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Author Interview ~ Adrian G Hilder – Part Two

I met Adrian on Wattpad and had a real adventure reading his novel, General’s Legacy

Some readers may want to consider reading Adrian’s previous interview first.

This second interview has much valuable information on the way Adrian’s dealing with the marketing and promotion of his books.

In fact, it’s important enough that I’m leaving it up for two days…


Adrian G Hilder Adrian, your first interview here was October 8, 2016. That was just before you released your debut book, The General’s Legacy – Part One: Inheritance, at the end of November. Can you tell us a little about that book (a reminder for some) and how the launch went?

First, thank you for having me back Alexander.

Inheritance is a story about a young Prince inheriting his grandfather’s enchanted sword, his world of warriors and magic, his role as the general, and the war he could never end. Forced to go beyond his training and experience, Cory must take command when his kingdom’s enemy strikes again in a horrifying and tragic way. Other aspects of the old general’s legacy are shown beyond the sword, and the war—the effect he had on others—as Cory and his older brothers are plunged into personal and national crisis.

I set out to deliver a fast-paced fantasy story that does not sacrifice the immersive experience that fantasy readers love. There are a lot of heavy going fantasy books in the market. Planning the story the way movies and thriller books are structured was key to this aim. I’m amazed to find that a couple of reviewers have likened Inheritance to Tolkien and a UK reviewer to Dan Brown and Michael Crichton (the last two are thriller writers of course). I never saw a Tolkien comparison coming, and I would say Inheritance moves at a much faster pace than The Lord of the Rings. One thing that does come up more than any other point is that readers love the characters in the story and how real they feel.

There are a lot of ways you could describe Inheritance, and I’m fascinated by how different reviewers pick on different aspects of the story. The General's Legacy - Part One: Inheritance

Yes, the eternal right of the reader to have their own interpretation… How did the book launch go?

Well, it happened… Considering my audience reach was limited to around 600 Goodreads friends in addition to friends, family, and work colleagues, I sold more than I expected. It was less than 30 copies, and within a week sales were down to one a week. No one knows the book exists in a world where thousands of books a day are released. I now know allowing pre-orders on Amazon was counterproductive to making the book more visible—a mistake.

Why is allowing pre-orders on Amazon a mistake?

Amazon pre-orders and book ranking works differently compared to the other sales sites. Pre-orders count for ranking when the order is placed and not on release day, so you cannot spike a book in the charts with all pre-orders counting as sales on day one as with the other book sales sites. My book’s ranking peaked mid-November and fell out of sight by release day. Some other authors argue that making a book available early allows “also boughts” to start forming for your book before release day, although that can only happen if people know it exists, so it tends to work better for well-known authors wanting to build a buzz in the market around their next book.

I see you have 10+ reviews for Inheritance and reviews are something many new authors struggle to get—would you explain your efforts to get reviews?

I did get one review from a reader on the story sharing and social networking site Wattpad, where you and I first connected. Sadly, the other eleven readers on Wattpad that originally agreed to leave a review for me just don’t appear to be active anymore; and, I don’t think they saw my private messages to them. I was aiming for at least three reviews on release day as that is what the promotion company I had lined up required before they would take my money. They know advertising does not work for a book without some good reviews. The book promotion company I want to try next requires ten reviews, so I should be able to try them around April to May when their schedule opens up again.

I started getting reviews when I finally succeeded in growing my email list subscribers and invited them to join my review team for free copies of my future books in exchange for a review. I offer Inheritance as a gift for signing up to my mailing list—no point in having it sit on Amazon servers undiscovered and not read. The combination of distributing the book via a company called instaFreebie, that has an audience that trusts them, and participating in group giveaway events with other fantasy authors allows my book to be promoted to the existing mailing list subscribers of those other authors. An ad for a twenty-six book giveaway is also more compelling than a one book giveaway. I’ve rapidly connected with hundreds of new readers this way, and in time I should be able to connect with thousands more. Email is still far more effective than any other form of Internet communication.

instaFreebie helps with promotion too as new readers for you means new subscribers for them—subscribers also join instaFreebies’ mailing list that your giveaway events are advertised to if you request it.

I’ve twenty-seven people on my review team now, and they’re awesome! It’s been a lot of fun conversing with them over email. One member of the team is a retired copy editor from Australia who gave me a little more proofreading feedback at 3:30 am her time! She is dedicated and determined in her support for the authors she discovers and likes and lives in a fairly remote part of central Australia by the sound of it. Obtaining an Internet connection seems to require putting her iPhone in the refrigerator to cool it down so it’ll work—it’s seriously hot in that part of the world, and Apple clearly didn’t have such high temperatures in mind when they designed the iPhone!

