This year, March brings me a different renewal: My very first mystery is being reissued, in trade paperback, twenty years after its first publication. Of course, even with a brand-new cover, it’s not quite as exciting as when it came out in 1994, but it’s still a thrill. It’s been “out of print” (except in Polish and Hungarian) for quite a while.
I write “out of print” in quotation marks because it doesn’t mean what it used to mean, that the books are unavailable unless the reader hunts them down in used-book stores or libraries. Only an author’s most dedicated fans would make the effort to obtain every title. And if they did, it resulted in no profit to the author.
Now, we have ebooks. Practically anything published today will probably be easily accessible till the fall of civilisation.
Not necessarily a good thing—there’s a lot of junk that would never have made it into print, as well as everlasting electronic versions of junk that did get into print and would quickly have gone out of print. I suspect that a fair number of gems will be buried by the sheer volume of rubbish.
I wonder whether the invention of the printing press caused the same apprehension. After all, the monks copied sacred documents. With printing so easy, who could tell what might be produced!
Do I sound jaundiced? It’s probably because I’ve just discovered that I really can’t make my plot work in the setting I’d chosen, so I have to move the whole kit and caboodle to a different village. It’s a complicated mixture of deleting, editing, and rewriting, and it’s driving me nuts. I’m just glad I’d only written 17,000 words, which will shrink to about 12,000, I fear.
|Carola Dunn is author of the Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries, Cornish Mysteries, and multitudinous Regencies.|