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Top Reasons to Rewrite Your Self-Published Book

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. She is a former trade newspaper editor.

There are many reasons to consider rewriting your self-published book.

There are many reasons to consider rewriting your self-published book.

Could You Benefit From Rewriting?

Self-publishing a book is a lot of work! But publishing really just the beginning of the book's lifecycle. Rewriting a previously published book can open up additional sales and promotion opportunities.

While the following discussion applies primarily to nonfiction markets, some of the strategies could apply to fiction as well. Here are some of the top reasons to rewrite your self-published book.

  1. The world has changed
  2. Increase the value and increase the price
  3. Reach new markets
  4. Sell your greatest hits

1. The World Has Changed

One of the benefits of writing a self-published book is that you can create a "product" that can earn money long after it's written. However, the world keeps changing. This can completely change the information presented, particularly for books on business and technology. To avoid the inevitable sales slump, a rewrite of a book featuring updated information makes sense and can make the title relevant again.

Example: Say you've written a book on how to use word processing software such as Microsoft Word. With every new generation of Word, an updated edition focusing on changes from previous generations would be welcomed by readers.

2. Increase the Value, Increase the Price

When you published your book, you may have charged a minimal price to help encourage sales. Now you realize that your book is worth a whole lot more. You can up the price, which is usually pretty easy on self-publishing platforms such as Amazon's Createspace or Kindle Direct Publishing. But a more public relations–oriented move would be to add a bit more and/or updated information and relaunch the book as a newly revised edition. People want to have the latest and greatest, and they're willing to pay for it.

Repackaging Your Book

Even if your book is still relevant and won't require changing, you can use the increasing value strategy relaunch to build sales. Instead of rewriting, repackage!

For business, educational, self-help, or technical titles, consider adding a workbook, supplement, or links to multimedia (MP3, podcast, etc.) that help increase understanding or make the book more useful. Sometimes this can turn a book into a training "program," which can command much higher prices than any individual book.

Prior to adding additional material or products to an existing work, make sure to analyze the cost and profit margin. If the cost outweighs potential revenues, it's better to stick with a simple rewrite.

3. Reach New Markets

One of the most successful book series ever was the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of motivational and inspirational books. These compilations of stories and inspirational messages have been tailored for a vast number of markets, such as teens, new moms, cancer survivors... even dog lovers.

If the material in your book is somewhat general but could apply to many, consider revising or adding information and publishing separate editions targeting these special markets. The title would also be rebranded with a new, but similar title. The Chicken Soup series masterfully did this using the same title formula for each new edition. Example: Chicken Soup for the _____ Soul, with the blank filled in with the market the book intended to reach.

I rewrote my self-published book to include revised and expanded information.

I rewrote my self-published book to include revised and expanded information.

4. Sell Your Greatest Hits

Have you ever noticed that when music artists haven't done a new album in a while, they do a "greatest hits" or box set of their previous tunes? These re-released packages often include a couple of new tunes not available on any other album, making it a must-have for even those that may already have all the original albums. As a self-published author of either fiction or nonfiction, you can do this, too.

If you have several self-published books, some of them may be more popular than others. Or maybe you have several shorter works that could be artfully strung together to create one larger work. Either way, you can repackage previous books in your own greatest hits or box set collection. Adding a bit of new material will make it attractive, especially to your most ardent fans. These collections can also command a higher price and help "recycle" old material for additional revenues and profits.

Self-Publishing Rewritten Book Promotion Strategies

Once republished, let the promotion begin . . . again! Treat it as you would a brand new book, using these low-cost promotion strategies:

  1. Write a Press Release About the Relaunch. A revised edition can get as much attention as a brand-new book, especially if it's been a while since the last update. Write a press release about the updated book and distribute it to key press and influencers, as well as share it on social media. And don't forget to post the news on your website or blog!
  2. Email Announcements to Previous Buyers. If you've sold your book direct, you should have a list of buyers of the previous editions available. Email them an announcement about the relaunch. Getting a list like this from large booksellers and distributors such as Amazon is usually impossible. However, Amazon's remarketing technology is so advanced that there is a good chance your book will appear in "Selected For You" lists for previous buyers.
  3. Email Announcements to Business Customers. For nonfiction titles, don't overlook the possibility of selling the relaunched book to your regular non-book customers. It'll help bolster your expert status by showing how you're sharing the latest information. Email them announcements or include information in regular email newsletters.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: I self-published a novel. I paid a company to publish and haven’t been happy. I’d like to republish. Is it as simple as purchasing a new ISBN?

