Republishing - Indie Pub It
Your Book is Dead…Long Live Your Book!
Once upon a time, being told by your publisher that your book was being discontinued, archived, going out of print, or one of numerous euphemisms for “killed” that are used in the book world, meant just that: Your book was dead, never to see the light of day again.
All that has changed now. Oh my, yes! Thanks to indie publishing, your abandoned book can not only get a second chance, but that chance is permanent. Unless you voluntarily decide to unpublish, the book will remain on the virtual (and print, if you like) shelves forever.
If you look at my profile at the end of the article, you’ll see that I released 35 books via legacy publishers before turning indie. I’ve now released 29 titles, and my 30th title is due for release in a few days. Nineteen of my indie titles are re-releases…sort of. Some are straight reprints of the first edition. Others have been worked over considerably before I let them loose again – a handful of short stories and novellas became stand-alone short novels, big enough for their own print edition. One of my re-releases, Dead Again, reached #3 in the Amazon Kindle book store and it has had healthy sales ever since. As a legacy title, sales had been less than spectacular, so re-releasing titles gives your books a genuine chance to shine (again).
Many authors ease into indie publishing by re-releasing out of print titles and it’s a great way to get your feet wet. Some authors only indie publish their backlist, while others enjoy the process (and proceeds) so much they add original releases to their roster.
Your books never die once they’ve been re-released.
The book has been professionally edited once already. A light proofing may be all it needs this time around.
You can change any aspect of the book to suit your vision of how the story should be presented: Edit or do major reconstruction on the story itself. Restore previously cut scenes or chapters. Change the cover. Rename series. Rebuild front and back matter and reverse edits in the original version that you have never liked (but sucked up in the name of professionalism).
You can change the author name on the cover. Re-releasing your titles gives you the opportunity to collect all your books under one name or pen name. Unlike legacy publishing, readers are used to the idea that indie authors can roam all over the fictional landscape. Legacy publishers will insist on pen names, but by bringing your titles under one name, you’ll be developing your brand.
Your backlist will increase rapidly. Backlist is a major tool in the indie author’s arsenal, so anything that builds your backlist swiftly is good.
You’ll gain revenue from a title that would have stagnated. Even if you only sell a couple of copies a day or week, it’s still money you wouldn’t have earned, otherwise.
Re-released titles can crack open doors that are resistant to indie-published work. Reviewers and readers are reassured that the book was “worthy” of being published the traditional way and that may help their buying/reviewing decision.
Alas, there are a couple:
You may find some reviewers resistant to re-releases. If you’ve never indie published before, you may find this a cold shock. But there are some reviewers (their numbers are decreasing) who won’t touch either re-releases or indie titles. Just move on and find reviewers who welcome any well-told story.
If you don’t make it clear the book is a re-release, some readers may get upset that they’ve bought the same book twice (especially if you change the title).
…and that’s it. As you can see, there are a slew of advantages and no solid reasons not to re-release your book.
Steps to Republishing
Ask for rights back from your publisher, if you don’t have them already. This may involve meeting criteria laid out in your publishing contract that dictate when a book is eligible for return – sales numbers and time in print are two of the most common criteria. Make sure you’ve met all the conditions before asking. Document the evidence, if necessary. Publishers often drag their feet over returning books – even those that aren’t doing well. Continue to follow up consistently and patiently and you’ll get the rights back eventually. (It has taken two and a half years for me to claim back all my rights). Tip: Don’t indie release the earlier books in a series if later books are still available via legacy publishers. Your releases will lift sales of the later books in the series, and thus extend the time it will take to get your rights back on the later books, if you can get them back at all.
Make sure you have formal documentation from your publisher indicating that all rights for your book have been returned to you. Ask for it if necessary. An email that clearly states the rights are yours is sufficient, but a formal letter is even better. PDF the email that gives you your rights back, so you have it in a permanent format resistant to tampering or editing. Store these return-of-rights documents in a very safe place. It’s not unheard of for Amazon and other authors or readers to contest your right to publish previously released work. You’ll need to produce these documents to prove you hold the rights.
Pick the date for re-release carefully. See #1 above, about sabotaging the return of rights on a series, for example. You also need to meet any criteria your contract might specify. Sometimes there is a “wait” period before you can re-release the book. You must abide by these conditions.
Edit, rebuild and/or rework the title as you see fit.
Indie publish the book the same way you would an original title. Make sure you indicate that this is a second (or later) edition of the work wherever you distribute it. Leave a short notice in the book’s description so readers don’t buy the book twice (and resent you for it).
Periodically check the retail outlets and your publisher’s site to ensure the previous edition of the book has been removed…or hasn’t mysteriously reappeared. This can happen and it’s usually nothing nefarious. New interns, computer glitches and more can all conspire to upload books that should no longer be available. Patiently contact your old publisher and bring it to their attention. Send them a copy of your return-of-rights document, just to reinforce your request.
Enjoy the profits of your re-released baby. Long Live Your Book!
Columnist: Tracy Cooper-Posey writes erotic vampire romance series and hot romantic suspense. She has been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award. She published 35 titles via legacy publishers before switching to indie publishing in March 2011. She has published 26 indie titles to date. Her indie books have made her an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and have been nominated four times for Book Of The Year. Byzantine Heartbreak won the title in 2012. Tracy has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University. An Australian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a former professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line. Her website can be found at http://TracyCooperPosey.com