Rosanne Bittner: Heart of the West

Rosanne Bittner: Heart of the West

What Goes Around, Comes Around:
The Beauty of a Backlist

First appeared in RT Digital Extra, April 2016


Rosanne Bittner, March 2015       I’ve been writing for 35 years, so I’m pretty old-school when it comes to the publishing world. When e-books were first introduced, I couldn’t believe they would ever be successful. After all, who would rather read a book on some kind of device as opposed to having the real thing in their hands? In the beginning, readers felt the same way until they began to realize the cost savings and convenience of e-books. Personally, I hated the idea of my books being published as paperless reading, and ignored the internet other than maintaining a website (an active, informative website is a MUST for all writers).

       Finally, disavowing the social revolution taking place became impossible. Both social networking and e-reading became too popular, and I realized they were useful tools for people like me, who needed an avenue for finding new readers — even though I had 60 books under my belt

       Today, I can’t imagine NOT having my books available as ebooks, and the best part is that doing it has completely revitalized my backlist and my writing career! Additionally, as a result of these advances, we get to discover writers whose talents we might never have enjoyed otherwise.

       Because I’ve had so many books traditionally published, I’d never needed to find any other way to publish my work. However, I don’t know that I wouldn’t have been an indie author if such an avenue had been available when I started writing in the early ‘80s. Back then, I had no choice but to go the standard route, and print publishers have been good to me. So many are publishing their own books online today, and hundreds of thousands of readers are searching the internet for those independently published books. And you know what? They’re also finding MY books, so indie publishing is good for EVERYBODY!

       It’s a great marriage — independently published books combined with standard print publishing. All this attention has brought many of my titles back to life through reissues, both in print and as e-books. For nine years, between 2004–2013, I went without a sale; now I’m finding new readers all over the world. The most satisfying aspect is that my Savage Destiny books — the first books I ever wrote, which are now more than 30 years old — are selling in as good or better numbers than when they were first printed by Kensington Books all those years ago! My agent arranged to have them reissued by Amazon, and now new readers are picking them up! You can’t imagine how good it feels to have those first books still selling, and selling well, after all these years.

       Another publisher, Diversion Books, bought 18 older titles and has already reissued five of them. In February, another six went online! Because of all of this, my writing career has soared again, both in print and online. I haven’t sold in such big numbers in years!

       For those indie writers who think they don’t need an agent, THINK AGAIN! An agent can find ways to get you much better exposure than you can on your own. They save you time, too. Just keeping up with internet sales can take hours and hours of personal writing time. Through my agent I receive statements every month that show royalties from all sources (Amazon, Diversion Books, B&N, foreign sales, and my standard print publisher, Sourcebooks). It’s nice, steady income, but also can be very confusing. At the end of the year I get a 1099 from my agent, and all that work of keeping track of income is done for me. When I see those pages and pages of sales broken down book by book, and all those different types of royalties (everywhere from 8 to 60 percent depending on the publisher and the title) I know I could never keep track of all that on my own, let alone read and understand all those contracts.

       E-books and the internet have worked wonders for my career. But I have to say that through my 30-plus years of writing, sometimes the biggest help in getting the word out, especially before social networking came along, has been the ever-faithful Kathryn Falk and Romantic Times magazine. I still have one of the first issues. What a long way we’ve all come! Thank, you, Kathryn!

Some of my backlist books reissued as e-books by Diversion Books in 2016:

In the Shadow of the Mountains, reissued in Jan. 2016The Forever Tree, reissued in Jan. 2016Tame The Wild Wind, reissued in Jan. 2016Rapture's Gold, , reissued in Feb. 2016Tender Betrayal, reissued in Feb. 2016
Heart's Surrender, reissued in Feb. 2016Lawless LoveComanche SunsetCaressSweet Mountain Magic
UnforgettableShamelessLove's Bounty

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