by Laura Crum
Isn’t life just a series of these? We had a lovely ride on the beach this week along with the news that our friend/boarder, Wally, must go in for knee surgery ASAP. So we went from this:
To the sad acknowledgement that our summer will be very different than we planned.Wally will be 80 this year and though we are all hoping that the surgery will return him to riding and roping, we also know that it is not a certain thing. So it was a bittersweet moment to see Wally and Twister wading in the surf.
My son and I will keep on riding, of course, but many of our horseback activities included Wally, and won’t be the same without him. Here we are headed out to gather the roping cattle. That’s my son and Henry on the left and Wally and Twister on the right.
And Sunny’s ears, of course, as we look for cattle. Can’t have too many ear photos, right?
My uncle Todd and our friend Mark roping a steer.
Anyway, in other news we went from down to up. As some of you know, last year my entire mystery series—twelve books about the adventures of equine veterinarian Gail McCarthy—became available as Kindle editions. I was pretty happy about this. I have spent the last twenty years of my life writing these books, and it was really gratifying to me that not only was the whole series once again available to readers at a reasonable price, BUT I was also making a little bit of money on every sale. As you may know, an author doesn’t make a cent on used book sales or books borrowed from the library, and though I did not and do not resent readers who read my series this way (not at all—I’m just grateful they read my stories), I will admit that it was a bit galling to be making NO money off my backlist. Authors, in general, don’t make much money, but it is very pleasing to make a little bit from your books—sort of validates your work.
I am not an “indie” author. Twenty years ago a major New York publisher bought my first book, Cutter, and proceeded to buy the next seven novels in the series. I’m afraid that I state this fact with some pride. My apologies to all the excellent indie authors out there—and I know you exist—but there is a BIG difference between deciding that a book you have written is good enough to be published-- and publishing it yourself-- as opposed to having your book chosen out of thousands of candidates by an editor who has been in the business a very long time, and is willing to pay you for the privilege of publishing your novel.
This is not to say that some “indie” books are not better than some traditionally published books. I have no doubt at all that this is true. But it is not very hard to understand that there is a slight drawback to a system in which the author is the only judge of his/her own work. Even if all the author’s friends/family like the work (and write positive reviews), and an editor who has been paid by the author likes the work…well, let’s just say I see a hole in this process and I’m sure you do, too.
On the other hand, traditional publishing has created a climate that is VERY unfriendly to authors. I should know—I’ve been in this business for over twenty years. I spent years acquiring a literary agent, and another year while she sent the book around to various publishing houses and got the usual rejections. And I was one of the lucky ones. A big publishing house DID eventually buy my book (s). I like to think this is because they were worthy of publication (well, I would think that, wouldn’t I), but the truth may be that I was lucky.
In any case, I do understand why authors are so keen to take the “indie” route now through ebooks. No years of hoops to jump through, no rejections, and a fair royalty on every copy you sell. So much easier, and in some ways, so much more fair than traditional publishing. So I get that. Its just that those of us who did jump through the hoops and got that blue ribbon are sometimes a little, shall we say, cynical, when indie authors talk about themselves as “published” authors. When I got started in the publishing biz, “self-published” was a word with a huge stigma.
Once again, I am not intending to insult the excellent indie authors out there. Some of your books are no doubt much better written than my books. However, I’m sure you can see my overall point.
For me, it was not a case of deciding my work was good enough to be published (an experienced mystery editor had made that call years ago), but rather deciding that my backlist, which was out of print (and the rights had reverted to me), ought to be put up on Kindle and made available to readers once again. And perhaps, just perhaps, I could make a small amount of money from these books that I had worked so hard to produce.
So I did the work to get my first eight books up as Kindle editions and the small checks came in and it was all good. Until my former publisher claimed the rights to a few of these books.
I’m going to make a long story short and say that it took several months and some negotiating, but we all remained civil and pleasant and no lawyers were involved. And eventually the company agreed that the rights were mine. So after a period of frustration I am happy to announce that the 6th, 7th and 8th books in my series—Breakaway, Hayburner and Forged—are once again available as Kindle editions for $2.99 each.
Quite a few people had written to me in the last couple of months asking why they couldn’t find the books as Kindle editions, so, to make it easier for you, I am providing the links and a short description of each book. You can click on the titles to find the Kindle edition.
My sixth book, Breakaway, is by far the darkest of all my novels, and the crime on which the plot turns is pretty twisted. People either love this book or hate it. Those who have been through a depression themselves are more apt to love it. And I must add that, weird though it is, the strange event that the book describes did take place in real life at a barn where I once kept my horses.
The seventh book in the series, Hayburner, is as close to an erotic novel as I have ever written. (Disclaimer here—this is not really an erotic novel; my books are pretty much straight up mysteries, but it is as close to that form of writing as I ever got.) There may be quite a bit from my own life woven into this story. And once again, the central crime around which the plot turns did actually happen out at our family ranch when I was a teenager.
And the eighth novel, Forged, involves a scenario that many horse people will relate to. Your classic always late, hard drinking, womanizing farrier (not that my farrier is anything like this, but I have known the type) gets murdered in Gail’s barn, while in the process of shoeing her horse. There is no shortage of suspects, as you can imagine.
All three books feature much riding through the coastal hills and beaches and every bit of material about horses is drawn from my life and is absolutely accurate (the horses themselves are real horses). You won’t find horses talking and solving crimes here. You will find some thrilling horseback chase scenes in all three books.
And for those who would like to start the series at the beginning, the first two books, Cutter and Hoofprints, are currently on sale for 99 cents each. Click on the titles to find the books.
The series, in order, is Cutter, Hoofprints, Roughstock, Roped, Slickrock, Breakaway, Hayburner, Forged, Moonblind, Chasing Cans, Going Gone and Barnstorming.
Those of you have read some or all of these books, I would love it if you would comment and point out strengths and weaknesses. And if anybody has time to put up a review on Amazon or Goodreads, I would be very grateful. Many thanks to those who have already done so!