MIDLIST PURGATORY! Breathe New Life Into An Old Book? Or Publish a New One?

MIDLIST PURGATORY! Breathe New Life Into An Old Book? Or Publish a New One?

Hi Angela:

I enjoy your posts and advice. Re: promoting a new book and breathing life into an old one, here is my conundrum. My book was published in January 2009 by a traditional publisher. It sells online as a used book for anywhere from $1.50 to $6.00. It sells new for $25.00. So, why would anyone pay $25.00 when they can get a good copy for $2.00 or so? Also, I don’t get any credit from the publisher for used books.

So, my question is, how do I breathe life into my book when it is selling cheap online?


A certain percentage of the population only buys new books. They don’t want bent pages, cracked binding, coffee stains, etc. This is especially true if the book is a gift for someone.

If a book is self-published, you can update it, and then assign a new publication date, even keeping the same ISBN. BookLocker does this for authors all the time when they want to make revisions. That way, the author doesn’t lose their links on Amazon.com and other stores and, more importantly, they don’t lose their reviews!

For traditionally published books, you can either promote the heck out of the book that’s on the market, or you can ask for your rights back from the original publisher, update it, and then republish it under a new name and/or as a Second Edition. Since you won’t earn any money from the first edition, I recommend renaming the book so customers won’t find and buy old copies of it online.

If you aren’t bound by specific contract clauses that bar you from publishing a competing book elsewhere, or from publishing your next book through someone else, you can write a new book on the same topic, and self-publish it.

Since your book is so old, you might be able to convince your publisher to give your rights back. If not, see if your original contract allows you to write a new edition, and sell it yourself.


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