By Catherine Burr
The cost of an affair? (Ask Donald Trump). The cost of Inconvenient Affairs? $2,475.
Recently it came to my attention that one of books, an out of print, hard to find, sold-out books is for sale online for $2,475.00. It’s a 63-page book, that’s $39.29 per page (I did the math). I don’t know who put it up for sale for that amount and I don’t know how many copies have been sold at that price (if any), however here’s the back story.
A few years ago, I was living in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands with my husband. One day, the power went out, this was a common occurrence whenever it rained, which in the islands, was a lot. Anywho (a made up word), being the enterprising writer that I am; I took a stack of blank paper from my printer and got comfortable on our king-sized bed, and to the nurturing sound of a rain storm, I started writing.
In a couple of hours, I had pounded out a short story. When I got back to my California office (a fancy name for my den), I sent it to my editor who edited it (I hadn’t sent it from the VI’s because the Internet was sketchy at best), and I did a mesmerizing cover for it, and released it on Kindle. I called the story, “An Inconvenient Attorney.” It was never available (that I know of) for free and the price fluctuated between .99 and 1.99.
I used to listen to this story on Kindle as text to speech, all the time, because the words just flowed and somehow it made me feel good. In fact, out of all the stories I’ve written, this one was one of my favorites. All of my books are written from the heart, but this one was so intensely personal, it was like a sharing of my soul. The short story was a tear-jerker, but it also was a powerful story of empowerment.
The eBook spent months in several genres of the top 100 Best Seller List on Amazon. I was floored. I believe in total, it was on one of the top 100 lists for something like 52 weeks (I have the screenshots digitized). And then something happened. I pulled the book. After selling thousands of copies (not millions but thousands, I mention this because I know fellow writers want to know how many copies does it take to make a “Best Seller” list), well, I decided I didn’t want anyone else to read it.
As you’re writing, you don’t necessarily think about the fact that thousands or millions of people are going to read your work. As writers, we put ourselves out there in a way that is not done in other fields of work.
I didn’t pull the book because of reviews; I pulled it for other reasons. The Kindle book that spent the better part of a year on several of Amazon’s Best Seller Lists is about love, despair, relationships, starting over, empowerment, and attorneys–are they helpful or a hinderance in a divorce situation? Hence the title, “An Inconvenient Attorney.”
So why write about it now? Well, “An Inconvenient Attorney” was included in “Inconvenient Affairs,” a print anthology that my company published (which I later pulled) but copies are hard to come by. I would like to round-up the copies floating around out there so I could tuck them away in the garage in a dusty box to be found by my grandkids someday.
To add fuel to the fire, I tweeted about the book being for sale for that amount and people inquired (inquiring minds want to know), so here I am, writing about it.
It’s a funny thing being a writer. You sit alone in a room with a keyboard and monitor, and maybe a cup of coffee; being a writer is mostly a solitary business. I think that’s one reason writers are on social engagement sites, like Twitter, because it connects us to the outside world, 140 characters at a time.
But you sit alone in your room and you pour your heart and soul into finding the precise words that appear on the screen, and you hope those typed words will match your thought process. You hope that the words make sense, you hope someone will read them, you hope people will like your work, but when you’re writing, it’s not about that, it’s about getting the words that are dancing around in your head out quick enough before the fleeting moment is gone.
I’ve always thought if someone really wanted to read our work, wouldn’t we as writers, be happy to give it away for free? Why does authorship and publishing have to be about money? I know that’s ironic coming from me, a publisher. And sometime, perhaps I’ll write a blog about how—if you really want to make money in publishing, what kind of books you should publish, but now for, I’ll write this scene, and I’ll write and publish what’s in my heart, and if some day my other books are out of print, or for sale for thousands of dollars, or in a dusty box in my garage, well, so be it.
Until that day, from the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone who reads my stories, books, columns, blogs, status updates, or tweets. I hope to reach people in some small way and share my experiences of life, love, romance, children, day-to-day happenings, pugs included. If I can give one person a ray of sunshine, a chuckle, a feeling of romance, entertainment, or knowledge that they aren’t alone in the world, then my day is made. And if you want to sell or buy my books for $2,475.00 a pop, who am I to stop you.