Who doesn’t want more bang for their buck? If there’s a way to maximize the value of a dollar, consider us interested 🙋🏻
What some authors may not know is that they have untapped revenue potential sitting at their fingertips. It’s all in the form of repurposing intellectual property… or, creations of the mind!
Intellectual property, also known as IP, can be pretty intangible. For example, your favorite song on the radio would fall under this category. More relevant to indie publishing, though, is the fact that creative expressions in the form of writing fall squarely under IP.
As a reminder: If you’ve written a book, you have officially created intellectual property. The great news here is that you’ve already done the hard work by writing. Now, you get to imagine potential ways to repurpose IP to start generating more revenue.
The beauty of repurposing intellectual property is that it can become a nearly automatic way to earn money. For example, if you create a boxset, you can then market it on Amazon and watch the profits roll in without tremendous time input.
What repurposing your books will require is creative thinking. You may need to think outside of the box (or, outside the book!) to generate fresh ideas.
In this article, we’re offering five ideas for repurposing intellectual property with varying degrees of involvement. Some–hello, audiobook creation!–may be more challenging than others but can prove to be well worth the time investment.
At a glance, here are our tips for how to repurpose your books to make more money:
- Take Your Books International
- How to Make a Boxset – And Why You Should!
- Got Merch?
- Set Your Site Up for Direct Sales Success
- The Sweet Sound of Audiobooks
Take Your Books International
One way to repurpose existing content into new revenue streams is by going international. Nope, there’s no need to board a long-haul flight to make this happen! Publishing internationally can be done from your home. By pursuing one of two routes, you can tap into a different reader audience than what you’re currently reaching.
Begin Publishing in Foreign Countries
One way to sell your books internationally is simply by self-publishing in foreign countries. If you’re already publishing on Amazon KDP, there are a multitude of options for you to pursue.
Here’s a screenshot from Amazon that lists exactly which countries are available to publish through worldwide book rights:
If you’re interested in publishing within foreign countries but don’t want to pursue KDP’s international offerings, there’s good news: Apple, Nook, and Kobo also offer self-publishing to global markets.
Translate Your Book Into Foreign Languages
One of the many benefits of 21st century-technology is that it makes the world a more accessible place. Instead of having to pack up their books and physically take them to a foreign country for translation purposes, self-published authors can simply do this from their desks.
Usually, when you translate your book into a foreign language, you are thereby giving away your translation rights. Keep in mind that you’re not technically “giving” them away since you’ll be paid in return. Payment is made after an author grants an international agent the right to translate their book and then publish it in a foreign territory.
To begin, we suggest contacting an international literary agent (through a resource like the International Literary Market Place) and then pitching your book to them. While it is possible for self-publishers to sell their own rights, working with a reputable agent reduces the amount of research you’ll be responsible for. If you publish through Amazon KDP, you can learn more about how to translate your book through their Publishing Service Providers and Resources page.
One word of caution: The translation process is lengthy. Advances from translation rights deals may be smaller than what you’d imagined. We suggest coupling this with one of the other methods included in this article.
How to Make a Boxset – And Why You Should!
Ah, the boxset! Those in the indie publishing game are likely already familiar with this particular collection of books. Boxsets can be a great way to package up all the books in your series, then sell them in one place.
If you’re new to boxsets, they typically have unique 3D covers like this one:
Why Boxsets Are Profitable
Boxsets can be profitable for authors because people love to buy in bulk. Hello, Costco and Sam’s Club! If your series is particularly hefty, then it may be worth learning how to make a boxset.
The beauty of boxsets is that the hard part of writing each book has already been done. All that’s left to do is package the individual content of each book and put it in one place. Many authors heavily discount their boxsets; if there’s something people love more than buying in bulk, it’s knowing they got a good deal.
If you need further proof of why boxsets may be worth it, remember Kindle Unlimited. Packaging all of your books in a single set means you’ll get more page reads, and higher KU payout, than what a single book would receive.
How to Make a Boxset (The Do’s and Don’t’s)
When it comes to figuring out how to make a boxset, you need to consider two primary hurdles:
1) Creating your 3D cover.
2) Tracking down, then packaging, all of your content.
Here is a list of our do’s and don’t’s when learning how to make a boxset:
- Learn how to create an Amazon series page. Doing so will help readers find your series and can lead to increased book sales.
- Assemble your relevant metadata. If you’re publishing your boxset on a platform like Amazon KDP or Kobo, you’ll need to have an appropriate book description, title, and so forth.
- Work with a designer for your 3D cover. While it’s possible to create a best-selling book cover on your own, the unique shape of boxset covers can be finicky. Multiple designers, like Jessica Bell Design, can work with you on what you need.
