WHAT IF YOUR PUBLISHER GOES OUT OF BUSINESS?
by Richard Brawer
Three years ago I had found a wonderful publisher in L & L Dreamspell. They were highly professional, paid an advance and their royalties came right on time.
L & L Dreamspell was run by women, Lisa and Linda, who were life-long friends. Sadly, Linda passed away from cancer and Lisa could not go on with the company. She promptly returned my rights, provided the e-book format for my books, pulled all the books off sale from every venue, and closed the company.
One more thing she did before closing was to contact other publishers and advise her authors that those publishers may be interested in taking on their books. I contacted a couple of those publishers referred by L & L Dreamspell and I found one receptive to my books. However, the publisher said I would have to go to the back of the line and that my books would not be re-published for a year. That was fair, but distressing having the two books off sale for a year.
I considered posting the books on Amazon.com’s KDP as my e-books had sold 10 to 1 to trade paperback. But what about the fabulous reviews the books had received? How could I get them to the new versions?
With Amazon being such a stickler about who posts reviews, I could not post them myself. Nor could I find the original reviewer. It is very rare that a reviewer leaves a contact e-mail address. Even if they did, I wonder how receptive a person who reviewed my book would be to re-posting it again under the new book version.
So I contacted Amazon.com. The following is the e-mail I sent to clarify their policy:
I received some unfortunate news that my publisher is going out of business. I have retained the rights to the books I had with them. Because Amazon never seems to remove a book from its library regardless of whether Amazon has been told the book is no longer available, I was thinking be changing the title and the cover of the books, and re-publishing my books on KDP.
What happens to the reviews? Are the reviews transferable to the KDP version?
Here is Amazon.com’s answer.
When a detail page is created, it becomes a permanent catalog page on Amazon.com that will remain even if the creator’s inventory sells out or the book is delisted.
I can suggest we link the old and new book in one title set (which means the same title) so that they can share reviews.
This means that the newly listed book will have its designated product page but the two books will share the same reviews.
We link different editions, bindings, formats or color variations of a product in our system to make it easier for customers to find the version they're looking for. Our intention is to provide all the relevant review information we possibly can, regardless of the version. As a result, the same reviews can appear on the product detail pages for all versions.
I now had a big decision to make. I could...
Go with the new publisher:
Pro: If I got in with a new publisher they might take on my latest book I had just finished and had planned to submit to L & L Dreamspell.
Con: The current books would be out of publication for a year. Also, what if the new publisher ended up going out of business like the old publisher? Small independent publishers come and go. I posted a message on a few author groups asking about this publisher. No one had ever heard of them or published with them.
Post the same book with KDP with the same covers. (L & L also released the covers to their authors.)
Pro: The reviews would also be listed with the new “version” as Amazon.com called it.
Con: When a reader puts a book’s title in the search box, both “versions” of my book would come up. I researched Amazon and found there were occasionally two books by the same author and with the same cover and title. That seemed confusing to me and I am an author. It might be even more confusing to a potential reader.
Change the titles and covers and post the books on Amazon.com KDP.
Pro: The price would be a lot cheaper than what L & L Dreamspell had been selling them for. My cost would be small, two new covers.
Con: What do I do about the reviews? There would be none under the new titles. There would be no trade paperback version unless I also self published it that way. The cost for publishing a trade paperback could run hundreds of dollars. (For reasons too long to explain here, I could not get the trade paperback format from the publisher.)
As I had done no promotion for these books since I was advised of the publisher’s closing, I chose to create new titles and covers and post the books on KDP. I felt I was not sacrificing that many sales from people who might be looking for the original book. And now I am starting to talk about the new versions on blogs and sites like Sheila’s.
I handled the review problem in two ways. First, in the description of the book on the Amazon.com page I included review excerpts, referred to my website for the full reviews, said previously published as… and gave an explanation for changing the cover and title so those who had bought the book under the old title would not buy it again.
Should a buyer have missed the explanation, they most likely would realize it’s the same book when they clicked on the “look inside” tab on Amazon. If all that failed and a previous reader of the books realized they had read the new “version” of the book, I knew they could return the e-book to Amazon. It’s an easy process.
The second way I am handling the reviews is to ask for more. I am giving away 20 copies each of The PAC Conspiracy (formerly Keiretsu) and The Nano Experiment (formerly Beyond Guilty).
There are three conditions for me to gift you a book:
- You can only ask for one of the books.
- You must have a KINDLE or any e-reader, computer, Apple or Android device that has a KINDLE APP, or any TABLET that can access KINDLE books.
- You must read the book within 30 days after I gift it to you, write a review and post it on Amazon.com. Of course I am not telling you what kind of review to write, but you must post one.
Please go to my website, www.silklegacy.com to read the book jackets, reviews, excerpts and more for The PAC Conspircy and The Nano Experiment to see if you are truly interested in reading them. If you are you can scroll down to the bottom of the tabs on the left to “Contact” and e-mail me requesting a book.
If you want to go the Amazon pages for these books here are the links.
Richard Brawer writes mystery, suspense and historical fiction novels. When not writing, he spends his time sailing and growing roses. He has two married daughters and lives in New Jersey with his wife.