Once a book is published, it’s tempting to think that the project is complete. However, there are many things that can be done to leverage your content into other products or for other purposes. Publishers and movie studios understand this concept. You only have to look at the success of Chicken Soup for the Soul (and related products) or the Marvel franchise to understand how they do this. Take 1 killer product, and then create a line extension. Rinse and repeat.
As an author, you can do the same thing, whether you plan on creating an entire new related book or just want to use your existing book to create new revenue streams. You can do this in various ways: change the format, make it smaller, or make it bigger. Here are some examples (I italicized each idea if you’re reading in a hurry):
Change the format
If you are an ebook author, the most obvious choice would be to also go to print. You honor your readers by offering your book in the format they prefer. If print-only, you might consider also offering an ebook edition. If your target market listens to audiobooks, you could use a service like Amazon’s ACX (http://www.acx.com/) to offer your book on Audible.
For nonfiction, you could create a workbook to complement your main book. You could also consider a companion product like a cookbook or exercise book, if your main book is a new weight loss or health and wellness program. Possibly a journal. Brainstorm possible line extensions of topics that relate to your main book.
For fiction, the obvious choice would be to create a sequel. Or perhaps offer your book as a serial podcast. I don’t know if I’ve seen this done (Serial by This American Life sparked this idea), but it would be an interesting idea to release a chapter per week on iTunes and Soundcloud, then offer the audiobook in its entirety on Audible. You could release 1 new fiction title per podcast “season.” Another idea would be to release a chapter per week or every few days on your website – and potentially offer this for free as an opt-in to build your reader list.
Make it Smaller
Make it smaller means to take your big book and use only parts of it. Nonfiction authors could take portions of their book, change some of the content, and add it to their blog posting schedule, offer it as an autoresponder program, or expand that 1 portion into an online course, webinar, or YouTube marketing video. They could also take a portion and make it part of a free offer to add people to their email list. As a business-building tool, they could offer portions of their book as a free add-on to paid products or services. Also consider expanding your concepts into paid speeches or audio downloads from your website.
Fiction authors could offer free PDF downloads of the first few parts of their book, then direct readers to the full book for purchase. Those parts could be the front cover, title page, copyright page, contents page (if applicable), the first few chapters, and the back cover. I’ve also seen authors cross-promote other authors by allowing them to put a first chapter in their book.
Some books, like groupings of prayers, daily devotionals, and journals, can be sent to an email list on a daily basis.
And finally, many publishers take small bits out of much larger books to create a smaller book, intended for a slightly different purpose (carrying it around) or different target market (teens or working parents, for example).
Make it Bigger
Make it bigger turns your content into a more expensive product or adds more readers to your primary book.
Fiction authors might consider posting works in process. This is a great way to get buy-in from your readers (because they’re part of the process) plus ongoing feedback on the story. You’re also likely to build in accountability because you have readers already counting on you. Fiction authors could also line extend by taking 1 secondary book character and expanding their story into a new book. Philippa Gregory has very effectively used this technique by picking a lesser-known historic character and telling a larger story through her eyes. (She’s done really well speaking through the eyes of the more famous character as well.) Is there a particular problem that one of your main characters has – and has overcome? Perhaps you could position yourself as a speaker in this area.
Posting works in process also works for nonfiction authors. An example done well is Rich Dad’s Conspiracy of the Rich: The 8 New Rules of Money (2009) by Robert Kiyosaki, who posted rough drafts of each book chapter on his blog and asked for reader feedback. Readers responded by asking for clarification on certain points, which I am sure contributed to a much better book. Nonfiction authors can also turn their smaller book into a much larger online (or in-person) seminar or course for people who really want more information than the book offers. How about turning your book into a physical product – a bigger book with more content – and a higher price point? Instead of just a paperback or ebook, now you have a workbook, along with a course, and you’re charging $97 or $197 for the product (see 48Days.com for more on this idea). He also talks about presenting your area of expertise in person to corporations and other groups for more income. Finally, consider approaching affiliates to help with book marketing, and approach organizations that have your same target market to see if they’d like to partner with you in book promotion. This works especially well with cause-based organizations.
When you publish a book, you have the potential to set yourself up as an expert in that field. Leverage this exposure to create more income. This can be done at any time (even years after your book’s first release) and for any book.