Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Reporposed Writer

Consuelo Saah Baehr shares how she repurposed herself.

I am a repurposed writer who got off the couch several months ago, formatted my out-of-print backlist books published them on Amazon and now sell them in the Kindle store.

If someone had told me in January 2010 that by the end of the year I would own a virtual bookstore with six titles and that I could and would sell books in America, the U.K. Canada and possibly other countries while I slept (as well as when I was awake) and that these books would not be yanked off the shelves because they weren’t selling hundreds of copies a day but would remain for sale in the store for as long as I wanted, I would have said: “Welcome to “never” land.”

I’ve been writing for twenty years and previous to e-publishing, the portrait of the average author was of an ill-groomed person, alone in a room, a look of desperation on his face. Two distant and withholding persons controlled his happiness: his agent and his publisher. The only good news ever received was the day a publishing house bought his book. “We’ve sold the book,” the agent would say and mention the sum of the advance. The fate of the book was instantly decided by someone the author had never met: the sales force. The sales force dictated the size of the print run and the print run determined the distribution of the book. There followed a year of complete silence while the book was produced. Even with good reviews the active life of a new book lasted at best three or four months. The book then went out of print.

If that picture seems bleak, it is because it is bleak. In fact the word bleak was coined for mid-list writers publishing books traditionally in the United States.

At first, the idea of re-issuing my books as e-books was similar to telling me I could perform brain surgery. That world belonged to bright young tech savvy entrepreneurs, not a middle-aged mother of three. I began to read the blogs and even with Joe Konrath cheerleading with wild enthusiasm, it took me a year to get on board. I began by re-typing all of my books into my computer and editing. The Smashwords Style Guide showed me how to format the documents. My daughter made new covers and in late August I pulled the trigger and uploaded the books onto Amazon. Happiness ensued.

Along with my backlist books, I’ve published two e-book originals and plan to resurrect all of the half-finished novels I found in my files. Slowly I am building reviews and a visible brand. A word of caution: uploading a book onto Amazon does not assure you instant sales. You have to do marketing work and there is plenty of advice for this on the Kindleboards a community of generous and knowledgeable people. As part of marketing, I began a blog and found I love blogging. My blog is: The Repurposed Writer. Just as we repurpose material that we used to throw away: newspapers, plastic, metal, etc., e-pubilshing has repurposed all those wonderful books that had too short a life.


Consuelo Saah Baehr said...

Thanks, Chris, for the great exposure.

Greedy me: is it possible to make the book link go to Amazon? And the blog link go to my blog. I probably did not do it right.

Thanks. and I'll tweet this and mention on the forums.

L.C. Evans said...

Terrific article. I'm a big fan of Consuelo's after reading Nothing to Lose. I have more of her books on my To Buy list. I usually buy once a month to keep myself from going over budget.

Sibel Hodge said...

Great post. Nothing to Lose is also on my growing TBR list!