It could have gone either way. I could have picked up my first novel after years of letting it sit on the shelf, read it,and been deeply embarrassed. Then I would have felt foolish even considering asking readers to take a look. But instead, I was pleasantly surprised. Much of it was unfamiliar but not unpleasant.
And then I got to choose my own cover. I picked one my designer, Al Pranke, had created for another book – fortunately, that author wasn’t as crazy about it as I was.
But the biggest surprise was unearthing old reviews. At the time, I suffered over one or two. Now I have no idea why – they're better than I remembered. And this time I could include them in the front pages of the book and on the sales pages. Unabashed vanity, I know. But sometimes you need something to remind you of what you’ve accomplished.
I’ve picked out the interior design by Lorie DeWorken, put together the back cover. All choices I didn’t have before.
As a result, I’m less nervous about sending the book out there. After all, what have I got to lose? The book wasn’t selling before anyway.
I’ve seen authors use a re-issue as a new launch, a new way to get readings and reader reviews. I’ve never been keen on public speaking, so I was going to shy away from lining up readings, even before that became impossible. Editorial reviews are less likely - it’s not a new book. But there are at least a dozen ways to offer my book to readers, especially if I’m willing to discount and spend a little money on promotions and ads.
And I'm offering all Bacon Press Books at $0.99 for as long as we're all stuck inside.
Why Now? (I wrote this before the quarantining - otherwise my answer might be more specific)
I went into this as a kind of experiment. A fact-finding mission. If I’m encouraging other writers to re-issue their back lists, I needed to know what it felt like.
About a year ago, I self-published a new novel. To be honest, it didn’t feel nearly as good. I’m not sure why. All I know is that I was reluctant to do all the marketing I’d encouraged other writers to do. I felt funny pushing it. The reader reviews were great and still, I put off doing more to get exposure. It surprised me. And the sheer number of self-published books hitting the market overwhelmed and discouraged me.
More than that, it made me question whether it was fair to publish original fiction or nonfiction when I couldn’t honestly tell other writers I enjoyed the process.
That’s why I’ve become even more determined to shift the focus of Bacon Press Books to re-issues only.. And why I decided to re-issue Waiting for Next Week.
The good news is – so far I've enjoyed all of it. I have no idea if that translates into sales. But the process has been more fun than I expected.
Give It a Try
It’s easy enough to do it yourself or there are other presses besides this one who can help.
You might want to dust off your back list and give it a try.
Pick up a copy
You can pick up a copy of the eBook of Waiting for Next Week for 99 cents.
I started this piece long before the virus became our main preoccupation. I know so many people are too distracted to read or write while others will take any distraction they can find. I've already virtually-toured three of the national parks; watched the Northern Lights; and learned how to make roll-up French toast.
So I offer both the suggestion of hauling out your back list and/or reading this book in case you're ready to look for something to do.
I keep thinking of that line from the movie Airport when Lloyd Bridges says – “Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.”
That’s what it feels like to launch a re-issue of my novel in the middle of a health and economic crisis unlike anything we’ve ever encountered. Anxiety is high. People are already too distracted to be able to appreciate distractions.
But maybe forgive me for going ahead with this? Like everyone else who’s self-employed or has a small business, I’m just bumbling through..
I’ll contribute to other causes where I can and at the same time I’m lowering the price on all Bacon Press Books eBooks to 99 cents. I’d give them all away, but that wouldn’t be fair to the authors.
So if you’re looking for some good reading, please consider:
Short Story Collections
You Won’t Remember This: Stories by Kate Blackwell
Blues for Beginners: Stories and Obsessions by Judith Podell
The Man Who Built Boxes and other stories by Frank Tavaris
Man from the Sky by Danny Wynn
The Call House: A Washington Novel by CP Stiles
Waiting for Next Week by Michele Orwin
Sigga of Reykjavik by Solveig Eggerz
Getaway by Maureen Brady
Identity Thief by JP Bloch
Landfall by Joseph Jablonski
Sunset at Rosalie by Ann McLaughlin
The Clear Blue Line by Al Sprague
Letting Go: An Anthology of Attempts edited by M.E. Hughes
The Lost Town: Bringing Back Trochenbrod by Avrom Ben-David Val
In Search of the Fun-Forever Job by Ellis Chase
Networking: Career Strategies that Work by Ellis Chase
At first, the hardest part is just sitting down to write.
