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Archive for July 5th, 2019

Margaret Carter: Rescuing Orphaned Works
Friday, July 5th, 2019

How can a writer cope when her publisher closes? Over a span of fewer than four years, three long-running publishers have folded under me. Fortunately, I found an excellent new home for one batch of horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance novels (plus my nonfiction monograph Different Blood: The Vampire as Alien) with Writers Exchange E-Publishing. They don’t handle erotic romance, though, so what to do with the stories, novellas, and one erotic paranormal romance novel originally released by Ellora’s Cave? That’s where the Kindle self-publishing program came to the rescue, and I found it surprisingly easy to navigate, even for a non-techie person. I’ve sometimes used the Amazon cover creator and sometimes covers designed for me by a friend, with free stock images.

Publisher closure has at least one advantage to offset the negatives: The opportunity to edit older material to correct small errors, update obsolete references (if desired—in some cases, I’ve thought it better to keep a story set in its original time period), and make any other needed adjustments. For instance, I’m revising my erotic paranormal romances to tone down the level of graphic sexuality from erotic to spicy or steamy. Also, I’m deleting words that used to be labeled “unprintable” (in my youth, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth), many of which I didn’t care for anyway, but the publisher assured me readers of erotic romance expected them. Addressing a different type of issue, I realized that the portrayal of a walk-on character in one of my early vampire novels was rather cringe-worthy, and I was thankful for the chance to fix the problem. A scene in another vampire novel contained elements that might have seemed physically implausible, which I tweaked in accordance with research I’ve done since the original writing.

In addition to publishers going out of business, I’ve been hit by online magazines shutting down and anthologies going out of print, venues where I’d expected my works—given the long life of electronic media—to remain available into the indefinite future. So I’ve compiled two collections of my stories from the webzines Sorcerous Signals and Lorelei Signal and the Marion Zimmer Bradley estate’s “Sword and Sorceress” anthologies.

Harvest of Magic:

Perilous Magic:

Wanting to present those two volumes as sort of companion books, I used the same Amazon stock cover image for both.

Another thing I’m free to do with stories and novellas now under my control is to combine related or similar works into themed collections. For example, Vampire Heat bundles two novellas in my “Vanishing Breed” vampire series that focus on characters from the novels Dark Changeling and Child of Twilight—although these novellas can easily be read on their own with no knowledge of the novels—along with a third, stand-alone story in the same universe.

Earlier this year, in a completely unexpected move, the publisher of my first vampire novel, Dark Changeling, and its direct sequel, Child of Twilight (which had taken over the books from their original publisher, Hard Shell Word Factory), announced its closing. After light editing to correct some flaws in those older books, I combined them in a two-novel omnibus called Twilight’s Changelings:

My one full-length erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave, Love Unleashed, was a paranormal novel about a man cursed into the shape of a Saint Bernard, aside from a few hours in human form each night. I toned down the explicitness of the sex scenes a bit but otherwise left the book substantially the same. It was published recently enough that the technology mentioned in the story wasn’t blatantly outdated. I enjoyed being able to include a new cover, because I wasn’t really satisfied with the original one. My husband and I have owned several Saint Bernards, and the dog the artist chose for the EC cover wasn’t a particularly good-looking specimen of the breed. I like the image on the current cover much better. Also, I changed the title. It’s mind-boggling how many books listed on Amazon have the title Love Unleashed! My novel is now called Enchantment Unleashed, which, as far as I could discover, is unique.

My next self-publishing Kindle project will be a themed collection of former Ellora’s Cave novellas, all featuring heroes who are shapeshifters or otherwise a blend of animal and human. Since “Beauty and the Beast” is my favorite fairy tale, and a couple of those stories actually follow the plot pattern of that tale, I plan to title the compilation Beasts and Their Beauties.

Although losing a publisher is often a severe blow, preparing older works for re-release can actually be rather fun.

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter’s Crypt: