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Tell us a bit about yourself and your books.
I'm an author and martial arts instructor. I was born and raised in the UK and now live on the beautiful south coast of NSW in Australia. Teaching Kung Fu and QiGong is a massive part of my life and helps to pay the bills while also giving me time to write and promote my books.
In RealmShift the protagonist is a powerful immortal called Isiah who has the unenviable task of trying to keep some kind of balance between all the world's religions. In this instance he's tasked with protecting a rather unsavoury blood mage called Samuel Harrigan. He would much rather let this blood mage meet his fate, but a lot hangs on the actions of the man and the Devil himself wants Harrigan's soul. So Isiah has his work cut out.
In the sequel, MageSign, the protagonist is back again, but on a rather more personal quest this time. He's after a nasty piece of work known only as the Sorcerer, who was Samuel Harrigan's mentor. As Isiah's search bears fruit he learns that this Sorcerer has a bigger following, more power and a terrible agenda that far exceeds anything Isiah had considered.
Both books are rollicking good thrillers on the one hand, with lots of action, martial arts and suspense, and dark speculative fiction on the other, with gods, demons, monsters, magic and mayhem. They've been called dark fantasy and horror and urban fantasy and a number of other things, so they're obviously a little hard to pin to any genre. They've both received great reviews and I'm very proud of them. Both available on Amazon, of course, and you can learn all about them and read the first three chapters of both for free at my website.
How did you get into writing?
I've always loved writing and reading. English was the only subject I was any good at in school. I started writing stories when I was a kid and I've never stopped. In my mid-twenties I decided to actually try to take the whole thing a bit more seriously and wrote RealmShift. I'd written novels before, but never finished them. I'm a fan of short stories too, so I started submitting shorts to various markets and slowly started to become an actual writer simply by acting like one and writing as much as I could.
For others interested in the fantasy/horror/sci-fi genre, where are some good sites people can visit?
There are so many sites out there, it really depends on personal taste. I follow the S F Signal blog and I'm a member of the Australian Horror Writers Association, which has a great site. And there's my own site, of course, with loads of free fiction! Otherwise, a quick web search will turn up all kinds of interesting stuff.
Why did you self-publish your books? What are the benefits of indie?
RealmShift did the traditional rounds initially. I had a good agent and one of the big houses got interested. Their genre editor wanted to run with it, but the head of fiction decided against it at the eleventh hour. Rather than start the whole process again I decided to self-publish POD and get on with the next book.
That whole process eventually led to me setting up an independent publisher called Blade Red Press. I've used it to produce my books, we have one more available now and will be looking for new projects soon. It means that the creative control remains very much with the authors and their vision can be realised without the commercial constraints of the big publishing houses.
Just like independent music and independent film, indie publishing is the next big thing for writers. With the technology we have available today there's more opportunity than ever to take advantage of new methods. I expect to see indie publishing explode over the next few years. Of course, the pitfalls include being a little fish in a big pond (with lots of big fish roaming around!) but that's also the thrill. There are great opportunities for everyone out there.
The biggest challenge is getting noticed and making people aware of the books we have available.
How do you market your work as a self-published author?
Everything I can do on the internet, I try to do! I have a website with a blog, a seperate website and blog for Blade Red Press, I promote my books through social network sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. I get involved with forums and basically just tout the books everywhere the opportunity arises. It's a fine line between raising interest and coming across as an obsessed snake oil salesman, but it's a process you refine over time!
I also get independent bookstores to take a few copies of my books on consignment and I promote and sell them directly through my website too.
You've been blogging a long time – why do authors need blogs?
An author blog serves a few purposes. It exposes people to you and your writing on a regular basis. People are encouraged to come back to your site to read new blog posts and thereby get reminded of your books all the time. It also helps readers to get to know the person behind the name on the book cover. The more a reader feels they know about you, the more inclined they might be to read more of your work. The indie scene is as much about rapport as it is about promoting quality writing.
Where can people find out more about you and get your books?
People can learn all about me at http://www.alanbaxteronline.com and get the books from their local amazon. If people would like to learn more about the books first or see other purchase options then they can read the first three chapters of both for nothing and see all the various options at the Blade Red Press website –http://www.blade-red.com/books/realmshift/ for RealmShift and http://www.blade-red.com/books/magesign/ for MageSign. The same information can be found by clicking on the book covers on http://www.alanbaxteronline.com too.
You can also connect with Alan at Twitter. There are more interviews with authors including audio mp3 files here.
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