Before 2009, Karina Halle was writing spec screenplays and working as a music journalist, but success came from her ambitious nine-part horror/fantasy series, Experiment in Terror, which revolved around a pair of aspiring ghost hunters struggling with ghastly encounters and mounting sexual tension. As the series became a self-published hit, Halle turned to writing full time and has since released over 45 books, landed on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, and signed deals for some of her releases with Simon & Schuster and Hachette. She talked with us about jumping into the world of indie romance and the challenges she still faces.
When did you first get interested in self-publishing, and what was the first book that you released?
The first book I wrote was Darkhouse, which I did in six weeks at the end of 2009. Originally, I thought that I would do the traditional route and get an agent and then a publisher, but by the time I was on the third book, I’d read all about self-pubbed pioneers like Amanda Hocking and how they were making their dreams a reality….There was something very rewarding and immediate about the control and not having to wait on other people to let you know if you can do this or not.
What made you decide to pursue fiction full time?
I did do music journalism for a few years, which I absolutely loved, but the money was never there. So that’s when I started writing my books on the side, doing both and hoping one would pay off sooner than the other. Eventually the books brought in the money and started taking up all of my time, so I had to say goodbye to music journalism.
What makes a romance exciting for readers?
I think characters rule everything. You might have a boring plot or a trope that’s been done to death, and maybe it’s predictable, but if the reader cares about your hero or heroine, then they’ll overlook that. But if your characters aren’t connecting to readers, then no thrilling plot or gratuitous sex scenes will save them.
You’ve also released a lot of paranormal and horror books. What do you like about working in different genres?
These days I don’t change genres much—I stick with contemporary [romance], mainly because I wrote so much paranormal romance and horror at the start that the genre burned itself out for me. But even within the contemporary genre, I’m constantly mixing things up, which I think is very important.
What are some of the strategies that you’ve used for finding new readers?
I’m not going to lie, finding new readers is a struggle….Even if you’ve been part of the indie romance world as long as I have, you have to work for it. Basically, you need to treat every new release as if you’re a debut author. This industry isn’t for the passive.
What do you think are some of the advantages to being a hybrid author?
A lot of genres such as women’s fiction, romantic suspense, or thrillers don’t sell as well when self-published, so it makes sense to have a publisher if you’re writing in those genres. But if you’re writing romance, science fiction, or fantasy, then you’re better off doing it yourself.
What can you tell us about your latest release?
The Wild Heir is a stand-alone romantic comedy set within the Norwegian royalty. It’s all about the reckless heir to the Norwegian throne, a sex scandal, and an arranged marriage to a woman that hates him. It’s an enemies-to-lovers story, a witty, funny, sexy, slow-burn romance that’s perfect for anyone still swooning over Harry and Meghan’s wedding.
Rhett Morgan is a writer and translator based in Paris.