I Have Been Saying That For Years…
In traditional publishing, books are like bananas that go bad after a short time on the shelves and must be replaced with a fresh banana. But in indie publishing, years can go by before a book finds its true market. The book didn’t spoil in that time frame.
Brandon Sanderson got well past a million bucks just doing a Kickstarter campaign for a hardback of a ten year old novel. Thankfully for him, he understood that books don’t spoil.
So I fight this stupidity all the time in a lot of ways. And one way I try is by adding reprint stories in collections, in Pulphouse Fiction Magazine, and in other products such as the twelve volumes of The Year of the Cat. Some of those stories are over a hundred years old and they are still wonderful.
If I publish a story by any author, reprint or not, it is because I love it and think it fits in the book or magazine. Period.
Reprint stories are not second class stories that should be shunned into an electronic file and then tossed just because it doesn’t have that silly “first publication” on it. But so many people seem to think so. Thank heavens for my own work as well as other authors that I buy stories from that I don’t follow that stupidity.
I have one story that got me about $350 bucks for its first publication back in the early 1990s. (Oh, no, the story has rotted and is now worthless is what most think. I am certain that the pages of the magazine the story was in are yellowed. Story is just fine.) But I am fairly certain that just recently my lifetime income from that one short story just went past $20,000 and is still growing. People in the movies and television didn’t think it was rotted. They never think that way about any story.
I have two short stories in that income range and about a dozen others that are climbing toward it. All of my published stories are still earning at one level or another. One of those stories made me $100 as a reprint in a complete non-fiction magazine as the only short story they ever published.
Stories don’t spoil, books don’t spoil. So if you look down your nose at a story that you have discovered is a reprint, just stop and read it like it is fresh that day, because to you it is new.
And writers, use those older stories to make more money, promote your other work.
And a couple of suggestions to writers.
Put this year’s copyright date on it on the copyright page, and leave off the “originally published in…” clause. None of that has any legal meaning since the new copyright act forty plus years ago. So why turn off those that might have this silly problem.
Books and stories don’t spoil. Don’t you work to spoil your own fiction for some closed-minded or uninformed readers or reviewers.