by Linda Triegel
Once upon a time, not that long ago, all books were printed on paper. Then came the Internet, quickly followed by "e-books", or books not printed at all but readable electronically. At first, these were not considered "real" books, the presumption being that if an author could not sell her novel to a "real" publisher, it couldn't be very good.
How things have changed.
Once upon a time - in the 1980s - I had several romance novels accepted and published by "real" publishers and printed in book form. I was thrilled. My creations would become immortal--or at least make pots of money.
Neither happened, of course. My nine books made their advances back (just), got some good reviews, and quickly went out of print.
A few years ago, some anonymous kind reader, to whom I am forever grateful, recommended one of my novels to Elizabeth Neff Walker. Circa 2000, she started a website called Belgrave House, named after the street she lives on in San Francisco. Belgrave House offers her own books and those of writers belonging to Novelists, Inc., in e-book form.
Ms. Walker wrote Regency romances under the name Laura Matthews. She recalls "...only when I realized that Regency romances were far outselling the other books, did I break out Regency Reads as a separate site. I hired a webmaster to do the sites, offering Paypal and instant downloading. We now offer the most popular formats for e-books."
Most of my books, written as Elisabeth Kidd, are Regencies - romances set in the English Regency (1811-1820). Regencies are a kind of drawing-room comedy historical romance that depend a good deal on just the right language, humor, and attention to historical detail. True modern Regencies - modeled on the novels of Georgette Heyer - are gentle, avoiding explicit sex and violence.
In no time, my Regencies, including a tenth book I was finally inspired to finish, were up and running on www.regencyreads.com. So I looked at my remaining backlist - longer historical romances that are set in other eras and locations, and sexier. These are now available on www.belgravehouse.com, which also publishes contemporary women's fiction and mysteries.
"Our intention is to run a casual publishing partnership with authors (not agents) interested in making their backlist available as e-books," according to Ms. Walker. If you'd like to see your own out-of-print books, including mysteries, given a second life, check out the submissions guidelines at Belgrave House.