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How Do I Re-Launch a Book?

Aug 18, 2021

Those of us who were published traditionally but have learned how to publish on our own often want to get the rights to our books back and have a go at publishing them ourselves. This post walks you through how I did it for Party Girl (to be re-released September 15th!)

1) Get the Rights Back.

Depending on when your book was published, the rights may have reverted back to you, as was the case with Party Girl. Check your contract for the answer. Getting my rights back was incredibly challenging but the reason it was such an ordeal was not that [HarperCollins] cared so much about holding the rights but that they didn't care. It was impossible to get them to even respond.

My point is: have a lawyer or agent check with the publisher.

2) Design a New Cover.

This part will be exciting. Because your publisher had the final say on your first cover, usually with very little input from you, chances are you didn't like it. When designing your new cover, ask yourself what you didn’t like about the first one. How can it be improved? Book covers today are Instagram-friendly, they’re bright, the letters are huge, they're gorgeous and that's what I wanted for the new Party Girl cover.

A big advantage in re-releasing a book is you can use the blurbs and reviews from the first version of your book in your new cover design.

3) Come up with New Keywords.

Research the latest keywords. For Party Girl, my team’s using the ever-reliable Publisher Rocket. You can use this affiliate link to purchase it for $97

4) Have a New Angle.

If you’re re-launching your book, you need a new angle. For Party Girl, that new angle is that back in 2007, Quit Lit wasn’t a thing. There weren’t sober bloggers or sober influencers, or a lot of recovery memoirs as there are now. Party Girl was one of the first books its kind.

5) Use the Latest Tools.

The new A+ Content from Amazon allows independent publishers to do some cool things to their book pages. Here's an example.

6) Transfer Your Amazon Reviews.

Have Amazon move the reviews from the original ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) to the new ASIN. You'll need to call Amazon and provide both numbers. You can do this by clicking on “Help” in the upper right-hand corner of your KDP dashboard, then go to “Contact Us” at the bottom left.

7) Switch the Copyright.

Last but not least, after reversion, authors should consider updating the US Copyright Office’s records with their works’ new ownership information. The records held by the US Copyright Office will likely list your publisher as the copyright owner (“claimant”) and/or the point of contact for permission to use the work. After reversion, it is up to you (as the new owner of the copyright) to update this information.

Fortunately, new copyright owners can record a transfer of copyright with the Copyright Office to update these records. Updating the Copyright Office’s records after you revert rights establishes a public record of your new ownership rights. This will make it easier for future users to find accurate information about the current ownership status of your work. When people know who to contact for permission, it can help increase the dissemination of your work, and potentially your compensation if you license paid uses.

A transfer of copyright can be recorded by submitting a signed or certified, complete, and legible copy of the document being recorded (such as a rights reversion letter from your publisher) to the Copyright Office, together with the required fee (currently $105 for a single title) and Form DCS cover sheet. If accepted, the Register of Copyright will record the document and issue a certificate of recordation. As of July 2019, the processing time for recording transfers or other documents related to copyright is nine months. For more information on recording transfers of copyright ownership, see Copyright Office Circular 12: Recordation of Transfers and Other Documents.

8) Add a Call to Action.

Your goal as an author is to get people to buy your books and, more importantly, join your email list. Better than just a “how to reach me,” offer a cheat sheet or a quiz as an incentive to join your mail list. At Launch Pad, we put a QR code at the beginning and end of the book on the page so readers can simply scan it. Studies show the number one thing readers want to do when they finish a book is to connect with the author.

Also, at the end of your book, don't be afraid to ask for reviews. Just a quick “Hey, if you liked this book, please leave a review." If they’re reading your book on an e-reader, here’s how to make a special Amazon book review direct link

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QUOTE OF THE EPISODE:

"The reason getting the rights back was such an ordeal was not that they [HarperCollins] cared so much about holding the rights but that they didn't care."

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