Guest Author: Shirley Hailstock & Giveaway!

I’m SO thrilled to have a truly distinguished writer visiting the blog today.  She’s Shirley Hailstock, and she’s the talented author of twenty-nine novels and novellas, including her electronic editions.

Shirley has received numerous awards, including the Waldenbooks Bestselling Romance Award and Romantic Times Magazine’s Career Achievement Award.  Shirley’s books have appeared on Blackboard, Essence Magazine and Library Journal Best Seller Lists.  She’s also a past president of Romance Writers of America. the largest professional writing association in North America.  What a career!  I’m going to turn things over to Shirley, so she can tell us what’s going on in her world.

A Perfect Reading World

The revolution will not be televised, it will be digitized.  It’s a win-win situation and both authors and readers are the victors.  During the many workshops I’ve attended as a writer, I’ve heard that it’s the readers who determine the market.  Yet it’s been the publishers who tell us, romantic suspense is out; no one wants a book with sports heroes; creative people don’t sell; it’s a tight market and your book doesn’t fit.  Well all of those statements are moot now.  As a student, I learned theory, the way it’s supposed to work.  When I began working, I discovered practice was a totally different animal.  And this now true with books.

In the past few years a revolution has been taking place in the publishing industry.  Readers really do have the ability to dictate the market.  And the market has expanded exponentially.  With the introduction of the e-reader and the subsequent reduction in price the masses have embraced the device.  Authors have regained their backlists and begun updating and re-releasing books that were formerly unavailable through any source other than hit-or-miss at a used book store.

Authors, myself included, who three years ago scorned self-published books, have reversed our opinions.  Today we’re playing catch-up and using the Internet to put up both original titles and formerly published print books for which the rights have reverted.  Self-publishing is suddenly our friend.  In the past few months I’ve put up seven books, three original never-before-published titles and four updated re-releases of formerly published print books.

The Internet is both our friend and our enemy.  With the ease of uploading books and the many tutorials available to explain how it’s done, there’s a lot of junk out there.  There is also a serious amount of good stuff, excellent books, favorite authors and up and coming superstars.  As a writer, we know all our stuff is great.  As a reader, you have to decide what you want to read and what you will invest in.  However, I firmly believe the cream rises to the top and books that are well written and tell a great story will find readers.  Like browsing through a book store, the Internet is a different browse platform, but the way readers find good reads remains virtually the same; automatic buys of your favorite authors, word of mouth, author advertising, reviews, browsing for the type of books you like, etc.

All this talk about self-published books is not to say that our large print publishers are out.  We don’t want them out.  We don’t want them to become casualties of the revolution.  We want a fair playing ground that benefits both the author and the reader.  We want books, touchable books, books we can hold and smell and curl up with on a rainy afternoon.  We want books we can loan to friends, introduce to our children or give a place of honor on our keep shelf.

In this homogenous, albeit perfect world, readers can find whatever type of book they want.  If the print market is dictating that regencies have no readers, books about older couples, or beta heroes, westerns, time-travels are not selling, then those readers can check for e-books to satisfy their reading appetite.

So what happens when the revolution ends?  My crystal ball is dark on that subject, but my hope is that we create that perfect world where good storytelling is more important than uploading and where readers can find the books they want to read in whatever medium and whatever market may exist.

The revolution is not being televised.  But in the digital format, it’s coming of age.

I’d like to thank Vanessa for asking me to guest blog.  I mentioned I have eight books in e-format.  I also have twenty-seven books in print format and contracts for more.  The books I’m promoting here and offering as a contest win is Mirror Image.  It’s the story of a woman who looks so much like a famous talk show host (not Oprah) that the two could be sisters.  When an attempted kidnapping of the hostess occurs, the look-alike steps in to replace her.  The shows producer, with plans for his own career, is attracted to the replacement and while he never confuses the two women, he quick to see how a mirror image is not an exact match.

Here’s the e-book blurb:

Aurora Alexander found her doppelganger in the form of talk show hostess Marsha Chambers.  Yet the two of them couldn’t be further apart in personality.  Aurora, a trained psychologist, supports her mother’s nursing home expenses through celebrity impersonation.  Following a less than stellar interview with Marsha Chambers, Aurora is mistaken for Marsha by a kidnapper who attempts to abduct her.  Fighting him off long enough for producer, Duncan West, to scare the man away, Aurora’s life is plunged into danger for the famous face she wears.

Duncan West would like nothing better than to have his connections to the East Coast severed.  He wants to be in Hollywood making feature films, not adhering to the whims of a diva.  But when her look alike appears and he convinces her to stand in for the absent hostess, her life is put in danger and all Duncan instincts to stay away from her are put to the test.  Aurora is tied to the East by a suffering parent.  And Duncan wants to seek his fortune in the West.  Can East and West meet?

Giveaways: A copy of Mirror Image (choice of print or e-format), a Pashmina shawl and a couple of surprise goodies.

Vanessa, here.  Shirley, I agree with everything you say – I think it’s a great time for both readers and writers.  And what a wonderful giveaway!  Books, a beautiful shawl, and some surprises!  Readers, to be eligible for Shirley’s generous giveaway, just leave a comment telling us what you think about the digital revolution.  One person who comments will win the book, the shawl, and the surprise gifts.

And she sure to visit Shirley’s website for a list of all her books.