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Gigi Will Know: What are my options for republishing an older memoir?

My indie memoir is more than a decade old, but now there are many new accounts, facts, and details with important relevance to my story. Should I republish it? Or should I issue it as a second edition?

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Dear Gigi,

My first memoir was indie-published in December 2011. It sold more than 5,000 copies, and there is still interest: Book tours, appearances on radio and TV, and various print media publicity have brought to light many new accounts, facts, and details with important relevance to my story. As a result, I am considering a rewrite of the original book. 1. Should I seek to publish it as a new book with a new title or simply bill it as a “second edition?” 2. Are there agents/publishers out there who specialize in re-publications of this type of nonfiction?

Thank you very much for your advice in this matter.

—Double Mint

 

Dear Double,

Hey-o! Great work! You have some great things going for you, but the book is over a decade old now, so that’s a thing you want to think about. The ensuing time between might be a benefit to you – you might find a whole new generation of readers – but it also might be a problem, since it has been some time since the book came out.

Some off-the-cuff advice to you, without fully knowing the extent of the new materials that have come to light. First, I think it’d be fine for you to produce a second edition with the note that there is a lot of new material and new research that has come to light. But that’s if you were going to keep it as an independently published book.

But – and second – this could be a great opportunity for a whole new narrative and angle. If there’s enough material for it, then it could be worthwhile for you to explore this option, especially if you wanted to attract a traditional publishing house for this project. I spoke to an agent acquaintance about this, and she suggested the same. A traditional publishing house – and the agent who represents you to one – will only want to handle a complete rewrite, anyway.

My agent friend was also able to answer your last question, which may sway you toward a rewrite: There are no agents they knew of who specialize in re-publications projects, in large part, they said, because of the difficulty of selling them to publishing houses. Because the book’s been out for such a long time and because it has sold 5,000 copies over that time, which isn’t, I’m afraid, a number that’s likely to turn an agent or a publishing house’s head, it’s going to be a very, very hard sell as a re-publication.

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My two cents, given what we’ve heard from the agent in our corner? Take this as an opportunity to rewrite. Surely some of the new information that’s come to light is of the type to bend the narrative in an equally new direction.

Keep reinventing,

Gigi

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