The months after finishing a novel are spent catching up on a million things that were left undone. For me this has meant, among others things, making decisions about turning my backlist books into ebooks.
Here’s a quick lesson about publishing. When an author accepts the offer of a traditional publisher, she or he gives that publisher certain rights. One of them usually involves allowing a publisher to publish that book as many ways as the company sees fit.
When I wrote many of my original romances, ebooks weren’t a twinkle in my publisher’s eye. After all Amazon didn’t even launch until 1995. A series romance novel was at bookstores for a month, maybe two, then it usually disappeared forever. Our book contracts were not broad enough to address the new possibilities that online publishing would bring. And because they weren’t, many years later, my publisher agreed I now have the rights to publish some of those books on Kindle, iBooks, Nook, and other ebook platforms.
Some of you may have downloaded From Glowing Embers this month, which is now free on your favorite device. It’s the first of a four book series, Tales of the Pacific, all of which are now available, and one of the first I published as an ebook after the series was made into movies in Germany. The covers are brand new and the books have each been re-edited for today’s reading audience.
So far I’ve turned six of my former romances into ebooks as well as two women’s fiction novels with a “woo-woo” twist that I wrote for Avons. But I have dozens of books I could republish. So how do I choose what to publish next?
This month I sat down with three of my Silhouette Intimate Moments novels. Intimate Moments novels were “larger than life,” stories filled with suspense, or melodrama or general high jinx. I wrote nineteen before I moved into general fiction–all the Tales of the Pacific books were published in Intimate Moments. Back then general fiction wasn’t really an option. No matter how many issues I tackled or taboos I broke, the books were still published with similar covers in similar ways.
As I looked at the possibilities Dragonslayer seemed an obvious choice. The novel won the RITA award from Romance Writers of America and also received one of what was then Romantic Times Magazine’s rare 5 star reviews. Quite honestly I didn’t know what to expect when I re-read it. It wasn’t one of my best sellers. Dragonslayer straddled genres. The story is romance, women’s fiction and inspirational combined, a book about a minister’s struggle with his loss of faith in God and in himself, and a woman’s struggle to help him find both and bring peace between inner city gangs.
But here’s the problem. Books about ministers don’t always sell well–and I may be the expert on this since I’ve written several. People pigeonhole ministers as pompous, self-righteous, humorless, and rigid. I know this is unfair from my marriage to one and my long association with many, but sadly the image remains.
Despite that, after reading Dragonslayer I knew it deserved a second chance. It’s probably one of my best romances. And it’s such a perfect complement to The Color of Light, that I knew I needed to release it soon. Along with the cover the novel needs updating, but very few real changes. Watch for Dragonslayer next month.
Next I read Lady of the Night and Bayou Midnight, older romantic suspense novels that I thought might deserve a second life. I finished them this morning. I still love the stories and the New Orleans setting, but I will love them more after I make some changes. What kind? Overwriting. Historical references. Too many yearning glances and not enough backbone. I’ll give some examples of changes as I make them in another blog. I can’t wait to see how they turn out.
Meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy watching me turn my backlist books into ebooks. No, they aren’t the same books I write today. Nor do they have to be. If you don’t love romance novels, they aren’t for you, even with revisions. But if a good love story still delights you, I hope you’ll read along with me.
I’m having fun. I hope you will, too.