Friday, February 20, 2015

Spotlight on the historical fiction of Lake Union and some self-published success stories

Today I'm shining a spotlight on Amazon Publishing's Lake Union imprint, which publishes historical and contemporary fiction along with selected nonfiction.  Over the past few months, the number of self-published historical novels being picked up by Lake Union for re-release caught my attention.  The folks in Editorial there are clearly paying attention to sales and reviews for indie novels on Amazon and carefully choosing high-quality titles to acquire for reissue.  The process typically involves editorial revisions as well as a cover redesign.

(Lake Union acquires many original titles, too, including I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith, who was interviewed here a year ago.)

Here's a look at some of these formerly self-pubbed titles with their cover makeovers.  A few of these  have featured on this site previously. It's great to see many historical novels getting wider distribution and attention in this way, and I love the broad range of periods and subjects represented. 



The story of Rose Wilder Lane, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the collaboration that produced the Little House books.  This was one of my favorites of 2013 (see my earlier review).  The new release date is March 17th, 2015.



A woman is secretly trained by her father in painting in 14th-century Tuscany.  The new edition with this beautiful cover was published in December 2014.



A young midwife in 1775 Boston becomes a spy for the patriot cause and discovers a conspiracy against her good friend Abigail Adams and her family.  The new edition is out on April 7th, 2015.  Jodi Daynard guest posted here in 2013 about her in-depth research into the period.



Here's longtime historical novelist Colin Falconer's story of Isabella of France and her troubled marriage to Edward II of England, which sets her on the path to political rebellion.  New edition out April 21, 2015.



In this decades-spanning saga set in the antebellum South, a strong bond develops between a privileged young woman and the enslaved woman who was her wet nurse.  The revised edition was out in August 2014.



A beautiful maid of honor at Henry VIII's court tries to avert the unwelcome advances of a notorious philanderer by asking the king himself for help.  New edition was released January 2015.



In 406 BC, a young Roman woman marries an Etruscan nobleman to secure a truce between their warring cities. When the political ties between Rome and the Etruscan city of Veii break down, Caecilia has a difficult choice to make.  New edition out April 28, 2015.

Originally published by Pier 9/Murdoch Books in Australia, the book was later self-published on Kindle and print in the US... and subsequently acquired by Lake Union (along with the next two in the series).  Read my reviews of The Wedding Shroud and book 2, The Golden Dice, as well as Elisabeth's guest post on feminine power in Etruscan society.

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In addition to the titles above, Libbie Hawker's Tidewater (about Pocahontas; May 17th reissue) and Carol Bodensteiner's Go Away Home (a woman's coming of age, set on the WWI home front in Iowa; June reissue) were picked up by Lake Union, but their new cover art isn't online yet.  As Lavender Ironside, Libbie Hawker has written a series of Egyptian-set novels, beginning with The Sekhmet Bed (which I reviewed in 2012).   Read more about Lake Union's acquisition of Go Away Home at Jenny Quinlan's Historical Editorial blog.

If I'm missing any others, please mention them in the comments.

12 comments:

  1. OK, I've finally had the sense to add a "Reading the Past" shelf on Goodreads to keep track of all the books you discuss that I want to read. It will fill up quickly, I'm sure! Thanks for the good ideas.

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    1. That is very cool! Thanks!

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  2. Thanks for helping us sort the wheat from the chaff!

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    1. Glad you liked the post! I'm interested in knowing more about Lake Union's discovery and selection process and will see what I can find out.

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  3. I own the original A WILDER ROSE. I won it when it was brand new, so it's a different cover. I have yet to read it. You say it's a best of 2013? I guess I'd better read it.

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    1. I read it on Kindle from the original version. The novel isn't without controversy, since Laura Ingalls Wilder is such an iconic figure whose works many readers (me included) remember with fondness. It can be difficult to accept that Rose had a significant role in shaping the Little House books, but I found A Wilder Rose convincing as well as engrossing. And it made me want to read the novels Rose wrote under her own name.

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  4. For any other readers curious about how Lake Union discovers indie-published novels and their relationship with their authors, I found this interview with Carol Bodensteiner enlightening. I've also heard other informal reports from authors on Facebook, and all have been very positive about their publishing experience at Lake Union.

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  5. I'm very happy for Carol B. That was a terrific book. I hope this new endeavor serves her well.

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    1. I'm glad to hear it's so good. I'll be getting myself a copy eventually - at this point I'll wait until the new edition comes out.

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  6. It is encouraging to know that the publishing world is paying attention to the trends in self-publishing (especially with regards to HF!). I am planning to read The Midwife's Revolt as it looks very interesting. Is it an ebook? I just recently read and reviewed for Sheila Dalton her debut HF novel (ebook) on my blog, Historical Fiction Addicts. I was unsure how I would like an ebook but soon discovered there are advantages, especially when you want to read late at night while your spouse sleeps!

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    1. The new edition of Midwife's Revolt will be available as an ebook, Kindle in particular. Amazon Publishing sells most of their titles as ebooks. But it will be out in print as well. I have a Kindle Fire and often use it to read in bed, too.

      Sheila Dalton is one of my Facebook friends, and I've been reading about her new HF book there. The setting and premise are interesting.

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    2. And yes, I agree it's encouraging that there are people in the industry keeping an eye out for good self-published HF!

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