Book Marketing Tip for Sept. 21, 2012

Today’s #BookMarket Tip: Monetize your “content” by exercising, licensing or re-purposing as many rights as you can. Monetize your blog, too.

The reason I think writing is a great business model is that you create once and publish forever.

Most writers I know are content to keep creating new material, and why not? The more material you create, the more you have to sell. As long as there are buyers for all this new material, it’s good business sense to keep creating new material.

Unlike most commodities, however, publishing rights to an author’s work is not used up once it is sold. The beauty of intellectual property is that it is never really sold, simply licensed. Thus, it can be sold over and over again, without wear or depreciation.

There are a number of rights to a work that an author can exercise after the initial sale. the most obvious of them is reprint rights, such as in the form of mass paperback books. However, here are some more rights that an author can offer:

  • Translation Rights. This opens entirely new markets who have not read the material before.
  • Foreign Rights. There are publishers beyond the borders that would like to publish your work as well, in English or with Translation Rights. Even self-publishing with the Espresso Book Machine or Lightning Source can reach many different nations with the press of a button.
  • Dramatic Rights. Most authors dream of selling movie or TV rights, but there are also theater rights, radioplay rights, and even website-videoplay rights.
  • Merchandising Rights. If your work has recognizable characters that hold value, the character can be licensed to various companies to promote their products. This is more a matter of trademark than copyright, so be certain to trademark your work as well as copyright it, if this holds value.
  • Collections. Short matter like stories and articles can be collected into an anthology or database.

While exercising these publication rights, there are also ways to re-purpose most any type of content. Here are just a few ideas, but the opportunities are boundless:

  • Writing a new work from old research, with an entirely different slant, is a common way to recycle a writer’s time.
  • Create a video game, card game or board game based on the work.
  • HTML5 has arrived, and it has made multi-media hypertext publications much more prevalent. Such publications require considerable content, which can be reworked from old printed or blogged content.
  • Nonfiction material can often be reworked into workbooks.
  • Many authors turn their books into seminars and workshops.

Even when a piece seems to have been mined out and there is no money left in it, it is still possible to use it as a sample of the author’s work, free reading material for the author’s fans. This can be given as a thank-you gift to readers who buy a new work, or as part of a samples promotion to attract new readers.

It pays to occasionally pull material out of those old files and find a way to wring some extra money out of it. As an author’s body of work grows, so grows the potential of “residual income.”

Many authors may wish to leave this to their literary agent, but agents are not very good about approaching magazines, web-content users and the many unusual, innovative outlets for re-purposing content. Their expertise lies in selling traditional rights to book publishers. Even with a brilliant agent, authors should still stay alert to new possibilities.

About David Rozansky

Publisher of Flying Pen Press; Author's Business Manager; Author of Fishnets & Platforms: The Writers Guide to Whoring Your Book; Aviator; Author; Adventurer.
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