I’ve also obtained some reviews on Goodreads where I’ve made a few good connections over the last couple of years. Just today, someone who is now #16 reviewer on Goodreads posted his review. Now, there is some interest from other reviewers and book bloggers in reviewing Inheritance and some others that might agree now that someone they know and trust has reviewed it. The review attracted about 60 people that “liked” his review in around 12 hours—more exposure that cost only time.

So, Adrian, what’s your strategy for your Wattpad presence now?

I’ve a real soft spot for Wattpad. It’s where I first published to strangers and learned I could write a story people love. It can be a great place to nurture a new story, but (except for the lighting-strike lucky few who win a movie deal) Wattpad doesn’t seem to have much impact on the world of paying readers. Wattpad feels like pushing on a locked door to get movement, and I cannot afford to spend more time trying to do anything about it. I’ve provided feedback to Wattpad on what issues I face and asked them to think about how they could encourage their readers to review authors’ work in places where there are buyers or follow authors they like in a more tangible way and buy their books. When I mention Wattpad to other authors in the online communities I’m in, the response is “I’ve wasted too much time on Wattpad already.” It’s too hard to identify the right people and bring your story to their attention, and if you do, they’re after a free read and don’t seem to engage with you.

Well, I can certainly understand why you’d feel that way about Wattpad—it does appear to respond differently to different authors… Yet, since you’re obviously aiming to make serious money with your writing, talk a bit more about that, ok?

I didn’t begin writing to make money; but, here’s a saying I’ve started to use – “Editors, cover designers, mailing list operators, and other operators of IT and advertising services need to be paid, even if I do not.”  My first ambition for the book publishing business is to see enough sales to cover these costs, hopefully within a couple of years. Can I write books fast enough to make that happen? Watch this space. Some costs keep rolling in regardless of whether you have more books to sell or not. The truly successful self-published authors are producing 3 to 5 books a year and build an email list of tens of thousands of subscribers; and, it requires the investment of time and money to do this.

On Wattpad I recently assisted around a hundred writers from Amazon’s WriteOn community to relocate to Wattpad. Amazon is closing down WriteOn on March 22nd, 2017 and this great community needs a new home. I created a Wattpad user account called Wattpad WriteOn Writers and a retired gentleman by the name of Michael Walsh (@ZonderZorg), who has the time to do it, has set up all the reading lists and forum threads to give the ”WriteOn refugees” a focal point to gather. This community has been pretty good at reviewing each other’s work.

For me, my presence on Wattpad is parked and still attracting new readers all the time that do seem to be responding to my request to follow me to access Whiteland King. I’m not sure how long I can afford to leave Whiteland King up on Wattpad in its unedited form—I cannot afford to lose paying readers… I will always have something on Wattpad if only a two-chapter sample.

The General's Legacy - Part Two: Whiteland King The release of  The General’s Legacy – Part Two: Whiteland King is February 28th. What are your launch sales predictions?

I should get more reviews in the first few weeks from my review team and maybe more sales than last time but my “platform“—the number of people engaged with what I’m producing—is still small. I have around 800 mailing list subscribers, but that’s not 800 sales. I will do well to get as many as 3% to 4% buying, which may mean double the sales of last time around. The mailing list is a good launch pad, but you need to connect with readers in other ways, too. I’ve been present on Goodreads for a couple of years and made contact with a couple of great reviewers who have quite a following. Now that one, in particular, has posted a positive review, it is possible some other high profile reviewers and bloggers may try my book. I could end up with more reach and sales through this route than my email list right now. So my prediction is 2 to 3 times more sales than last time in the first week, and a better chance of follow-on sales ongoing as people on places like Goodreads are starting to discover my books in a small but still viral way.

What’s your strategy going forward?

I recognise now that running a mailing list and building it is essential, but it costs, per month; and, it costs to add more people to it, most of whom have a vast number of other free books to choose from, with more are appearing by the day. Most self-published authors who succeed in today’s market produce 3 to 5 shorter (45K to 85K words) books per year selling at $2.99 to $4.99 (once past the introductory $0.99 price point). It takes me too long to produce my longer books for this formula to work well enough to cover the expenses anytime soon—being paid for my writing time is a distant dream… I don’t give books away for free for mailing list subscribers—in effect, I pay to give them away!