- Use a tool like Vellum to combine your files. Writing software will be your friend throughout this process. By using Vellum, you can combine eBook or paperback files easily and without error.
- Duplicate your metadata. Create a unique book description for your boxset. Don’t simply copy and paste a description that came from books 1, 2, or 3. You’ll want your boxset’s identifying details to encapsulate all books in the set.
- Forget to proofread your content. Whether you use a tool like Vellum or not, ensure that all book files have been combined in one place. It would be a shame to receive a negative review because one of your books was missing its final chapter in the boxset!
- Waste a promotional opportunity. With promotional tools like our very own NewInBooks, you can promote boxsets to make readers aware of your new deal.
Boxsets are capable of being published through retailers like KDP just as eBooks, print books, and hardcover books would be.
Not to play favorites, but this may be our preferred way to repurpose books–simply because there’s plenty of room for creativity!
We’ve all seen promotional swag or merch around the internet. Coffee mugs, funny t-shirts, bumper stickers… If there’s an item that can have a logo or phrase slapped on it, people have done it.
As an author, don’t discount yourself from jumping onboard the swag trend. Below, you can see how Fantasy writer TJ Klune turned the beloved Green Creek series into profitable merch that ranges from hoodies to magnets to phone cases:
To be frank, there’s a significant time cost that goes into turning out customized merch. You’ll likely need to work with designers and retailers to create your own shirts, bookmarks, or pillows as Klune has done. However, this is another opportunity to take details from your book and make them into something that can be sold for additional profit.
What Merch Works For Me?
Are you now brainstorming what types of merch you can create based on your books? A helpful brainstorming exercise would be to consider which primary identifying factors your readers know and love from your books. This may be an actual t-shirt that one of your characters wears. Another example could be a recipe included in your book; why not put that recipe on a magnet, then set up sales for those?
The bottom line with producing and selling book-branded swag is that there are no real limits to what you can create. The real challenge will be curtailing your imagination, considering what your readers will actually buy, and then working with the necessary parties to create your products.
Set Your Site Up for Direct Sales Success
Once you’ve configured your author website to sell branded merch, it won’t too different to also begin offering direct book sales. Selling books directly from your own website–and skipping the middle man of platforms like Amazon KDP–can provide greater creative control, faster payment, and increased profits. As we know from selling swag, though, it’s time-consuming and a unique challenge to independently manage inventory.
What is Direct Selling?
For those who aren’t familiar with direct book sales, let’s look at this real-life example of selling direct from Romance author Christina Hovland’s website:
You can see that Christina offers readers an opportunity to directly purchase paperback books from her website. In this case, Christina’s website links to an Etsy page for the actual book sale. Following a similar method to Christina’s direct selling means that existing content can be repurposed for new profit.
How to Sell Books Direct
To get started with direct book sales, we suggest following this how-to checklist:
- Select an eCommerce platform (such as Shopify.)
- Keep hard copies of your book on hand so that you have inventory to ship as needed.
- Designate one page on your author website to direct book sales.
- Promote your book’s availability on social media, through ads, and even in book clubs.
You can learn more at our very own Written Word Media guide to direct book sales.
The Sweet Sound of Audiobooks
If you read last year’s article on the top eight publishing trends for 2022, you’ll remember audiobooks being front and center in our reporting. Now, more than ever, the audiobook market is evolving and growing. While this presents room for learning, it also gives authors the chance to make money on existing book content by producing audiobooks.
Your Guide to Audiobooks
If you’re researching how to publish an audiobook, you’ll need to get familiar with its two components: production and distribution.
To produce an audiobook, you can go down two roads:
- Recording your audiobook yourself.
- Hiring a professional to record your audiobook.
Both routes incur charges. Recording an audiobook yourself may be less expensive, but having a professional do it will make the final result seem, well, more professional!
After your audiobook has been produced, you’ll need to distribute it via companies like ACX and Findaway Voices. Royalty rates vary based on the distribution company you choose. Some companies, such as ACX, require that your audiobook be exclusive to their platform. It’s worthwhile reading the fine print two or three times before picking the distributor for you.
How to Promote Audiobooks
Of course, one of the ways to really start making money on your audiobook is through promotional services. Platforms like Audio Thicket, a Written Word Media-owned promo site, put your audiobooks directly in front of engaged listeners. Between distribution companies and running promo deals, you’ll attract listener attention to your audiobook and will see IP profit roll in.
You can now also run Reader Reach Ads for your audio titles as well.
As you can see, there are numerous ways to package up your IP and repurpose books. Sometimes thinking creatively can present new opportunities for revenue. Have any methods that we left off the list? Be sure to chime in through the comment section.
Happy repurposing, authors!