It seems fitting, therefore, that I kick off this year’s collection of author interviews with crime thriller author, J.A. Schneider.
I first became aware of you and your writing back in 2012 I think, as you published your first Rainey and Levine thriller, Embryo about the same time I published my first book. You’ve now got six titles available in the Rainey and Levine series – did you set out to write a series with Embryo, and how has the series grown over the past four years?
Embryo – what a surprise that’s become. No…with the first, I hadn’t planned on a series, but people clamoured: What’s become of the baby!? So I wrote another, and then another, and the series grew. Also, over the years, readers are still just discovering it and asking for more. How’s Jesse, What’s happening with baby Jesse?I keep hearing that, so I’ll have to go back to the series. I just don’t know when…
You’ve now taken a breather from that series and in 2016 published the first two novels in the Detective Kerri Blasco series – why the focus on these characters?
Kerri & Alex were the featured Homicide detectives in the last four of the Embryo series…good cop friends of physicians Jill Raney & David Levine, the crazy, heroic pair who could go where cops couldn’t (“No warrant? No problem!”) They helped Kerri and Alex a lot in police investigations where bad guys too often escaped the system. To people who have read the later Embryo books, Kerri and Alex are old friends.
How has your approach to writing evolved since 2012? What do you do differently now?
Yes, it’s evolved. I’d like to think I go deeper now, into feelings, psychology (Kerri is amazing at “reading” people), character development in general. I know cops personally, so a lot has rubbed off. I’m fascinated by how they observe: a room, a crime scene, a person’s face and body language. Kerri is best at that. Often, her instincts and emotional responses are what carry the story forward. Kerri, in a word, has freed me. When she tells Alex, “You’re doing it wrong!” …she spews and I spew and the writing just moves.
”Just write the next book”
We all know how hard it is to reach readers in a crowded marketplace. What methods have you implemented to successfully stand out in the crowd, and what hasn’t worked so well?
The most important thing is, just write the next book. Yes, there’s been a tsunami of books onto the marketplace, but some readers, if you’re lucky, will fall in love with your characters and be incredibly loyal waiting for the next book. So what has worked best? Create character you hope readers will love. Oh, and then there’s Twitter, where I seem to have acquired 117k+ followers. My daughter tweets my books, but she and I both support other authors too, quite a lot. Then…oh gee, what beats BookBub!? NOTHING. There are also smaller BB type sites where I occasionally do paid promotions, and those have worked pretty well. Of that group, I’d put Ereader Today and Robin Reads at the top of the list.
What’s the best and hardest parts of being an indie author?
Best is having control – to experiment, promote, change price, change covers, etc. Also the royalties, I’m happy with Amazon’s 70%.
Hardest, of course, is the marketing. That, I’ve narrowed down to BookBub, Twitter, Facebook, ENT, and Robin Reads. I’m not keen on being all over Facebook all the time. Honestly, I’d rather spend the time writing.
I should mention here that I’ve been previously published by Simon & Schuster, but will never go back. Traditional publisher royalties are awful, & editors get laid off mid-stream in your book’s year-long plod through the editorial process. Your book becomes an orphan for months. It’s too slow. Trad pubbed authors wind up having to do their own promotion anyway, so why bother?
You’ve stepped up your publishing pace since first starting out, the same as I have – what do you do to relax?
Read. Watch Dexter, cop shows and great movies with family. I used to garden like a maniac (grew 30 foot ramblers, dug holes, planted boxwood, battled boulders), but writing has taken over as the greater addiction. So I don’t weed anymore. What a loss, huh?
What are your plans for 2017?
I’m working now on the next Kerri Blasco thriller. She’s in real trouble this time. A serial killer is after her.
Finally, where can we find you and your books?