We’re proud to share a guest blog post on how to republish your out of print book written by Raelene Gorlinsky, the managing editor of the Ellenberg Agency’s back into print initiative. Royalty Reminder will continue to share key information and insights from fellow industry professionals that support its goals of empowering Authors to inventory and exploit their books.
So, you wrote those wonderful books a decade (or a few decades) ago or you’ve inherited them. You’ve been busy with new books or other things. But don’t forget about those old ones. Are they no longer available from the original publisher? Hmm, not good—you want to reach new readers, continue to generate sales (and therefore royalties income) from those titles.
First, do you have the publishing rights back so you can republish your work?
Don’t confuse this with copyright. Publishing rights refer to who has the legal right to produce and sell the book, and in what formats.
Look at the publishing contract(s) and talk to your agent if they are still active. If the term of the contract (and any specified extensions) has expired, you can and should request that the publishing rights revert to you.
Without an active agent, you will have to undertake this yourself.
If the contract term has not expired but the books are no longer “in print,” maybe you or your agent can either prod the publisher to make the books available again, or to return the rights to you now, since they are not exercising them.
All right, now you’ve got the rights back to those older titles. What now?
Publish them! Get them available as eBooks, and perhaps even as print books again.
There is some work and cost involved in handling your own publishing, known as “self-pubbing” or “indie pubbing.” But don’t panic—it’s doable and the rewards are there.
You probably want to spend your time writing books or doing other things, not formatting and converting files. But this is the price to republish your work. There is a lot of easy-to-follow advice out there and service providers that will help you for a fee.
Here is a list of just the basic steps to help you republish your work or books, and some of the costs involved.
Do you have the electronic (most likely Word) file for the book?
- If you only have paper copy, you have to pay someone to scan all those pages to create the electronic book.
- Scanning is not foolproof, a lot of errors will exist, so the file needs to be thoroughly proofread.
- All of that will take some work and time and cost.
- And while you’re at it, is this the time to fix those little errors that readers and reviewers have mentioned over the years?
Once there is an electronic file, it has to be formatted properly for submission to ebook conversion programs.
- Doing this involves some skill with Word or whatever software being used, though there are some services, including free or inexpensive ones who will do it for you.
Cover, don’t forget the cover!
- Find and hire a cover artist, work with that person, pay that person.
- Get the cover in both eBook and print book format.
- If the expense is daunting you can use a distribution partner that has a cover creator or you could go with a cover that is only type.
Prepare all the related documents.
You can get by with just the basics: a brief book description (the artist needed this for the back cover of the print book), author bio, keywords, and categories.
- Keywords and categories are often suggested by menus built into the eBook publishing platforms.
- There are also many resources available online.
If you want to do more, you can create promo material and work on social media in support of your titles.
- It is possible to promote books online and you can educate yourself and pursue this if you want.
The file has to be submitted to each online retailer or conversion service provider to produce the e-book and print formats.
- There are decisions to be made: pricing, worldwide territories where the book will be sold, how and when to release.
- There are also eBook publishing platforms that will assist you with all this and even cover much of this work.
- If you want, you can have an author account at each major retailer site–Amazon, Google, Apple, Kobo and B&N.
It’s a lot of work to republish your work. But you can generate new revenues if you keep it very simple and choose service and publishing partners that do most of the work (for a fee often). You can get your entire backlist up and running.
Over time you will learn more and be more comfortable managing and marketing your titles. If you are still an active author, an available and promoted backlist is a great way to publicize your frontlist.
If you are not the Author but an heir or an Estate, it is a way to create a real, ongoing income stream.
There’s a learning curve to republish your work, but it’s doable. Tens of thousands of people have done it and they also have the money to show for it.