So there I was, cyberly plopped in the middle of a revolution.
Popular romance author Connie Brockway was announcing that she was branching out from traditional print publishing and venturing into the world of e-publishing. Her reasons made perfect sense to me: better royalty rates and more control over what she wrote. Instead of writing only those stories her publishers felt would sell best, she was going to be able to write the stories she felt she could write best.
And seeing as how those were the two main issues that had driven me away from romance writing in the first place, I was intrigued. Fascinated. Captivated. Hooked.
The first thing I needed to do was get myself current on the various discussions, so I began lurking at some of the blogs that seemed to address issues I was interested in. I became a regular reader at http://www.dearauthor.com/, at http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/, at http://www.wordwenches.typepad.com/ and a few others. Much as I wanted to, I didn't post, because things -- strange things -- were starting to go through my head.
In part it was a matter of finances. I'm at an age where retirement should be in the immediate future, but financially that's not going to happen. Suddenly widowed in 2005, I've had to support myself in a job market that has not been overly welcoming to older workers. I went on enough interviews to know that when the interviewer is 22, she's going to be hiring people around her own age. I could be her grandmother, for crying out loud.
The only time I encountered an interviewer even close to my age was when I applied for a records management position at a social services agency. Unfortunately, the job I was applying for and being interviewed for was not the job they wanted to hire me for, which was to provide home health care and parent respite services for special needs children. Stunned, I looked at the woman when she told me this and I said, "I'm not even remotely qualified for that kind of job. I thought this was an office job, for which I am qualified." Her response was, "Well, we can't get people to apply for the home health jobs so we advertise the office job. But we do provide you with some training." I told her I thought that was deceptive and grossly unfair to the agency's clients. She shrugged, then asked me if I wanted the job or not.
Well, eventually I did find a work-at-home job that supplements my (reduced, early) Social Security benefits. My arts & crafts hobbies bring in some spending money, and my housemate contributes to the monthly expenses. When I don't have extraordinary major expenses like new tires, vet bills when one of the dogs tangles with a rattlesnake, or a termite infestation, I live comfortably if not lavishly and can even set aside a little each month.
But I'm not going to be able to do the day job forever, and I was just at the point of looking for other options when this whole business of e-publishing hit me in the face. Was this possibly a viable option for me? Between 1985 and 1996 I'd published seven novels, which were now long out of print; could I get the rights to them back from the publishers and put them online via Amazon's Kindle and other ebook formats, and maybe make a little money? Could I finish some of the other books I've started over the years and publish them online myself, cutting out the print publishers entirely, and earn enough to give up the day job?
Could I? Can I?
I'm in the process of finding out. . . . . .