Answer: It's unfortunate that you weren't happy with your self-publishing company. I don't know if I'd consider it "simple," but it is possible, depending on your agreements with the company.

First, I hope that you did not sign any of your copyrights over to the self-publishing company. That could present some legal issues for you. If it is unclear, you need to consult an attorney.

Next, you'll want to ask the original company to decommission the ISBN that connects your book to that company and get it under your control. Again, you may want to consult an attorney to help figure this out.

And, as you've noted, you will need a new ISBN for the book after all the ownership issues are sorted out. You can purchase that on your own through R.R. Bowker, or your new self-publishing company might have an option to purchase an ISBN that is separate from theirs.

I would strongly suggest having a chat with an attorney who has experience with intellectual property and copyrights before you take on this project.

Question: I've been published for 5+ years at this point (10+ books all in the contemporary, steamy romance genre). My earlier books (a series of 6 books) could really use an overhaul (despite the high reviews on all of them). I’ve grown so much as an author.

My question is: What is your feeling about unpublishing the books for a time, while being rewritten and before re-releasing, perhaps in a rapid release?

Answer: Unpublishing is a strange thing. If you are on Amazon, and you have an Author Central page, those unpublished editions don't get removed. Trust me, I have a couple I'd like to delete because they're no longer relevant. So it can become confusing for buyers.

Realize that a new edition, whether you unpublish the old one or not, will need to accrue new reviews. It's almost like publishing a brand new title... even though it's an updated edition. And there will be a new ISBN number, too, if you have a print edition, too.

The other thing you have to ask is whether it's worthwhile rewriting it. For fiction, I'm not so sure. With the possible exception of correcting spelling or other mechanical errors, better formatting, etc. to create a better user experience, I just don't know how much value a completely new edition would provide. And even for that, you might want to consider just cleaning it up and re-uploading to KDP. Plus, you have all the positive reviews on the old edition which means people liked it as it was.

Are you thinking about redoing this series because you feel that you don't have enough creative juice in the tank to create something new? Or are you just embarrassed by your younger, less experienced author self? Things to ponder.

The kinds of books that really benefit from 2nd/revised editions are those where the topic material changes dramatically and frequently, e.g., computer books, business, etc.

Question: I have self-published through Amazon CreateSpace, which is now run by Kindle. I'm not overly happy and am considering rewriting the books anyway with different ISBNs. Q: If I simply rewrite them, changing headings, subject matter and even updating information and the cover, can I simply use the same titles but call it a revised or 2nd edition?

Answer: Well, you're on the right track with different ISBNs. It sounds like you're doing what would be considered a revised edition, as long as it's substantially the same work, just with some modifications.

The revised print edition should have a new ISBN so that readers know there's a substantial difference from the original. When you self publish the new edition on KDP, there are items to answer about what edition this new book is (revised, 2nd edition, 3rd edition, etc.). KDP will assign a new ISBN for your revised print edition when you publish it.

As you're probably aware, a Kindle eBook is automatically assigned an Amazon ASIN number. As with the revised print edition, when you self publish the revised eBook edition on KDP, a new ASIN will be assigned. You can add an optional ISBN, but that will be a cost for the number that you'd purchase through Bowker (if you're in the U.S.).

