HANK: You know Carolyn Hart. You love her, right? And you probably think you could predict, oh, I don't know. What she'd do, and what she'd think. And how she'd feel about things like ebooks, for instance. Or, um, sex.
But Carolyn Hart has...some surprises to reveal. See how many you can find...and there's a book giveaway at the end!
CAROLYN HART: I'm not a fan of reunions. It isn't that I don't enjoy remembering those out of my past, it is more than I want to remember them as they were, young, vibrant, so many exciting adventures ahead of them. I like to live in the present, which may be the only Zen quality of someone who is challenged to sit still for more than a few minutes at a time.
True to this mantra, I've never given much thought over time to old books. In my case, that would be 14 books published prior to Death on Demand in 1987. (The 34 books since 1987 have remained in print since publication.)
HANK: So the books before 1987 (yikes) were just…gone?
CAROLYN: Yes! However! The advent of ebook technology changed my attitude and gave me an appreciation for remembering past loves... the books that I thought were consigned to dusty garage sales.
HANK: And, unlike human past loves, you had the rights? Or what was the deal? What did you realize?
CAROLYN: Authors who hold the rights to their early works have many avenues open to them. They can self publish as ebooks, which provides better monetary reward, or they can explore posting the ebooks on Amazon exclusively for a year then deciding what platforms to add, or they can seek a small press that would take both print and ebook rights..
In 2011, Amazon posted all 14 early books plus two short story collections with exclusive rights for a year. Sales were respectable but the unexpected outcome for me meant a great deal more than accruing royalties. Two small presses - Seventh Street Books and Oconee Spirit Press - are now republishing between them seven of those titles.
I love this because I am still an old fashioned want to-hold-the-book-in-my-hand reader.
HANK: But it’s not just the money, I bet.
CAROLYN: Right! There have been other huge - not monetary - rewards for me.
HANK: Whoa. Did you have it? From 29 years ago?
CAROLYN: Sometimes our author's angel sits on our shoulders. The book was written before computers and all I had were the tattered bond paper pages. In 2001 - for no good reason, no one wanted the book or as far as I knew ever would - I hired a typist to put it in an efile. That file resided untouched in my computer for years but it was there when I needed it. I plunged into revising and improving the book.
HANK: That could be scary! I mean...when was the last time you'd read it?
CAROLYN: I had not reread the book since I finished it in 1980. I came into the house one evening and my husband asked me what was wrong. I suppose the strain was evident. I said I'd been reading Escape from Paris and discovered I used to write tougher, harder books. His response summed it up: Readers will find a Carolyn Hart they never knew.
HANK: That’s…very very intriguing, I must say. And probably requires a whole new wardrobe. How about the other early titles? Did you revise those?
CAROLYN: I didn't do many revisions to the other earlier titles. Rereading Rendezvous in Veracruz, a light romantic suspense novel set in Mexico City in the early '80s, was a different experience altogether. I told the editor that rereading it was better than a trip to the Fountain of Youth. The background was drawn from time I spent as a freshman at Mexico City College. When I read the galleys I felt once again that I was eighteen and living in Mexico City.
HANK: So did that get you thinking…I wonder if…
CAROLYN: Yes! The rebirth of early titles either as ebooks or as ebooks and paper prompted me to look in my closet. All old writers have closets and in mine were several never before published mss. Berkley put out one last fall as an ebook only. Another - which might possibly shock my readers - is a very sexy novel of danger and suspense in first century Rome and my agent has just submitted it. I'll let you know what happens.
HANK: Now that—is well, I’ve gotta say, hard to imagine. Cannot wait! So, what advice do you have now, as a result of this?
CAROLYN: My advice to writers is to be sure that you get reversion of rights of all OP books if at all possible. A negative aspect of ebooks is that publishers can retain rights by keeping books available as ebooks but with no paper copies available. I think some agents are now trying to include in contracts a provision that a certain number of ebook sales must be made or the rights are reverted.
Many writers are doing their own self pub of ebooks and doing very well with them.
HANK: SO interesting to think about you entering this new world...you’ve been writing for how many years? And it seems—it’s actually an unexpected link to the past!
CAROLYN: As almost everyone agrees, no one in publishing is sure of how much ebooks will transform our world. To my surprise, the ebook revolution has brought the past close to me and now my books are available if there are any readers who wish to seek them out. I don't foresee a big audience or big sales, but the nicest part for me is remembering books that I'd not thought about in years and rediscovering the writer I once was.
HANK: SO great to talk with you, Carolyn. And we hope to see you at MaIice! And a copy of one of Carolyn’s books to a lucky commenter!
Let’s chat about ebooks, and your books, and your reading habits, and what you’ve discovered in the eworld! How often do you use your ereader, if you have one? Are you buying more books? DO you actually READ them? And any questions for Carolyn?