Friday, November 3, 2017

Life after Five Star, by Susan Oleksiw

 On January 19, 2016, I posted a piece entitled The End of the Five Star Mystery Line. Over fifteen hundred people read it, and even now I get comments about it. Well, it's almost two years later, and I was wondering how my fellow Stars have fared over the previous months. So I asked. And they responded. I hope reading their replies will be inspiring (and edifying) for everyone.

Two things struck me. First, the writers have been busy and productive, finding ways to continue a beloved series or begin a new one.  Second, several mentioned how much they enjoyed being part of the Five Star family, and staying in touch with other Five Star authors. I hope that will continue also. The publishing world is indeed chaotic, but we seem to have survived the upheaval. I have trimmed the responses for the sake of space.

From Marilyn Clay
Since my final Five Star novel was published in 2012, I sold two
novels to Mayfair Mysteries (a now defunct publisher) titled: BETSY
Press imprint published a new Regency Romance novel of mine titled:
THE WRONG MISS FAIRFAX. In addition, I started the Juliette Abbott Regency-set Mystery Series: MURDER AT MORLAND MANOR, MURDER IN MAYFAIR, and MURDER AT MARGATE. All titles are available everywhere online in both trade
paperback and E-book formats. I am currently writing Book 4 in my Juliette Abbott Regency-set
Mystery series, MURDER AT MEDLEY PARK, scheduled for release in

From Nancy Cohen
I am indie publishing my Bad Hair Day mysteries under my Orange Grove Press imprint. So far I’ve done HAUNTED HAIR NIGHTS, a novella, and HAIR BRAINED, #14 in the series. HAIR BRAINED was published in Sept. 2017 and is available in ebook formats at Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play. The trade paperback edition is available via CreateSpace and IngramSpark. I’ve already finished TRIMMED TO DEATH, the next book in this series. I’m also reissuing all my backlist titles in romance and mystery, and hope to expand my WRITING THE COZY MYSTERY instructional guide. Three of my Bad Hair Day mysteries are in audiobook, and I’m scheduled to start the fourth one with my narrator in January.

From Jen J. Danna
I'm still publishing with Kensington and the second book of the FBI K-9s series (BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE) has just come out, with the third, STORM RISING, due out next fall. I'm self publishing the next book in what was Five Star's Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries series, LAMENT THE COMMON BONES, on November 21 in trade paperback and ebook. I'm also reformatting all the previous Five Star hardcovers of Abbott and Lowell to release in trade paperback through CreateSpace. Then, as the ebook rights revert to me, I'll be releasing those too, starting next year. I've also got some new projects on the horizon, but that will become clearer next year.

From Alice Duncan
I’ve been publishing my most popular series (which means it isn’t awfully popular) with ePublishingWorks. They make you pay, but they’re the first publisher I’ve ever had who has actually made money for me. So it works for me. I’ve self-pubbed the rest of my backlist for Kindle and Nook via Smashwords.

From Lisa Lieberman
I had finished the second book in my series when Five Star pulled the plug on their mystery line. I LOVE this series and was not willing to let it go. I approached several agents, but none of them were optimistic. I decided to publish it myself, using the same cover designer and formatting team that Five Star used (Encircle). This enabled me to keep my brand. I set myself up as a publisher (DBA as Passport Press), sent out proper ARCS to various review outlets, and succeeded in getting reviewed by LIBRARY JOURNAL. I've been experimenting with various promotional activities but I'm launched and well into writing book three.  

From Carole Price
VINEYARD PREY, third in my Shakespeare in the Vineyard series, was released October 21 by Black Opal Books. Currently, I'm working on a new cozy series not yet named.

From Jacqueline Seewald
From 2007 to 2016, Five Star published seven of my novels in hardcover editions, some of which were also published in large print. Perfect Crime published the 4th novel in my Kim Reynolds mystery series, the first three having been published by Five Star. I recently wrote a sequel to another novel that was originally published by Five Star to excellent reviews--DEATH LEGACY. The sequel, DEATH PROMISE, will be published in April 2018 by Encircle, a publisher that is eager to work with former Five Star/Gale/Cengage authors. THE BURNING by J. P. Seewald is available for pre-order, publication date: November 8, 2017. I hope to interest new readers and keep the fans of my prior Five Star novels.

