I had the distinct pleasure of being highlighted in the HBS Author’s Spotlight. Here’s the interview.
Posted with permission by James Moushon at HBS Author’s Spotlight from 8/28/2015 original posting.
Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Jennifer Chase. She is the award-winning Mystery writer of the Emily Stone Thriller Series.
Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Horror,
The love that author Jennifer Chase has for books and writing began with the weekly trips that her mom would take with her to the local library. Jennifer would load up her arms with books and spend the week pouring over them until the next visit brought the opportunity to discover even more authors and stories. Before long, she was taking pen to paper and a lifelong connection with creating characters and plotlines was made.
Jennifer has found her niche in the writing world by integrating another passion, criminology, into her work. She holds a bachelors degree in police forensics and a masters in criminology, academic pursuits that developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. She also holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling and is a proud member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.
This research background has assisted Jennifer in writing multiple crime thrillers, including Compulsion, Dead Game, Silent Partner, Dark Mind, Dead Burn, and Dark Pursuit, earning multiple readers’ choice awards and other accolades along the way, including a recent gold medal awarded for Dead Burn by a panel of professionals in the publishing industry as part of the International Book Awards. She also has published a non-fiction book, How to Write a Screenplay, which offers a step-by-step guide to this special craft. In addition to her own writing work, Jennifer does some consulting work in the criminology field.
Jennifer Chase was born and raised in California and still lives there with her husband, dogs and cats. In addition to writing and studying, Jennifer enjoys spending time outdoors, both at the beach and hiking, and engaging in some amateur photography.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Congratulations on your book: Dark Pursuit. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called Body of Crime. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Thank you! I am very excited about my latest release Dark Pursuit. It is another installment to my award-winning Emily Stone Thriller Series. Emily Stone is pushed to her ultimate limit, physically and mentally, as she races against the clock to find a missing girl and ultimately faces a serial killer.
Yes, Body of the Crime is a debut thriller for my Chip Palmer Forensic Mysteries Series. Chip Palmer is a criminal profiler and expert witness for all types of homicide cases. The guilty and convicted hate him, so he must live a reclusive life in order to dodge constant death threats from psychopaths and prominent crime family members. Body of the Crime will be released this fall.
You have a great 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?
The social media has no doubt improved my exposure and has helped me to gain readership. With all of the positive aspects, it can be a time drain and divert your focus. It is important to have a plan on how long to engage in social media every day and stick to it. In the beginning, I followed people who enjoy mysteries and thrillers and found sites that promoted these types of books. Social media has definitely played a big part in my book launch process. For example, virtual blog tours are quite effective as opposed to in person book signings.
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?
Yes, I have done book signings – not as many as I would like. It is fun to have a face-to-face conversation with readers instead of a virtual one. Interview and speaking engagements are a part of my promotion, whether or not I have just released a new book. I will have some signings and speaking engagements in the near future. Announcements and dates can be found at my blog/website: www.authorjenniferchase.com.
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?
Thank you so much. I try not to think about the book covers too much or force the creativity as I write the story. Most of my Emily Stone book covers are actually two photos merged, which gives an overall theme of the story. By merging two photos, I feel that I create more of an original image. At this point, I have not involved readers in the process, but I will be writing other series in the future and that might be fun.
You have a great book trailer for the Emily Stone Series.
It looks very professional. Do you know how much impact it has had on your book’s success? Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailer?
It is difficult to tell how much of an impact the book series trailer has had on my sales. However, it does make my series stand out and it is a wonderful marketing tool. I had the awesome opportunity to meet a film director, Andy Palmer of Petri Entertainment, where I really liked one of his thriller trailers, and jokingly I said to him I would love a book trailer. Well, be careful for what you wish for because with some planning and vision, my trailer was made. I wanted the trailer (teaser) to reflect the feel and theme of the series instead of based on just one book. I wrote a five-six page script and we worked out the rest. I am so honored that such talented actors Kim Poirier and Carlos Alazraqui, along with an amazing movie crew, made my novel characters come to life. You can see the 5-minute trailer here: https://youtu.be/OCbpk4jwtZY
You have written several short stories. 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?
Short stories are an interesting aspect of writing. Some people say they are dead in the water as far as sales, while others claim that it is a wonderful way for readers to sample your work. I agree with the later. I have so many ideas that writing a short story is a wonderful project in between novels. I have received many requests that some of my supporting characters should have their own books. What better way to highlight some of these characters in short stories?
I like the idea of bundling a series of novels. You have put together a set of your novels for the Emily Stone Series. What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?
I thought long and hard as to whether or not to bundle the first three books. I think it is s a great idea only if you have enough in your series. I also included a free short story and the first three chapters of another book. It just made sense. I have found that most readers, who bought the bundle, then bought the next novels in the series. This type of bundle helps to add to your author store and continue to give you more exposure for the series.
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 do free book giveaways on Amazon when I release a new book and physical book giveaways on Goodreads during the same time. I think authors need to be careful when doing free giveaways. You need to have a purpose and not hope that a free book at any time will boost sales of the other books. It is a little bit of a balancing act to know when and how long to put a book up for free.
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 do maintain a list and blog subscribers. I have to admit that I have not had enough time recently to really nurture it. I use social media, my blog, and my Facebook author page to keep in touch with readers about new books and any other announcements.
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?
My blog is really written in two-parts. I use it to talk about my books, crime, and thrillers in general, and to inform the general readership about forensics and crime scene investigation. I have an academic background and degrees in forensics, criminology, and profiling. I love to share the real information about these subjects. At the same time, my background is also integrated into my crime fiction novels. I feel that both parts to my blog complement each other. And yes, it is a challenging balancing act to maintain everything and to find time to write. I think most authors today have the same challenge. I find that I reevaluate my schedule in order to fine-tune it.
Thank you so much for the interview opportunity and great questions.