Friday, July 15, 2011

Historical Novels Never Die.

Historical novels never die.

As soon as a book is published there is a reaction from family and friends, convinced the author has become an instant millionaire. Some do, but alas . . . not many, and not this author. Writing is not a rags-to-riches occupation for most. When told the truth, non-writers often give a lift of the eyebrow, and a pull-the-other-leg-it’s-got-bells-on, expression.

It’s true. Some talented people do zoom up the ladder to instant fame and fortune, but other, often equally talented people don’t, especially with a first book. Many people who have stories to tell give up too soon. Others plod on.

When my first historical novel was published about 12 years ago I was delighted beyond measure. In manuscript form DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS, which is Georgian Gothic in nature, had been a runner up in a competition run by a women’s magazine. The book was published by a library book publisher a year or so later, one specializing in producing hard-covers. Dollar signs flashed before my eyes.

It was, in fact, the first step on a very long ladder, one whose heights I haven’t scaled yet. As an unknown writer – at its best – my book would have sold about three hundred copies, I imagine. As my first book baby, I saw no fault in this well-produced and attractive hardcover, which turned out to be the first of many.

In 2002 DAUGHTER won the R*by award, which, for those not in the know, is the competition run by the Romance Writers of Australia, for their published writers. This organization is of benefit for anyone writing romance based novels, whether mainstream or genre, well published, or a noviciate. However, I’m not here to plug the RWAus - which at the time of writing is celebrating it’s first twenty years of existence though I do urge budding authors to join one or more of the many writers organizations and E lists available to them in different countries since their aim is your aim – to get you into print through various means.

So . . . back to the progress of one lone book. After it breathed its last gasp on the initial publisher run, the manuscript sat on my shelf, neglected and unread. From time to time a library patron would writes to remind me of its existence, and I’d drag my first born out of its cobwebby corner to gaze upon it with a twinge of pride. Oddly, the female on the cover of the original hardcover version is the image of my middle daughter.

One of the benefits of historical novels is that the contents never die (unless the files corrupt, but that’s another issue altogether!) History never changes - never dates. You never have to re-edit to bring a past era up to date. You never have to add a mobile phone, a computer, a deodorant, a telephone, or alter the length of a hem.

I’ve since applied and received the rights back to what was, to all intents and purposes several dead and forgotten books, though I had to wait over a year from my first request. They are in the process of being resurrected as an E book under a different cover, and have begun to earn their keep at Belgrave House. I’ve also sold other rights to my long neglected first book.

As well as the E book, DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS will soon be available from the Canadian Publisher on audio downloads, IAMBIK. At the moment it’s still being recorded; by a gentleman called Tadgh Hynes. (I’m not quite sure how to pronounce that first name; at a guess, it might be Tayg.) I was invited to audition the voices and pick the reader I preferred. Tadgh Hynes has a lovely Irish-accented voice that’s easy on the ear, and my book has a touch of Ireland stirred in so they’re a good match, I think.

Added to this audio book is the sale of Portuguese language rights to a Brazilian publisher, and more recently, an offer to produce it in large print from Magna. DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS is beginning to earn again after a twelve-year hiatus. And the book will go into libraries to boost the numbers, where it will earn Public Lending Rights while it still exists in hardcover print form.

By exploiting the work as best you can, the earnings will accumulate over time. Although it might not make you an instant millionaire, it can add up to a useful sum over time.

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