Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Mine Again

I'm not really here, I'm still hammering away at the deadline. At least, tell my editor that if she asks.

What I stopped in to post is some interesting news: the rights for my three Gena Hale romance novels (Paradise Island, Dream Mountain, and Sun Valley) have reverted back to me. This means the publisher no longer owns the rights to them -- they're mine again -- so I can pretty much do whatever I like with them.



These three novels were my first published romances (I'd classify them as old school contemporary/romantic suspense) and have been out of print for at least seven years. I've heard it's difficult if not impossible to find used print copies of them. Aside from possible bootlegs, there are no electronic copies of the books.

Lately a lot of authors have been self-publishing OOP or backlist titles with rights that have reverted back to them via Amazon or services like Scribd.com's new online store.* I thought about doing that, and it's still an option, but I don't know. I'm not convinced that's the way to go. Maybe it's the thundering of the herd in that direction that is scaring me off. *Note 9/3/10: Since Scribd.com instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I have removed my free library from their site, and no longer use or recommend using their service. My free reads may be read online or downloaded for free from Google Docs; go to my freebies and free reads page for the links. See my post about this scam here.

I could see if I could publish these again in some sort of limited edition via a small press (or do it myself via Lulu or what have you) but that's going to make them expensive to purchase -- another thing I'm not crazy about.

I also thought about posting at least one of them for free on the internet (Paradise Island, the first one, was the most popular, so that would be my choice.) That would be cool, and a way for me to give something back to the romance readers who followed me as Jessica Hall (before I went all Darkyn on them.)

Not sure what I'm going to do, so I thought I'd ask you guys for some opinions. If you were walking this mile in my moccasins, what would you do with these three books?

35 comments:

  1. I love the limited edition idea, but my wallet doesn't. Right now with how bad the economy I'm having a hard time justifying spending more than $10 on any book. :( I vote for ebooks. They'd be more affordable, and less of a cost for you to produce than the limited edition self pubbed books. Either way...looking forward to finally reading them. I haven't found one copy of any of them in the 3 years I've been looking.

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  2. Hi Lynn,
    I have to say my Kindle and I would love to download your Gena Hale books. It would be great if you made them available as ebooks--free or for a charge. Romantic suspense if my favorite genre.

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  3. Ah, well... as Billy Connelly says:

    "I have your moccasins and you're a mile away!" Nyuck, nyuck.

    Actually, I have them already, sitting on my keeper shelf, where they shall stay and not be loaned out to any for fear they don't return.

    My question would be: do you intend to post them (for sale or not) as they are, or re-edit?

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  4. Hi Lynn

    As someone who has recently found you and LOVES your writing I would love to be able to read more of your books. I have found it REALLY difficult to get some of your books in OZ. I am trying to read the Stardoc series in order and they are so hard to find. So, in my own self interest, if there is a re-release in either print or e-book that I can get in Australia I would LOVE it! I shall wait with interest to see what decision you make.

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  5. Keita Haruka7:11 AM

    I suppose you could always resell it to a different publisher. The scribd option looks most financially viable to me...but I'm no expert on publishing. A friend of mine published his work through Lulu...and I'm not all that convinced that it's a good idea. But then..."Gena Hale" is "established", so it might go better for you than it did for my friend. Of all the options, looking at them objectively...scribd's online store seems best. Financially as well as for availibility. I'd think you also have a bit more control over it that way. It keeps most of the options open.

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  6. Put all three on the internet, available for free download, and self-publish them through a service like BookLocker so that they'll be available from Amazon (and you) for purchase.

    See how the Baen Free Library works. Note especially Eric Flint's comments (and data) how putting stuff up for free means more sales.

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  8. Offering one for free is a good idea, then figure out best way to sell the other two. Perhaps you could offer for sale as ebooks on your own, with payments to paypal maybe. I've seen some ebook authors do that when their pubs went out of business for older titles.

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  9. Go with the Kindle store. Download it, set your price. You can move it up or down as you see fit.

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  10. Borrow from JA Konrath's strategy. Offer the first one for free and put the others up on Amazon or wherever that people can go to download them for a price. If you don't want to charge "full retail", you don't have to, but you're entitled to be paid again for your work.

