Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Contract is Up, Should You Get Your Rights Back?

A lot of small, romance epublishers are coming up on two and three year anniversaries. I say hurray for them, they lasted this long! A lot of the contracts for these places are anywhere from two to five years. Sooner than later, you will have the decision before you, do you keep your ebook with the publisher for another negotiated term, or do you take the rights back?

Depends what your plans are. This coming spring I will have the decision before me. Do I take back the rights, re-edit, re-name, and publish it again? Do I self-pub or submit to another pub?

This will be the sticky wicket for romance e-books going forward. With new book covers, blurbs, and titles, how is a customer to know that this book was published before? A lot of authors and publishers do not disclose this information which I think is a marketing mistake.
I know when I buy a print romance, I always open the cover and check the copyright date to make sure I am not buying a book I may have already read. You can't do that with an e-book, and even if you could, it would have the year of the re-issue so there is no way to tell. Not a good idea to piss off your customer base.

Let's face it, the shelf life on a majority of romance e-books is pretty limited. For most of us, after a year or two, the sales really drop off. So how to stir up interest in the book again? Give it a new look.

Not many publishers will take 'previously published', check their guidelines. Usually they will consider it for in-house authors, but on the whole-no. The sales potential is not there. I have seen this for two of my stories that I had to get the rights back from Silver Publishing. The re-issues really did not sell. Of course, that is just my experience. Though I did check rankings on a few other books from other authors that were re-published and their rankings weren't so hot either. It's a spin of the wheel.

One of my re-issues had the same title (something I don't recommend) The other was changed because the publisher wanted it changed. I will say this, the publisher that changed the name did include in the blurb "This was previously published as..." but as I said, not every author or pub does this.

So, decision time. Obviously, if the book is not selling, why keep it with the publisher? Take a honest look at the story, do you think there is life still in it? Perhaps you want to add new material, or take some out. Now you can. One thing I would recommend, when you do get the rights back, let it sit awhile on your back burner. Unless it is still a hot seller, why push it back out there right away? What's the rush? Explore your options, including self-pubbing which I think is a viable option for a previously published work. Just be careful when considering self-pubbing, there are a lot of vanity/subsidy places calling themselves publishers and they really aren't. Some of them have hidden fees and clauses. Now that the book is back in your hands, make the decision that is right for you, and take your time doing doing it.


  1. I'm hoping I'll get my book back after being denied twice. For some reason I feel like my non-renewal email will be "lost". It's been a nightmare, I'm hoping for that ray of sunshine next year. Maybe I can finally get my story out of the dark. Well, here's hoping I get my rights back so that I can give this story a home it deserves (self-pubbed or new publisher, I haven't decided yet.)

    1. Oh no, Chacelyn, are we talking SP? I did get my rights back during that small window when they were giving them back last fall, but I never did get $$ for any third party sales for the two books. They never answered emails either after I got the rights back.

      When you do get the rights back, take your time to decide what you want to do with your story. I wish I had. Lesson learned. Fingers crossed it works out for you!


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