But that isn't as hard as letting someone else read your work
Which is easy compared to deciding it's time to send out your manuscript
Which turns out be a piece of cake compared to sending it back out after you've gotten one rejection
Which is nothing compared to trying again after the 10th rejection or the 50th
Standing on the edge of that formidable chasm with no good choices - giving up or going on?
Do you dare to publish yourself or endure a dozen more small deaths of the spirit until someone else acknowledges your merit?
It isn't easy that first time you say I'm good enough,
My work is good enough even if I'm the only one who knows it right now.
Until you take the leap
and the sail catches you and the wind carries you
and your realize you're in good hands after all -
Photo by Nicolas Tissot on Unsplash
It makes me think of a juggler trying to keep three balls in the air or four plates spinning. It’s hectic and harrowing. And yet. Sometimes the best way to get one thing done is to do two. (Or am I getting that confused with the advice about how to improve a short story by writing the next one?)
Bacon Press Books is making some changes and they’re all good.
Here’s what’s different
Bacon Press Books is now concentrating only on helping authors re-issue as paperbacks and eBooks, titles that have already been published in hard cover. When the author has regained the rights.
While we’re really proud of the original fiction and nonfiction titles we’ve published and grateful to their authors for taking a chance on us, we want to stick with our original mission.
So with that in mind, we’ve revamped our website so authors can see clearly what it would cost to re-issue a book with us. Check it out.
At the same time, we’re offering another service that’s totally separate from the press.
Fiction, nonfiction, novel, memoir, beginners, pros – I’m happy to help. No matter where you are in your journey, I’ll join you.
Fortunately, there’s no crossover – no promise to publish because clearly you can’t be working on a new book and re-issue it at the same time.
You can read about the service here and if you know anyone who’s looking for help, please pass it on.
I know. I should have been collecting email addresses and writing a newsletter – but to be honest, the newsletters I receive tend to be a bit disappointing. They’re personal and interesting and I do take the time to read them, but it’s kind of like podcasts, and blogs, and all of these content-heavy new formats for communication. Sooner or later, people run out of material. In my case, I know it would be sooner.
So I’ll update this way from time to time and keep you posted on how these new changes are working.
Why it’s not such a bad idea to take a chance on re-issuing your own books
hat's so great about waiting to be picked?
For some people deciding to re-issue your own book is hard. I know, I’m the same way. It’s so much easier if someone gives you an offer. Who doesn’t like to be chosen and to be paid on top of it? Only a lot of us know by now that doesn’t always happen. And yet. If your book was good enough to be published in the first place, isn’t it still good enough to be available to readers in different formats?
Not rocket science, not even brain surgery
I should have numbers and graphs showing how much it costs one of the Big 5 publishers to bring out a book in paperback, but the numbers I keep coming across are misleading. And in the end, does it matter? If your publisher tells you you didn’t sell enough hardcover books to warrant a paperback deal – do you really care how much it would cost them?
It’s archaic, a little medieval, unfair to writers. Just when you thought you’d survived the toughest parts – writing the book, revising and editing, getting an agent, and then a publisher. You’ve even survived reviews or lack of reviews. Readings in empty bookstores or no arranged readings at all. Just when you think there are no more hoops and hurdles, comes the news that your book didn’t sell enough so, sorry, no paperback deal.
