I have just regained the rights to my first two novels. Here’s how it worked to get the rights returned to me:
My contract with Kensington Publishing specified that the company would hold the rights to my novels for seven years each. Your contract may be different, but it should say somewhere when you can get your rights back. So, the seven years were up for my two titles – but reversion to the author is not automatic.
I called the Kensington switchboard and talked to a very helpful person who directed me to the rights department and told me whom to ask for. That person, the rights expert, was also very helpful and told me just what to do.
I wrote one letter for the two titles, mentioning the contract detail of seven years, the dates of publication, the ISBN, and of course the book titles. Requested that all pertinent rights revert to me, the author.
As expected, it took weeks for them to respond. Quite a few weeks, like maybe ten. Then the letter arrived stating that all rights revert to the author, except: they own the cover art and the type settings; and any foreign contracts still in effect remain in their domain.
They can’t copyright the title (don’t ask me why), so you’re free to keep your title or to change it. The advantage of keeping your title is that you can keep all your old reviews on Amazon. I am no Amazon expert, but I understand that a new title means it’s a new book and so the reviews don’t go with the new title.
Next, make sure your publisher takes down their entries for your books on all the e-stores like Amazon. This should happen automatically, but it didn’t for me. I called Kensington again, spoke to the helpful switchboard operator who directed me to the right desk, and told them I needed their entries erased before I could put mine up. She was also informative and helpful and explained it might take a while. It did. Weeks and weeks. If you don’t get satisfaction through that route, you can contact the e-store directly — send them a copy of the letter showing you now have the rights and proceed from there.
One last step: ask your publisher for a final audit of your accounts. They will have had a few sales since your last royalty statement that have not yet been accounted for. Again, it takes months. I got a check big enough to, let me see, take the two of us to Steak and Shake about twenty times, or to the very nice Columbia, the renowned Cuban restaurant in Tampa, maybe twice. So it’s worth it — and you might get a much bigger check!
Now you’re back in total control of your product. I can’t help you with the technical aspects of producing your own e-book and uploading it to e-stores. I have a wonderful husband who does all that for me. (He also does carpentry, gardening, financials – you name it, he can do it. And he’s all mine!) If you want to know what books he consulted in learning how to produce an e-book, I can do that much for you. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I took my two Kensington books, kept the same titles, and added a third novel that has not yet been published that makes them into a trilogy about the slaves, the Cajuns, and the Creoles of Louisiana.
This week we put up (on Amazon) Always and Forever, Book One of The Plantation Series, A Saga of Slavery and Deliverance. ( Buy at Amazon. )
Next week we’ll upload Ever My Love, Book Two of The Plantation Series, A Saga of Slavery and Deliverance which extends the story to the eve of the Civil War. Buy at Amazon.
Book Three, Evermore, will be out the following week, taking the characters into the Union occupation of New Orleans during the Civil War (on Amazon).
Blurbs and the first chapter are (or will be in a few days) on my website (www.gretchencraig.com). It’s up and working but still being remodeled, so if it doesn’t look amazing today, check back tomorrow.
Hope this was helpful for those of you who want your rights back from the publisher.