Reversion, noun. the act of turning something the reverse way.
I recently received the rights back to my first novel, The Watch on the Fencepost. Since many writers either have gone through this process or will in the future, I thought it might be valuable to share my experience.
DISCLAIMER: This is not legal advice. It’s just a list of a few of the lessons I learned while navigating this new pathway in the writing journey.
First, let me say I was happy with the company that published my first book. The publisher was easy to work with, and I had fully intended to leave the book with them. For several reasons, though, my husband and I decided to publish the next books in the series independently through our Wordstar Publishing Company. So, in order to promote the series as a whole, I needed to have the rights to the first book.
Once I had met the obligations required by my contract with the publisher, I requested the reversion of the rights to me, and the publisher agreed. That was the easy part of this whole process.
Note: This is still a work in progress, but here’s a list of some of the things I’ve learned:
- Cover – I had to get a new cover since the original one was licensed by the publishing company. No problem here – I wanted a new cover anyway.
- ISBN – a new publisher requires a new ISBN.
- Content – I didn’t change any of the story content. The only changes were to the Copyright page and the About the Author page. However, this is an opportunity for authors to make significant changes to the content if they like.
- Formatting – Since the publisher had made a few changes to the manuscript after I turned it over to them, I didn’t have the latest copy on my laptop. I requested and received the latest copy from them and they sent me a PDF. I had to convert it to Word in order to work with it in Vellum. There were a few “gotchas” along the way that made this the most time-consuming part of the process.
- Reviews – I wanted to retain all of the 200+ reviews the book had on Amazon, so I contacted KDP Support and Author Central to make sure I was doing everything needed to keep the reviews. Basically, they told me the title, author, and metadata in the new edition had to be exactly the same as in the old edition. They suggested I publish the new edition while the old one was still online so that they could be linked.
- KDP requirements – I decided to publish on Amazon first. When I had all the files in place, I let my publisher know the plan and I published the ebook and paperback through KDP. Everything went well until KDP did the content review and discovered the content was like the old version of the book which was still live on Amazon. I supplied them with an email the publisher had sent me that verified he was returning the rights to me. Then they linked the new edition with the old one so that the reviews would appear on the new detail page. There are still a few issues left to be resolved, but the new Wordstar version is available and can be purchased on Amazon.
- Other retailers – I also published, with varying degrees of success, to the other retail platforms: Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play, and ingram Spark. As of today, there are still some wrinkles that need to be ironed out. The publisher has not yet unpublished the first edition, and a few other issues need to be addressed.
- The Audiobook – This is still uncharted territory to me. I’ll have to work with Findaway Voices to have the rights transferred to me and to change the cover image. The audiobook has more than 250 reviews on Chirpbooks, and I hope to find a way to keep those.
- Miscellaneous – If you decide to get your book rights back for a book that was traditionally published, be sure to save all the information from the former version, including ASIN and ISBN.
- Major lesson learned – Be ready to deal with unanticipated problems.
Like most other things in life, this has taken a lot longer than I thought it would. And I discovered different members of support staffs had different answers to my questions. At least KDP will talk to the customer. The other retailers would only work through email, and that slowed things down considerably.
All in all, the reversion process has moved ahead reasonably well, and I’m still optimistic that we can resolve the rest of the issues.
So TkZers: Have you gotten rights back to a previously published book? Do you have any insights or advice to add to this list?
In celebration of having gotten this far, The Watch on the Fencepost ebook is available on Amazon all week for 99¢. Click here to get your copy.
THE WATCH ON THE FENCEPOST – A PUZZLE OF A MYSTERY.
“I started it … and to my surprise, I couldn’t stop. Nice job!” – Will Shortz, New York times crossword puzzle editor and NPR Puzzlemaster.