This blog was featured on 02/08/2019
Backlisted
Contributor
Written by
Cindy Eastman
February 2019
Writing
Contributor
Written by
Cindy Eastman
February 2019
Writing

Backlist -noun (a list of) all the books a particular publisher has produced in the past that are still available: a publisher's backlist  (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/)

This is the year I have to cop to admitting my pub date was . . . uh . . . er, five years ago. You can’t believe it? I can’t believe it! There are some extenuating circumstances for why I don’t have my next book out, but the fact remains: My first book was published Five. Years. Ago.

Knowing that my book is officially backlisted (and has been for almost all of those five years) makes it sound a little too much like it’s blacklisted; it just doesn’t belong anymore. All the attention and promotion is reserved for the brand new books, the new kids on the block. And why not? They deserve to be included in the Ten Best Reads lists and make the rounds on the book review websites. Backlisted sounds like my book is literally in the back...the back room, the back of the pile, the back of the book ordering person’s mind.

It feels funny to even try to promote my book now. I mean, it’s old. Who wants to read it now? My book isn’t reviewed anymore, it’s ranking on Amazon is in the millions and requests for my presence at bookstore author events has evaporated. These days, it’s pretty much only my grandson who remembers I am the author of a book and that’s when we walk into the local pharmacy in town and he points it out. “Look, Gramma! There’s your book!” (I love it.)  The woman next door remembers, too because she just started a neighborhood book club and asked me: “why don’t you write a book for us?” to which I gave my standard reply - “I’m working on it!” Which I am, but I do have this other book, that’s already written, so maybe you could use that one? But she didn’t suggest that. It makes an author feel so backlisted.

However.

The description for backlist includes this: “Building a strong backlist has traditionally been considered the best method to produce a profitable publishing house, as the most expensive aspects of the publishing process have already been paid for and the only remaining expenses are reproduction costs and author royalty.” And this: In fact, publishers rely on backlist titles to bring in steady revenue because, though the books may be older, they are still generating sales.”

I’ll admit, my sales are not generating any beefy incomes for anyone, but just because I wrote it years ago, doesn’t mean it’s not timely now. Books don’t become obsolete like technology does; you’re not going to reinstall Windows98, but you’d pick up To Kill A Mockingbird and reread it. Every book from the Bible to Harry Potter is relevant to someone today.

A backlist is power, a foundation, reliability. I’m going to remember that as I continue to work on my next book. And the next one. And the next one. My first book is backlisted, but my writing isn’t. I may have begun my latest manuscript the day after fire was discovered, but when I complete it, not only will it be a new book, it will be part of the story that is my own backlist.

Photo credit: Photo by Aliis Sinisalu on Unsplash

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