Monday, 27 December 2010

Spotlight on Romance: Self-publishing Romance Books - Guest post by Felicity Heaton + Giveaway


My celebrity guest today is paranormal romance author Felicity Heaton! Felicity is an incredibly productive and inspired author: she has penned more than 30 novels in different genres and I'm amazed how she does everything herself: yes, Felicity not only writes the story, she does the editing too, she makes the covers, advertises and takes care of everything else required to raise awareness about her books. She agreed to tell you a bit about the behind the scenes and why she chose self-publishing. Read on, a festive giveaway awaits you at the end ;-) So please give a warm welcome to Felicity!


A journey through self-publishing romance books

I’m Felicity Heaton and I’m here today to talk about my experiences as an indie author and also about writing romance e-books.

Embracing the WolfI have always loved everything paranormal, from vampires and werewolves to demons and witches, ever since I was a young child. When I reached my teens, I began to read classic romance novels and developed a love for the fairytale they swept me up in. Several years on from that, I’m writing my own fairytales, complete with the all important happily forever after.

A Promise of PassionI started writing romance stories seven years ago in 2003, and in 2005 I became e-published with three novels, two of which were historical romances and the remaining one was a romantic suspense. In 2006, I decided to break away from e-published to pursue self-publishing. Myself and a fellow author had both done well as e-published, and had both received good reviews for our stories, but we also felt as though we could do just as well, if not better, if we struck out on our own. It was great to have another author feel the same way as me. Being e-published was good but it wasn’t quite what I wanted. I wanted to get closer to the process, and having experienced being e-published, I knew that I could do everything it took to be a good indie author.

Winter's Kiss (Vampires Realm)I knew that I could get my book edited, make a cover for it (I was already making my own covers when with the e-publisher), and write the blurb just as good as the e-publisher could. I could market my story, get it reviewed, and build my following by running my own Yahoo!group and newsletter. For me, the switch to self-publishing was about retaining control of my story and how I market them. I no longer have to struggle with a publisher sending it to review sites that really aren’t suitable for my book (my e-publisher insisted on sending my stories to erotic romance review sites even though those books weren’t in that genre). I get to do everything from first draft to formatting for various websites, from buying ad space to sending it out for review, and even arranging interviews and guest blogging.

Seventh CircleOf course, back in 2006, being an indie author wasn’t as easy as it is today. Distribution was difficult, e-books weren’t selling like hotcakes, and review sites were sceptical about anything that was e-published let alone self-published. A few other authors we knew also wanted to go independent so we grouped together to form a self-publishing cooperative, determined to show the world that a self-published book could be just as good as an e-published one. We set up a website, got ourselves distributed on Fictionwise, which was the only place to be back then when Amazon Kindle and other major e-book outlets didn’t exist, and started promoting.

The effort I put into it was probably a little more than I had done when I had been with the e-publisher, but the difference in book sales was incredible. It really made it hit home that I didn’t need a publisher in order to sell books. I got great reviews for my self-published stories, even better than I’d had for my e-published ones.

Prophecy: Child of Light (Vampires Realm)I felt happier as an indie author than I ever had as an e-published one. I started writing paranormal romance, a genre close to my heart and one I had started out in before switching to historical, and even wrote some science-fiction romances, another genre that I have always loved. When I released my first paranormal romance, which was also the first story in my Vampires Realm series, Prophecy: Child of Light, I felt as though I had finally found myself as an author. I was so excited about the series and writing paranormal romances, and readers really responded to that. It was amazing to connect with them about the book. Speaking with readers is what I love most about writing, whether it’s the book doing the talking as they read it, or them communicating with me through email. I love connecting with readers. It’s exciting to receive emails from them, to converse with them about current stories and upcoming ones, and chat in general. That was what I had wanted from the start of my writing career, and I’m still like a kid in a candy shop whenever I talk with readers and reviewers now.

Cabin FeverMy audience grew with each book, and I’m lucky enough to have a large group of loyal readers who have loved my stories and who email me to ask for more.

Self-publishing to me wasn’t about making more money. It was about learning how to do it all myself and then putting everything I had learned into action. It was about reaching readers on a more personal level and I like to think that I’ve achieved that.

These days it’s a lot easier to be an indie author. The world is geared towards them and there are more blogs and review sites that are open to them. It’s a great time to be a self-published author, if you put the effort into it.

Daughters of Lyra: Heart of an EmperorI think that there is probably as much stigma attached to indie e-books these days as there was four years ago, and I’m not going to stand up and defend every indie book out there. Unfortunately there are those authors who cause problems for the rest of us. I’m going to be honest and say that at least 50% of indie e-books out there aren’t worth their salt, and that makes it difficult for readers to distinguish the good from the bad, and the negative label ends up applied to all of us.

