How to Throw Away Perfectly Good Marketing and Make No Sales

What to Do When You Have Legacy Brand Mojo

(Artwork: Wacky stuff)
Public Domain publishing is profitable if 1) you take advantage of the brand awareness that already exists, and 2) you don't do something stupid to make it undiscoverable.

Right now, I'm just finishing up the publishing of a long out-of-print classic which has an underground following and tons of positive reviews.

The funny stuff is that someone took great pains to find and market the earliest version of it he could find, only to throw it away by changing both title and author.

Oh yes, he did.

It meant that anyone looking for the book couldn't find it. And while he was trying to sell it as an "exclusive" PDF, it was showing up all over the place in various formats under it's new name. (But not, interestingly, under it's original title.)

I researched the book and of course found that this 1957 book had never been renewed under that name or title. So I went ahead and converted one of the free Internet versions and published it. Not too surprisingly, I started getting sales.

Then that guy contacted me, all pissed off. When we talked it through, (and I explained how public domain copyrights worked) he said I just needed to change the title, as it was "his". So he told me the original title - and sure enough, it also had never been renewed. Also, there were a lot of positive reviews about the book with the actual author's name.

Regardless of the fact that this guy was missing out on all these sales by getting it up and on the major ebook distributors lines, the point that he was marketing it as an unknown book by an unknown author put it back at square one for marketing.

Of course, he also edited this new title all through the book, so I had to re-edit the book and get a book sent to me by the library system so I could check to see what other changes had been made. Unfortunately, all I could get what a 3rd edition - but the editing which had been done wasn't major and showed me what had to be fixed. Mostly a search-and-replace job.

The lesson is this: these authors spent a lot of time and effort (and many times lots of advertising dollars) getting that book known and sold (or their publisher did.) That is branding.

When you simply put a new cover and updated description on a book, making it available in all sorts of modern versions (ebook, tradepaperback, even hardback) - then it takes off based on the original popularity.

When you change the title and change the authors name, just take yourself out back and give yourself a swift kick in the posterior - or shins. Because that's less painful than shooting yourself in the foot - which is what you just accomplished.

Build your new marketing on the existing brand awareness of both the book and the author. Amazon and Google look up these reviews and put them with your book if you use the original book's title.  So this puts you miles ahead.

And makes your book start selling right off.

What helped me get ebook sales even with the new title and author? The preview - because when they started reading it, the author's original great content still sold them.

Now that I have everything back to where it started, I figure it should really take off. I might even have another Amazon bestseller on my hands - simply because this is one of those public domain books which has no competition from the other PD resellers.

That other guy could have done this.

Now you can.


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