Can We Talk? Should I or Should I not Publish Private Relations (Revisited)?

1989 Private RelationsJune will mark the 25th anniversary of the publication of my first novel, Private Relations, which has me pondering–yet again–whether or not to release it for my 21st century readers. I’ve had this chat with some of you before, but I need to have it again. I need your help in making the decision.

I receive a couple of requests each week to bring this book back to life. I began writing it in 1981. Writing was then a hobby that turned into an obsession, which ultimately resulted in a manuscript of many hundreds of pages. With lots of editing, ditching of certain characters, increasing the focus on the romance, it turned into an actual book that landed in bookstores (remember them?) in June of 1989. I’m proud of it. Yet there’s no way around it: this is one heck of a dated story.

I’ve turned five of my other early books into e-books, and the response has been so absolutely, totally, staggeringly wonderful. Who knew that those old dead books would find a new set of readers? Somehow, though, those books seem to have a more ageless quality. But Private Relations (and my second novel, Lover and Strangers) feel ancient.

Let’s look at a few of the problems, shall we?

  • It’s a romance. It didn’t start out that way, but the editors who kept rejecting it said the story would be stronger if I focused on Kit and Cole rather than the slew of other characters I’d introduced.  It’s an unusual romance, to be sure, which I believe is why it won the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Romance of 1989. I knew nothing about writing romances, and I think that worked to my advantage in creating something that was, at that time, fresh and different. But, it is a romance, and while I know many of my readers love romances, I think I have just as many who don’t.
  • Here’s a snag that stopped me in my tracks as I reread it: Kit, our heroine, goes to Cole, our hero, as her gynecologist. I mean, really? She doesn’t even question the awkwardness of this or consider finding a female GYN. (They are not involved at the time, but are living in the same house with a bunch of other. . . oh, it’s too complicated to explain!). At the time I wrote the book, I was a social worker in a maternity unit. Out of the gazillion doctors in that unit, only two were female, so the story seemed to make a little more sense back then. I’m glad those days are over! But do you see what I mean about dated?
  • During the course of the story, Cole gets angry with Kit and actually slaps her. What was I thinking?? That would be it for me. You lay a hand on me, Buster, and I’m out the door. Or rather, you are.
  • There are no twists, which my readers have come to love and which I adore writing. It’s a very straightforward story. It’s not badly written, though. If a reader can get past the gynecological exams and slapping, there’s a good chance she might actually be moved to tears.
  • Oh, and it’s juicy. Not erotic by any stretch of the imagine, but it’s juicy enough that when my parents read the manuscript (which I allowed them to read shortly before publication), they said they wouldn’t tell any of their friends about it. (To their credit, they changed their mind once it was published, deciding only to keep their priest in the dark). I hear regularly from readers who are pleased at the un-juiciness of my books. They must be kept away from this one!

I think if I do decide to publish Private Relations, I would have to add something to the title that warns the readers of its “differentness”. My fear is getting a bunch of “I love Diane Chamberlain’s books, but this one was really weird!” reader reviews.  How to word that warning, I’m not sure.

I would say it’s now or never for Private Relations. I don’t expect to be around for its 50th anniversary, so this is it. Can you help me decide? I look forward to your thoughts.

Comments

  1. I would love to read the 25th Anniversary Publications of your first Novel !! However, I would look for it in paper back as I do not do e-reading. Books are works of art for me, and I proudly display all the many caboodles that have been read in every room of our home. YEP….I stand almost alone in my field of FANS of BOOKS. However, I think you deserve the Celebration! I believe it is the only book you have written that I have not read.

    DO IT is my vote!

  2. Diane Lamprey says:

    I think it would be a huge treat for your readers to read your first baby! So what if it’s dated! Write a little something at the beginning stating that it was written in 1989, when things were so different, I am so sure it would be beloved like all your books! My vote is HECK YES!!!! Go for it!

  3. Jamie Tait says:

    YOU BET!!! I would LOVE to add it to my collection of your books! Being “dated” isn’t a bad thing, I have read several novels that were “set” in the 80’s…..it was an era to never be forgotten! My suggestion would be to address your concerns in your authors note in the back! And of course a new fancy cover with “25th Anniversary edition” done in SILVER would be awesome!!! You have got to be my most favorite author of all time, and I respect your decision whatever it may be! Thanks so much for giving me countless hours of “me time”!!!

    • Amy-Jean Burns says:

      I couldn’t agree more with this post. You have spoken my words exactly. Diane it is so kind of you to consider your readers in your decision. I would love nothing more than to be able say I’ve read every single one of your books.

