Bringing an Orphaned Book Back to Life

May 31, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Debra H. Goldstein

I recently gave an in-person library talk. Before any one arrived, I carefully stood the five Sarah Blair titles from One Taste Too Many through Five Belles Too Many up on a table so the library patrons would be able to see the wonderful covers Kensington commissioned. As people came in, I engaged with them. A few bought Sarah Blair books before my talk began. One woman, though, simply stared at my display.

Debra H. Goldstein

“Where’s the Mah Jongg book?” she asked. “I recently started playing the game and that’s the one I want.”

I was sorry to have to inform her that although Amazon still boasts a hardcover version for $94.97, the book, which was published in 2016, has been out of print since Five Star, its original publisher, orphaned it and Harlequin Worldwide Mystery, which had Poker’s mass market rights, no longer actively carried the title.

“But that’s the one I WANT!”

Luckily, the librarian defused the situation: “We still have library copies of Should Have Played Poker circulating in the system, but they always have a waiting list. I’ll be glad to add your name, but you need to know there are three people ahead of you.”

The woman was happy, but I was stunned and delighted that there still was a waiting list for a book seven years old and technically out of print. In the old days, which was only a few years ago, when an author was orphaned because the publisher went out of business, canceled the series, or opted not to do another print run, the author was told, “Write something new.” That’s still sound advice, but there is another alternative. Today, many authors, once they get their rights back, are turning to reissuing the work through self-publishing. In my case, with my rights having recently reverted and an obvious existing audience for Should Have Played Poker, it was a no-brainer.

Still, there were things to be considered. Although many authors can themselves create a new cover and prepare the manuscript for self-publication, I quickly realized the limits of my technical skills and time. For authors like me, one must be careful to avoid a major pitfall – the presses or services which are merely disguised vanity presses who offer to handle editing, producing, publishing, and distribution for a significant cost. These companies make claims that sound fantastic, but only put the book on Amazon, announce it on their website, and, depending upon the package purchased, provide you with a set number of books. And that’s it for what they really do – as always, with traditional or non-traditional publishing, the PR burden falls on the author.

Being fleeced wasn’t the route for me. I did my homework. In the end, with the help of paid freelancers who specifically handled formatting and creating the new cover, I am delighted to announce the re-issuance of Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery in trade paperback and e-book. Either is available from any of your favorite indie booksellers or Amazon.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up soon. Several stories by Debra Goldstein have been featured on a podcast episode!

You can check out a mystery short story by Debra recently posted on Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast by clicking here or listening on the player below:

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

Judge Debra H. Goldstein writes Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series. Her novels and short stories have been named Agatha, Anthony, Derringer, and Silver Falchion finalists and received IPPY, AWC, and BWR awards. Debra served on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and was president of the Guppy and SEMWA chapters.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.