5 Top tips to max your backlist


Leila Dewji, publishing entrepreneur, has launched I_AM Self-Publishing, which produces beautiful books and eBooks for self-publishing authors, agents, and media companies, and gives them the tools, knowledge, and materials to market their work successfully.

I’m sure you know the backlist titles I’m talking about – either out of print, or a tiny trickle of sales. They lie on dusty shelves, unloved and unmarked. I left the world of literary agenting about five years ago to set up a high-end self-publishing company. However, my time at the literary agency taught me the importance of monetizing the backlist. Many of you are sitting on excellently -written, once-successful (but now forgotten) genre fiction that has never been released in eBook form.


What are you waiting for?

  1. Go through your content and identify the most successful genre fiction titles – historical fiction or sagas are particularly good for this as they don’t date and won’t need any updating.
  2. Get the dusty books off your shelf and send them to a professional scanning company who can give you back editable Word files.
  3. Proofread the text in case errors have crept in (computers can’t read text as well as humans).
  4. Take a long hard look at the chart on Amazon in which you want your eBooks to rank. Check out design and illustration styles and make sure you brief your designer accordingly. Don’t even think about trying to recreate a dated dusty jacket – give this title a full, current, genre-appropriate makeover. It’s got to look good enough to interest the readers and the merchandisers.
  5. Convert your eBook, test the files, add strong metadata, and choose a distribution platform.

Bingo! You are ready to publish and start marketing the rebranded title.

I often work with individual authors who are keen to get their backlist out there in eBook form. The best way to approach these projects is to treat backlist as frontlist. Forget about everything that was done before and look at the project afresh. Judith Summers was one such author who approached us with a batch of backlist paperbacks in different genres that she wanted to republish as eBooks.

We created slick eBooks, gave the author and her books a new brand, used the fantastic broadsheet/magazine reviewer quotes her previous editions had gained, and pushed her beautiful new editions out to the world via a major month-long Amazon promotion.


“Twenty-eight years after it was first published, Dear Sister was No.1 on Amazon’s Historical Fiction chart… I’ve now probably sold more downloads of my first novel than I ever did hard copies.” – Judith Summers

Get in touch to find out what we can do for your backlist or book a meeting at LBF leila@iamselfpublishing.com or tweet @iamselfpub