Given how easy it is to get books out there using print on demand – this makes no sense. Wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to make your book available at a lower price if you want to reach more readers? How many people are willing to shell out upwards of $25.00 for a hardcover book? And if they do spend the money, how many books will they buy at that price? That’s one of the reasons paperbacks became so popular. Not just at airports or on beach vacations. Serious readers were more likely to pick up a paperback or two at half the price they’d pay for the hardcover.
Your bookshelves might not look as grand. But that kind of thinking went the way of cheap walk-up apartments in the West Village.
The point is: all authors, once they get their rights back, now have the ability to decide for themselves if they’d like to publish their backlist books in paperback and eBook. It’s not hard to do and it doesn’t cost that much.
It's OK to Be Proud of Your Work
Often it’s just a question of getting over the hurdle of being the one to decide it’s okay.
The thinking used to be, if readers read a book by an author they liked, they’d go looking for other books by the same author. I’ve done that. Even when it meant slogging through all of Ernest Hemingway and John Updike or breezing through Alice Adams and Alice Munro. Even when I didn’t love every single book.
But now, unless I’m looking for the work of a popular genre author, I can only find backlist books for sale at used bookstores. Sometimes with very good prices. And sometimes I’ll buy them. But I’m more likely to pick up an eBook, just for the convenience.
I subscribe to a few discount book sites with special offers every day. I’m amazed at how many feature books from 20-30-40 years ago. Now in digital.
What’s the benefit of re-issuing your backlist?
My own rocky journey
I started Bacon Press Books with the intention of helpi ng authors re-issue their out of print books in paperback and digital. Because it looked so easy. And yet. I didn’t have the courage to take a chance.on my own novel.
Even though I had everything in place – an imprint, a stack of ISBNs with Bowker, accounts with Amazon KDP and IngramSpark; a wonderful editor Lorraine Fico-White (Magnifico Manuscripts), a terrific cover designer, and a just as terrific interior designer. An account with the Library of Congress. A few good companies that could scan books. My own websites, blogs, and so many social media accounts I can’t keep track of which ones to use. I even had a YouTube channel. And yet, I didn’t do it.
Here’s my progress so far
First, I had to find some of my old books for sale somewhere since I only had one copy.( I know. D umb.) Then I sent the cleanest hardcover to Blue Leaf Book Scanning.. I’d used them before and had liked their work. I’d also used another company and wasn’t as pleased. blue Leaf returned a pretty clean copy – the proofreading didn’t take long and I resisted the urge to make too many changes. I could save money on editing since my original publisher, Henry Holt & Co. had given me a great copyeditor.
Then I asked Al Pranke of amp13 to design a new cover. The original cover was unusual for its time. All white with the author’s name in large type. Unheard of for an unknown author. Al’s designs are always striking. I confess, I really love this one.
I’ve just sent it off to Lorie DeWorken of Mind the Margins for the interior. This time, I was able to add a few pages upfront with the good reviews I’d gotten. Being able to add reviews friends and family had never seen made me smile.
Now I’m waiting to get back the finished interior. Then I’ll figure out how to condense the jacket copy to fit on the back cover. Set a price. Come up with a short blurb. Decide on a pub date, add it to my website, and that’s it.
I know. There’s all that tacky self-promotion and marketing and begging for reader reviews. I’ll let you know how that works out. If I’ve come this far it would be silly not to try to get some exposure. But I’ve been known to make bad choices before. Especially when it comes to putting myself out there.
In the meantime, I’m actually enjoying the process.
And more convinced that Bacon Press Books can offer a real service at affordable prices to authors who want their books re-issued but don't want the hassle of doing it themselves..
We're working on packages to accommodate as many author preferences as we can. Writing shouldn't be a beauty contest - your work should be judged on its merits and often, authors are the best ones to know what they are. merits and often, authors are the best ones to know what they are.
No one needs to tell me writers tend to be a bit reticent.
Three Brave Early Adapters
Six years and fifteen books later, only 3 of the 15 books I’ve published have been re-issues. You Won’t Remember This: Stories by Kate Blackwell; Blues for Beginners by Judith Podell; and Sunset at Rosalie by the late Ann McLaughlin.