    Even if there's a herd heading in that direction, you'd be at the front, particularly if you market under Lynn Viehl writing as Gena Hale.

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  11. DeeCee wrote: I love the limited edition idea, but my wallet doesn't.

    That's the reason behind my reservations on limited edition print option. I've never done it because while they're lovely books, they're a bit too pricey for my general readership.

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  12. Mary-Frances wrote: I have to say my Kindle and I would love to download your Gena Hale books.

    I need to do some research on this, but from what I've been told I believe I would have to use Amazon's DTP service to format an e-book for the Kindle. I have serious reservations about personally doing business with Amazon, but if there is a way to format the e-book for Kindle without having to deal with Amazon, I would definitely do it.

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  13. Jaye wrote: My question would be: do you intend to post them (for sale or not) as they are, or re-edit?

    As they are/were. If I did a rewrite or an edit I'd have to do a reissue edition, which honestly I don't have time to do. You've also reminded me to point out that I wrote these three novels in the late nineties, so the writing is likely not as polished as the stuff I do now (I actually haven't read them since the nineties, lol.)

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  14. L wrote: I have found it REALLY difficult to get some of your books in OZ.

    Whatever option I go with, L, the books will have to be made available to everyone, not just the US market. Because I have so many readers overseas, I am adamant on that point.

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  15. Keita wrote: The scribd option looks most financially viable to me...but I'm no expert on publishing.

    Scribd.com's marketing folks have already approached me about selling some work through their online store, but I'm not crazy about the DRM-style read-onscreen-only restrictions (which seem to be on everything in the store, although I haven't checked it out thoroughly, so maybe they are making some stuff available for download and print.)

    Speaking only for myself and my books, if you buy an e-book of mine, I think you should be able to download it, store it and print it. I can't endorse piracy, of course, but if you send a bootleg copy to a friend, so be it. It's not exactly the same as selling print books to a used book store, but I doubt there would have been a purchase involved. I'm still on the fence on DRM; I just know I don't like it.

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  16. Tim wrote: See how the Baen Free Library works.

    Actually I'm published in the Baen Free Library, a short story I wrote on spec for Eric Flint is in there. :)

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  17. FYI, I deleted one comment as it looked like sneaky SPAM.

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  18. Pam wrote: Perhaps you could offer for sale as ebooks on your own, with payments to paypal maybe. I've seen some ebook authors do that when their pubs went out of business for older titles.

    I've seen that, too, and I think it's a good option for the author who wants to maintain complete control (that way there isn't any discrimination as to who buys it or what format it's made available in.) The drawbacks to that is that it's a bigger time sink, setting up a hosting site, getting the financial stuff working, etc.

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  19. Brian wrote: Go with the Kindle store. Download it, set your price. You can move it up or down as you see fit.

    I didn't know you could set the price for a Kindle edition -- thanks for the info, Brian.

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  20. Mary wrote: Offer the first one for free and put the others up on Amazon or wherever that people can go to download them for a price. If you don't want to charge "full retail", you don't have to, but you're entitled to be paid again for your work.

    I'd rather do something that allows me to offer at least one for free; that's more in tune with my personal philosophy. :)

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  21. Just a general note to everyone -- I appreciate the suggestions, and please don't think I'm shooting any of these down when I respond with concerns. The toughest part of this decision is to do it in such a way that I feel completely comfortable with it. Earning something is always good, but it's not all about profit. At the same time, giving away books is always good, but I need to be reasonable with how often I do that so I don't give away my living along with the books. My backlist has considerable value, monetarily and emotionally.

    In other words, I'm in a muddle, but your feedback is helping me sort out the tangle. :) Thanks for all the suggestions.

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  22. I use 3 different applications on my iPhone to read books and am waiting for the long rumored Apple tablet. I don't like the Kindle because of the DRM and the not-so-easy way to get all sorts of documents onto it (like library ebook downloads). Which is a way of saying, file type and DRM would limit some folks. I vote for a format that would allow portability.

    One nice thing is that this is your trial run. If it doesn't work, there are other ways to do this, and I suspect, more coming.

