Today I’m interviewing Richard Fox, the best-selling author of The Ember War Saga. Here is a bit about him:
Richard grew up as an Air Force brat and graduated from the United States Military Academy. He spent ten years on active duty in the United States Army and deployed to Iraq twice. He’s worked as an intelligence analyst in the Washington DC area and now writes full time. He lives in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada with his wife and sons.
Nathan: Richard, can you tell us what drove you to become an author and why you chose to go the self-published road.
Richard: I’ve always had something of a writing bug. The first thing I ever wanted to write was Star Trek fan fiction. I wrote plays in high school, comedy skits in college and I would outline stories when stuck in boring meetings.
My first real writing project came about when my brother and I watched a History channel show about WWI. He said there’d never been a good movie about the Red Baron, and we decided to write a screen play together. I ended up writing everything and the script did well in several contests and got a little bit of attention. Then the Germans went and made their own Red Baron movie and I had to abandon that project.
Some years later, I came across Joe Konrath’s blog and learned about self-publishing. I figured readers might like a military thriller set during the Iraq War from a soldier who served there. With Amazon and ebooks, I could reach all those perspective readers easily.
It took me a while to find an audience in the military sci-fi/space opera genre, but now I’m writing full time.
Nathan: I’d like to thank you for all your years of service in the military. Did all your experiences there give you a lot of material to work with when it comes to your writing?
Richard: Writing military sci fi is a lot easier when you’ve been in the military and don’t have to do amazing amounts of research to get the phrasing correct. My first novel was set in Iraq, and the reman a cle with that book is pretty obvious.
I put a lot of the comradery and the endurance required to get through a war into my writing. Understanding the relationship between the ranks and services is useful.
Do I write just how it is in the military? No. There would be a lot more cursing and acronyms thrown about. The temptation to put in a work perfect call for fire or 9line medevac is there, but going into the weeds like that would just confuse a reader. I write as true to life as I can, but with broad brush strokes.
Nathan: You’ve written a series called The Ember War Saga. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Richard: The Ember War Saga is a military science fiction/space opera series set in the near future. An alliance of sentient species sends a probe to Earth to help us get ready for an invasion by a swarm of hostile drones. Humanity (spoiler!) is almost wiped out in the invasion, but some technological trickery saves a fleet that manages to re-take the Earth.
The survivors find themselves smack in the middle of a galaxy-wide war and must find tools and allies to defeat the next wave of invading drones.
The 4th book in the series will be out on February 19th and the first audiobooks will be released on the 23rd.
The response to the series was a huge surprise for me. I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since before I could walk and a voracious reader of all things military sci-fi for a very long time. I’m grateful and a bit stunned that I can contribute something to the genre.
Nathan: I can see your passion for the genre in your writing. Recently you did a BookBub promo with The Ember War, and I know a lot of people who would love to hear about the experience you had with this. Can you share some of the data so we can all get an idea the value of marketing our work? As you know, many indie and self-published authors devour the numbers, metrics and ROI on these types of promos.
Richard: I gave away the first book in the Ember War saga from 29JAN-02FEB. The BookBub ad was on the 30th (a Saturday).
The day before the BookBub ad, I ran a promo with bknights over on fiverr, I did this to grease the skids before the BookBub ad. Amazon has several hour delay from sales/download spike to a rise in rankings. The bknights ad got the book going on the free charts (821 giveaways on the 29th), so when the BookBub ad hit it shot up fast.
There were 26k downloads on the 30th, and 8.2k downloads in the days afterwards. It hit number 1 in the SFF free charts and rose to the number 4 free book on all of Amazon. Great success! I thought I’d get 15k downloads, so there are no complaints about getting ~35k downloads total.
Sell through on books 2 and 3 of the series paid for the ad on the first day. The adage that you will always make money on a BookBub ad proved true for me. KENP page reads and sales were 60% higher than the previous month’s average for two weeks after the ad and the tail remains thick up until now.
My mailing list has nearly doubled with the influx from the BookBub ad. I give away a short story set during the series that’s available only for subscribers, and that reader magnet is very useful.
Looking in the rear view mirror, I’m glad BookBub shot me down on advertising the first book for so long. Having the second and third books in the series published when the first book got all those eyeballs gave something for readers to buy next, and having sequels made the first book look more legitimate.
So, BookBub! Keep on them until they say yes. But have something for those new readers to buy next and have a mailing list primes and ready to capture all those new readers.
Nathan: That is great information! I’m sure many people will find this extremely useful.
I’m so happy to have you on board to write a story for the Woodbridge Press book ‘Explorations: Through the Wormhole’. Have you written a lot of short fiction or is this going to be a new venture for you?
Richard: I’ve not written much short fiction. I wrote two short stories for the Ember War and two for my spy thriller series. I like using short fiction to flesh out a few characters and tell side stories in the Ember War, little asides that I’d never put in a novel because they’d wreck the pacing.
Nathan: Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog, and for sharing your BookBub promo data. I know we all find that kind of information enlightening. I’ve read the first book of your series and really enjoyed it, and look forward to reading the rest of them soon. Can you tell me what is coming down the pipe-line for you?
Richard: I will finish the Ember War Saga this year, then start a new military sci-fi trilogy. I’m plotting to get the Ember War in front of Michael Bay so he can turn it into a movie. If anyone has his number…
Nathan: I’ll be sure to pass it on…I always like to end interviews off with an odd question. If you were stuck on a space station with a dvd player and only one SF series to watch indefinitely, would you choose Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, or… Alf?
Richard: Battlestar Galactica. After enough viewings, the whole part with the original Cylon skin jobs would finally make sense.
To check out Richard’s books, see the Amazon link below.
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Catch the newest book in The Ember War Saga here, released Feb 19th, 2016!