So, if you’ve been following me on Facebook at all (or Twitter) you know I’m working on getting my three earliest books back into circulation via the wonder of digital ebooks. I must thank Julie Ortolon for giving me a kick in the pants, since she started this whole ball rolling about two months ago with a comment about backlists not being available for a lot of writers. Books go out of print and that’s it except if you’re lucky enough to find a copy in a used book store, especially books written two and three decades ago. They are remembered, but forgotten if that makes sense. So there I was minding my own business and Jules starts talking about ebooks on our Loopie email group. Flash back here, about ten years, when the dinosaurs like myself sniffed and pooh-poohed at the big clunky e-readers that first came out and said nah, that will never catch on. Readers want to hold a BOOK in their hands.
Well, flash forward to the new iPads, Sony, and Kindle readers. I’ve been doing my DD (due diligence) on those babies and they’ve gone from being big and clunky, like reading on a big glowing visa machine (and those of you old enough to remember the “old” way visa cards used to be processed can relate to that image) to slim, non-glare, non-glowing handy dandy little pads so slim you can stick them into a side pocket of your purse and access any one of a few thousand books it can store.
Toss into the equation the new websites that are popping up that allow authors to upload their own digital books, like Amazon Kindle and Smashwords (apologies to other distributors out there because I’m still feeling my way around here, but if you wave at me I’ll certainly check you out) and you can see where a whole new world of possibilities has opened up.
My first three books, China Rose, Bound by the Heart, and The Wind and the Sea were all written on a typewriter, no discs available, so the challenge for me has been to retype them into the puter for a file acceptable for the ebook sites. Yes, I could have had them scanned for a nominal fee, but the act of retyping offered me yet another opportunity: to tweak the three-decades-old writing style. Yes, there were heaving bosoms and ripped bodices. China Rose was the test case, so to speak, and it took me a little under a month to retype that puppy and polish it up a bit. The fun part came with the packaging. The original covers and cover copy are copyrighted to the original print publisher, so it is up to the author to either design a new cover or have one designed by a graphic artist. I chose to try my hand at doing my own, and voila, the new cover for China Rose
Thanks again to Jules, it was a relatively painless process to get the actual book uploaded to Smashwords first, then to Amazon, and with average price tags of only $2.99, it’s an inviting way to perhaps test out a new author or revisit a book read a long time ago and lost to a dusty box somewhere.
Amusingly enough, the first time I uploaded China Rose, I was #16 in the queue (at Smashwords)…the queue being the holding area where book files go to be converted into the various file types Smashwords distributes to Sony and Apple etc etc.
When I went to upload Swept Away, the file was #644 in the queue, suggesting there were a whole lot of other people starting to discover this new outlet for old (and new) favorites. Yes indeedy, there are now authors going straight to digital and bypassing print publishers altogether…which could either be a good thing, or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. There are some very good writers out there who can’t get picked up by print publishers for a variety of reasons…economy being the one huge factor. There are undoubtedly also some very bad authors who might think this is a free ride to put up stories about their angst in dealing with spilled milk. However, the good thing about Smashwords is that you can download a goodly chunk of any book for free to see if you like the author’s style or the story.
Did I mention Swept Away? Yes I did. That was an odd little side story. The original book came out in ’99, cursed with a cover that looked like a travel poster for a cruise line. It came out the same month as the Candace Camp book, also titled Swept Away, and because our last names are close in the alphabet, the books were positioned next to each other on the shelves. She had a lovely cover, I had an orange sunset in a tourquoise sky with Jonathan Livingston Seagull crapping his way across either a sun or moon that was in the wrong position anyway. The story itself won great reviews. It was written under a minor protest, since the editor more or less dug her heels in the ground and said she wanted me to try a Regency period book. (They were as hot then as vampires are now) But I girded my loins and waded back into Regency England and was surprisingly pleased with my own efforts.
Imagine my horror when the whole Candace Camp/travel poster cover debacle rewarded my efforts. Imagine the further flinging of small objects out the window when I received notice exactly one year later that the book was officially out of print (OOP)
So now, I am dexterously typing, typing, typing and working on Bound by the Heart…which has it’s own whole new challenge to overcome. I’ll save that for another day, however.
This blogging stuff is infectious. Beware, I could ramble on about all sorts of things *evil chuckle*