon/Kindle in February 2013. In 2014, Bill released “The Tainted Lady,” the first book in a new series and “Ruby’s Story” the second book in the Jack McNamara Chronicles. Bill is currently editing and preparing to publish “Letting Go,” the third novel in the McNamara series. Look for it in August 2015.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
First things first. Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called Letting Go. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
"Letting Go," is the third novel in the Jack McNamara Chronicles. "Song of the Mockingbird," was first, and "Ruby's Story" was second. Final editing is in process and the book will be released this month (August 2015).
Here is a short blurb about the book:
Jody Holland has suppressed memories of the morning in 1961 when her mother, Helen, suffering from Postpartum Psychosis, murdered her father, her four siblings and tried, but failed, to shoot her. Ruled mentally incompetent, authorities never charged Helen for her crimes and, after ten years, doctors released her from a mental hospital.
After 35 years of estrangement, Helen sends a message to Jody seeking a reunion. Before Jody agrees, she enlists the help of Jack McNamara to investigate the horrific event to make sense of what happened and why.
Set in Key West, this is the third novel in the Jack McNamara Chronicles.
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?
There is no question that social media has been helpful in establishing an audience. And it is a channel I use to launch new material. Twitter and Facebook are obvious "go to" channels, but I have also had some success using LinkedIn. Let's begin with one important fact: reviews are crucial. Like them or not, it is hard to promote a book without reviews. While social media is helpful in selling books, in order to sell books in quantities, you have to promote your work on book promotion sites. Many promo sites require a minimum number of positive reviews before they will consider promoting a work. Reviews are hard to come by. And this is where social media is helpful, not so much in selling books, but mining the all-important reviews needed to launch a book on promotion sites. The holy grail of social media is that all your readers would "like" your author's page so that as you publish each new book you have an instant audience to market to. The reality is that a small percentage of readers will take the time to do this.
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?
As an ebook author, my bookstore is Amazon. And while some of my books are available in print, I have not chosen to market off-line. I have done interviews like this one, but the best place for folks to keep up with my work is to like my author's page at
You have written a short story called Females, Frustration and Fear which you highlight on your website. Can you tell us if it 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?
I get comments from people from time to time that they enjoyed the story, but I have no idea whether is has helped sales or not. Generally, I don't write short stories. I Like long fiction and if I'm going to take the time to conceive of and write a story it might as well be novel length. Having said that, I have written a short entitled, "Joe and the Governor," which I am going to release on Kindle in the next few months. This is an older work I am refreshing.
I like the idea of bundling a series of novels. You have put together a set of your novels called Jack McNamara Chronicles. What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?
I have an author friend, Suzanne Jenkins, (Pam of Babylon, series) who educated me early on about series novels. To succeed as an ebook author, series books are key. Think of it this way. Last time I looked, there were more than one-million ebooks on Amazon. Your job as a writer is to elevate the visibility of your work so that a reader can find your novel in the haystack. After you have gone to all that work to get one reader, you want to take that opportunity to hook them into reading your other work. A series makes that easier. If they liked the first book, chances are they will buy another if they are familiar with the characters and like them.
There is no question that series novels have helped me sell books.
What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
I do not belong to a writer's group. My experiences early on with them were not helpful. I found that there was far too much conversation about the challenges of writing that novel, instead of doing it. There is no substitute for the information and knowledge you gain from publishing a book and listening to the feedback you get from readers. Instead I was befriended by Suzanne, who has written over 20 ebooks, and Regina Morris (The Colony Series) who has written more than six books. These successful writers shared practical things they learned and it helped me enormously. They are "doing" not talking.
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?
When I first published on Amazon, I said to someone that there was "no possible way," I would give my books away free. I quickly learned that to gain visibility, to get reviews, and to sell other books, I needed to develop strategies that include giveaways. And this is where series novels are tailor made for free promotions. Free promotions work best when you have other books in a series to offer. If a reader likes the first free book, they will usually pay for other books in the series. It's just that simple. The more books in the series, the more effective the free giveaway becomes.
For example, I offered "The Song of the Mockingbird," free twice on a popular promo site and it was downloaded by over 54,000 people. From those promotions, I sold approximately 1,000 of my other books at full price and received nearly 50 reviews. First, most of the full price sales were for "Ruby's Story," the second book in the series. But my other books sold as well. But if I hadn't had the second book in the series, the free promotion would not have been financially viable.
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?
