The Nebula Awards weekend is not a Worldcon. It is a business-oriented function sponsored by the Science-Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. We were very pleased to be called upon to talk about doing things with backlist. Our panel was entitled “Putting Your Backlist to Work” and included Judith Tarr, Brenda Clough, Amy Sterling Casil, and Sue Lange.
A brief definition: an author’s backlist includes all the books she’s written that are no longer in print. They may be floating around used book stores or on Amazon, but they’re not actively published. Some writers have many works of this type, and what to do with them has always been a problem.
Enter the world of e-books! A beloved author like our own Sherwood Smith can convert all her backlist YA novels into ebooks, bringing them before a new generation of readers with relative ease. This is not really news, but many members of SFWA wanted to hear details. Where to go, what to do, with their backlist to get it onto that Nook or Kindle?
We came armed with many links to websites to help the timid author (posted below). We took the audience for a brief tour of the Book View Cafe main site. We zoomed through the rock-bottom basics: Get the electronic rights back. Convert the work into electronic format. Create a cover.
The audience had a number of questions including how to ensure they had the rights to their backlists of book-length and short fiction. Another topic audience members were very interested in was how to create covers. Taking your own photographs, finding public domain art, accessing fans with art talent who love your stories, and using online templates were among the options presented.
Of course we were totally unable to cover everything, for want of time. Worse yet, the field of e-publishing is evolving really, really fast. In another year we may have to do this again — and everything we say will be new and different.
Links to help you get your backlist up
Ebook Formatting Tools and Software
Dilworth, Diana. “Six eBook Formatting Tools.” eBook Newser. May 9, 2011.
Calibre eBook Management. Calibre Download.
Ebook Formatting Services
Publish Your Words: “Your cover-to-cover electronic and self-publishing resource”
Reanimus.com: “Breathing New Life into Your Books.” SFWA’s Andrew Burt and company.
RoadrunnerCoyote (Rhody Downey): Good example of local talent finding a niche. Does children’s books as well as books for adults.
The Smashwords Meatgrinder: Relatively quick, notoriously ugly, requires a .doc file. But–if you want to get into Apple or Sony, this is the easiest (and cheapest) way to go.
Where to Publish Your Ebook
“How to Publish and Distribute Ebooks with Smashwords.”
Kindle Direct Publishing. “Kindle Publishing Guide.”
Kobo Authors and Publishers.
Pubit! FAQ and Support.
State of the Market: Recent Articles and References
Mayer, Bob. “I Don’t Know; I’m Guessing; I Know–The Future of Publishing for Authors.” April 4, 2011.
Rusch, Kristine Katherine. “The Business Rusch: Writing Like It’s 1999.” May 11, 2011.
**Follow links to other articles in the series.
Smith, Dean Wesley. Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing. **Ongoing and Evolving Essays on the State of the Market.
Tucker, Neely. “Novel Rejected? There’s an E-Book Gold Rush!” The Washington Post, May 6/7, 2011.