Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Out of Print, But Still Fighting

I had a picture book published in 2006 which is now out of print and the rights have been returned to me. Is it okay to submit this to other publishers, and if yes, then when is it okay to do this? And if I can submit this do I mention its previous publication? Thanks for your help.
Yes, you mention its previous publication. The editor will find out anyway when she does her acquisition research, and she will be pissed if you've failed to tell her this yourself.

Here's the thing about books that have gone out of print: most of them are out of print for a very, very good reason. It may be a painful reason, and it may be a reason that makes no sense to you, but it is still a GOOD reason: NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE WERE WILLING TO BUY IT.

If this is the reason that your book is out of print, then no publisher is going to bring it back into print within a couple of decades of its original publication. If this is not the reason your book is out of print, then be very clear in your submission to other publishers about what you think the real reason is. Be clear, and be convincing, because you're fighting a counter argument from the market, and publishers listen to the market.

13 comments:

Kelly Andrews said...

Out-of-print picture books seem suited especially well to POD, small press or self-published. POD gives the writer a second chance to promote the book and prove its value to readers. And hopefully you're still writing, right? Good luck.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Ouch. Good question, good answer. I hope this never happens to me.

Orlando said...

I'm curious, would this be a good time for a writer to self publish this book?

Sergio Ruzzier said...

It's so sad for an author to see her book go out of print, knowing that not enough was done to let people know about its existence. Sure, many books that die are probably not very good, but some are.

Anonymous said...

Bull-you-know-what!
Books go out of print quickly because:

1) the publishers have to pay taxes on the warehouse.

2) Marketing is now defunct for 95% of the authors and illustrators. They have to do it on their own, and truly, after much experience with this, they suck at marketing,

Tell the truth and stop making authors and illustrators the brunt of the blame.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Sally Watson, one of my favorite childhood authors (she writes kick-butt historical fiction with female protagonists) was out of print a few years back. If you went to alibris or abebooks or amazon, copies of her books--ex-library--- were selling for 100.00 and up.

So she came back from Britain and got together with a POD company to produce paperback versions of the books.

It seems to have worked for her--but then, there was enough of a demand.

So, you might want to see what your out of print picture books are listed at--and see if they're actually SELLING at that price. If you can POD them for less and really just want to see the book in the hands of kids, it might be worthwhile.....

ALSO-- are you an author illustrator, or just the author? Because, if you're just an author, you don't really have rights to the BOOK--- just the words. That gets trickier, since the people who DO love and remember your book and want to buy it for their kids will want it WITH THE ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS/

kriswaldherr said...

The reality is that most books go out of print irrespective of quality after their initial print run is sold out. Much of this is due to warehouse taxes as well as the difficulties of promoting back list. Another consideration is economic feasibility: unless a book takes off to become a big seller, most first print runs are much larger than subsequent runs, and so cost more per book.

Another consideration: books often go out of print because their publishers go belly up, are bought, or consolidate imprints. That's happened to me a number of times. In one case, I was able to bring the book back into print with another publisher since it was clear that the issue wasn't with the book—it had been well-reviewed and had sold well on its own—but with the publisher, who was financially insolvent.

Sergio Ruzzier said...

Yes, most authors suck at marketing AND lack the resources for their efforts to be of any significance.

Melinda Szymanik said...

Ishta I don't think anyone ever intends for their beloved book to have a small run and go out of print. But if it does it's good to have strategies for giving it another chance.

Irrespective of their merits few books, picture or otherwise, make the leap from NZ to international publication and it would be interesting to know whether trying the book in a different country would have a positive result.

Anonymous said...

The internet, Twitter, emails and FB are free. Today's authors and illustrators must take on another full time career as self-promoter... or hire someone. Sad, but it must get done. Most creatives I meet aren't trained for this new career. But it can be learned. I'm going to say it, most of poor marketing comes from a self-entitled attitude and lack of training. There's a great lack of proper use and wasteful use of freebie tools... so an author can tell the world what color sweater they wore. Then we wonder why the world does not take juvenile publishing seriously and why our books tank?

christine tripp said...

Anon 10:24, why would a hard working author or illustrator, on to their next project, spend MORE time on promoting a book that the publisher will garner 90% of the income on???
If that's the case, then forget it, move on.
If the publisher has given up of the book, then why on earth should we be the ones to beat the dead horse.
Often, with small publishers, a book goes out of print not because it is not good but because the Publisher hasn't pushed it. The publisher has not maintained a good working relationship with the author or illustrator.
Things all fall apart and then. the book fails.
It can often be only because of this and not about the book itself.

Anonymous said...

Dear Christina, When a trade publisher is looking to acquire they ask the author for their sales track record. It doesn't matter the reason why the book failed to sell. A bad sale track record sends that author into mid-list purgatory. The attitude of get over it and move on is not so simple for an author.

Am I correct in this EA?

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