August 11, 2011

Jinn Nation Blog Tour: A guest post by Caroline Barnard-Smith

Right now, Caroline Barnard-Smith is on a blog tour promoting her new novel, Jinn Nation. Today marks her stop at my blog with a special guest post, entitled "Why I Turned Indie." But first, here's a brief bio on Caroline:

Caroline Barnard-Smith has been writing stories since she was five years old. Having graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a bachelor's degree in English Literature, she now lives in Devon, England with her husband and baby daughter where she writes about ruthless vampires, lovelorn zombies and heinous blood cults. 

Her short stories have been published in numerous small press magazines, including Ballista, Hungur and Night to Dawn, and on the web at Dark Fire Fiction. 

Caroline's debut dark fantasy novel, Dunraven Road, was published by Immanion Press in June 2009. For various exciting reasons she's since turned her hand to indie publishing.  Jinn Nation is her first full-length independently published novel.  

When she's not writing, Caroline is busy running her handmade craft business, CazzCraft, selling both online and at craft fairs.

Why I Turned Indie 

If you're to believe the hype, everyone who self-publishes an e-book these days is a guaranteed millionaire.  Authors such as J.A. Konrath and H.P. Mallory have led the way with their books rarely leaving the bestseller charts while indie superstar, Amanda Hocking, has seen her paranormal romance novels sell in the hundreds of thousands.  Just recently it was announced that John Locke had become the first indie author to sell 1 million e-books through the Amazon Kindle store, joining such literary heavyweights as Stieg Larsson and Lee Child.  When I first decided to self-publish I knew I had a very slim chance of replicating these successes, although imagining the possibility of doing so definitely helped to fuel my decision.  Rather than believing I would become a bestselling author overnight, I was excited to see that both e-publishing and self-publishing had lost a lot of the stigma they once had.  It used to be that if you self-published or used the (admittedly sometimes dubious) services of a vanity publisher, your novel was instantly dismissed by critics, retailers and readers alike.  A book had to have a traditional publisher's seal of approval before it went out into the world or it was little better than kindling.  Since the sales of e-reading devices, particularly Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook, skyrocketed over the course of last year, culminating in a Christmas that saw the Kindle outselling the latest Harry Potter novel, these preconceptions have begun to change.  Readers are far more likely to try a new and untested independent author than they ever were before because publishing in an electronic format means they are able to set the price, usually making their novels much cheaper than those written by their traditionally published contemporaries whose bosses have to pay all sorts of overheads.  To be honest, some of the e-book prices of mainstream novels are laughably high.  Why would you pay more for the e-version of a novel than you would for the paper version?  Come over to the dark side and try an indie, we won't rip you off, my friend (Scout's honour!)     

It wasn't just peoples' changing attitudes that convinced me to try indie publishing; the clincher for me was the amount of control you retain.  I was able to control every aspect of my novel.  I had an awesome proofreader but the definitive decision on the final manuscript was mine; I typeset the novel myself and although I'm completely hopeless with Photoshop and if left to my own devices would have produced a cover that looked like a 5-year-old had drawn it with crayons (trust me, I'm that bad), I'm lucky enough to know a very lovely graphic designer who created a cover for me, using my ideas and stock photography I had chosen.  Some authors wouldn't enjoy having to do all these things for themselves of course, and there's nothing wrong with that.  Even if you hire an editor and a book/cover designer (as many indie authors do), that still requires quite a bit of organisation.  You also have to market yourself, and market yourself hard if you want to get noticed, which can also be a daunting prospect (although from what I've heard, unless your name's Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer, traditional publishers will do pretty much nothing for you these days in the way of promotion or marketing, but that's a whole different blog post…)  All of this means that if you're not afraid to become a literary entrepreneur as well as a writer, indie publishing is a real and exciting option.  Plus there's the possibility of getting 70% royalties on Kindle sales, a rate you'd never see from a traditional publisher in a million years (maybe you'd see it in a million and one years, but they'd be really desperate to sign new authors by then because all the writers in the world would have turned indie, hehe.)          
Yes, there is some rubbish floating around out there and indie authors have taken flak because of it, but the rise of independent publishing has also signaled some wonderful things for genre fans.  Just a couple of years ago you would have been hard pressed to find a vampire novel that wasn't a Twilight clone.  This was because the traditional publishers were firmly in control of what readers could buy and, powers that be they thought they were, had determined that the tween appetite for shiny vegetarian vamps had cancelled out all other interest in the genre.  This was obviously ridiculous so many literary-minded vampire fans, myself included, began to write novels starring undead anti-heroes and even out-and-out villains who actually enjoyed their afterlife, who lusted for blood unapologetically and killed with impunity.  You can now find many of these novels for sale as self-pubbed e-books at the Kindle store and beyond.  Vampire fiction isn't the only genre enjoying a resurgence thanks to indie publishing; historical romance has made a big comeback as has epic fantasy and many more besides.  People have said there's never been a better time to be a writer, but I believe there's also never been a better time to be a reader.


I'd like to thank Caroline for stopping by the blog and offering an interesting perspective from an independent author. If you'd like to learn more about Caroline and her work, you can visit her website, her blog, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

As for Jinn Nation, you can find it available for purchase through Amazon, Smashwords, and even Createspace. Here's a brief summary about the novel:

Once, the vampire Dylan had feared nothing and no one. He'd rampaged throughout the world on a seemingly never ending quest to fill his eternal years with the finest, most outrageous extravagances; with exquisite, soft-limbed young women and copious amounts of rich, vibrating blood. But life, however full of joy, inevitably changes.

Finding himself alone for the first time in his long unlife, Dylan turns to the preternatural race of savage creatures called the jinn - a path that inevitably leads him to Christa, a strangely childlike woman with the power to control minds and read thoughts. Mutually intrigued by each other, they set out on a blood-soaked road trip that crosses the United States and the Atlantic Ocean, finally leading them beyond the world itself to the mysterious fae kingdoms of the Inbetween.

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