Bringing value back to a book that’s been devalued


MY PARTNER STEPHEN WOODFIN wrote a blog yesterday that went straight to the heart of darkness facing so many authors today.

He wrote: The price of a book doesn’t determine its value. The best way to devalue a book is for it to sit on a shelf, real or virtual, unread.   

A book unread, he said, has been devalued all the way to zero.

Stephen and I understand that problem as much as anyone and perhaps better than most.

For the past three years, we have devoted most of our efforts to two things.

  1. Writing Books.
  2. Building Caleb and Linda Pirtle.

During that time, we have each written several novels.

But I fear that most of them have been sitting on a shelf, real or virtual, virtually unread while we have invested a great majority of our time tending to the Website.

We have been so busy promoting and marketing books written by other authors that we have ignored or overlooked most of our own.

Sure, we mention them from time to time on Caleb and Linda Pirtle.

But we have not developed a strong mainline, nationwide marketing program.

That’s our fault, and that’s our mistake.

Our books have been unread, and, as Stephen wrote, that has devalued them all the way down to zero.

Dust collectors.

That’s what they are.

But I’m the fool.

I’m the eternal optimist.

Our books may have been devalued.

But rumors of their demise have been greatly exaggerated.

It was far different in the old traditional bookstore world of book selling.

In those days, if the book didn’t fly off the shelves in two to three weeks, all unsold copies were returned to the publisher, no self-respecting bookstore ever re-ordered the book, it was dumped and cancelled and left for dead.


That’s wrong.

It was dead.

Times have changed.

The digital revolution has given us all new life.

Our eBooks may rest for a while on a shelf.

They may be lost in the maze that is Amazon.

But the words are there.

And so is the story.

The adventure and suspense and conflict and love story are all packed between the covers.

All we have to do is re-launch the book and roll it out to the marketplace one more time.

Treat the book like it’s brand new.

For all practical purposes, it is

Promote the book.

Market it.

Showcase it.

Breathe new life into the book with a heavy, healthy dose of social media.

Give bloggers a chance to blog about it, reviewers a chance to review it, friends a reason to pass on your Tweets and Facebook reports.

Let readers know the book exists.

Let readers know that you as the author exist.

Shake the dust, either real or virtual, off the book.

And you’ll find that the book has always had value.

Until now, however, the book was never given a chance.

If the story is worth writing, it’s worth talking about.

Somebody out there may be listening.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    Books never die. They are simply forgotten or overlooked for a time. In the eBook world, there is always time to bring books back from the dead.

    • And, if done correctly, the original author will be around (or the heirs) to make it worth the effort. I’ve always felt guilty buying used books – because the author didn’t get any money from my purchase.

      As soon as I get a bit of time, I’m going after your old books. I wish I could read while I’m writing, but it uses the same (two) neurons, and reading is a whole heck of a lot easier. I’m already behind.

  • I couldn’t agree more, Caleb. Perhaps the greatest difference between the world of publishing before and after digital is the eternal shelf-life of eBooks. They are always new to readers who find them for the first time. The tough nut is to find ways to get the word out about them, so that they can come to life in the hands of new readers.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Eternal shelf-life of books. That’s a great line, Stephen. I wish I had used. When you’re not looking, I will.

      • The rule is that if we aren’t in the same room at the same time, then any remark is fair game as an original turn of phrase.

  • Darlene Jones

    Eternal shelf life is a great line. Fortunately books don’t go rotten like apples, so we will always have the chance that readers will find our works.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Darlene: That’s the advantage we never had before. Books are indeed forever.

  • Bert Carson

    Brilliant – you are like the star in the east in a familiar story, though from my place of view you are the Star In The West…

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Bert, when all else fails, we have hope.

  • Christina Carson

    I vote yes. This is exactly how I feel too. It’s not over until you roll up your tent. There is remaindering for ebooks. So you just start over. You’re right Caleb, right indeed.

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