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Jordan Castillo Price on re-releases

Today the award-winning author Jordan Castillo Price shares with us some of her experience in re-releasing her titles under her own publishing company.


The Old is New Again by Jordan Castillo Price

What’s the deal with re-releases? An ebook is electronic, so it’s not like it’s limited to a printing run of a certain number of copies. Why, then, would it be necessary to come out with multiple editions? Since I figure most readers have no need to be as familiar with the business end of writing as authors do, I’ll talk about the hows and whys in this post, in case readers were wondering! (Disclaimer: I’m not an attorney and this should not be taken as specific business advice, but rather an overview of the process.)

When a publisher takes on an author’s work, they issue a contract spelling out which digital or print rights they’d like to receive. Scrupulous publishers will specify a certain number of years in which they retain these rights. Usually with ebooks, the term is three years or seven years, though I have seen a sample contract from a prominent e-publisher that states the publisher gets exclusive rights for the life of the copyright. (Red flag! Red flag! Authors, don’t sign that. It means they own your book basically forever.)

Time is Up
Let’s say the author signed a three-year exclusive electronic rights contract with the publisher, and the ebook hit the electronic shelves three years ago yesterday. What next?
- The author could do nothing. If she does nothing, some publishers will also do nothing, and they’ll just leave the book up for sale and keep sending her royalty checks. (Sometimes the author will need to initiate the “my contract is up” conversation with an email.)
- Some publishers will offer to renew the contract. This would be the time to re-negotiate if the author wants different terms. This industry is changing fast, and something that might have been standard three years ago might be done differently (and of greater advantage to the author) today. Or maybe it’s just the author who has changed, and she never realized you could negotiate terms in a contract, but she’s three years older and wiser now.
- Some publishers will simply return an author’s rights, mark the ebook out-of-print in the ISBN database, and remove it from sale.

It’s Official
When rights are returned to the author, the publisher provides the author with a Letter of Reversion. This means the contract was fulfilled and the author can now do whatever she wants with her story.

What Now?
Let’s presume that seeing old work with new eyes doesn’t fill the author with such shame and aversion that she wants to delete it from her hard drive and pretend it never happened. Because like I said, A LOT can change in a few years. Let’s say the author would like the story to remain available.

A New Home
She could shop that story to another publisher so they can re-vamp it and add it to their catalog. As long as she’s very clear that this is not a new work she’s submitting, but a re-print, this could be a very big win-win for both author and publisher, and the start of a new relationship.

Maybe this author has been itching to self-publish since everyone else who’s doing it is apparently a bazillionaire now. (Ha ha.) A second electronic edition of a backlist title is the perfect place to get one’s feet wet in the business of self-publishing.

Now is the time the author can make changes to the story. Maybe the old cover always sucked—but the author doesn’t own the cover art anyway, just the story. The author now has a chance to commission a new cover (if she’s self-publishing) or place the book with a different publisher where the new cover art might be an improvement. Maybe she never agreed with some old editorial choices. She can put that wording back the way she originally intended. Or maybe she always sort-of-liked the story, but it needs a big rewrite. If the story still compels the author, I say, go for it.

Label It
As a reader, I occasionally pick up a physical book, reach the end of chapter one, and think, “Wait a minute, I’ve read this before!” (And I can do this with the same edition of the same damn book I previously read.) Imagine, then, how confusing it is when the book in question is an ebook with a new cover and a new publisher! It’s important to state very clearly in the book’s description that it is a new edition of a previously published work—and some readers will just see the new cover and click on it without really reading too deeply into the blurb. So be prepared for some returns.

Everyone Wins
Though the possibility of confusion and accidentally double-buying the same ebook exists (which the author should try to mitigate by being crystal clear that it is a re-release), I think the pros of re-releases and second editions definitely outweigh the cons.
-cover art gets a face-lift
-typos and errors corrected
-new formats created
-best of all, the story remains available for all the new readers who may have just discovered this author, and want to read everything she’s written!

Recent Re-releases by Jordan

Among the Living
PsyCop #1 was first published in 2006, and reverted to me in 2008, when I gave it its first major overhaul with cover art and error correction in the second electronic edition. In preparation for the imminent second-edition print release of PsyCop: Partners, which contains Among the Living and Criss Cross, I did yet another editorial scour. I included those smaller changes in a 2.1 edition of Among the Living. While I could have just left it alone, I felt that technology had changed enough between 2008 and 2011 that I wanted to rebuild the ebooks anyway, and I wanted new readers who were just discovering PsyCop to be getting the best ebook I could give them. I did the same with PsyCop #2, Criss Cross.

Channeling Morpheus Series
The rights to my Channeling Morpheus stories are reverting to me one at a time, and as they do I’m re-releasing second editions to keep them in print. I’m totally stoked about my new cover art, and happy to tweak some editorial niggles I had with the first editions. This year, as the followup series Sweet Oblivion reverts to me, I’ll be re-releasing them as Channeling Morpheus #6-10.

Fire Thief
I wouldn’t normally do a really big rewrite on a re-release, but this short story is an exception. It originally appeared in a charity anthology, and when my rights reverted, I wanted it to be available to my readers who prefer to buy it separately. Not only that, but it felt like the story couldn’t live up to my vision for it in the 2500-word limit the first version was constrained by. So I expanded it by a thousand words, changed the plot significantly, and gave it a juicy new cover. I love it now.

You can find Jordan Castillo Price’s stories (re-releases and new releases) at JCP Books.
Receive notification of all releases by signing up for her free newsletter HERE.


From Clare:
Like to stretch your writing fingers after Christmas' excesses? Fancy writing something for the visitors this month? It can be anything from a flashfic 3 sentences to a drabble of 100 or so, or even more. Any genre, any theme, any rating, any character(s). Maybe ones you already love, maybe the chance to try on a new character for size.

