Why You Should Split Your Book Apart

02 Apr


…. and sell each piece separately
This advice gave me a very successful writer.  Here in a nutshell his ideas:  Think of your writing like baking a cake.  And what do bakeries and confiseries do with a cake?  They divide it into tiny slices and sell each piece separately.

In your case, your book is like the cake and has a secret ingredient that is called “Copyright.”  Every story you write, every novel, is a cake full of copyright.

You can sell parts of your book to:

  • one publisher
  • other parts to another publisher
  • some parts to overseas markets
  • other parts to audio
  • others as e-Books or Singles
  • to game companies
  • maybe to Hollywood’s film industry
  • use parts of it to submit to contests
  • divide it in chapters and sell to magazines
  • or to web publishers …

The list goes on and on and on. But what you need to do:

  • learn all about copyright to really understand this
  • realize that each piece can be a cash stream for you
  • you don’t even have to use your name, get a pen name or even several

You can sell these rights or uses in several ways:

First Serial Rights
They can be print or electronic and mean that you are selling a publisher the right to publish your article once for the first time. In the case of print rights – you may immediately sell the piece to an e-publisher before print publication and, after the print magazine containing your article hits the newsstand, you are free to sell it again as a reprint to other print markets.

First Serial Right Electronic
Most Canadian and US freelance authors sell North American first serial rights, reserving the right to sell in other world markets (e.g. Great Britain, Australia or Asia). Specify what type of rights you are selling: First North American Electronic Rights Only.

Second Serial Right
These are reprint rights and apply to print and electronic markets. Never sell reprint rights, keep them at all costs. Even you will earn less money for each reprint, yet you can sell your work over and over again.

Subsidiary Rights
Other rights that authors and freelancers hold are subsidiary rights, including, but not limited to movie rights, TV and radio rights, audio and other media rights.

Each story, each novel is a piece of your writing business.  If you spread them out over a number of pen names you have a pretty consistent cash flow streams working. You just need to offer them to people who will buy them.

For example:  You sold German Translation Rights, and your contract with the German publisher limited your book to trade paper only.  Now you can sell:

  • German hardback rights
  • German audio rights
  • German mass market rights
  • German film rights

Your German publisher will pay advances like your Canadian or American publisher, and there will be royalties (against advances).  And then maybe can sell it to Spanish publishing houses.  Or Russian, Italian…Dozens and dozens of pieces of your work can be sold. Each piece is a cash stream. You just need to sell it. You create the inventory, your book, just once, but you can sell it for your entire life and even your heirs can keep selling these pieces.

Wring maximum value out of your “book” by spinning off audios, videos, magazine excerpts, foreign-language editions, and more.  Multipurpose your book into downloadable CD’s and e-book versions.  Wring maximum value out of your work by creating audiotapes, videotapes, magazine excerpts, foreign language editions and more.

You might have written articles and submitted them to e-zines or “content farms” for free, adding your web links and hoped that readers would click on these links and come to your website to buy books or whatever you offer there.
e-Zines and all these content farms, such as 101,, All About…, are a really profitable businesses – alas not for the writers that create all the content there, but for the owners of these websites…

But not anymore:
Now it is possible to write 5,000 (better 10,000) to 30,000 word articles, Amazon calls them “Kindle Singles” and sells them online. A prominent author of these Kindle Singles is Stephen King, with his Single “Mile 81” the current top seller (as of this writing). So, instead of submitting your work for free to content farms, you sell those articles at the internet giant Amazon website and receive 70% royalties, even for Singles priced under Dollar 2.99.  To be precise for Singles priced between 99 cents and $4.99

Other criteria’s for Amazon Singles are:
• Original work, not previously published in other formats or publications
• Self-contained work, not chapters excerpted from a longer work
• Not published on any public website in its entirety
• But Amazon is are currently not accepting how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides, or children’s books!

Split your book in single articles
Very few emerging writers realize that they can sell their magazine articles over and over again. As long as the markets don’t overlap, you can sell exactly the same article as many times as you like and, in this globally connected marketplace, it is easier than you think.

However, you can only sell first rights, either print or electronic, once for the same piece. After that, unless you change the article significantly, you must offer it as a reprint for a lower fee.

If you change the article, you can sell it again for first rights. For example, you can turn a 500 word piece for a grade seven market, into a similar length article for a regional Catholic newspaper and an Anglican website (e-rights) in Canada.

Then tweak it into an 800 word article for a national US daily. Subsequently, you make some minor changes to slant the piece for a travel magazine. Each time, you are able to sell it for first rights. Continue to sell it, however look out for new markets in other English language markets overseas.

This practice should be your standard operating procedure if you write and sell articles to print periodicals and e-zines. Reselling your work makes good business and time management sense – it reduces the energy you expend and increases your revenue. Unless you routinely sell a single article for several thousands of dollars, and perhaps even if you do, you should be squeezing every dollar out of every single piece you write.


Hyper Smash


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One response to “Why You Should Split Your Book Apart

  1. Patrick Jones

    January 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Reblogged this on The Linden Chronicles and commented:
    An excellent resource into how to split your book into different market segments.


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