Archive for July, 2011

I do not like sad endings; I do not like things that go gentle into that good night; I’ve never been able to say good-bye without tears.  When I watch the finale of a favorite long-running TV series, I know that I will sob. I even apologize to weeds when I pull them up from the flower bed. Okay, I’m weird, but I have never found anything “sweet” about the sorrow of parting.
So you can imagine my heartbreak when a publisher recently notified me that not one, not two, but three of my darling books were going out of print. It is a stabbing pain in the chest, a sinking feeling of loss to know that something that you created, something that you struggled and sweated over, that you wept and laughed over, something that you brought to life and shared with the world, will soon disappear into the forgotten files of “slightly used” on Amazon.com and the bottom shelves at Half-Price Books.
So what do you do when one of your books goes out of print? First, you contact the publisher and officially request that the book not go out of print. Don’t whine or blubber. Gather up ammunition and hit them with logic and statistics — honors, awards, good reviews, reading lists — and reasons why the book should stay in print. If your book is hardback, request it be issued in a paperback edition. The publisher has a certain amount of time to respond.
If the publisher officially declines to keep the book in print, then you should request reversion of your rights.  Once you have the rights back, you are free to sell the text to another publisher. [Artwork belongs to the illustrator.] I have been fortunate to have this done a few times, finding that smaller publishers are more receptive to reprinting a book than the larger publishers.  
Another option that wasn’t available a few years ago is the e-book industry. Many authors are making their out-of-print titles available on-line in e-book format for as low as $.99. This method does require a lot of marketing work to be successful, but if you already have an established name, you may expect reasonable sales.
Lastly, you may decide to pay to reprint the book yourself, typically in a paperback format. These books can then be sold on-line, during school visits and even through local bookstores. This is why it is so important that authors get their rights back ASAP when a book goes out of print.
P.S. Since I first wrote this Blog, I got my rights back for CHILDREN OF THE DRAGON: Selected Tales from Vietnam (illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman) and found a publisher who wants to reissue it in a shortened version. Yeah — the dragon lives on!!! Long live the dragon!!

Read Full Post »