I want to encourage readers to take a chance on indie authors, but I also want to encourage them to try before they buy, so they can avoid the authors who aren’t for them, or who aren’t writing as a career and are just out to make a quick buck. There are a few basics to look for if a reader is unsure of an author. Find their website or their blog. If they’re serious about their writing, they’ll have one. Read excerpts or samples of the stories. If they’re not for you, or you don’t think they’ve put the effort into their story that your hard earned dollars deserve, then move on, but don’t give up on all indie authors. There are a lot of professional authors out there who are indie. They’re the ones with the cover art you can barely distinguish from e-published or print, with a good website that offers excerpts and information about the books, and with a social platform. All authors who take themselves seriously will give you a way of contacting them, whether that’s through their site, email, blog or social networks.

MoonlightIf you still have doubts about the stories, do a quick search for reviews. Many indie authors now get their books reviewed on blogs, sites, and various networks such as Goodreads.

I know a lot of indie authors who have been doing this for a while and to them it’s a career, not a quick way to make some money. They’ve done their research, written a lot of books, read a lot of books about writing and also a lot of novels. They’ve put the effort in and it shows in the quality of their stories. I think as an indie author, it’s impossible to catch every wrong or missed word, even with professional editing and proofing, but the book that is put out into the world should read better than a first draft or fanfiction. It’s those books which put readers off all indie authors and which are giving us all a bad reputation.

Her Dark Angel (Her Angel Romance Series)I love writing romances and I love being indie. I’m passionate about both and I hope that as a reader you will have seen that today and will take a chance on my stories. I write romances that you can get caught up in and characters you will fall in love with. I write paranormal romances with passion, ones that will set your heart racing and leave you smiling and feeling warm inside. You can read excerpts of my stories at many places online, but mostly at my website: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/

One of my latest releases is a Christmas story. It’s a funny and sensual paranormal vampire romance that is perfect for the colder winter months. If you’re looking for an indie author to try and a sexy hero to cuddle up on the couch with, then look no further than Vampire for Christmas.

Vampire for ChristmasVampire for Christmas
by Felicity Heaton
It was one last mission. Shannon, a demon hunter with the agency, is looking forward to leaving behind the small town and the vampire she’s been stuck with for the past two years. Things are getting complicated fast and she wants out. A fresh start, free of her vampire partner, awaits her if she can survive their final mission and the lonely Christmas holidays.

It was one last mission. Rafe, a vampire doing time with the agency, watches it approach with dread weighing heavily in his stomach. Two years of working with Shannon has been difficult, especially since he started falling for her, but he doesn’t want their partnership to end. He has barely a few days to make her face her feelings and stop her from leaving, and he intends to do just that.

When a slimy demon threatens the season of peace and goodwill, it’s the chance Rafe has been waiting for and the moment Shannon secretly fears. Rafe’s determination to prise open her heart and her own resolve to keep it closed clash as violently as they do with the demon, and threatens to end as messily.

Can Rafe make Shannon see that his love for her is real and that she feels something for him too? Can Shannon face her fears and her past, and stop herself from running away from both? Will a wish on a star bring her what her heart truly desires—a vampire for Christmas?

Read the excerpt or buy now here.

Felicity Heaton is a romance author writing as both Felicity Heaton and F E Heaton. She is passionate about penning paranormal tales full of vampires, witches, werewolves, angels and shape-shifters, and has been interested in all things preternatural and fantastical since she was just a child. Her other passion is science-fiction and she likes nothing more than to immerse herself in a whole new universe and the amazing species therein. She used to while away days at school and college dreaming of vampires, werewolves and witches, or being lost in space, and used to while away evenings watching movies about them or reading gothic horror stories, science-fiction and romances.

Having tried her hand at various romance genres, it was only natural for her to turn her focus back to the paranormal, fantasy and science-fiction worlds she enjoys so much. She loves to write seductive, sexy and strong vampires, werewolves, witches, angels and alien species. The worlds she often dreams up for them are vicious, dark and dangerous, reflecting aspects of the heroines and heroes, but her characters also love deeply, laugh, cry and feel every emotion as keenly as anyone does. She makes no excuses for the darkness surrounding them, especially the paranormal creatures, and says that this is their world. She’s just honoured to write down their adventures.

Thanks for having me here today and if any readers have any comments or questions, please feel free to voice them and I’ll answer them as soon as possible.

If you want to know more about me, or want to get in touch, you can find me at the following places:

Felicity Heaton

GIVEAWAY RULES:

Felicity has generously offered 1 ebook copy of her Christmas paranormal romance Vampire for Christmas to one lucky commentator.

Vampire for Christmas

To be entered leave a meaningful comment ('please enter me' comments won't count) and your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win.

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 9 January 2011.


What is your experience with self-published, indie authors? Are you prejudiced or have you taken the chance and discovered some gems thanks to it? Share and you could win :-)

Good luck!


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