As a writer, I bump into all sorts of problems that one would not ever consider ahead of time, as having anything to do with the craft of being a writer. When I began to write naturist fiction, I gave my novel, On the Broken Road, which was loosely based on my youth as a folk-singer wandering around Canada, away for free.
I had published the novel with Smashwords in late 2013. I had written the book as a challenge for NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – the objective being to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty or less days. It wasn’t long before I made a writing buddy at NaNoWriMo, a writer from The Netherlands. You guessed it, it was Paul who is the man who is the brains and heart of this Naturist Fiction blog site. At Smashwords, I had the option of setting my price for the book. Since I didn’t think it was a marketable book and that only family and friends would read it, I set the book’s price as free. Smashwords provided me with a free ISBN for the novel and so my story began to find readers.
When the book passed 500 copies downloaded, I began to reconsider my original choice for having my books being given away for free. At that time, I had published other titles with Smashwords including two photo-poetry books, a book called A Broken Boy, and another naturist novel, A Small Company of Pilgrims. At that time, the total downloads of my “free” eBooks had begun to approach 2,000. When Smashwords told me that my poetry books didn’t meet their standards [full-frontal nude photography] I decided that my relationship with Smashwords was over [Yes, I over-reacted]. I pulled all of my books and began to search for another route which led me to CreateSpace.
Again, I happily accepted a new ISBN for each of my books and had the titles now made available at Amazon. I ordered books and found myself selling the books almost as fast as I ordered them. All was going well until I attended a writer-publisher conference in my home province here in Canada. I wanted to get my books recognised by the Writers’ Guild to which I belonged, and have them made available for sale at sponsored events, and even considered for awards. I had already sold more copies of my books than many others who were raking in the awards every year. Then I learned that because my books had a CreateSpace assigned ISBN, and not assigned by a Canadian, and even better, a Saskatchewan publishing company, my books couldn’t be included.
I already had formalised my own publishing company and had been paying taxes accordingly since 2009; my books were selling well and it was almost time to re-order an additional 100 copies of each title which made me realise that here was a golden opportunity to solve the ISBN problem. I had previous books that weren’t geared to the public market and which I had assigned my own ISBNs which I could do as a legitimate publishing enterprise. Now it was time for me to re-issue my books with ISBNs from Retired Eagle Books. Replacing the ISBNs means that one is creating a new edition for an older book. It was time to rethink my books before republishing them.
First change, the size of the books. I had originally published the naturist novels as 5.25″ x 8″. I found out that by changing the size to 5.5″ x 8.5″ I would be saving about twenty cents per book on printing costs. I sell around 300 books a year so that meant about a $60 saving which then would translate to profits. [No, a writer doesn’t get rich with these kinds of numbers.] Next, I took the opportunity to carefully go over the existing manuscripts in search of errors, after all I wanted to present the best version of my books possible given the opportunity for a 2nd edition. Then, I rethought my covers. Since I like the covers, I had only a few changes that I wanted to make, visible improvements. With that all done, I began the re-publishing of the two René Beauchemin naturist novels – A Small Company of Pilgrims, and It’s Complicated When a Man Meets a Woman. Both books are now available in print form from Amazon.
I still have the other books to reformat and republish, a fairly significant task that lays ahead of me. However, I am not in that much of a rush as I still have enough copies on hand to take me through most of the summer and early autumn for book-signing events.
Is all this work worth it? Would I be better off allowing Amazon/CreateSpace to be the publisher on record rather than owning my full rights to the books? Wouldn’t it be better to just write and leave well enough alone? For me, the answer is simple, the work is worth it.