Dream come true

E-BOOKS gave an Australian woman a chance to finally fulfill her dream of being a romance writer.

CJ Archer is now living out every author's fantasy. The mother of two who lives in Melbourne writes full-time. Her historical romance books have won awards such as the RWAustralia’s Emerald Award. 

However, like thousands of successful authors before her, it took her a lot of hard work and believing in herself to finally get there.

It also took the invention of e-books to make her dream a reality.

After nearly being published by a New York publishing house (her book "went up the editorial ladder" before it was rejected by an editor"), she parted ways with her agent and although she had already written many novels, she said adieu to writing.

However, she kept tabs with the publishing and writing industry. Then she came across authors such as Joe Konrath, Karen McQuestion and Amanda Hocking who got great results by putting their books in digital form.

"I threw my hands in the air and declared to my husband: 'I have nothing to lose'," she said.

Archer released her first e-book on Jan 2011 and spent the next three months learning all about e-publishing.

Archer, who also writes contemporary mysteries under the pen name Carolyn Scott, now earns a good income from her books, though she describes it as a "bumpy ride". She often sells thousands of copies a month, at times she even sells 10,000 copies.

All this wouldn't have been possible if she hadn't embraced e-books.

When you first started out with this idea of selling ebooks, how did you feel?

A little bit ashamed, to be honest. In those days, self-publishing was a dirty word among most authors, agents and publishers. I was worried I'd ruin my chances of trying to get another agent or contract, so I changed my name and the titles of my books and didn't tell anyone except my husband what I was doing. I "came out" a few months later to my writing buddies who've been very supportive. Thankfully attitudes have shifted dramatically in two years and I don't have to hide what I do.

Your romance novels are set in unique eras (to the romance genre anyway). What made you decide to write in the Elizabethan era?

This was a conscious decision. I love all periods of history from ancient times to the 1940s. I wanted to write a historical romance but there were already many amazing authors writing in the Regency period. I wanted to be different, so I sat down and tried to think of some identifiable eras. Medieval felt too dark for the stories I wanted to write, Georgian was too decadent, and Victorian too formal.

I knew my stories needed a lighter time, like the Regency, but I also wanted a time when men could still be rough around the edges and brutal, like the Medieval. I settled on Tudor, but not being particularly fond of Henry VIII, I decided to set my books in the latter part, when Henry's daughter Elizabeth reigned. It turned out to be perfect, and I especially love the dichotomy of the era.

On the one hand, a strong woman is on the throne, yet women are still treated like chattels and have very few rights. The period is glorified as the Golden Age where poets and musicians are in fashion and science is coming into its own, but men still walk the streets with a sword strapped to their hip. Brawls are a common sight in the taverns, the prisons are filthy and crowded, and justice is swift and harsh. It's a fascinating time, ripe with story and character ideas.

What do you think is the turning point for your  ebooks?

Writing a series of books has been a great boost for me. When I released the Emily Chambers Spirit Medium trilogy, I saw an upswing in sales. Although some plot threads get tied up along the way, the romance and main plot aren't resolved until book 3, so readers who love book 1, THE MEDIUM, have gone on to read all three. I've also found this series has led to the most fan email from readers. They seem to love it, which is nice :)

What is the most satisfying thing about writing the ebooks?

Getting the stories to my readers very quickly. In traditional publishing, it usually takes between 1 and 2 years for a book to hit the shelves after the author is finished, but I can release a book within weeks. Readers love not having to wait too long between releases.

CJ Archer's e-books are available on Apple iTunes, Amazon, Kobo Books, Barnes and Nobles, Smashwords and All Romance Ebooks. Find out more about her work at  http://cjarcher.com

>The views expressed are entirely the writer's own

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