Today’s guest post is by Penny Sansevieri (@bookgal) and is excerpted from How to Revise and Re-Release Your Book: Simple and Smart Strategies to Sell More Books.
Will and Grace, The Gilmore Girls, X-Files, and the upcoming Murphy Brown: Reboots are popular, and we need or enjoy a reboot from time to time. Books are no different.
Book relaunches can take a variety of forms. If done right, they enhance your overall brand, as well as your book sales. Their first and foremost benefit is the new publication date. Having a new book opens up access to bloggers and media who might not have been available to you with an older book. Unless you’ve already been getting some interest in the book, books six months or older are harder to work with. You need to have a new book, or newer book, to capture more blogger and media attention.
Let’s look at some of the reasons you may want to republish your book, because having specific goals is key. Wanting to sell more books is understandable, but it can’t be the only driver—it’s too broad.
1. Revise and Re-release
Last year I met an author at a writers’ conference who published a science fiction book about five years ago. The book was long, 400 pages, and he said nothing really happened with it. He told me, “If I had known then what I know now, my book could have done so much better.” And I said, “Why not re-release it?”
If your book needs another round of edits, your reviewers will likely tell you if it does! Editing may also involve adding content, changing some of the content to suit industry changes, or even updating pop culture references.
2. You Have Your Rights Back
In another instance, an author told me she’d just gotten the rights back to several of her books. The publisher didn’t seem to think they had legs anymore, but she did. So I suggested that she republish them. She’ll need a new cover, and will probably redo the interior design (because the publisher may own both of these), but it can be inexpensive to do.
3. Your Book Needs a New Cover
It’s not always easy to get covers exactly right the first time. A cover redo, even without a content redo, is a great reason to re-launch a book.
The biggest problem is that covers often don’t match the genre, meaning that covers don’t have the “look” of the genre. This is very, very important. Step back and take a hard look at how your cover compares with successful books in your genre or category.
Covers with lots of photographs or the wrong photographs are ideal candidates for a redo. Too many photographs don’t give the buyer something to focus on. And the wrong photograph can be anything from an image too detailed for online viewing to a big picture of you as the author when you’re not a household name or sales leader in your category. Hand-drawn covers and paintings are another no-no. I once had an author who was a child therapist contact me wanting to use one of his patients’ paintings on the cover. The book was about dealing with difficult children. The problem with the painting was that it wasn’t clear what it was. He had a connection with it, but why would anyone else?
4. Relaunch a Brand
I worked with an author who published a fiction series six years ago. When she first published, she planned to do one only book. But readers kept asking for more. The branding of the book evolved, and by books four and five she had a real mishmash of cover designs and storylines. Now she’s redoing the books and re-launching the entire series with fresh covers and enhanced story lines.
Sometimes brands grow faster and in unexpected ways; if you hit the reboot button, you can create a look that better gets the attention of your target audience.
5. Poor or No Promotion the First Time
Not having time to promote your book when it was first published is another good reason to reissue. Sometimes life happens—a family member or close friend gets sick and you need to help out, or some other personal emergency comes up—and your wonderful new book just sits there, neglected, and gathering dust. This happens more often than you might think. In such instances, you’ll need to re-release it, and start fresh with a new publication date and even a new cover to help it stand out.
6. Take Advantage of Current Events
What if you released a book years ago, and suddenly the topic is becoming “new” again? A refresh of the book can make it more interesting to newly aware buyers. Plus it can open doors to media coverage, which you won’t get with a publication date that’s more than 12 months old.
How to Upload Everything Again to Amazon
The biggest decision you’ll have to make when it comes to re-releasing your book is whether to put up an entirely new book or link the new book to the old, thereby keeping the reviews intact.
While the second idea is largely the most preferred, it’s sometimes out of our hands what Amazon will decide to do. In conversations I’ve had with them, Amazon staffers indicated that if the book has extensive updates, they won’t link the books, because the updated one is essentially a new book.
One Amazon rep said if the tables of contents are identical, they won’t even worry about the content and will automatically connect the editions on Amazon. This part can be a bit tricky, though, because Amazon says they want to create the “best possible experience for the consumer,” thereby making sure they have the most current book at the forefront. But even if your updates are extensive, Amazon likely won’t remove the old version.
If your book title is different, regardless of the table of contents, Amazon will consider it a new book. If the book is over half updated, Amazon will consider it a new book. I recommend getting in touch with an Amazon Author Central representative to ask about your particular situation.
If you found this post helpful, check out How to Revise and Re-Release Your Book: Simple and Smart Strategies to Sell More Books.
Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit Author Marketing Experts (AME).