Writing on Wednesday: New Life for Previously Published Work

While scanning the archives of Writers Digest (looking for something else) this morning, I ran across this guest piece in the WD blog, “There Are No Rules,” by David Wolman, author and contributing editor at Wired. The post is called “Create an e-Anthology to Show Off Your Body of Work.”


My first thought was, “just what I need—another project!” (That’s not sarcasm; that’s how I roll. The busier I am, the more productive I become. It’s just how I’m wired.)

I read the (short) post and became more taken with the idea. Wolman points out that even those of us who have our published essays or short stories listed on our web sites (You can see most of mine at https://susancushman.com/publications/) don’t really get much traffic there. Seriously, how often do you go to an author’s website and click on their publications button and track down and read their stuff? So what’s he proposing?

44679e66d003b7258634f0979ac8d5e63a09c243The good news? With today’s digital publishing tools, you can easily transform your archive of work into an e-book. You not only can, you should. Articles, short stories, poems, books—your stuff is gathering e-dust in forgotten corners of the Web. Go find those favorites and (if you retain rights), breathe new life into them to create a unified and elegant product. Then—and here’s the radical bit—sell it. Your writing is a professional-caliber product, is it not? Then treat it like one, for heaven’s sake.

tooManyI’ve got thirteen essays (and one poem!) published in various anthologies, journals, and magazines—mostly print but some online. I own the rights to these pieces. What a fun idea to put them together so that with one click (rather than thirteen) friends, family and fans can have an e-book containing all of those essays. But do I have enough to make a decent sized e-book? And is the material too dated? (Some of it goes back to 2007.) Wolman has another great suggestion:

The real added value in an e-anthology are the ingredients that make it new and different. The meat is previously published works, yes, but with footnotes, postscripts, photos, videos, and links, the selections become something more. Got a funny anecdote about the writing process that you share at cocktail parties? Include it! Is there a substantial update to some political or scientific idea addressed in a story from 5 years ago? Let’s hear it.

So, what do you think, readers? Is this a project worth pursuing? (In my spare time, of course—between editing and organizing the essays contributed by twenty-two authors for my upcoming anthology, A Second Blooming, revising my novel, and continuing to edit and organize my blog posts for a collection about caregiving for my mother, who has Alzheimer’s.) God forbid I get bored! I love the writing life.

[P.S. You can purchase Wolman’s e-anthology, Firsthand, here.]

4 thoughts on “Writing on Wednesday: New Life for Previously Published Work”

  1. This is a great idea, Susan. Go for it! I might borrow it myself. I’ve thought of compiling my essays into an ebook but hadn’t thought about interspersing it with new things.

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