I’m considering writing a new prequel novella to The General’s Legacy as my mailing list sign-up gift and adding another curiosity to try; and, put things on a less costly footing with Inheritance moving to paid only. This is the reverse of what other authors do—the more books they have, the more they give away for free to tempt in new subscribers. I’m going to try and raise the reputation of my books instead of giving more away for free; but, keep the prices keen and at the sweet spot of $2.99 to $4.99. It is harder to sell above this price. The curious thing is, since starting to give away Inheritance as a mailing list sign up gift, the sales of this book have almost doubled (9 in January). Obscurity is the enemy, not free books; so, maybe my strategy is wrong and the prequel novella should be used to make signing up to my mailing list even more appealing. I can try out different options and change things if I have to…

It’s incredibly hard to get this venture to cover its costs.  Editing is the killer—$2,400 to recover for The General’s Legacy—that needs a couple of thousand sales at full price once you count in the advertising and everything else. I do wonder how long I can keep going with these costs if I can’t increase the sales enough and produce more books fast enough…

What are this novella and “curiosity” you mention?

I’ve always felt that there is more story for the character General Garon—the old general whose legacy the main story is all about. He seems to command a lot of respect from readers even though he is only alive for the earliest part of the book. I was trying to generate a sense of loss when he passed away so characters in the story would talk about him and still feel his influence. The trouble is, I feel that loss and want to write more about him.  Maybe one day I’ll write a whole prequel series about his younger days. Until then, I’m interested in a short story about the lead up to The Battle of Beldon Valley (the prologue to Inheritance), so we get some time on the page between five-year-old Cory, Garon, and Cory’s older brother Pragius. Showing the bond between Cory and Pragius is something I’m interested in doing. I think Cory is going to have an idea that inspires an action that helps tip the balance in the Battle of Beldon Valley that has never been revealed before.

The curiosity—I thought it would be fun to produce a scout (spy) report written by the enemy, captured by the Scout Commander of Valendo (the good guys) about Prince Cory and his habits. Something to foreshadow that Cory is a target in the enemy’s plans. I’ve written the text for this, but my plan is to write it with a fountain pen and scan it, so it looks like a handwritten scroll.

I think the novella and scout report are marvellous ideas for promotion—they both can stir interest in the main story; but, Adrian, do tell us a bit about General’s Legacy – Part Two: Whiteland King.

Inheritance is where Cory and the heroes are forced to confront a new challenge set by their long-time enemy. Whiteland King is the story about what Cory and his comrades do about it. Here is the book description text as it will appear on Amazon and other sales sites:

Dendra Castle is under siege by an army that never sleeps and time is running out.

Prince Cory resolves to lead a black operation right to King Klonag’s throne to do what was forbidden for his grandfather—end the reign of the Whiteland King.

To conquer a Kingdom, Cory leads just thirty Special Operators, the Silver Warrior, the Archmage of Valendo, his daughter (with questionable battle magic ability), and the Scout Commander who is rarely in sight. Is it a desperate fool’s quest? Or, has Zeivite truly come up with a plan to defeat Magnar and the ‘dead mage’ with his limitless magic?

Even Cory does not know.

One way or another, the decades-long war between Valendo and Nearhon must end. Klonag has more pieces to move in this game of war, and Princess Julia is one them. And if she does not cooperate? There are worse fates than death when dealing with Klonag and Magnar, and more than one way to ensure her… unfailing obedience.

The General’s Legacy – Part Two: Whiteland King is the second book in The General of Valendo series that concludes the enthralling story of The General’s Legacy – Part One: Inheritance. The stakes escalate, revelations come, and even the souls of the ancestors gather over the Whitelands to witness the epic conclusion that is sure to thrill.

If you want your fantasy action-packed, laced with mystery, and running at a pace that refuses to let you put it down, The General’s Legacy delivers.

Ultimately, the full weight of the old general’s influence on past events and the people left behind is shown as Cory’s relentless determination collides with their enemy’s obsession with conquest.

Grab your copy of Whiteland King and start reading today!

As a final question, Adrian: You describe Inheritance and Whiteland King as the first two books in The General of Valendo series. What comes next?