© 2013 Heidi Thorne


Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on January 21, 2019:

Jackie, glad you found it helpful. I know I've had to update some of my own books over time.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a wonderful week!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on January 21, 2019:

Very interesting, I will be back to study this over better and take a look at your others.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 19, 2016:

Hi Tracy! You bring up an interesting issue. Your tutor may be referring to your agreement with Author House which might prohibit this type of republication. I've heard of some self publishing platforms that require exclusivity, restrictive, not allowing this type of republication. Consult an intellectual property attorney to review your agreement with Author House to confirm your rights. It might be a few bucks, but it's better than going through the process, time and expense of republishing, only to find that it was prohibited by your contract with this group and would get you in a legal tangle. Good luck with your upcoming books and Happy Holidays!

Tracy marsh on December 19, 2016:

Hi I self published my romantic novel with author house which was a total waste of money and a very expensive learning curve. My novel is a really good story but since doing a creative writing course I feel needs tweaking. Can I republish this book under a new title and change some of the story line? My tutor at our creative writing class said I wasn't allowed to do this. THANKYOU for your help from a very confused writer

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 09, 2015:

Hi again, Perspycacious! Indeed, the Createspace platform is very cost-effective and efficient. Glad you found the info helpful. Good luck with those upcoming books. Thanks for the kind comments and have a great day!

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on June 08, 2015:

Just published my second book and I have several others already ready to print. Building on work an author has already done, simply makes good financial sense, and you explained that so well.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on January 12, 2015:

Hi MarleneB! I was in the same situation and I'm so glad I decided to rewrite my already self-published book. It's way better than the original and provided more value to my readers. Thanks for stopping by and best of success in the New Year!

Marlene Bertrand from USA on January 12, 2015:

I self-published a book and wished I had included additional information. I wasn't sure about re-writing it. But, now after reading this publication, I understand that it is actually advantageous to do so. Thank you for your valuable information.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 17, 2014:

Hi Glenn! I'm definitely a Createspace fan. Their tools and support are some of the best in the biz IMO.

I went through the "changing platforms" challenge, too. But with Createspace I found it to be quite painless. And it gives an opportunity to do a book relaunch promo!

Like you, I had written a whole bunch of relevant material since I had done my first book on Createspace. Adding it added value for the republished version. You see musical artists doing this all the time with their boxed sets which add a few special tracks just for the relaunch.

Good luck with your republished book! Let us know when it relaunches so we can celebrate with you!

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on December 16, 2014:

I before finding your hub, I was contemplating republishing one of my books on Create Space. I originally had used Lulu. But after publishing a second book on Create Space, I found that platform provided much better customer support.

I was hesitant to republish just for the sake of changing publishing platforms. But now you gave me a better reason to go ahead with it. And that is to relaunch it as a newly revised edition with added information.

Over the years I had written a lot more material that can be added to my original book. Funny that I didn't think of using that. I needed to read your hub to realize what I had and what I can do with it.

So, thanks to you Heidi, I know what to do now. Your hub is very useful for any author who is thinking of republishing a book and doesn't know how to go about it.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on January 09, 2014:

Hello CMHypno! Wish I could say that true passive income was a reality. :) But republishing and updating are small investments that can pay off long term. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on January 09, 2014:

Very useful information Heidi - I guess there really is no such thing as passive income. Makes a lot of sense to keep updating and improving, which has the added benefits of giving a reason for a new promotion

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 17, 2013:

Hello CMHypno! You're so right on rapid change. Grateful that we now have these wonderful tools to stay relevant and current. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Happy Holidays!

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on December 17, 2013:

Great ideas and I agree that one of the benefits of self publishing is that you can rewrite, reformat and add to books already written. Things do change rapidly these days and it is good to update things every so often.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on October 14, 2013:

Hello carter06! Thanks for stopping by and kind comments. Glad you found it helpful. Cheers!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on October 14, 2013:

Thanks, Denise, for reading & sharing! Glad you found it helpful. Keep us posted on your publishing adventures!

Mary from Cronulla NSW on October 13, 2013:

Great hub here Heidi full of useful info..have bookmarked for future reference & will tweet this as am sure many writers can use it!

