Back in the Saddle Again

- by Cynthia Wright

I’m writing about something that is old news for most of you: resurrecting out-of-print novels and transforming them into ebooks.  I see that NINC has been breaking ground in this area, starting with the conference in 2010 .  While the rest of you were on the beach in St. Pete’s, I was in a cave in Northern California, not writing anymore and not having a clue about the eBook Revolution…

I’m still so new at being a novelist – again! – that I really don’t have anything to do a blog post about – yet – except the early miles of this journey!  My first writing career began in the mid-1970’s, when I was 21 and I began writing an historical romance novel in longhand on lined notebook paper.  I checked out “Writer’s Market” from the library, followed its advice, and sold CAROLINE (without an agent) to Ballantine Books. 

After it was published in 1977, I got an agent and went on to enjoy a fairly typical career in traditional publishing.  I stayed with Ballantine for two decades.  I wrote 13 novels that were read by a couple million people.  I went to the first Romantic Times Convention in New York and became a member of NINC in its very early days.  For many years I loved my work.  However, toward the end, in 1996, I was suffering from intermittent burn-out and a chronic case of publisher neglect and broken promises.

It seemed that I’d lived my life backward: beginning to write before I’d really experienced much of life.  I missed people after all those years working alone in a room at home.  I went to work as an interior designer and had a lot of fun making house calls and designing rooms for clients.  Yet, sometimes I still fantasized about plots… and my old pals encouraged me to write again.  In my heart I knew I was still a writer, but I couldn’t face the traditional publishing process.

I did take a moment to write Ballantine two years ago and get the rights back to my books.  In the back of my mind there was a word: ebooks.  I met author Susan Crosby, who lives in my town, and last winter she confided that CAROLINE had inspired her to become a writer.  It was a reminder that my books were not forgotten.

Life has been really happy and challenging.  I went back to college and will graduate in May 2012 as a Physical Therapist Assistant.  My goal is to work with the elderly.  Last April, I was in San Francisco for a book launch party for Ciji Ware’s new novel.  I was talking to her husband about my plan to dig out my 13 novels and turn them into ebooks… just as soon I finished last May’s finals. 

Of course, I had absolutely NO CLUE what was involved.  NONE.  He remarked that I would have to have new covers made.  Huh?  That conversation cracked open the door for me.  When my exams were over in May, I started digging around on the internet for information about ebooks.  I read lots of blogs.  I learned.

Thank God for Nina Paules at eBook Prep.  I didn’t have the time or ability to learn how to format my books – and I had only the paperbacks, nothing on disc.  (And I hadn’t had the NINC conference to instruct me!)  I contacted Nina and soon sent off CAROLINE and SILVER STORM.  When Nina began to send the .doc files to me and I realized that I could really go back into a novel that I had written 36 years ago and edit it, it was both scary and thrilling. 

I felt like I was in a time machine!  And I had the final say.  No editor could override me, or insert her own words into my book (as my first editor had done).  I started out making small changes but I gradually realized I could cut the dull parts and even re-write whole portions of a novel that felt dated.  It was quite a moment when I wrote and reread my first scene in fifteen years.  I wish I had had had more time, yet it’s also liberating to realize that I can still make a change and republish.

I was also lucky enough to discover Kim Killion through Nina.  I am continually in awe of the magic she creates when she designs a cover for me.  And, again, what a thrill to be able to be part of that process rather than feel powerless as I often did during my original career as a novelist.  I got to choose the images I wanted Kim to use, and I also suggested the medallion on my 7 related Beauvisage and Raveneau novels.  Kim began with the most amazing cover for SILVER STORM!  I’ll never forget that moment when I clicked on the attachment and it gradually opened on the page.  It was as if a part of me was there.

My first two books went live on Amazon and Barnes & Noble July 21st.  Since then, I’ve added seven more, with four more waiting for me to work on over this Christmas vacation from school.   I have two unfinished manuscripts that I’ll complete and publish in 2012.  I’m a member of NINC again and interacting daily with other authors on NINKLINK and other online groups. 

