Historical romance author Rebecca George is my guest. She's celebrating the release of her new novel, So Whispers the Heart.
Last week I finally published my historical romance, So Whispers the Heart, on Amazon Kindle. It’s a loosely connected prequel to my last book, Call Home the Heart, which was published by NAL in 1989. It was my first new book in 23 years and as I began this novel process of self-publishing an e-book, I could not help but reflect on the evolution—maybe I should call it a revolution—that has taken place in the publishing industry. Since I published my first book, Tender Longing, with Pocket in 1986, everything has changed!
Everything then, of course, was done via snail mail and writers used reams of paper. First, you sent a proposal that included a synopsis with three chapters. No multiple submissions allowed! Then months passed as I waited for rejection or acceptance. Make that mostly rejections. Only then could I send a proposal to another publisher. Now multiple submissions are allowed, you copy your material in an e-mail--no attachments – and usually hear back promptly.
Mainstream publishers today will only read agented or recommended material. In the beginning I had no agent, but in the 80s publishers did accept unsolicited proposals. So I sent my three chapters and synopsis of Tender Longing (not my title) to Pocket and amazingly it was accepted. At the time I had no idea just how unusual that was. It was pulled from the slush pile of unsolicited manuscripts. That would never happen today!
My editor and I then exchanged boxes of written material: partial manuscripts, completed manuscripts, copy-edited manuscripts and galleys went back and forth through the mail. Altogether I published four books between 1986 and 1989. Then I think I got too busy with raising my daughter and living life in general. But I never quit writing. And between 1989 and 2012 literally everything in the publishing world changed. Actually, you can amend that to read that everything changed within the last four years or so. And it’s still changing!
Since I did not even try to traditionally publish this fifth book I do not know about the status quo today, but I assume the amount of actual paper exchanged between authors and editors is minimal. Probably no hard copies at all are exchanged—far less paper is needed when email suffices. That's a good thing. I’m sure this makes the trees happy.
Next is the cover. As every writer knows, covers are so important. In my pre-historic publishing contracts I never had cover approval. Few authors did. I was fortunate that of my four book covers, two were beautiful and to my liking. The other two—not so much. Back then you took what you got and, as we all know, some historical romance covers can cross the line into…oh, I don’t know…call it “cheesiness.”
In self-publishing my first e-book, I had the final say in cover creation. This was a process I thoroughly enjoyed. I chose the pose, the background and the lettering. Polly Iyer, a great friend and fellow author, designed it for me. I couldn’t be more pleased. In fact, it is probably the favorite cover of my five books.
As for my first four books, I got back all publishing rights and plan to release them soon. Now another author friend and I have established our own publishing company, Valentine Press (named for the fact we both have Valentine birthdays). We purchased and use ISBNs. Although not necessary for e-books, I may want to also publish POD (Print On Demand)—so ISBNs are a good idea.
My first “baby,” Tender Longing, was written on typing paper and copied with carbon using a rented IBM Selectric. The other three books are saved in my attic on old-fashioned large floppy discs. I had all four professionally scanned—I wasn’t about to retype them—and other than a few odd letterings they were delivered back to me on a zip file perfectly formatted for e-publishing.
As I struggled (and I did struggle!) to grasp the intricacies and complexities of e-publishing, there were times (as when writing the blurb) that I thought about how wonderful it was to have a publisher do all this for me. Nevertheless, I forged on. Now that I’ve finally done it, I’m thrilled.
From the slush pile to the world of professional publishers to self-publishing an e-book…it’s been quite a journey. In spite of the glitches, hitches, frustrations and tears, I’ve mostly enjoyed it. In the immortal words of The Grateful Dead: what a long strange trip it’s been!
London, more lies separate them, and Ninon flees to the security of her grandfather. Torn by love, Ninon struggles to find the truth, but only her heart can find the answer.
Rebecca George is the award-winning author of five novels. Her newest, SO WHISPERS THE HEART, was released recently on Amazon Kindle. Of her four previously published books, DAPHNE (Pocket, 1988) was a Romantic Times award winner, Best Historical – Love and Laughter. CALL HOME THE HEART (NAL, 1989) was a runner-up for Best Historical of the Year. She plans to release all four previous books on Kindle soon.
A native of Georgia, Rebecca was raised in the Tidewater region of
Virginia. She went to the where she majored in history. She lives with her three rescued dogs and one (temporary) granddog in a historical district in Upstate South Carolina. University of Georgia