Top Reasons to Rewrite Your Self-Published Book
Self-publishing a book is a LOT of work! But it's really just the beginning of the lifecycle of an information product—and profits!—for writers. Rewriting a previously published book can open up additional sales and promotion opportunities. Here are some of the top reasons to rewrite your self-published book.
While the following discussion applies primarily to nonfiction markets, some of the strategies could apply to fiction as well.
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 in 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.
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 as a newly revised edition. People want to have the latest and greatest... and are willing to pay for it.
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.
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.
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 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:
- 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 to key press and influencers, as well as share on social media. And don't forget to post the news on your website or blog!
- 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.
- 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
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?
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.Helpful 3
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?
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.Helpful 1
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?
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