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Reinventing Yourself

5 July 2011

This is from a series of profiles in Fortune magazine. Each profile describes a person who lost his/her job/company/career in the financial upheavals of the last few years.


Paul Levine is 63 years old, but that didn’t stop him from reinventing himself — for the second time. In the 1980s he was a successful trial lawyer. Then Levine began writing mystery novels, publishing 13 of them, and selling 400,000 copies of a single title.

It worked great until a single button disrupted Levine’s life: the “Buy Used” tab on Amazon. The link, which launched in February 2010, is a killer app for finding used books. But it’s also a killer app in the sense that it kills authors, because they don’t make a dime from it. An author with dwindling royalties in a fast-changing industry, Levine realized he’d better be proactive — or else.

. . . .

Not having a clue is a feeling many reinventors face. The key for Levine was not being intimidated. “You just learn from scratch,” he says. “I love learning by doing.” Happily, much of that learning was free online. After studying Amazon’s “Direct Publishing” page, Levine bought the rights to his backlist . . . .

. . . .

Levine may have the same career, but his job has radically changed. Whereas Levine used to spend 95% of his work life writing and 5% selling, he now spends 50% writing and 50% marketing, all online. Every morning he first checks his book sales, then posts thoughts on books and culture on book forums and Facebook and looks at what his 4,859 friends have been doing.

Link to the rest at Fortune


Ebooks, Self-Publishing

3 Comments to “Reinventing Yourself”

  1. To me, this reinforces that writing is a lot like any other business. No business is able to do the same thing forever and expect to maintain the same level of success. When conditions change, you can choose to either protect what you have and muddle along or make the most of new conditions.
    Muddling along is all about revenue protection. It’s just doing your best to hold on to what you have. The best outcome is you minimize your losses.
    Making the most of new conditions feels riskier as you must jump into the unknown, but it’s also the only approach that gives you an opportunity for growth (personally and financially).
    Good lesson for everyone, not just writers.


    • Rich – I think a great many people have the opportunity to reinvent themselves at least once in their lives. I don’t think a lot of authors ever thought this might be something they would have to do, however.

  2. Great post 🙂

    I agree with Rich’s comment points above.

    If it doesn’t work for whatever reason, then something needs to be changed or the idea should be abandoned and go for something else.

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