Why Authors Should Self-Publish Their Backlist

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At this year’s Romantic Times convention, BookBaby asked the New York Times Bestselling romance and mystery author Jennifer Ashley if it was worth it to self-publish the novels in your backlist.

Her answer was an emphatic YES. She gave an example: her own mystery books with Berkeley Press went out of print, but she retained the copyright, and released them as eBooks on Amazon. And, to her delight, they sold extremely well!

We asked her why –  if they would still sell – they went out of print in the first place? She implied that it’s a vicious cycle: booksellers may order fewer copies if it doesn’t sell or the title goes long in the tooth, and then the publisher prints less – but that doesn’t mean that the readers don’t want them!

Her advice on getting back the rights to your catalog and re-releasing your own ebooks was short and simple

  • “Fight tooth and nail” for your digital rights. From my conversations with authors and publishers, publishers will do everything they can to hold onto your digital rights for eternity. (One author told me the story about how his publisher retained the digital rights for seven years after the last physical printing – but when a title was about to go out of print, the publisher would release five copies in Serbia to extend the term for another 7 years!) So be careful what you sign, and seek professional advice.
  • Hire someone to format your eBooks for you. Like changing the oil in your car, this is something you could do yourself – but at the prices companies like BookBaby charge to format, deliver, and handle all accounting, it’s better to let the experts do it for you, so you can focus on writing and promotion.

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