The name of the next book and a short teaser description is in the back of Whiteland King. I don’t want to spoil any surprises. There are subtle things sprinkled into The General’s Legacy that will be picked up and used in future stories. The General’s Legacy is the story of how Prince Cory becomes the General of Valendo. Now, the story of him being the general can be told—if he lives through Whiteland King! After all, The General of Valendo is a job title, not a character ;-)

I’m looking at the scale of the achievements of historical generals such as Alexander the Great for inspiration—more fantasy tropes that I’ll give a twist to; and then, frame it all in the nature and consequences of man’s free will. Not everyone uses their free will wisely!



Why not visit Adrian’s blog

And, this would be a great time to ask Adrian a few questions in the Comments :-)
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Free Fantasy

I wish I’d heard about this deal before today… Free Fantasy

However, there are Previews, 1st Chapters, and Full Novels FREE Today Only (as long as you’re not somewhere like, oh, Australia, where it’s already the 28th…)…

And, one in particular caught my eye since the author visited this blog recently—Author Interview ~ Adrian G Hilder.

So, only hours left to grab as many as you want at the Instafreebie Fantasy Giveaway!

And, the one I can recommend is the 4th one down, The General’s Legacy :-)


Mr. Hilder kindly commented about the offer in this post:

“Worth a look even after 27th as many authors will have their book available longer.”

If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Author Interview ~ Adrian G Hilder

I’ve been waiting what seems a long time to have today’s interview…

In fact, regular readers may be surprised there’s no re-blog today.

Well, there won’t be a re-blog tomorrow either—I must leave this interview up both days…

It was in January of this year that Adrian and I “met”—when we followed each other on Wattpad.

Then, about three months later, after quite a bit of conversation, I began reading his book…

From my experience with this man, I can say, with gusto, pay attention to what he says :-)

{Also, Adrian has something special to reveal, for the first time, in this interview…}


Adrian, let’s begin with when you first knew you wanted to write and why you began. Adrian G Hilder - Author

I read and loved many fantasy novels in my teens and early twenties.  My favorite authors at the time were David Gemmel, David Eddings, Raymond E Fiest, Terry Brooks and of course, Tolkien. When I was seventeen (we are talking 1988), I promised myself I would write a fantasy story one day.  I had the urge to create a tale that would be dramatic and gripping the way my favorite movies and books were. I wanted to give the reader a sense of excitement as they read a story I created.

What has the writer’s journey been like for you?

Very long! In some respects it started in 1988 when I first invented a character—a young man with tumbling black hair falling to his shoulders, sitting on a rock and holding a magic sword of some kind.  He had a grave look on his face, and I knew he had an immense challenge to overcome—one that his mentor never resolved.  I even gave him a name: Corylus or “Cory” as he would be called—the Latin name for the Hazel tree, because he would be a tough nut to crack.  That’s all I knew.  Lacking the life experience to create the kind of story I wanted to tell, and then being busy with starting a career in IT and getting married, it remained one of those things I would do “one day”.

In 2009 I had just finished reading Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy. It was brilliant, but slow paced and exhausting for me to read because I wanted to extract the story faster than the dense narrative would allow. I yearned for something faster paced—so hard to find in the fantasy genre. The following day, scrap printer paper and pen in hand, I began writing about Prince Cory on the train to work. Cory had a famous grandfather—a general—who was also his mentor and the war he could not end was the challenge never resolved. I wrote about Cory at his grandfather’s funeral, but soon gave up because I didn’t feel the quality of the writing measured up to published works.  Sadly, I didn’t understand at the time that first drafts are always bad, and you need to take a leap of faith spending time (months or more) writing to develop your “author’s voice”.

Fast forward to October 2013 when the movie Enders Game was released. It caught my attention because Harrison Ford was in it.  I decided to read the book first and then see the movie.  I loved the story and the ending I didn’t see coming.  Orson Scott Card tells us in the forward that he had the idea for the story concept when he was eighteen but did not write it until his mid-thirties.  I was forty-three when I read this, and it struck me that the time for writing Cory’s story was long overdue.  I started to write again and didn’t stop for the two years it took me to finish a first draft of The General’s Legacy.

How do you find the time for writing alongside family and work commitments?

I move work location every once in awhile (I’m a freelance IT consultant) and often work in London (UK).  Commuting there means spending over two hours a day on the train—so there is ten hours a week of writing time.  I listen to music, there are no internet distractions, and I find it a productive place to write.  On the London Underground, sitting at the station waiting for a late train, or in the car while one of my boys is busy with an activity such as cricket practice at the weekend, are all places I can be found writing.  I’m working close to home right now. Fortunately, my wife understands when I spend the same amount of time at the office before and after work keeping up my writing routine.  It can be an inefficient way to write. When time is short, I might only get a hundred words down, but this is better than nothing.

