Now I’m Independent…

Amazon Kindle PDF

Last week, something finally happened that I’ve been working at for more than two years. I finally got the copyrights back on two more of mybooks. Whew! What a pain.

I’m so happy about this. It’s a good feeling to know that books I slaved over are no longer hanging in limbo where they’re not on the market, but there’s nothing I can do about it because I don’t own them. That’s like having them fall into a black hole. Getting my rights back makes me feel like I have a future again.

Publishing and bookselling have become dramas with lots of moving parts. Independents are barely hanging on, Borders is gone and every day, B&N is starting to look more like a gift store than a book store. I don’t know about the other chains because none of them are located in my part of the country. But I do know this. Big retail is in the process of killing mid-list authors like me.

Big retail is not in the book and author promoting business. It doesn’t have a dedication or devotion to *books*, as such. Big retail is in the RETAIL business, which is fundamentally the real estate business. Every square inch of space has to produce so many dollars over a certain period of time. Consequently, they’re going to fill that space with stuff that sells lots of items as fast as possible because profit lies in volume of rapidly moving stuff. From their perspectives, books are strictly a commodity that sells well or not. Thus, their interest in stocking only name-brand authors.

Entrance of a typical Costco warehouse club.

Image via Wikipedia

These days, if you stroll through the book section of a Walmart, a Costco or a Target, you won’t see a large selection of books by authors other than New York Times Bestsellers. Some of the stores are stocking the whole backlist of those authors, which leaves no space for mid-listers. So for you readers out there, if you don’t want to read every book by an author going back to 1985, or if you’ve already read them and don’t want to read them again, you’re going to have to buy a digital reader.  Online is where the mid-listers have found refuge.

So now I’m no longer a mid-list author. Now I’m an independent author selling my out-0f-print books for e-readers. I’m on my own. this is why I’m blogging, tweeting and facebooking more than previously. It’s a brave new world out there. I’m trying to reach as many readers as I can, hoping to find a larger audience for my stories.

Publishing houses are no longer the gatekeepers. The rights to my future books will not be owned by anyone but me, which is a liberating feeling. They most likely won’t be showing up in big-box stores, but that’s okay with me.

I sure can’t predict how digital readers and independent authors are going to affect publishing houses in the final analysis. Some of them might very well go out of business altogether. Having said that, I should also say that I suspect there will always be books in print. The publishers that survive this earthquake will always publish the big sellers. So if you are someone who loves the feel of a*real book* in your hands, something will be out there for you. But basically, books are going to become like music. In bricks and mortar stores, you’ll only see the big names who are posting big numbers. This is a huge boon to imaginative authors who have business sense.

I posted earlier on Facebook that I’m already starting to format my first release, “The Love of a Cowboy,” for Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook and others. Cowboy was released in 2003. It has been my bestselling book and I still hear from readers about it.

Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

See you online, Readers. Come and Facebook with me and Tweet at me. I’m interested in *all* of your opinions and thoughts.

4 Comments

Filed under Books and Publishing

4 responses to “Now I’m Independent…

  1. Peggy

    As a small library in W.Tx., we have invested in an e-book service for our patrons. They will be able to borrow the book for two weeks and then it disappears from their e-reader. Amazing!! Kindda like Mission Impossible…’and this book will self-distruct in’…well, guess I am showing my age now. I still have patrons with e-readers who check out books. But the times, they are a-changin’!

    Like

    • Hi, Peggy, and thanks for stopping by and posting. Yep, time’s are a’changing. Even the face of libraries is different from what it used to be. Just a few years ago, our local library had only 4 computers for public use. I hadn’t been in it for a while and the other day when I went in, I saw that they had removed some shelving and made room for about 2 dozen computers. And probably 10 people of all ages were using them while I was there. An old guy I sat down beside was playing games.

      I love the new digital readers, but I realize they’re changing the publishing world as well as the reading world. For example, I thought my out-of-print books were gone forever because I had no idea if or when I would ever get the copyrights to them back. Now I own all of them again except for a couple. ….. Of course I have no idea if we’ll ever get the rights back to the Dixie Cash books. Those books are through a different publisher and are still in print and selling.
      Anna J

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  2. Kerstin

    Hi Anna,
    Am I understanding this right, initially part of the publishing deal the publisher had the rights and you received royalties? So what is the norm there? How long does the publisher have the rights before they revert back to you?
    On Amazon I noticed other authors self-publishing their back catalog. Are they put through the wringer the same as you?
    Kerstin

    Like

    • Hi, Kerstin….And thanks for posting.
      When an author sells a book to a New York publisher, he/she no longer owns it. The publisher pays the author royalties based on the net number of books sold. Publishers have never liked letting go on the copyrights, but most contracts these days say that if a publisher doesn’t keep the book in print and on the market, the rights automatically revert to the authors. ….. There are many reasons publishers hang on to the rights. The books might be selling in foreign countries, but not in the USA. There might be audio books, etc., etc. The main reason it’s difficult for an author to get those rights back, IMO, is because of sheer volume. Publishers hold tens of thousands of copyrights and waiting my turn could take forever. So I just employ the squeaky wheel theory rather than sit and wait until I’m at death’s door to get the rights back. It’s even more important in this brave new world of self-publishing. .

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