From Sheri Cobb South
I’m continuing with the John Pickett mystery series under the Sonatina Press imprint. (Which is actually, well, me.) Because the books are no longer with Five Star, they’re in a more affordable trade paperback edition instead of hardcover, and they’re available in all electronic formats, rather than Kindle only. The first of these, FOR DEADER OR WORSE (aka John Pickett Mystery #6) was released last spring, and Book 7, MYSTERY LOVES COMPANY, will be out in January.  Print rights to Book 3, FAMILY PLOT, just reverted back to me, so it will soon be available in paperback, too. I’m also releasing the John Pickett series in audio. Finally, I’m having new covers—featuring custom artwork!--designed for my Regency romance THE WEAVER TAKES A WIFE and its sequels. And they’re gorgeous!

From Patricia Stoltey
I just happened to have an old manuscript that fit Five Star's Frontier Fiction line so I polished it up and sent it in. WISHING CASWELL DEAD will be released December 20, 2017. It's set in 1830s Illinois in the fictitious Village of Sangamon. My current WIP is a suspense standalone. One of these days I'll be submitting it to agents and editors to see if I can find a new home for contemporary crime. I'm too lazy to indie publish.

From Maggie Toussaint
Right away I scrambled and found a new publisher, Camel Press. They picked up my ongoing Dreamwalker Mystery Series, with a two-book contract with an option for the next book. DADGUMMIT, book 4 in the series came out in August, and CONFOUND IT is due out June 2018. I’m very grateful to them for their belief in my storytelling and look forward to a continuing association with them. As a way to expand my readership, I’ve embarked on writing anthology novellas to fill in the space between yearly book releases. This effort has put me in contact with like-minded authors and I’m reaping benefits in backlist sales.

From Leslie Wheeler
Encircle will publish my new mystery RATTLESNAKE HILL, the first in a new series set in a Berkshire hilltown.

And what about me? I wrote and rewrote and rewrote again the first in a new series, and today I sign and return the contract. Midnight Ink will publish three books in a series set in the Pioneer Valley, featuring Felicity O'Brien.  The first, BELOW THE TREE LINE, is scheduled for fall 2018.


Irene Bennett Brown said...

Congratulations to all of you strong, never-say-die women authors (no pun) for staying the course--finding new publishers, indie publishing, and succeeding! You win!

Susan Oleksiw said...

Thanks, Irene. They are indeed remarkable, with complicated stories. I was very impressed as their responses started to flow in.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi Susan,

A great idea to remind Five Star authors that there is life after a publisher stops a line. It's never easy but we are all talented writers who will find a way to continue getting our work published.

Susan Oleksiw said...

I agree, Jacquie. I was impressed with the alacrity the writers showed in moving forward. I've known writers to drop out after a few rejections, feeling the business wasn't worth it. But I didn't hear any sour words, and instead heard enthusiasm for new opportunities and for the Five Star experience.

C. C. Harrison said...

Well, I guess I missed the call for this information, but I'm happy to say that I landed on my feet, too. Though I don't comment on the Five Star email list, I do read it and follow what everyone is doing. So congratulations all.

So to update me - I have a new agent who picked up two of the books I was writing for Five Star, and I have two more manuscripts in queue, and a couple of partials.

I have a new book coming out next month, a cozy called, DEATH BY G-STRING, the first in my Coyote Canyon Ladies Ukulele Club mystery series set in Colorado. After the first of the year, I will begin reissuing my Five Star books beginning with PICTURE OF LIES. I avoided self-publishing, it's way more work than I am willing to do.

Glad to hear everyone is doing well. Keep up the good work.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Congratulations, Susan, and thanks for providing this update on our former Five Star mystery authors. It sounds as though everyone is busy and productive. There are lots of choices for us in the publishing world today, unlike when I started in this business, and getting dropped from a publisher isn't the end anymore. It's a new beginning.

Susan Oleksiw said...

Thanks for adding your story, CC. I'm glad you too landed on your feet.

Nancy, you're absolutely right about the changes over the years. Being dropped today is hardly the disaster it was twenty or thirty years ago. We can almost choose our opportunities now. Thanks for contributing to our update.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Thanks for this recap from some of our Five Star author family. It is inspirational to see how many didn't stop when that door closed. Keep on writing, all!

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