Adrian, you said you wanted to write a story that was dramatic and exciting, the way some movies are. How did you go about doing this?

I felt early on in writing The General’s Legacy that I needed a way to pace the story and have some structure or plan to guide me. By the time I had written the prologue and first two chapters, I was daunted by the prospect of creating a whole story, with all its complexity to manage, without some form of plan. I felt the same way I did when I first started computer programming—you can sit down and just write a small computer program by the seat of your pants, but how do you build a large and complex IT system? At college, I learned how to design software. I was convinced I needed to learn how to design a story. It only took minutes of searching online for me to find Story Engineering by Larry Brooks.  This book taught me how screenwriters and many novelists plan their stories, define their characters, and more. This approach to planning a story forces me to come up with plot twists, conflicts, and dramatic moments that I might not otherwise have thought of. Knowing that these “plot points” are coming, and what the goal of each of the four story phases are, I have plenty of page time to spin the story in their direction.

So, would you describe yourself as a “plotter” rather than a “panster”?

For me, a bit of “seat of the pants writing” is an essential part of discovering character and story, but I need a plan before I go too far. Sometimes the story goes off plan for the better—so the plan is updated. I believe the method and the plan must serve the story and not the other way around… but, as Larry would say, structure is story (a ton of authors might disagree). However much I might stretch the structure rules, all the essential points are there by the end.

Where does the inspiration for what goes into your stories come from?

Mostly, what’s going on in the world around us right now and in recent history.  I’ve avoided creating a fantasy story that draws too heavily on medieval history for storylines and setting. The General’s Legacy is set in a fictional world partly inspired by 18th and 19th century Europe—there is even orchestral music. I’ve used differing fictional religious beliefs, divisions within religions and characters with no religious beliefs for inspiration—without preaching or disrespecting any particular point of view. This also applies to future stories in the planning process.

For some elements of the story, I’ve used my own experiences. Every so often, life can throw many of us a curve ball that we’re not equipped to catch. These can be stressful times—sometimes too stressful for us to cope. I wanted to make something positive out of such hard times. Anxiety and stress come into play in The General’s Legacy, mainly in connection with the use of magic in the story and one character in particular. All great heroes need an inner weakness to triumph over as they try to overcome the antagonists in a story.

Adrian, since we connected on Wattpad, I’d like you to share what your experience there has been like…

At first, it felt like I was publishing story parts into the void.  Hardly anyone took notice of what I was doing. When I had twenty or so story parts up, and I had gone mad following other fantasy and science fiction readers and authors, I managed to secure a few regular readers. Shortly before I published the last parts of the story, the Wattpad Community Team approached me about having The General’s Legacy Featured in fantasy. Many more readers arrived after this and continue to trickle in today. I had been on Wattpad for about eight months by this point. Wattpad has given me many readers, some have commented and voted on the story throughout; and, a few have agreed to review The General’s Legacy Part 1: Inheritance on Amazon and similar sites when it’s published in November this year.

It has been exciting to have someone other than one of my closest friends read and respond to the story.

The highlights of my Wattpad experience have been the day I saw one reader spend sixteen out of twenty-four hours of his Easter Sunday reading and voting on the story, plus the period of time when you were reading and commenting on it—it was a lot of fun!

Well, I was completely taken away by the story, Adrian…

You mentioned there are more stories in the planning process. What does the future have in store for your writing?

The General’s Legacy will be published in two parts – Inheritance (by November 2016) followed a few months later by Whiteland King. The editing process has been consuming much of my writing time since October 2015, but I am planning and “world building” for a series of four more stories to follow on from The General’s Legacy. There are characters, little snippets of information, and bits of history dropped into The General’s Legacy that set some things up for the future stories.

The last thing I would like to share with you and your blog readers is the “cover reveal” for The General’s Legacy Part 1: Inheritance. It has never been shown anywhere else before.

The General's Legacy

And, Alexander, thank you, so much, for inviting me to interview.

It was great having you share your story about your stories with my readers, Adrian! :-)

And: Here’s Part Two :-)


And, folks, here are some places you can find Adrian and his books online:

Adrian’s WebSite

Adrian’s Space on Wattpadwhere you can read The General’s Legacy, Free…

Adrian’s Facebook Presence

Also, please, do, ask Adrian any questions you may have in the Comments…
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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