You may have an orphaned book when your publisher goes out of business or chooses to put your book out of print.

I had a client reach out to me last night when she learned that her hybrid publisher is going out of business. The copyright to her book is reverting back to her. She is wondering about next steps for the book.

While I understand that this is less than ideal and a cause for concern or overwhelm, regaining the rights to your book presents a few unique opportunities. 

When the book rights revert to you, you can republish the book and set it up for distribution as a new product. You have the opportunity to update, correct, or refine your book to keep it current and incorporate your new and best thinking. You can refresh the cover if you desire. You can try new formats, producing a paperback if the book was previously released in hardcover or add an audiobook if you didn’t produce one previously.

If the book fits into your bigger picture goals for your life and career, this road bump can also introduce an opportunity to market the book in a different way than you may have the first time, sharing the ideas more widely, making a bigger difference in the world, growing your brand, and reaching new audiences with your content. Additionally, owning your own work increases the financial benefit to you for every book sold, since you will no longer share royalties with your publisher.

Bonnie Marcus’ rerelease of her bestselling book, The Politics of Promotion: How High-Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, provides an interesting case study about the possibilities you create when you regain the rights to your book. Bonnie acquired the copyright to The Politics of Promotion, originally published by Wiley, as the hardcover inventory dwindled. She had a small stock of the original book, which she made available for sale on Amazon through their Seller Central program. 

Bonnie chose to update the content in her book, adding a new chapter, designing a new cover, and rereleasing in paperback in 2019, about 4 years after the initial release. For this relaunch, she energized new marketing efforts, creating new possibilities for her work to reach her audiences and setting the stage for her launch of Not Done Yet! in 2021. 

Here are some questions to consider as you transition ownership of your book’s content from a publisher back to you:

What does success look like? A book is an asset that can provide value both to you and your readers for a long period of time. If you have a clear picture of what success looks like, you’ll be able to make the right choices about what’s right for you and your book.

Is the book an important part of your current career goals and work? If the book is not an important part of your current story, you may want to minimize your financial investment and not make any significant changes. If the book is important to the work you’re doing now, making a more significant investment may be wise. 

Are you ready for a refresh as a new edition? Are there valuable new approaches, insights, or research to add as you republish the book? Would a new cover invigorate marketing approaches? Do you have any book awards to highlight or mention? 

If you acquire print inventory of your book, how can you use the book to fuel your current projects? Books are powerful seeds and sharing them exponentially grows the good they can do in the world. If you end up with inventory of your orphaned book, why not look for ways to give the book away to increase its reach? For example, if you have a new book coming out, you could use a free print copy of your other book as a pre-order or bulk order incentive, giving copies away to people who commit to ordering the new book. Or, if you are developing business, you can give your book away to people interested in your organization’s services. If you are a speaker, you could fold a giveaway of your book into your speaking fee. Your inventory is not a problem to be solved, but instead possibilities to be discovered.

What support might you need to format, distribute, and market your book? Professional support may be helpful as you navigate republishing your book. A book production partner, like my team at Weaving Influence, can edit your book to make any updates or changes, design a new cover, and troubleshoot any other issues that may arise as you work through setting up your book for distribution through Amazon or another distributor like IngramSpark. We can also help connect you to a resource to create your audiobook (such as Twin Flames Studios) or partner with you to plan and execute a marketing campaign to fuel your important career and life goals. 

Of course you feel bewildered, shocked, frustrated, or overwhelmed when you find out your publisher is going out of business. We’re here to empathize with those feelings and help you move forward to all the possibilities that await.