Q&A with Tony Eldridge

 Tony Eldridge is probably best known as an authority on Twitter for authors, but he’s also written “The Samson Effect,” an action-adventure novel that’s been a mainstay on the religious fiction charts. Read on to learn how he got Clive Cussler to endorse his novel and how to use Twitter to find new readers.

ALEX: Have you always had an interest in Biblical archaeology, or did you fall the for storyline and then decided to do the research?

TONY: I’ve always been interested in the stories of the Old Testament. Few authors have been able to create the drama, the intrigue and the adventure found in it. From the great flood, to a divided kingdom, you have stories of giant slaying, kingdom subduing, angels destroying vast armies, and the list goes on and on. It was a natural thing for me to look there to find fertile ground for my fiction. That and similar stories like the Indiana Jones series and the Dan Brown books, both of which have tied in biblical mysteries into their plot, have been some of my favorite genres.

ALEX: Anytime religion is involved in a storyline, readers like to find metaphors — whether the author intended them or not. I’m sure your readers have found some interesting ones.

TONY: Alex, you’re so right. What’s interesting is that some of these metaphors can compete with each other and the people who develop them can get very defensive of their metaphor. To me, I love it when authors sit back and let readers argue for how they interpret the message in the book. Once an author weighs in on the discussion, I think it often loses some of that special spark that brings the story alive and gives it life beyond what the author created. For The Samson Effect, I’ve not seen that kind of discussion center around the book, though I have heard people continue the fiction far beyond what I have written. It’s interesting and entertaining to discuss how readers start to reinterpret the biblical stories using your fiction as the basis.

ALEX: Okay, Tony. The question that’s been burning a hole in my pocket — how the heck did you get an endorsement from Clive Cussler?

TONY: Luck and incredible kindness on the part of my favorite writer (yes, he was my favorite writer before he gave me the endorsement). I was fortunate enough to speak with his son, Dirk, and asked him if his father would be willing to provide me a cover quote. Dirk said to send it to him and he would make sure his father saw it. I remember him stressing that there was no promise that Clive would read it, but that’s he’d have a chance. I over-nighted the manuscript and a few weeks later, I received a hand written letter from Cussler himself with the quote I pulled for the cover of the book. After carrying it with me for a week to show people, my wife made me carry around a photocopy and put the original in a frame. I read it anytime I need encouragement.

ALEX: Perhaps an even better story than the Cussler endorsement is how your book had its film rights optioned by … yourself. Explain.

TONY: That’s an interesting story. Shortly after publishing The Samson Effect, I got an e-mail from someone who said he was a Hollywood film producer and was interested in reading a chapter of my book. He said that his name was Tony Eldridge and was prompted to research my book when he started to receive congratulatory messages about the release of his first book. After a few e-mails, he and his partners acquired the rights to the book. I just talked to him a couple of weeks ago and he is still excited about the project, but his attention is focused on another project that just got the green light. He’s bringing a film adaptation of the 1980’s CBS series, The Equalizer, to the silver screen. I can’t wait to see my name on the credits, even if I’m not the Tony Eldridge they are referring to 🙂

For more information on how the Producer Tony Eldridge discovered my book, here is a link to the press release he wrote about it:

ALEX: Are there other novels are in the works?

TONY: I just released a mystery/thriller called, The Lottery Ticket, via ebook format only. I’m also working on the sequel to The Samson Effect where I’m bringing back the three main characters for a new, more global adventure. This time, the object of their quest pits the most powerful countries on earth against each other with the winner emerging as the lone superpower. While I’m not prepared to divulge the subject of the sequel yet, I can tell you that it’s one of the oldest and most sought-after biblical treasures in antiquity.

ALEX: But I know the location of the Ark, Tony. It’s in that giant government warehouse outside Washington, D.C.

TONY: There goes all the work I’ve been putting into the sequel! Seriously, most people think that one of the books in the series will center on the Ark, but as of now, that’s not a plot I’m planning on developing. It’s been done in every conceivable way and I’ve decided not to go there, though I always reserve the right to change my mind anytime.

ALEX: What’s more valuable to an author when it comes to marketing — their blog, Twitter or Facebook? (And no, you can’t say they’re all equally important.)

TONY: Personally, if I could only have one of those three, I’d choose the blog. It’s the most customization and the one you can have the most control over. And depending on how you create your blog, you don’t have to worry about the site changing its terms of service on you and throwing your whole marketing plan in chaos. Still, if I had to get rid of Twitter and Facebook, my overall marketing platform would suffer.

ALEX: Let’s talk about Twitter. One thing that a some authors fail to grasp is that (1) your Twitter handle needs to be your name and that (2) you need to make the most of your Twitter profile.

TONY: I agree with your number one assertion wholeheartedly. If you’re going to be an author of multiple books, you want a unifying twitter handle for them all and nothing is better than your name. In almost all cases, an author will want themselves to be the brand, not the book(s). Also, if people want to find you on Twitter, your name is the easiest way for them to do that. Finally, you want to minimize someone else running with your name as their Twitter handle if at all possible. The more hurdles you put between you and your potential readers, the less effective your social media marketing would be.

I think a lot of people underutilize their Twitter profile. It falls into the category of using this tool to make it easy for people to find you. For me, a good head shot (not a book cover) is the most effective use of a Twitter profile, along with a description that nails who you are and a link where they can go to find out more about you.

ALEX: How soft does the “soft sell” need to be on Twitter? How often do you Tweet your books versus links to blog posts or retweets?

TONY: In my experience, Twitter is valuable when you contribute to a greater community. There are a lot of ways you can do that. You can tweet links to great resources (which is what I do over 95% of the time), or you can actively engage in Twitter conversations by asking/answering questions, or you can refer great experts to people who are looking for them.

People will tolerate a certain level of “self-promotion” as long as that’s not all they hear from you. For me, I tweet about my books between 1 to 2 percent of all tweets. The vast majority of tweets I send point to online resources, including blog topics written by myself and other experts.

ALEX: Are there different strategies for a Twitter follower who’s following 200 other accounts versus someone who is following 1,000 accounts … or 10,000?

TONY: Alex, that’s a great question. Obviously, the smaller the number of followers, the easier it is to stay on top of their tweets. When you start to get thousands and tens of thousands of followers, it’s impossible to communicate personally with each of them. Then you have to adopt a strategy to try and stay tuned to people to are standing in the crowd trying to get your attention.

I wrote a post for BookBuzzr called How To Keep Up With The People You Follow On Twitter that tried to address the question that you asked on how to manage twitter followers of various sizes. I also wrote a post on my blog called Can Twitter Really Help You Sell Books? in response to a reader who didn’t understand how a large Twitter account could be used effectively as part of your marketing plan. Both of these posts go into more detail in answering your question. But the bottom line for me is that Twitter can be a great tool for finding new readers for your book.

MORE ON TONY ELDRIDGE

Tony’s blog, Book Marketing Strategies and Tips for Authors

Tony’s books at Amazon.com

OTHER INTERVIEWS

New York Times bestselling romantic suspense novelist Victorine Lieske

Christian fiction author Paula Wiseman

* * *

If you would like to learn more about my upcoming novella, you can read here about “Signs and Wonders.”

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