I’ve taken the first steps – I had my hardcover book scanned. And right now I’m proofing because scanning can be a little wonky. I haven’t read it in years and was a little worried about re-reading and hating it. But it’s like finding old essays from college and being surprised that I ever knew so much about the Renaissance. Some of it’s not bad. Did I used to have a better imagination?
A quick note: Right after I published this I read Mike Shatzkin's
2020: Zero year thoughts about the changes in book publishing
that talks about what's happened to backlists over the years.
What is it about summer reading that can bring out the best and the worst in our reading habits?
There’s that pull toward hedonism – a Kindle full of light reads, grizzly detective stories and heart-stopping thrillers on the one hand. And that tug toward the aspirational reading list – finish Bleak House, War and Peace, read all of Jane Austen, Virginia Wolfe and what about that collected works of William Trevor that’s been on the shelf for ages? And there are all the new highly praised books for the past 5 or 10 years we’ve been meaning to read?
How bad is it when a T-shirt slogan speak the truth? Too many books, too little time.
I confess, my Kindle is stocked with breezy cozies and a few of what’s called Chick Lit, contemporary writers I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t read yet, and then each summer a project. One year Graham Greene, another year William Faulkner. Don’t ask how far I’ve gotten. I’m tempted by short light reads and determined to counterbalance them with serious literature. Then suddenly it’s the end of August and I vow to do better next year.
So how can I ask you to make room in your reading list and pick up a copy of Sigga of Reykjavik by Solveig Eggerz? It’s an old-fashioned good, serious novel. A strong female main character who endures more hardships than many of us will ever know. In Iceland of all places during a span when Sigga’s fight for Independence runs parallel to Iceland’s fight to break free from Denmark’s dominance. It’s not a book you can read in one sitting.
But. For those of us who don’t have the money to travel, reading is the cheapest way to be transported to another place, another time. And Solveig Eggerz does a masterful job of both.
Sigga of Reykjavik has received great reader reviews
Here are just a few:
Sigga is my kind of heroine: unpredictable, hot-headed, confident yet blind to those closest to her. There is nothing she won't tackle. Her story is atmospheric, full of Icelandic weather, (terrible) Icelandic food, folklore, and fascinating history. I loved being immersed in her world.
Solveig Eggerz is a master storyteller, giving us an extraordinary level of detail and dramatic action. I loved getting a sense for Iceland’s recent history and learning it from the perspective of a woman’s life.
Striking characters, evocative imagery, and vigorous action flow in a torrent as Sigga's story unfolds, impelled by her self-sacrificing determination to make a family and a home for those she loves. The careful historical setting highlights parallels between Sigga's struggles and Iceland's precarious perch at the edge of the violence engulfing Europe as Fascism and Communism simmer and explode. Rich and authentic in its details, its emotions, and its judgments, this book is a very rewarding read.
Of course there are more. But how does an excellent writer with a small (okay micro) press break out and get the attention her book deserves? If you’ve got answers, please leave them in the comments. I know even more people would like the novel if they knew about it.
So we’re discounting the eBook for two weeks.
Starting July 11th, you can pick up an eBook copy of Sigga of Reykjavik for 99 cents.
Even better, if you can get the word out to your friends, we’d be very grateful. Good writers need all the good readers they can get.
Pick up a copy and enjoy.
We’re willing to try just about anything that’s legal and affordable when it comes
to getting our books in the hands of readers. While we’re still a big fan of doing
free promotions, we understand not all authors like the idea of giving away their work.
So this time, we tried discount instead. Using only Book Gorilla, we set the price for
The Call House by CP Stiles at $0.99 for a week and right now we’re selling
Getaway by Maureen Brady for only $1.99.
Both books have received great reader reviews. We knew they deserved to reach a
wider audience. And we wanted to see how well a discount promotion would work.
While we don’t like to give out exact numbers for the books we publish, we do think
it’s okay to at least mention a range.
