Imagine selling your novels on Amazon for almost $300. Winona Kent doesn’t have to -- her novel, The Cilia Rose Affair, goes for as high as $289 online.
“I actually saw an original paperback of The Cilla Rose Affair from 2001 selling for $300 a couple of months ago,” Kent said via email. “I wish I made some royalties from those kinds of sales but, alas, it's all profit for the booksellers.… I wish I'd kept more copies of my novels the first time around.”
The UBC alumna’s four novels are being reprinted by Diverson Books in August and were made available as e-books on July 7. Kent’s first novel, Skywatcher, was published by Seal Books in 1989. The novel was the last one to earn the Seal Books First Novel Award. Kent went on to publish three other novels, with her fifth book on the way this year.
While Kent’s first novel was published in 1989, she has been writing for much longer than that. When she was in school, she used to distribute her own serialized novels.
“I wrote [my first novel] when I was in Grade 8 and distributed the chapters to all my friends at recess,” Kent said. “I think it was then that I learned all about reader engagement.”
Her latest novel, The Persistence of Memory, was published by Fable in 2013.
When Fable went out of business earlier this year, Kent’s contract was picked up by Diverson Books, leading to all of her works being republished. Kent is most excited that her first novel, Skywatcher, will be available again, as it hasn’t been printed for 25 years.
“I have a collection of fans who've never read it and have been wanting to read it for a long time,” Kent said. “I was re-reading it the other day -- the first time I'd read it in decades -- and I was struck by just how ‘young’ the story is. It's fascinating to see how I've developed and matured as a writer over the years.”
Skywatcher tells the story of an actor who played spies on television in the 1960s. When he comes to Vancouver to make a movie, he and his family end up in a real plot to take over the world. Kent wrote a sequel to Skywatcher in 2001 titled The Cilia Rose Affair. It was self-published as a paperback in 2001 and e-book in 2011.
Kent's latest novel, Persistence of Memory, is the first in what she plans to be a 10-book series about an accidental time-traveller. Kent got the idea when she was researching her family tree. She admits that of her four novels, she is most fond of this one.
“I discovered I have a great grandfather who is a complete mystery -- I can't find out who his parents were, where he was born, when he was born,” Kent said. “Suddenly [I] thought, I wonder what it would be like if I could travel back in time and actually meet this fellow and find out all about him.”
The second book in the series, In Loving Memory, will be published by Diversion Books next year.
Having been active as an author for so long, Kent has seen massive changes in the publishing industry.
“It’s like night and day,” she said. “Twenty-five years ago you didn’t need an agent -- you could get a publisher to read your manuscript by submitting it directly to them.”
Kent currently work as a Programs Assistant at the School of Population and Public Health at UBC. She hopes to retire in a few years to continue her writing full time. All of Kent’s novels are available as e-books online. Her next novel, In Loving Memory, will be published in July 2016.