After a career as a movie producer, Burt Weissbourd enjoyed his next act as a published author. Now, he’s ready to self publish his next book and take control of every step of his publishing and sales.
I’ve chosen to self-publish my fifth book. The first four were published by a small, capable publishing company run by a bright publisher. He got me started, listened to me about what the books should look like, and even traveled with me to Yellowstone to meet with Tom Murphy, the photographer we wanted to hire to take photos for my second book. He joined me to have dinner with the superintendent of Yellowstone Park and the Yellowstone Foundation leadership, who we’d partnered with. He made comments on early drafts of all four books. He encouraged many, many book readings and signings in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Boston, Bozeman MT, Yellowstone General Stores, Seattle, and so on. He supported me to interview more than 50 people — well-known movie people, prominent Seattleites, bookstore owners, other writers, TV personalities, accomplished Seattle architects, and newspaper writers — for his channel on BlogTalkRadio. I liked him; I still like him.
There was one problem for me: he wasn’t selling enough books. In one memorable conversation, he admitted that the books were really good — well-reviewed, well-liked by all who read them — we simply couldn’t unlock the trick to getting lots of people to buy them.
My assessment was different. He ran a small company with limited resources and he was trying to publish too many books. When I came on board, he was publishing 10 or 12 books. By year three or four, it was closer to 50. And very few of his books were the complicated psychological character-driven thrillers that I like to write. He was throwing a lot of books into an unpredictable market and seeing what would work. Long story short, he didn’t have a plan, and by the end, he’d given up trying to sell my books. It was time for me to make a change.
I considered going to other publishers, but I kept remembering why I started writing. I was a successful movie producer, and my movies were well supported by the studio (Universal). Some made more money than others (Ghost Story, for one), but at that time, I felt I would do better with my films if I had more control over the final product (which was, finally, not controlled by the producer). I thought about becoming a director, who generally has more control over the final character of the movie, or becoming a writer, who has even more control over the final product. But, I had young children who I wanted to spend time with and being a movie director meant spending a lot of time away from your family.
After carefully considering my options, I decided I wanted to write books. I’ve never looked back. I love writing, I love managing my own problems and preoccupations rather than managing others, which is a producer’s main job. And, at the end of the day, I loved the books I wrote. They were exactly what I wanted to write. There was no one else making changes or rethinking the work. I had met my goal — the final product was exactly what I wanted it to be. So, imagine my surprise and disappointment when the publisher couldn’t sell large quantities of that product.
Of course, anyone who knows publishing knows it is always possible that, even if you have a great product, your publisher might not be able to sell that type of book. So, I decided to take the next, final step and self publish. I’ll control the final product and, for better or worse, I will decide how to sell it. So here I am, selling my new book, Danger in Plain Sight, then recovering and republishing all four of my earlier books.
It’s too early to predict the outcome, but I’m so happy that I’m making the decisions and that my success will not depend on someone else’s product nor a hesitant or unconvinced publisher. I couldn’t be more pleased with the process so far and, as they say, “let the chips fall where they may.” I’m responsible. I’ll take the blame or I’ll lead the celebration for the outcome.
Burt Weissbourd’s Corey Logan Trilogy will be published on Oct 20th.
Why I Am An Independent Author, by Warren Adler
Why Seth Godin self published
My Parents’ Experience With Traditional Publishing Led Me To Self Publishing
Six Myths (and a Few Facts) About Traditional Publishing
Self Publishing Lets You Take Creative Control