Monday, August 20, 2012

My Perspective: Indie Publishing

Last fall I decided to put my first single-title romantic suspense, In Sinful Harmony, on Kindle. The book came out in 1995 and was over 150,000 words. I knew that to start, I would have to do some serious editing, even though the original got great reviews. Longer was okay then. Tighter is more the game now.

As I worked on cutting and revising the first chapters of the manuscript, I came to a realization: while I loved the book for what it was in its time, and while it was the best book I could write then, it wasn't what I wanted out there under my name today as a new reissue.
My style has changed over the years. My readership has changed. There was a steamier edge, a crudeness, to the book that didn't set well with me now. While many of my readers have stuck with me since In Sinful Harmony came out, many have joined me after, and I can't honestly say this book would appeal to them.

It wasn't something I was willing to put out again without a tremendous amount of work – totally rewriting it, in fact, and that didn't seem fair to the book itself. For its time, it's a great book. It fitted perfectly into its market in the mid-90s. It would probably still fit with a lot of people, but not so much the audience for my current books.
So I set it aside. I may go back someday and indie-publish it as is. After all, it was published by a major New York house, it had a great editor and copy editor, and maybe some readers who feel nostalgic for the old books will find it and love it.

But for right now, it's staying on my computer.


  1. You're looking at indie-pubbing in a very thoughtful manner, Ms. M. So many authors don't realize that it's also a 'branding' issue. You don't want to offend your current readership even though you might want to offer your 'backlist' for sale.

    I recently read a blog by an idie author (not me) who was seriously ticked off at an author for not updating her backlisted novels--part of this was because the technology was severely outdated (a cassette tape deck). With the speed of technology changing, this author would have to update her novels every couple of years. Who thought you could listen to music on your phone when iPods were brand new only a few years ago? Continually revamping old stories would be a ridiculous expectation for the reader to expect an author to do.

    In another instance, I recently downloaded a story by an author friend. I thought this was a new story (new title, cover art, target audience) only to discover a couple of pages into the story that I had read it before. It was the exact same story, though slightly tweaked, that had been sold to a NY publisher years ago. I'm disappointed that this author tried to trick me, but since I downloaded it for free I can't complain. And no, I don't plan to finish reading this story . . . again.

    Authors want to write new stories, not revamp old ones. Readers want to read new stories from their favorite authors, not do-overs.

    If you decide to indie pub your story then do it, but you might want to emphasis that it's a backlist story from 1995 to set your reader's expectations.

  2. Branding -- I get the concept, but I can NEVER remember the word. That's the message in a nutshell: ISH doesn't fit the brand I have now.

    I noticed in ISH, no one had cell phones -- one guy had a car phone -- and pratically the only computers in town were in the library and the bank. And it was weird reading that, but to constantly keep redoing? Ugh.

    I bought a book a few weeks ago, realized I'd read it when it was new 15 years ago, but couldn't find any indication that it was a reissue until I paged ahead to the end. The author's note acknowledged it had been previously published but because she'd rewritten it, it was like a new book. Uh, no, it wasn't.

    If I ever do repub any of my old stuff, I will make it impossible to miss that it's an earlier book. ;)

  3. I loved In Sinful Harmony. And once I start loving a book, I never seem to stop. But I agree about letting the readers know it's a reissue. It's only fair.

    1. I know. But there are several books on my keeper shelf that I absolutely adored but won't read again, because I don't want my reading tastes now to influence how incredibly much I loved those books then.

      I could reissue it and title it "In Sinful (It was 1995, guys!) Harmony." Too much? LOL.