  4. Hi Diane,
    I would love to read your first novel dated or otherwise… Letting readers know it was your first book would be a plus. I don’t like it when titles are changed and I buy or download a novel that I’ve already read years ago under another name. It is disappointing and frustrating when you get a few pages into the book and realize that it sounds very familiar.
    I would love to see this in E book form. Lately, that is all I read or buy. No space for all the books I have already. Good Luck with your decision…. my vote: I say Go for it!!! I would look forward to reading and enjoying Private Relations!

  5. Elizabeth Irion says:

    I would love to read the 25th Anniversary Publication of your first book!!! You could mention something about the time it was first published but to me “dated” makes it all the more appealing. I would have no problem reading a story that took me back 25 years ago and how things were back then. Opens things up for more discussion. How things are now compared to how they were then. I would definitely say do it!!!

  6. Betty Savage says:

    Publish it. It is 2014 and my GYN is a male…not strange to me…
    People still slap people…not that it is recommended…but it happens.
    I think if you write a letter to the readers at the beginnjng explaining that this is an anniversary edition and that you have received many requests that you bring this book back, they will understand that it was your first and that all writers evolve through the years. Mary Alice Monroe and Karen White both brought back early books…they were successful.
    Plus remember that you can’t please everyone so someone may read it and not like it…but others will love it.

  7. I vote YES!! I have read everything you’ve written (or so I thought!), so I would LOVE to read your first baby!

  8. Caroline Warburton says:

    Yes, I think this would be a great idea…e-book please. Perhaps Diane, you could write a very short introduction explaining the different circumstances behind the writing of your first novel. A very fitting 25th anniversary celebration. From one of your UK readers!

  9. Sue Walkinshaw says:

    Absolutely yes, on Kindle, that’s all I read and I would have to read this as I’ve read every book that you have written and loved them all. So please, please go for it!

  10. Martha O'Quinn says:

    Go for it! To me it would count as historical fiction and produce warm fuzzies. I love that genre. The cover on the front of a book I am currently reading shows a portion of a woman’s face, including the neckline, necklace, earrings and lower hairstyle.. It shouts the eighties. I think Private Relations must be the one book from DC that I failed to read. .We love that you value your readers’ opinions.

  11. Publish it!
    If you are compelled to put in a preface, do that.
    I think most readers understand that times change and people change (even authors).

    Definitely add the: One hit and YOU are out the door part.

    Be proud of them all, even the odd ball books, you did it!

  12. Virginia says:

    I actually have a paper copy of this book that I bought on Amazon for like fifteen bucks, and I thought it was well worth every cent…yet the biggest issue I had with it was that he was her gyn, and I thought that was strange, but not strange enough that I stopped reading. I devoured it. I think some kind of warning might be good, but honestly, I’ve read all your books except one and I love them all–there are ones I love more, for sure, but that just boils down to personal preference and the kind of stories that get me riled up. My favorite old book of yours is “Secret Lives” hands down…you need to put out Lovers and Strangers, because that’s the only book I haven’t read yet. I’d say release it at a good price and a warning.

  13. Marianne says:

    I would love to read it , having started reading your books over the last 3/4 years it would be nice to read some of your earlier stuff , it may be totally different to how you write now but for those of us that buy everything you write , it would be a nice gift to buy ourselves ;)

    • I have not read this book. I have ordered many off amazon.I do not do the e-read books as I love to hold the actual book in my hands, but that being said I think you should publish it again. 25yrs. of writing is awesome. Congratulations Diane

  14. Melanie says:

    Personally I would love to read it, although I don’t have an e-reader so I’d rather see it in paperback! :-) I don’t think the fact it’s dated is a real problem – yes, books are a product of the time when they’re written, but people still read books from the 1780s so I don’t think the fact it’s from the 1980s should be too much of a problem!

  15. I say yes definitely do it. Some of your older books are hard to find, so us newer fans might not get to read them otherwise. Maybe put a note that says Diane’s first novel, or an author whose style it’s similar to. If you like this author, you would like Private Relations. I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t say who’s its similar to. You might get some new fans from it.

  16. Diane Chamberlain says:

    I see some of you would like a print copy, however that’s not easy. Since I have the rights to this book, I have to publish it myself. E-publishing is not difficult. Print publishing is not only more difficult, but I would have to charge far more than the book is worth to cover the expense. So I’m afraid it would only be available as an ebook. (Do you know you can read ebooks on your computers? A drag, I know…)

  17. Heather says:

    When Stephen King released the full version of The Stand in 1990, he wrote a long preface to it warning readers that it was an expanded version of The Stand and not a sequel. If you preface with, as someone suggested, a paragraph (or even this blog post!) indicating that it is a reprint, (is it still called a reprint if it’s only released via e-pub?) it should be enough for readers to know that it is not a new release.