VUUA&I & shared..cheers

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on October 13, 2013:

This is a treasure trove of information. I intend on returning to it and considering the process of self publishing. Up/I/A/U and shared.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 08, 2013:

Hi Elizabeth/epbooks! I think all of us self-publishers should take an annual stock of our current titles and see if there are ways we can rewrite or repackage for additional sales. BTW, thanks for your article on book signings which I was able to link to in this hub. It fit right in! Have a great week!

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on September 08, 2013:

This came at the perfect time because I was thinking of modifying one of my self-published books. I'm going to bookmark and read this again for when I decide to do it. Thanks so much! Sharing and voted up!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 08, 2013:

Hi AliciaC! You're very welcome. Thank you for your kind comments and I'm glad you found it useful. Have a wonderful day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 08, 2013:

Hello Kathleen Cochran! So sorry to hear about your expensive self-publishing experience. I've been there, too! I did learn a lot about the process through it. But I'm so glad to have found Createspace & Kindle Direct! Thanks so much for reading and sharing your story with us. Keep us posted on your publishing adventures!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 08, 2013:

Hello again, rajan jolly! Thanks for the kind comments and recommendation on my self-publishing tips. Today all authors really need to think of themselves as publishers to take advantage of all these opportunities. Have a lovely day!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 07, 2013:

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and all the useful information, Heidi. This hub will be very helpful for self-publishers.

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on September 07, 2013:

If I had known about self-publishing on Kindle a month earlier I could have saved myself considerable amounts of money and had the freedom to tweak my works as the market for them changed - for free. AuthorHouse was a complete waste of money other than getting me started. CreateSpace is where I ended up and is by far the most user-friendly and least expensive - for me and my readers!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 07, 2013:

Useful information that needs to be read by all publishers in whatever media. Voted up, interesting and beautiful. Sharing this as well, Heidi.

Have a great day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 07, 2013:

Great to hear from you, alancaster149! Glad to hear you're planning to republish on KDP. It is THE e-publishing platform of the future in my opinion. Viking Festival... that sounds like fun. And it's really savvy of you to marry your book releases with anniversaries and current events. The tie-ins are perfect. Yes, I think we have TONS of fun in the publishing, make that self-publishing, world. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers!

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on September 07, 2013:

thanks to the original publisher - Authorhouse - overpricing my first book, 'RAVENFEAST', I've got to re-publish it anyway. I've also taken the opportunity to change the first two chapters, minimally. When it's become available in book format in the pre-Christmas or New Year period I'll re-publish it on KDP at a more realistic price as well. Hopefully I can take it to the Jorvik Viking Festival at York next February, and then when book four 'BETRAYED' comes out next summer I can promote all four to English Heritage at Battle Abbey next October in time for the 947th anniversary of King Harold's last battle.

Don't we have fun in the publishing world?!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 07, 2013:

Mahalo, Joe/hawaiianodysseus! Glad you liked the ideas and thank you for kind words. Hope all is good with you. You have a great weekend, too!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 07, 2013:

Thanks, Chris Neal, for stopping by & your kind comments! Have a great day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 07, 2013:

Thanks, kat11! Hope you'll be able to apply the tips at some point in your publishing adventures. Of course, let us know when you book is done. Good luck with the new eBook!

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on September 07, 2013:

You're a terrific and prolific writer, Heidi, but your forte might very well be your marketing. Brilliant strategies here...and presented in such a reader-friendly fashion. Thank you so much for sharing this valuable information. Aloha, and have a wonderful weekend, my friend!


Chris Neal from Fishers, IN on September 06, 2013:

Very helpful! Thank you very much!

kat11 from Illinois on September 06, 2013:

Yes I agree. Although I am in the midst of finalizing my first eBook as a self publisher through a company affiliated with a university. You have a lot of information for the writer that is not sure about writing a book or anything. Thanks voted up and shared.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 06, 2013:

Howdy, billybuc! Thanks for the kind comments. There are so many marketing opportunities for writers. I hope some of our talented HP pals make the leap into self-publishing!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 06, 2013:

Wonderful suggestions, Heidi! Your knowledge of marketing is top-notch and worth reading by any serious writer or business person.