Years ago at a writer’s conference, I met the author of a science fiction book that was published five years prior. “When it comes to book promotion, I wish I knew then what I know now. I think this book could have done considerably better than it did initially,” he told me. My advice to him was to rerelease his book, updating the cover and modifying parts of the interior. Book lovers are profoundly interested in series, and since his book was 400 pages, I recommended that he split it into four 100-page portions. Turning his book into a four-part series is a fantastic promotional tool and would also provide better exposure on Amazon.
This is just one example of a rerelease and how it could work. You may not have a novel or a 400-page saga that you’re eager to reconfigure and your reason may be very different. The following are just some of the reasons why authors decide to reissue a book, and why it makes sense to your ongoing book promotion efforts.
Your Original Book Promotion Fell Flat
There could be any number of reasons your book marketing didn’t go as planned. Perhaps you picked the wrong type of book promotion or the wrong markets, or maybe you just didn’t have the time to market it. If you believe in your book and want to give it a second chance, then a rerelease could revive your title.
Your Book Could Have Been Better
Did your reviews come in less than stellar? Did readers comment on typos? Maybe you targeted the entire book to the wrong market. One author told me that a book that wasn’t intended for the Christian market was pushed there by the publisher and wound up upsetting a lot of readers who voiced their concerns on Amazon.
Whatever the reason, if your book could use improvements, a rerelease is the way to go.
Current Events, News Items, Seasonal Trends
These days things change pretty quickly. I once spoke to an author who had a book that published five years ago. As luck would have it, her book topic started trending in the news. And while she could have pushed the older title, she thought it could be fun (and better for her book promotion) to reissue it to tie into current events. (Read this article about media hooks to learn how to tap current events.) If there’s a wave of something going on that’s newsworthy, it could make sense to rerelease your book to dial into that revived market.
The other side of this is that things get outdated. If this is the case, maybe your book could use a refresher, especially if your content is subject to a lot of changes. It could be a good time to reboot it and relaunch it!
Your Brand Has Changed
As our businesses grow, we also evolve and change. Whether we updated our logo, our colors, or our look, perhaps it’s time to refresh our books, too.
If your book cover no longer matches the look and feel or message of your business, now's the time to get them aligned, so everything is consistent and uniform. It can be hard to get a cohesive book promotion message or campaign across if there is inconsistency in the author’s brand. Consider doing this if you fall into this category
Your Cover Is/Was Bad
Sometimes we launch a book and think: Well, that cover could have been stronger. Or maybe your book is older and the cover could use an update. Whatever the reason, a new cover is a great chance to refresh your book — and relaunch it, too. It’s much harder (and often impossible) to do any type of book promotion with a cover that fails to impress. (Read this article to learn if your book cover needs a makeover.)
You Just Got the Rights Back to Your Book
If you published a book years ago with a major house, you might be in a situation where your rights have reverted back to you. In this case, I’d highly encourage you to republish this using the indie publishing model.
Revising Your Book, Getting Started!
If one of the above seems to fit you, maybe you’re ready to revise and rerelease your book, but where do you start? First, consider how much you’re going to need to update. Some, if not most of the book, may require a redo or an editorial pass. If you’re just changing the cover, you can skip over this. Many of us will want to consider what happens to the first book and the original that’s up on Amazon, too. You should keep these considerations in mind as you’re making updates to your book.
What Happens to Your Original Book on Amazon?
If you’ve figured out what, if any, portion of your book needs an update, you may be wondering what happens with your original book on Amazon. It’s beneficial to know what to expect if you’re going to relaunch your book promotion and when. Will it stay there? Will it ever go away? And what happens with all of the reviews? Some authors don’t care if the book stays up on Amazon, while others really want it taken down — or want their new book to be published “over” the other title. In other words, the old book goes away, but the reviews stay intact.
The answer to that is: it depends. Amazon’s guidelines vary, so I’d suggest giving them a call. However, a rep told me that if the book is updated in excess of 20%, it’ll be considered a new book and will have a new Amazon page. It’s not a consistent rule, because the rep also said if the table of contents hasn’t been altered, or the page count hasn’t changed much, you could have it published over the other, original book. Which means that you essentially retain all of your old reviews. Or, in basic book promotion language, that you’ll have a pre-populated list of reviews, and depending on how many, this could be an excellent thing. There might be cases where you don’t want to keep these reviews. Let’s explore that next.
Pros & Cons of Keeping All Your Amazon Reviews
In some cases, losing all of your Amazon reviews could be a real negative way to start off, but other times, it could be a great boon to your book promotion success. Why? If you’re revising your book due to bad editing, or a poorly designed promotion campaign, then the reviews attached to your book probably weren’t great anyway. If you have enough low-star reviews that drags down your title, starting fresh might be a great idea.
However, if the reviews are plentiful, you’ll want to keep them. Make sure that you’re 100% clear on what Amazon will and won’t do concerning replacing your old book with your new one. As I stated previously, the guidelines are generally 20%. We all know that Amazon is subject to change and often without any notice. I will say that in most cases, when a TOC doesn’t change, Amazon won’t consider it a new title and will easily replace the older edition.
More Options When You Rerelease Your Revised Book
There are some alternatives for swapping out an old book cover with a new one. Once the book is live, it’s possible that Amazon might remove the old book and compile the reviews with your new book. If they don’t, you should say this is a new edition in your Amazon book description. Example: Newly published July 2018 edition.
If you’re looking to spark a renewed interest in your book, then revising or updating the interior and exterior can actively revive your promotional efforts. For additional information on how to revive and rerelease your stalled titles, check out my book on this topic here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C6V6NRF
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 and AME, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.