Will I Lose my Reviews If I Self Publish After Getting my Rights Back?

Typesetter

The contract for one of my traditionally published books is coming due in a little over two months. This is a scenario that comes up often but we rarely think about… what happens when my publishing contract expires? As a strategist (according to my personality profile) it makes sense that I’d want to be prepared for what comes next.

Authors typically have four choices in this scenario.

  1. Unpublish the book and let it go out of print. This is a terrible option, unless the book was awful and you want to forget it ever happened and leave the writing world behind.
  2. Renew your contract with the publisher. This assumes you would like that option and also that they’d want to keep your book active. That is not always the case for a variety of different reasons. If you choose this option, you may or may not be able to renegotiate for a better deal (or they may ask for concessions as well.)
  3. Switch to a new publisher. It never hurts to shop around, I suppose. A new publishing house might be what you need for increased success or market presence. This may sound easy, but if your book did not have a strong performance or if you haven’t done anything to grow your platform and improve your books appeal since launching with the previous publisher it may be hard any that are willing to republish.
  4. Self/Indie Publish. This is the option I want to talk about today. Basically, you are following the regular Indie path with the book at this point.

Since my book has a decent number of positive reviews and a pretty good rank I would hate to lose that all. Reviews are absolutely necessary to moving a book and discovery by readers. In fact, I’ve worked my rear off and invested cash money in advertising, giveaways, and author events just so I could my book out there and garner those reviews so that it will help snowball future sales and reviews. It would be heart-wrenching to lose all of that.

I contacted customer service at Createspace to ask about the process. They assured me that after creating the new title in their system as a self-published author, he or she can contact them and make a request to link the previous version with the new one.

“[We can] link the Amazon detail pages provided that you do not change the content, title name or the author. When we link the Amazon detail pages those reviews would then be displayed for the book published with us meaning you don’t have to lose the old reviews.”

That’s great news and makes option #4 pretty appealing to anyone who wants to keep their book alive and available (even if you are going dark for an extended period of time—it at least keeps the title available to the public.) It also means that your publisher cannot hold your reviews hostage, meaning they can’t threaten you with the insinuation that you will lose all your hard-earned reviews if you don’t choose to continue publishing with them; this may be a tactic of the more shady/scammy publishers (and there are many out there,) whose model is meant to profit from the author rather than the sale of books in distribution… for them, author retention is key since they primarily make money from the writers and fewer writes=fewer sources of revenue. One other thing it helps is for when writers discover their publisher went out of business. This does happen from time to time and usually means option #3 is virtually impossible unless they granted some sort of legal release to the authors. With the publisher defunct, you can still self-publish the title and link the old and new version to retain your market presence and customer base.

Follow this blog and check out next week’s article where I’ll talk about other aspects of shifting a book from a publishing house to an Indie title.

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