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  23. I like the idea of selling them in e-format. If they can be priced at or near the cost of a mass market paperback, surely that would be affordable to most people while still allowing you to earn something for the hard work you put into writing them and making them available again.

    But as a Sony Reader owner, I'm hoping if you go in that direction, you can find a way that makes the books available to the non-Kindle crowd. Keep us posted so we all know where to go to find them (says this reader who snatched up Paradise Island when she found a copy at a UBS).

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  24. I'd re-release them thru an epub like Samhain. But that's just me. :)

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  25. Ohhh I can't wait!

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  26. I love the idea of a re-release. I have a Sony ereader and would buy them in either print or ebook depending on how you release them. I would love to give your Gena Hale books a try.

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  27. L, you need to contact the Galaxy Bookstore for the sci-fi novels and/or Rendezvous Bookstore for the romance novels. Either bookstore will take your order and let you know if it's in stock or if they can get them for you.

    They are the mainstays for me and Sheila's work here in Oz.

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  28. Hi (again) Lynn,
    I don't know squat about formatting for ebook readers but I just wanted to mention that the other format the Kindle reads is mobi. I don't know if that helps you any but just thought I'd mention it. My understanding is that the free software Calibre can convert non-DRM mobi format books quite nicely for the Sony as well. I get your concerns about Amazon.

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  29. The Kindle store only works for the US market, so if you go that route your international readers get left out again. Please don't go that way!

    I wonder, would it be possible to make some arrangement with Baen, where you might put the first novel in their free library, and put the other two in their ebook store?

    They have all the infrastructure for selling ebooks online globally, not just in the US, so it would save you that bother.

    And they also sell ebooks for other publishers, e.g., Night Shade Books, E-Reads, Subterranean Press, Tor, and so on, not just their own authors.

    There is one author in particular, who I don't think is one of their regular authors, but they're selling ebooks for her, and her situation seems similar to yours. Her name is Modean Moon and they're selling a series of three paranormal romances as ebooks for her. You can see them here:

    http://www.webscription.net/c-71-paranormal-romance.aspx

    I haven't read them, but it sprang to mind because your situation reminded me of them.

    One possible obstacle is that their focus (as you probably know) is science fiction and fantasy. Even the Modean Moon books seem a little off from what they normally do, but perhaps the paranormal part let them slip through.

    Anyway, I just wondered if it might be worth enquiring if they could, and would be willing, to handle your books for you, and if you could come up with some satisfactory arrangement for both sides.

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  30. Whatever you do, please make sure they're available somehow to readers. I hate when I can't find a book I really want to read because it's been out of print for a while.

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  31. I have all three, all in better than decent condition, and one is absolutely pristine.

    But I'd love an e-copy, and I'd be willing to pay for it. Kindle version is out for me because I don't live in the US though.

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  32. I just sent you a long-ass email from 'Jaquelin' (my alter-ego), Lynn. *g*

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  33. I understand you might not want to spend a ton of time on these, but is there another reason you can't re-release the books in multiple formats? It seems like you could reach the largest audience and achieve the biggest profit margin if you put it up on Lulu for people who like print copies and Scribd or another ebook site for e-book readers.

    If you feel like that would take too much time, you could hire someone trustworthy and computer-savvy to format the files for you. There are a lot of students who have time on their hands and are willing to work for peanuts. (Heck, depending on how handy she is with formatting in Word, your daughter might be a good person for the job.)

    Do you own the cover art?

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  34. By the way, there is a group blog Publishing Renaissance rather like your group blog Genreality, except that the contributors are all indie writers.

    This is from their About page:

    We are a group of indie writers putting our work out into the world and trying to navigate the web, social media, and all the new opportunities available. Each of us has a different perspective on what it means to be indie, why we’re indie, and the unique challenges that indie publishers face.

    What we share in common is a desire for community with other indies, and a goal toward raising the quality of the work put out by indies.

    Their blog posts on the issues and problems they face with self-publishing are often very thoughtful and thought-provoking. If you (and other writers) are exploring new routes to publishing, you might find their posts interesting.

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  35. I agree with Joanie. I'm happy to say I already have all 3 of these books.

    Eva

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