To celebrate the publication of my novella, Christmas with Mr Darcy, I’m hosting a special ‘Indie Month’ on my blog where bestselling authors will tell you about their latest book and share the secrets of their indie success.
Today, I’m delighted to welcome fellow Jane Austen addict Jane Odiwe – author of the delightful novel Searching for Captain Wentworth.
Tell us about your latest indie book
Searching for Captain Wentworth is inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I’ve always loved Time Travel stories and I really loved the idea of combining a historical and contemporary story. In fact, there are three tales in this novel weaving alongside one another. My heroine, Sophie, has a broken heart when she arrives in Bath to stay in the neglected family house which happens to be just next door to where Jane Austen lived 200 years ago. When she sees her mysterious neighbour Josh drop a white glove out on the pavement, she picks it up and follows him into Sydney Gardens only to find as she passes through a white cast iron gate that she’s travelled back to Regency Bath. In the past, Sophie lives out the life of her ancestor Sophia who becomes friends with Jane Austen and falls for the charms of Jane’s brother, Charles. As she jumps between the present to the past, Sophie’s relationships with the men in her life become increasingly complicated but, just when she faces her greatest dilemma, Jane Austen’s own heartache helps her to make a decision …
Blending fact and fiction together, set between the modern world and the glittering social whirl of Georgian Bath and Lyme, Sophie’s story travels two hundred years across time and back again to unite this contemporary heroine with her own Captain Wentworth. This was an exercise in wish-fulfillment. It’s a love letter to Bath, Lyme and the inspiration of Jane Austen and her work.
What made you decide to go indie?
I’ve self-published two books before and it felt like the right time to try out e-publishing. I love the fact that Kindle is so immediate – you can get a book out to readers in a matter of a few hours.
Do you design your covers yourself and write your own blurb etc?
I design the covers with the help of my wonderful husband who is a graphic designer. I was very lucky to be given permission from Anne Rice, the owner of the Rice Portrait of Jane Austen, to use her wonderful painting for my cover for Searching For Captain Wentworth. Meeting Anne and hearing all about the history of the painting was a great inspiration for my book. You can read all about the painting on janeaustenriceportrait.com
I’ve always written my own blurb even for my traditional publishers – it’s a valuable (if difficult) exercise trying to distill the essence of a book into a few lines!
What are the pros and cons of going indie?
I think this is a most amazing time for indie authors. I first self-published back in 2003 with my picture book Effusions of Fancy. The excitement that I felt on producing a book was indescribable and selling it was such a buzz. I followed this up with Lydia Bennet’s Story which was then picked up by a traditional publisher along with two other novels so I’ve seen both sides. For me, having total control over my books is the ultimate prize and the fact that you can control your own royalties, distribution and publicity are all pros, though I must admit, I did love having a publicist when I was traditionally published. One of the reasons I went back to self-publishing with my new novel, Searching for Captain Wentworth, was because Kindle have made it so easy to be your own publisher and I was dying to have a go at using the new digital technology. That’s been eye-opening – I hadn’t realised quite how e-books have taken over from when I first self-published. More pros than cons but, when I first started out, self-publishing was not taken very seriously. How times have changed!
How do you publicize your books?
I use social networks and try to alert the groups of people I think will be interested in my book. In the ‘Austen’ circuit there are lots of people who positively help authors like myself with reviews and with running specialised ‘Austen’ events like Meredith Esparza’s Austenesque Extravaganza and Misty Braden’s Austen in August. Specialist blogs like Laurel Ann’s Austenprose and Vic Sanborn’s Jane Austen’s World have helped spread the word about my books since I first started and there are many other generous bloggers who have done the same. I have my own blog, janeaustensequels.blogspot.co.uk which features my books and paintings and my own website: austeneffusions.com
Do you think Twitter and Facebook really help in getting word out there?
Yes, I do! There are a lot of lovely people out there who are only too happy to spread the news about a new publication. It’s a great way to connect with readers of your books too.
Do you read any indie authors yourself?
I’ve read Victoria Connelly’s books : ) and I’m just exploring a few more in my own genre though I don’t like to read many because I don’t want to be influenced by their writing. Most books I read were published before 1950 but I’m certainly open to the idea of reading indie authors.
Would you accept a traditional publishing deal now?
If I were to be tempted by a lovely advance, I would accept a traditional publishing deal now. I don’t think I’d ever close the door on anything that might ultimately be the best thing for me and my work. Having seen both sides of publishing there are advantages and disadvantages for an author but both can be equally rewarding.
What advice would you give to writers thinking of going indie?
Make sure you know your audience and where to find them. Be prepared to ‘talk’ about your work whether that’s in reality or through the internet. Explore as many ways as you can for getting publicity – you don’t always have to spend a lot of money. Set up a blog and use social networks to help spread the word. I think a lot of these things don’t come easily to us as authors but even if you’re traditionally published, these days you’re expected to be involved in your own publicity. Finally, just keep going! I always think if Jane Austen had written a book with me as the heroine she’d have called it ‘Persistence’. I write because it is my passion and obsession and the rewards may not always be financial ones – the highlights of my writing career, indie or otherwise, have been the wonderful letters I’ve received from readers and meeting some of those special people who make it all worthwhile!
Thank you so much for sharing your indie journey, Jane!