I love the way new technology has made writing so much less lonely than it was before.  Readers can interact with authors on Facebook and on websites and Twitter.  What fun!  I’ve been enjoying every moment of this new career that feels so familiar… and yet so fresh and different and liberating.

I’m thrilled to be back among all of you again and to identify myself as a novelist!

 

12 comments

  1. This is such an awesome post! Wow! I am in awe of you. Keep up the good work. I wish you much success with your new ebook venture. Many sales to you!

  2. Hi Cindy,

    So wonderful that you’re back at the publishing game again. I fully understand your disillusionment with New York, and how exciting it is to put your books up with your own editorial input, cover choices, etc. I also applaud your new career ventures. You go, girl! Best of luck with your new lives!

  3. Hi Cindy!

    Great post :-)

    I am delighted to have played a small part in helping you back into the publishing saddle. It was/is a pleasure working with you. Your eBooks are beautiful both inside and out.

    You’ve made alot of right choices that should carry you well into the future.

    All the Best,
    Nina
    http://www.ebookprep.com
    http://www.ebookdiscovery.com

  4. I felt exactly the same way. I took a hiatus from writing to clear out my brain from all the nonsense and dictums coming out of New York. The hiatus turned into thoughts of permanent retirement but then along came ebooks and with them, a whole new kind of excitement about writing again. It’s not only given our books a second life, but our careers as well *s*

  5. Cindy,
    Thank you for a great blog. As an unpublished author, I have a hard time finding ideas to blog about, too. Congratulations on writing again. I can feel the excitement emanating from your words as you talk about publishing your own work.
    Good luck with both your writing and your new career.
    Steph

  6. Serenity, thank you so much for your kind words!

    Shirl, thanks for taking me under your wing when I was still inside the shell in early summer… You helped steer me in the right direction (especially with Kim). We troglodytes have to stick together!

  7. Cynthia,

    Don’t you just love the freedom that self-publishing gives us! It is so nice not having to deal with one of the NY publishers, or even with agents, and not having to fight for royalty payments. I love being able to design my covers with my long-time designer, Judy Bullard, price the books of mine and my late husband’s the way I want, and not have to answer to anyone. Not only does it give authors freedom but I have found it exciting, as I see you do.

  8. It has been so amazing to watch Cindy take off as a Force Field in e-pubbing! In constant email exhcanges, she inspired me to look at a nonfiction work I wrote for Viking Press in 1982, update the stats, and contact Nina Paules at ePubPrep. I had a similar experience helping to design the cover of JOINT CUSTODY AFTER DIVORCE: How to Make Shared Parenting Work, (which will be published in January, 2012)…and what Nina’s designer came up with was totally professional and wonderfully eye-catching as a “thumbnail” to be seen on Amazon and B&N, etc. I had gotten the rights back to my historical fiction over two years starting in 2007 and resold them to a “regular” publisher who did a great job bringing out 5 reissues and a new novel…but going forward, we writers can look at what Cynthia Wright has done and think really long and hard about what is in our best interest for books we have yet to produce. Thank you, Cindy, for being one of the writers have have so bravely forged a new path for your friends and admirers…

  9. Marsha – you rule! You have shown through example and straight talk how to succeed in this brave new world. And you also reached out to me when I was brand-new and so clueless. Thank you!

    Steph, you CAN be published! You don’t have to wait for a New York publisher to put the seal of approval on your work – but you should hire a freelance editor to help you. Good lucki!

    Linda, thanks for sharing your experience. It really is an exciting time!

    Ciji, we’ve been through it all together, for over 20 years. You are slaying dragons on traditional and indie fronts! Thanks for your unwavering support, dear friend!

  10. Nina, your comment was delayed… and I have to thank you again for guiding (sometimes carrying!) me along the twisting path of ebook publishing. You are awesome!

  11. Hi,
    I have so enjoyed your Ravaneau and Beauvisage series. I am looking forward to Tempest – when will this be released?
    Thanks so much

  12. Hi Christine! Thanks for your comment. I’m finishing college this spring, but hope to have TEMPEST done and “up” this summer. If you “like” my Facebook author page, you’ll get updates (or at my website, cynthiawrightauthor.com). I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my books!