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Martelle’s Motivation: Take Your Backlist to the Bank

Backlist Riches

Every single one of your old books is new to someone. 

We struggle and fight endlessly to add readers to our newsletter lists. Beyond current and future titles, there is substantial opportunity in delivering your old titles to new fans.

Introduce them to your backlist incrementally. I use sales and promotions of the first in series. Maybe even make the first book free if there are enough books in the series to earn your money back from the cost of the free promotion. It’s okay to pay for someone to see your work. Fans have value that is worth your paying to find them. 

A great book put into the right readers’ hands. Those are the two concepts that every professional author must execute.

A great book? That may not be your first book, or your fifth, but it might be your sixth. It might be your twentieth too. How do you get better if you don’t practice with intentionality? I write short stories to sharpen my craft. I’ve written a lot of short stories. 

And then I offer them for free to get new readers onto my list. If they like those stories, they look for other stories. 

Backlist riches.

Simple as that. You can always sell a good book. Even if it’s not great, readers are forgiving (not those one-star, bitter people, but they don’t matter as much as you think). And the readers understand that this was a book written in the before time. 

They expect you to get better as an author, but they also expect you might not have always written as well as you do now. If your first story is that bad, fix it. It’s oftentimes easier to fix a story than write new words. When you’re more experienced, dive in, and you’ll find that with a few days’ work, you’ll be able to sharpen an old story, take it from good to great. 

And you’ll probably find that it wasn’t as bad as you might have thought. Find the gems within your prose. Your readers have. And introduce those words to your new readership.

Because your words have value, and your backlist is a bank that you can always draw from.


  • Craig Martelle

    High school Valedictorian enlists in the Marine Corps under a guaranteed tank contract. An inauspicious start that was quickly superseded by excelling in language study. Contract waived, a year at the Defense Language Institute to learn Russian and off to keep my ears on the big red machine during the Soviet years. Back to DLI for advanced Russian after reenlisting. Deploying. Then getting selected to get a commission. Earned a four-year degree in two years by majoring in Russian Language. It was a cop out, but I wanted to get back to the fleet. One summa cum laude graduation later, that’s where I found myself. My first gig as a second lieutenant was on a general staff. I did well enough that I stayed at that level or higher for the rest of my career, while getting some choice side gigs – UAE, Bahrain, Korea, Russia, and Ukraine. Major Martelle. I retired from the Marines after a couple years at the embassy in Moscow working arms control. The locals called me The German, because of my accent in Russian. That worked for me. It kept me off the radar. Just until it didn’t. Expelled after two years for activities inconsistent with my diplomatic status, I went to Ukraine. Can’t let twenty years of Russian language go to waste. More arms control. More diplomatic stuff. Then 9/11 and off to war. That was enough deployment for me. Then came retirement. Department of Homeland Security was a phenomenally miserable gig. I quit that job quickly enough and went to law school. A second summa cum laude later and I was working for a high-end consulting firm performing business diagnostics, business law, and leadership coaching. More deployments. For the money they paid me, I was good with that. Just until I wasn’t. Then I started writing. You’ll find Easter eggs from my career hidden within all my books. Enjoy the stories.


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