How to Monetize Your Back-List of eBooks

How to Monetize Your Back-List of eBooks

One author posted the comment to an article I wrote on ‘monetizing back-lists’ that it was his 9th eBook that eventually became a best-seller.

This author made the point that once his name was recognised, and his 9th eBook hit the best-seller lists, then he was able to promote his back-list which generated significant income.

A point often mentioned by the best-selling authors when it comes to becoming a ‘prolific’ writer is that you often need to have multiple eBooks on the go.

Do you have a back-list that could provide you with additional income but do not know how to go about ‘monetizing’ these eBooks? The tips below can help you to ‘monetize’ these once ‘forgotten’ eBooks and earn the money you previously expected they would deliver.

You just never know how these ‘existing’ assets you have stored away on your computer could open up an entire new stream of revenue for you. Not to mention the fact that one could become the next best-seller!

Check the Following:

Re-brand and Analyse Your Back-lists
There is a reason why your back-list of eBooks failed. Use a checklist to make improvements to the title, the cover and description. Maybe they failed because of a weak marketing campaign.

Once you have identified the main reasons why your eBooks were unsuccessful then you can implement a new strategy to give them a second chance.

The opportunity to distribute eBooks immediately will provide you with the answers you want when it comes to seeing if they work a second time around. Re-upload your eBook to Smashwords or Kindle Publishing and within days your eBook will be front and centre in the online stores.

Check the Meta Data
Have you taken the time to review the meta data for your eBook? Have a look at the description for your eBook. Also, review your title and the key words previously chosen for your eBook. Maybe your eBook was just not easy to find in the search results in the online stores as well as in the search engines.

Try the Following:

Give Away Your eBook for Free!
OK, I know your first thought will be; ‘How is giving away my eBook monetizing my back-list?’ Best-selling author Hugh Howey has talked about the importance of giving away your eBooks. If you are an author who refuses to give away your eBooks then you may need to change your line of thinking.

The Right Mindset:
1.    You are giving away your eBooks to make money in the future.

2.    You are giving away your eBooks to make you stand out in a crowded world of eBooks.

3.    There is a cost with printed books so giving them away actually cost you money. As eBooks are digital files, the same principle does not really apply.

4.    You will be comfortable in giving away your eBook if you know that future eBooks will sell because your target audience knows about you.

5.    Don’t look at it as losing money, rather more as a technique to get your writing career started.

A proven marketing technique for best-selling self-published authors is being to prepared to give away some of their eBooks for the main purpose of being discovered.

Why not use RaffleCopter to conduct a giveaway of your eBook for the first 100 people to sign-up to your blog?

The Old May Be the New! Piggy-back the Success of a Current eBook.
Often what was once popular many years ago comes around again to be ‘in’ for the current generation. Have a look at your genre or category and see if you can leverage a current trend to help promote your back-list. This also applies to ‘piggy-backing’ the eBooks that are selling well right now.

If there is current interest for the YA genre due to the ‘Divergent’ series success then you may have some eBooks of similar content that you could ‘re-package’ to capture this new found love of YA fiction.

Our Digital World Now Reaches a New Audience
Back when you first started writing you may not have had the opportunities and free tools that are at your disposal today. Through social media you may be able to reach your target audience in previously unknown areas.

Review your marketing strategy and techniques and apply those to your back-list. It could be that you just need to ‘re-package’ your eBooks in a different way. Maybe you could turn them into a ‘trilogy’ which is very popular.


  • You never know which eBook may become a best-seller so keep writing.
  • Analyze why your eBooks have not been a success.
  • Do you need to improve the covers, the title or re-brand?
  • Review the success of your eBook marketing campaign in connecting with your ideal readers.
  • Consider giving away your first eBook for free.
  • Once you have a best-selling eBook then you can monetize your back-lists!