In general, even in these overcrowded times, running free promotions both with and
without the help of BookBub and whatever other promotional sites were available,
our books have had between 8,000 and 35,000 downloads.
Each time, we’ve seen follow-on sales. We’ve learned it’s a good idea to keep prices
low for a week or so after a free promotion. But even when we set the books back
to full price, some sales continued.
When you see 8,000 or 10,000 books being downloaded for free, it’s hard not to think -
if I only had a dollar for each one . . .
In the past though, the next thought had been - Yeah, but, those readers might not
have bought the book if the price had been a dollar.
Does Discounting Really Work?
The answer, at least for us, is a resounding No. Discounting is not the new free,
not even close.
Maybe it works for well-known authors with popular books. Often we've
picked up titles we’d been meaning to read but didn’t want to spend $15 or so
on an EBook. When the price was dropped to $2.99 - we didn’t hesitate.
And maybe discounting works if you promote like crazy. Which we didn’t
(it’s summer, we’re lazy and busy, and you get the idea).
So, bottom line. Each book sold less than 25 copies.
Not enough to pay for the promotion because when the price goes below $2.99,
the payment to the author is only 35% of list price.
Plus, there wasn’t much of a bump in rankings.
On the other hand, we did pick up about 20 new readers who hadn’t bought
the books at full price.
Would we do it again? Probably.
I hope we’ll find out.
The Call House by CP Stiles is on sale for 99 cents now through July 26th.
Why 99 Cents?
I’ve written before about why I believe offering eBooks for free for a short period can be a good way to attract new readers to unknown authors.
And then I’ve written about my increasing ambivalence when we ended up giving away as many as 35,000 books during one promotion. Yes, there were follow-on sales after the promotion ended. And yes, reader reviews jumped from less than 10 to more than 100. But 35,000 free books seemed like too much.
Others must have had the same reservations – these days most discounted books are priced from $0.99 to $2.99.
And while as a writer and a publisher, I hate to see a good book selling at a steep discount. As a reader, I confess, I’m more likely to buy a book when it’s offered at a lower price.
Yes. There are times when I want a book right away and I’m willing to spend $8.99 or more. But it never feels quite right to pay that much.
It’s the same content, cover and design that went into the hardcover and paperback - only the production and distribution are less expensive. And yet, when the first three books in Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone series were offered at $2.99, I bought all three. But. As much as I wanted to work my way through the alphabet, I balked at paying $8.99 or $9.99 for the next 23 books. I even skipped to the letter T when that book went on sale.
Discounting a book is never an easy decision. Shouldn’t a great book be worth more than a Mocha Latte or an order of Avocado Toast? Shouldn’t a book read on a tablet cost at least as much as a movie or a video game?
Yes, of course. But here’s the thing – The Call House is a great read. If putting it on sale means attracting more readers, I’m willing to give it a try.
Hope you will too.
The Call House on sale for $0.99 July 11 - 26th.
"A tension-filled yet ultimately humane story about hard-won second chances. Warm and wise, Maureen Brady's Getaway takes the reader on a suspenseful and memorable journey to the tenderest corners of the human heart."
--Aaron Hamburger, author of The View from Stalin's Head and Faith for Beginners
"Sensitive, sensual, and stirring. Getaway is a true page-turner, but one with heart and with context. I couldn’t put it down until I got to the end, not just to find out what happened, but also to discover who these intriguing and complex characters would develop into. An extremely satisfying read!"
--Danielle Ofri, author of What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear, and Editor-in-Chief, Bellevue Literary Review.
After years of living in an abusive marriage, one day Cookie Wagner snaps. She stabs her drunken husband and leaves him dying on the kitchen floor. She flees to remote Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where she takes on a new name and starts a new life. For a moment, she seems to have gotten away with murder. But is her husband really dead or will he come looking for her and once again ruin her life?
Pick up a copy and enjoy!
Available May 1, 2018
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