When I was a kid, I loved making up stories that left my younger siblings wide-eyed. Since then, I’ve been a telephone operator, a lifeguard, a camp counselor, a mom, a reporter, a book reviewer, a newspaper columnist, and finally a children’s author. I love kids and I still love telling stories, so it’s been a perfect job, especially when I hear from young readers. They ask me about my dogs and tell me about theirs, and when they confide how a particular story has comforted them I think, “I’m the luckiest author in the world.”
The best support has been parents and teachers who have written Amazon reviews and emails, saying how delighted they are to find these books available again. I wrote my stories to be read, so it feels terrific to have this instant connection to my audience.
But by my 30th book, the letters “OP” began appearing on my regular updates from my publishers: Out-of-Print. I felt crushed, especially because kids and parents had never stopped writing me glowing letters about my mysteries and historical adventures. Copies in stores became hard to find, and many online vendors inexplicably priced the books way over a teacher’s budget, making class sets prohibitive.
So when I learned about Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and CreateSpace, I felt ecstatic. Here was a chance to reach readers once again and to offer books for a reasonable price. I began asking my publishers to give me back the rights to the books they’d stopped publishing. This took years of being turned down, asking again, waiting, and more waiting. Finally, I started getting letters from two of them formally making my books mine again.
Stepping away from the security of my traditional publishers was a bit of a catch-your-breath moment. I knew I’d miss my editors, their camaraderie, and their wisdom. The teamwork was such fun. But today, my family is my team. From our home in Boise, Idaho, we upload, scan, or re-type each book. Then my artist son, Cody Rutty, creates new covers and adds dozens of wonderful line drawings. Together, we’ve resurrected 16 of my books. Four more are in the works, and I’ve published two brand-new mysteries.
This new freedom also inspired me to write my memoir, Longhand: One Writer’s Journey, something I may not have undertaken if my only avenue had been traditional publishing. The submission process alone would have taken months. I wanted to tell my story now.
My book sales tick upward every week, like a little snowball gathering weight. It’s a modest sum, but the income helps. The best support has been parents and teachers who have written Amazon reviews and emails, saying how delighted they are to find these books available again. I wrote my stories to be read, so it feels terrific to have this instant connection to my audience.
Kristiana Gregory is one of thousands of authors being discovered by Amazon customers.
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