Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Recycling is Key When it Comes to Being a Successful Author

The worst thing in the world to an author is a rejection letter. While they typically come digitally these days, there's nothing worse than feeling excitement curdle on your tongue when you recognize the opening lines. However, as the old saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. If you find yourself with a lot of stories just sitting around, remember that just because your first option said no, that doesn't mean someone else won't say yes.

So, while you're doing the hard work of producing new stuff, don't forget that it's perfectly all right to recycle the old stuff while you're at it.

There's some good stuff in here... somewhere.

Rising From The Ashes

The most obvious form of fiction recycling is when you take a rejected story of yours, and submit it to a new publisher. For example, I originally wrote my short story "The Slog" for an anthology that wanted unique stories of people's personal journey through their own, unconscious minds as they died. It didn't get picked up there, but when I took the exact same story, text unchanged, and sent it to Cohesion Press, it would up in SNAFU: Survival of The Fittest.

Seriously, you should check it out. My story is in great company.
That's what most people think of when they think of recycling. One publisher turns down your book or story, so you submit it to another who's looking for the same genre, length, themes, etc. It might take half-a-dozen tries, but sooner or later you'll find someone who is picking up what you're laying down. You might have to wiggle your word count a little, or change a few scenes, but minor editorial tweaks are a lot easier than writing a whole new story from scratch.

Of course, this isn't the only way to recycle your stories, if you're looking to fatten your publications page, and your wallet.

Re-Printing and Self-Publishing

When you sign a contract, most of the time you're signing away first worldwide rights, and often times first digital rights. If you read your contract thoroughly, though, you may find that many publication rights revert to you after a certain period of time goes by. For example, say you wrote a short story for an anthology a few years ago. You may be able to sell it again, provided you let the new publisher know up-front that this is a re-print.

You get spit on by surprisingly few editors, actually.
Selling a re-print is no easy task, since it's already been exposed to an audience. However, if you have a solid story, you can pick up some extra mileage and visibility. Even better, you can collect some more cash for your efforts.

It's also important to remember that, just because you can't find an established publisher, that doesn't stop you from self-publishing your work once you have the rights back. Simply read your contract carefully, and contact the former publisher to make sure you're all on the same page. Then all you have to do is choose which service you're going to use, and produce your own, finished version of the project.

This is particularly useful for those who work primarily in short fiction, since ebooks give you access to an audience you never had before. A low price and an interesting cover can get you a long way, and might be what you need to jump-start your sales.

You Can Recycle Almost Anything

It's important to remember that you can recycle more than just fiction. Do you have a blog entry you wrote for another website that was insightful, funny, and popular? Well, with their permission, you can republish it on your own blog. Often all you have to do is provide a link to the original. Did you write an article for a periodical or a newspaper? Well, if you want to double your money, you could publish it again on a site like Infobarrel. As long as there is no version of it currently in circulation (like, say, archived on a newspaper's server), then you can put all your old sweat back to work.

Is it a guaranteed way to increase your earnings? No, there are no guarantees in the life of the author. With that said, why get paid once when you can get paid again and again?

Hopefully everyone enjoyed this week's Business of Writing post. If you'd like to help keep this blog going, then why not stop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron? As little as $1 a month gets you some free swag, and helps me keep making the content you love. Lastly, if you haven't followed me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter yet, well, now is as good a time as any.

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