I begin the process when I first start a book. I post on Facebook what my new project is and then provide updates occasionally while in the process of writing. I'm getting ready to release "Letting Go," but first I will do a cover reveal after the artwork is completed. Then I will announce the book’s publication on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Then I will heavily promote on Twitter and Facebook to get reviews. This will take some time. After I've got at least 10 reviews, I will begin free promotions on "The Song of the Mockingbird," with the third book in the series available for purchase at full price.
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?
This is an area that I need to give more attention to. Yes, I have mailing lists. Yes, I have followers on Twitter and Facebook. But I have not devoted the time to the cultivation of these lists as I should. I know what to do, and how to do it, I just haven't spent the time. And here is the rub for all indie writers. I love to write. I love that part of the job. Promotion is the evil-twin. For the indie writer you’re a publishing company. And to sell books, you have to do all the parts of the job. Writing novels requires focus and discipline. When you are in the groove, writing, it is hard to turn your attention away to deal with the selling part. And it is mundane, repetitious and absolutely necessary work.
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?
I have not and will not seek professional reviews. I use social media primarily to accumulate reviews. But the majority of my reviews have come from sold books and the best way to sell books is through paid advertising. To get the initial slug of reviews, I try to capitalize on contacts I have with my readers to encourage them to leave a review. For example, someone may reach out to me on Twitter that they enjoy one of my books. I'll send a direct message, thank them for their comments and ask them to leave a review. Usually they do. But reviews come slowly at first.
Author's Book List
The Tainted Lady
Major Patrick O’Brian, an army intelligence officer, in WWII, is assigned a team to fly a B-24 Liberator from Benina, Libya to the Austrian Alps to rescue a defecting scientist who is the Nazi’s top chemical weapons expert and who has developed the perfect battlefield nerve agent. The mission was to retrieve the scientist, the chemicals, and the lab notes to keep them out of the hands of the Nazi’s.
On their way back to Libya, the B-24 is caught in a hurricane-like storm, flew off course and made an emergency landing in the Sand Sea of the Sahara Desert. Once on the ground, the storm raged and the sifting sand from a nearby dune engulfs the plane and entombs the crew, the scientist and one of the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction invented by man.
The plane covered in sand is undetected for 50 plus years until a storm of equal intensity uncovers the plane and a pilot report of the downed plane comes to the attention Muammar Gaddafi.
Dana O’Brian, the major’s granddaughter, herself a major in Army Intelligence, having engaged in a search to learn the circumstances of her grandfathers’ death gains access to the nature of her grandfather’s mission, finds the plane with satellite surveillance, and alerts U.S. military brass to the threat the nerve agent would present if it fell into the hands of Gaddafi.
O’Brian leads of team to Libya to recover the remains of the crew, the chemical weapons and documentation and to rescue the plane. The mission is to find the plane before Gaddafi discovers its contents and uses the weapon against U.S. interests.
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- Jack McNamara Chronicles Book 2
Jack McNamara’s terminally ill Aunt Ruby has come to live her remaining days with him. She has a story that she wants her best-selling, author, nephew to write, a written legacy she wants to leave before she passes. Skeptical at first that the story has merit, Ruby quickly draws Jack into a heart rending tale of love, betrayal and a family dealing with bigotry and racism in the Deep South in 1938.
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The Song of the Mockingbird
- Jack McNamara Chronicles Book 1
Reynolds and Ryan Publishing paid best-selling author, Jack McNamara, more than a million dollars in advanced royalties for three action-adventure novels. Only one problem: Jack cannot write a single word. Devastatingly depressed and hopelessly blocked Jack embarks on a personal journey back to the summer of 1961 when three childhood events created a psychological time-bomb that, thirty-five years later, threatened to destroy his marriage and end his writing career.
Vibrant characters, settings like Charleston, Savannah and Key West and a tightly wound plot make this novel a “must read.” The Song of the Mockingbird is Bill Cronin’s second novel following five-star reviews for his first novel “Dial Tone.”
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Sam Thompson accepts an assignment in Glasgow, Kentucky managing a small rural telephone company. He soon discovers that the comptroller, John Stanko, embezzled nearly a million dollars, and launched a hostile takeover bid to conceal his theft. In Stanko’s race to complete the takeover before authorities can bring charges against him, Stanko -- with the help of employees and board members -- instigates a union takeover, publically smears the reputation of the company and its board of directors and leads a crusade of threats and intimidation against Thompson and his family.
Thompson moved his two young daughters, Rebecca and Melanie to Glasgow when his wife died unexpectedly. Amid the business warfare, Thompson falls in love with Georgia Riley, the editor/owner of a small daily newspaper, a critical ally in Thompson’s very public campaign to save the company.
This well written unique novel captures life in a small town and the challenge many small rural telephone companies face to avoid extinction in the face of intense competition.
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