    I agree with the reader who commented on changing the title. I much prefer the title Cypress Point to The Shadow Wife. Just sayin’.

    As for the book being dated, the Kinsey Millhone books by Sue Grafton are all set in the 80s – approximately 25 years ago – and each release is always a best seller. Fans are fans – we will read whatever you publish.

    • Diane Chamberlain says:

      I will never again allow a publisher to change a title or to issue the same book with different titles in different English-speaking countries, so don’t worry about that!

      It’s more than being dated that is the problem. (See Sue E’s comment below.). It was a learning-how-to-write book in many ways, and written before I found “my voice”. That’s a big concern for me–putting out something I don’t think is excellent.

  18. Oh dear, I must play devil’s advocate here and say I don’t think you should publish it. I think I have read all your books starting with paperbacks and moving onto e reader and have always felt a little let down when I have read “older” books you have written (often only realising they are older when I find myself disappointed as I predict what is coming long before the end of the book.) I feel you have grown and developed so much as a writer with every book you have written and those early books just don’t live up to or do justice to your writing in your more recent books. The depth of character and the moral dilemmas seem so much more complex and rounded in your latest offerings. I would hate to think people may be put put off your amazing novels by possibly experiencing a very old novel as their first introduction to you. Could you maybe release it as a “double”, free with a new book, allowing readers to compare it and witness how an excellent writer matures and develops, so that people could view it in the context of where you are now? Sorry if this sounds negative but I am a huge fan and would hate anyone to be denied the pleasure of reading your forthcoming books because they get the wrong impression from a dated offering.

    • Diane Chamberlain says:

      Sue, you’re thinking exactly the way I am. These are my concerns too, and the reason I haven’t released it until now. There’s something about that 25th anniversary date that is making me want to acknowledge it, but I will take your thoughts to heart.

  19. yes you should publish it as it’s difficult to find old books from you without paying lots of money ..i’m french and it’s hard to find somewhere else than on the internet so i’ll be lucky if i can have it on my computer (i don’t have ereader )
    best

  20. Pat Akins says:

    I’ve been waiting for a reissue of this to an e-book FOREVER. Please bring it back. The first book of yours I read was The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes and after reading it I was hooked. I even went so far as ordering your out of print books from Amazon at great cost. You never disappoint me and I’m hoping you’ll let us read Private Relations!!

  21. Pat Akins says:

    I also want to ask you if you are the author of Conduct Unbecoming. It was written by Diane Chamberlain but I have a feeling it was someone else who shares your name. Please clear this up for me.

    • Diane Chamberlain says:

      No, Pat, that’s a different Diane Chamberlain. There are three of us that I know of. That one is nonfiction. The third DC is a poet.

  22. Jill Burkinshaw says:

    Hi apologies I have only just found this thread I would say yes please republish. I am in UK and male gyn are not uncommon here I have 5 children and have never had a problem with a male consultant I did find it strange when the male nurses first started creeping in but got used to those too now. I think that people (unless I am odd which is very possible) expect to have a ‘different’ book every now and then after all we would soon get bored if authors wrote the same type of books I recently read one of Jodi’s that I thought was different I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous ones but you cant love em all. Yes rebublish just put that it is your first book then we can decide if we do or don’t want to read it :)

    • I would read anything you have written and am trying to get a accurate list of all the books by the original date. I love James Patterson and have most of his mysteries, but you beat him all over the place. I was introduced to your books one year ago and have now read 12 with 2 more I have waiting to read and will order them all eventually. Please publish the first book in paperback. I don’t do E books. Thanks. I love your books. I can’t put them down. I stay up to wee hours of the morning trying to finish them.
      Mickie

  23. Susan Wright says:

    Please do reissue this book on e-book. I have been trying to find a copy of Private Relations for years and no luck. Can’t even find Lovers and Strangers either. Any idea when you will make a decision on this. I love your books and have read all but your first 2. Keep on writing.

  24. Helen Kavanagh says:

    Yes definitely! I already own it, as I found an old copy on Amazon a couple of years ago. I loved it and I bet other people will too. Who cares if it’s dated? The 80’s were the best!

  25. debbie auman says:

    Please release this book never can have to much of your writing it keepsme awake on 3rd shift

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