Happy Sunday to you. A big thanks to all those who showed up for my self-publishing seminar on May 19 at the South Bowie library branch. Also a big thanks to the library and the PG Arts Council for hosting us. A special thanks to Robin, who got us moved to the big meeting room. That was awesome.
Today, I thought I’d take a quick minute to discuss rights. Why? Because I saw this wonderful blog post by Roxanne St. Clare. Now, the post isn’t wonderful because of what happened. What happened to Roxanne is awful. It was wonderful of her to share.
For those who don’t have a moment to read Roxanne’s post, she is an author who used to be traditionally published and has now turned to self-publishing. Her traditionally published book, Hit Reply, was published in 2004 and is about a woman who reconnects with an ex via the Internet (even though married). The technology between 2004 and today is vastly different and Roxanne would love to update the book and re-release it. It sold 4 copies last year. Only, her publisher won’t revert the rights, and is selling the ebook for a price Roxanne believes is way too high, $15.99. It’s a cautionary tale about what happens when someone else holds the rights to your writing.
In the old days, you had to give up those rights to get published. But, in the old days, books also went out of print, and rights reverted to the author when that happened. With today’s technology, ebooks never go out of print, and authors are having their rights tied up forever. And it’s unfortunate.
I think Roxanne’s blog post serves as a great reminder that one of the benefits of self-publishing is you keep the rights to your book. If you choose to update it in the future, you can. If you want to lower the price you can. If you think the book is so hopelessly out of date that you want to pull it from the shelves you can.
Just like Membership has its privileges, so does ownership. I think self-publishers are so fortunate in that they retain complete control of their title. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play and the like are just companies authors hire to distribute their work. In most cases, you have utter control of whether to put your book on sale and at which retailers.*
So, if you’re self-publishing, count yourself lucky that the sky’s the limit for you! Your rights stick with you as long as you want them and if something sticks in your craw after you publish it, you can change it. You are in complete control of the direction of your book. You get all the credit and all the blame, and think that’s a lovely place to be.
*The one caveat to this is if you commit to exclusivity via KDP Select. So if you change your mind day after signing up, you will be restricted to placing your book only on Amazon until the Select term ends. All Select terms are 90 days, so that’s your maximum committment.