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Your Re-release Questions Answered

Alessandra Torre, NYTimes bestselling author and Inkers Con co-founder

Rebranding a backlist book is a common way to improve its appeal and give it fresh exposure to readers. But the idea of rebranding often raises a lot of questions. We’ve assembled the most frequently asked and answer them below.

When rebranding, do I update the existing book or do I unpublish it and publish it as a new title?

It depends. Let’s talk about the two paths.

Updating an existing book and swapping out the cover, book description, and metadata is an easy and quick process. Click a couple of buttons, wait 24 hours, and boom – it’s done. All of your reviews stay in place, your book’s URL is the same, and you can simply watch the sales and see if they go up or down. Existing purchasers will normally get an update of the book, and won’t have to repurchase it.

Unpublishing the original and then publishing a different version of the book as a “new” title is more complicated and comes with a few consequences. IF you change the title, then you will lose any Amazon reviews. The URL of the book will change, which means that any backmatter where you had linked to the old version, any blogger reviews, any emails or websites that had ever linked to that book, any wishlist additions—all those are useless. The same with the Goodreads page. A new Goodreads page will be created and the likelihood is low that the pages will ever be merged. Prior purchasers might accidentally buy the new book and be annoyed to discover it is an older title.

The benefits of publishing as a fresh title – you’re starting with a fresh slate. Retailers will typically treat it like a new release (though don’t expect BookBub to send out a new release alert to readers).

The second path (publishing it as a fresh title) is a more intensive one (and quite frankly, a little bit of a pain in the butt) so we suggest you only take that path if you are doing a major overhaul of both the packaging AND the interior of a book—or if you are switching the pen name of the author.

When you re-release a book, do you let readers know it was released previously? How do you handle that?

While some authors don’t acknowledge the previous release, our opinion is that it’s better to be upfront with the situation. And by “up front”, we actually mean “down below” – at the bottom of the book description. Here’s an example of a short explanation that can follow the book blurb:

Note: Upside Down was originally released as Fool’s Fall Away in 2015. This expanded edition has been edited for better readability and includes an extended epilogue and additional scenes. 

You can also make note of this in the Note from Author section of the metadata, or in a preface, but that level of explanation isn’t typically necessary.

How should I price my re-release?

That’s up to you! You can follow the pricing models you typically adopt with new releases, if you like. Another option is to re-release at reduced pricing to encourage past purchasers to buy the new edition and to give an initial spike to sales and rank.

If a backlist book is different than my other books, should I put it under a different pen name?

Again, this is up to you and your long term branding and business plans. Some questions to consider when making this decision…

  • Do you have the time/energy to juggle multiple pen names?
  • If you launch an additional pen name, will you create social media, email list, website, etc for that pen name?
  • Do you have several books (published or future) that would fit under this pen name?
  • How different is this book than your other books? Is it a wildly different audience or one that is fairly close to your existing audience?

In the current market, authors are succeeding if their brand is very focused on a singular subgenre, and they consistently produce new books in that subgenre. If you write all over the place, it doesn’t make sense for you to create a new pen name and brand for every single subgenre you write. But if you write in 2 or 3 subgenres, and have a significant number of books in each of those subgenres, then it might be worth the effort to manage several brands and names.


P.S. The upcoming 2024 conference offers dozens of brand new classes, Q&As, author discussions and more! Join us in Dallas or online!