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.
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