This post, by Bob Mayer, originally appeared on Publishing Perspectives on 7/25/11.
From Edward Nowatka: Bob Mayer published over 40 books with traditional publishers before he decided to go DIY and convert his backlist into e-books. It has reinvigorated his career, but it’s not for everyone.
In January of 2011, just six months ago, I sold a total of 347 of my books for the Kindle. Last month I was able to sell 2,100 e-books in a single day and sales are increasing.
Two years ago I hit a milestone in my career as an author. After twenty years and over forty books, I’d written myself out of my last contract. It was a good news, bad news situation. The good news was for the first time in two decades I could really sit down and think about what I wanted to write. The bad news is, that in traditional publishing, an author without a contract is unemployed.
It was more than deciding what I wanted to write. Because publishing was changing, I had to consider how I wanted to publish. Hard to believe, but in January of 2010, e-books were only 3% of the market. Most people were predicting it might hit 5% by the end of the year.
However, I had a treasure chest of backlist to which I owned the rights — over 40 titles. Some of these titles had never been released in e-book format. Many had hit the print bestseller lists. I knew there was a market for them so with the help of Jen Talty I launched Who Dares Wins Publishing and we started loading my books, starting with my bestselling Atlantis series on various platforms, like Kindle. My primary focus, though, was still on NY and traditional publishing. I was working on a new thriller and a new historical fiction. My plan was to go to my agent and go through the traditional publishing process, just as I had for the past 20 years.
Through 2010, I kept the same focus, but as the year came to a close, I was accepting that publishing as I had known it was going through drastic changes.