I'm holding a FREE FICTION DAY on the 28th, so send me new fiction - links to your existing work also welcome! - to clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll post it all then :).


FOLLOW the Birthday Blog so far:
Jan 01: [profile] luscious_words shares some fabulous icons.

Check up on: Prior years fun HERE and
The 2012 Guest schedule HERE.

Want to join in but missed the original call? Email me at clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll happily find you a space ♥

NOTE: most pictures chosen by me and credited where known, others may be used without direct permission, please contact me with any queries/concerns.



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2012 12:17 pm (UTC)
Decisions, decisions! I'm still trying to decide what to do with short stories that are trickling back. I've just had a contract extension for a longer story so that's one less to fret about! Thanks to Jordan for the clear version of the options.
Jan. 2nd, 2012 12:53 pm (UTC)
Short stories are the hardest because it's difficult to determine how much time and money to sink into them. They're never going to be big earners. They're usually just a way for someone new to sample your work (for the reader) and an idea that wouldn't be let go (for the writer).
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 2nd, 2012 12:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the kind words about the covers - I always admire your cover art too so I'm especially tickled you think so. I'm excited to hear I'm not the only one who loves re-vamping a story! It really is a great feeling.
Josephine Myles
Jan. 2nd, 2012 05:33 pm (UTC)
Excellent post, Jordan - you've outlined all my main reasons for wanting to self-publish stories when the rights revert to me.

And I think it's so important to make it clear that a story has been published before. I don't think it would lose you royalties, as like you say, anyone who buys it without realising they already have it will be after a refund. Also, to my mind seeing a self-published story has already been published elsewhere or in an anthology only makes it seem more appealing. At least you can assume that it should have been proofread and hopefully copy/content edited as well.

Oh yes, and the CM covers are just luscious - I can't wait to see the next five!

Edited at 2012-01-02 05:34 pm (UTC)
Jan. 2nd, 2012 07:07 pm (UTC)
I had never considered the idea of previously published work as having been "vetted" so to speak, but that's true. I know some people to rush their work out there because they are too frustrated to wait to place it with a publisher (with no editing and a homemade cover) but I've always thought about what they're doing (and why) and what I'm doing (and why) are on such opposite ends of the spectrum there's no comparison. I think I'm just oblivious to the self-publish stigma because I don't even think about it anymore :D

I need to get working on the next CM cover soon. I get pretty distracted by Wild Bill's lips.
Josephine Myles
Jan. 2nd, 2012 08:54 pm (UTC)
I'm not surprised you get distracted by those lips. Between Wild Bill's lips, Michael's eyes, and both their cheekbones, you have some serious eyecandy going on!
Jan. 2nd, 2012 06:10 pm (UTC)
I've experienced all three scenarios in "Time is up" *lol*.
Also in "It's Official" I've had situations without a reversion letter and no way to recover one. Luckily, in most cases the story concerned does fill me with shame and aversion *g* so it's not such a problem.

This is a brilliantly succinct summary of the points to consider. I'm interested in publishing some of my reverted stories, too, but you make a good point about the shorts. Sometimes it's easier / less hassle to renew a story at the existing publisher. An author should think carefully about what they want to achieve with their work - and what time and skills they have to be a publisher as well as a writer! (sez me, dragging her feet ... *g*)

And I also don't see a problem with re-releasing something that was previously on sale elsewhere. Like Jo says, you can assume it's already been through a professional editing process at least once, you've had the chance to bring it up to date and make it better - plus it obviously sold before, so is still attractive. And there are always new readers joining the market who wouldn't have seen it first time around :).
Jan. 2nd, 2012 07:12 pm (UTC)
I think readers would probably enjoy reading my "shame and aversion" stories out of sheer curiosity, but I could never risk that someone coming into the genre new might come across one of my old stinkers first.

Publishing involves lots and lots of extra steps and definitely isn't for everyone. In PsyCop I had a series I wasn't finished with and a publisher I didn't want to work with anymore, so for me getting into self-publishing seemed like the only option other than abandoning the series. Later on a different publisher asked to take on PsyCop but I turned them down. I was too focused on having the last word about the books to go back to needing to accept edits I might not agree with, covers I didn't like or word counts I didn't want to adhere to.
Jan. 2nd, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
I never tire of saying that the Payback cover was the first thing that drew me to your work *g*. Of course, it was the talent and pleasure that *kept* me a fan :). But I love what you've done with the new covers. CM is one of my favourite series ever - maybe THE favourite? - and this gives them a whole new, sexy lease of life and brand.
Jan. 2nd, 2012 07:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, I'm really pleased with the way the covers have come out. Pretty close to what I see in my head, and they convey that it's not your typical derivative "wealthy vampire owns a nightclub" series pretty well, I think.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 01:52 pm (UTC)
You do such great covers. :) I loved the 2.1 version of Among the Living - thanks for making that available last week. :D It inspired me to reread the whole series.
Jan. 5th, 2012 01:51 pm (UTC)
That's so gratifying to hear. Time is precious, and I love knowing that's where you invested your time.
Jan. 5th, 2012 01:54 pm (UTC)
They are comfort reads for me! I see myself reading them all at least once a year. :)
Jan. 3rd, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
Still laughing over this one: Let’s presume that seeing old work with new eyes doesn’t fill the author with such shame and aversion that she wants to delete it from her hard drive and pretend it never happened. Because like I said, A LOT can change in a few years.

Second chances in editing a story, just like in romance, are always appreciated.
Jan. 5th, 2012 01:52 pm (UTC)
Ha ha, glad you got a kick out of it. It's funny, sometimes I'll hate something for a couple of years, then go back later and decide I can live with them. Parts of Among the Living are like that for me.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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