A while back I wrote an article in response to a reader who wanted to know how to make money from public domain works. That article basically went through the reasons why you wouldn’t want to try to make money off of public domain works and gave some suggestions on how to make the most of potentially limited opportunities. That article essentially inspired this one. Below you will find more information about how to make money from public domain works online.
The Downsides Of Selling Public Domain Works
From an economic perspective, it makes sense to try to capitalize on the rising popularity of public domain works. After all, many books published before 1923 are now in the public domain and this means you have the opportunity to publish your own version for free. However, even though traditional publishers might not see this as a threat, there are still a number of reasons why you shouldn’t try to make money from public domain books.
To begin with, the most popular titles published before 1923 are very likely to be passed on by future generations as family heirlooms. This significantly cuts down your potential market. Furthermore, if you try to publish a contemporary work with a pre-1923 title, you run the risk of violating copyright laws. Lastly, many prospective customers simply aren’t aware of the potential riches buried within the vastness of public domain titles. In fact, a recent survey found that only 11% of Americans have ever heard of a public domain book, meaning your marketing efforts are almost certainly going to be focused on a very small segment of the population. This, in turn, might mean that even if you are able to publish your version of the work, you aren’t going to see a significant income generation opportunity.
For these reasons, it’s probably a good idea to focus your attention on identifying newer, more popular titles that were previously unpublished. This will make it much easier to gain the rights to reissue them in the future. In the meantime, however, you might want to consider other options for generating income.
The Upsides Of Selling Public Domain Works
When you decide to publish a work with a limited creative commons license, many more opportunities present themselves to you. First off, you still have the chance to generate income from the most popular titles published before 1923, which, as mentioned above, are much more likely to be in the public domain. You also, however, have the option of identifying and reissuing less well-known titles that you feel are worth the effort. Furthermore, you have the advantage of not having to compete with thousands of other creative writers for limited editorial positions. Last but not least, you have the opportunity to connect with millions of readers around the world via a digital device and distribute your work to a potentially more receptive audience.
In terms of marketing, if you want to make the most of your limited presence, it’s important to identify and target audiences that are most likely to be interested in your work. For instance, if you are writing fantasy fiction, you might want to develop a strategy to reach the large market of people who love fantasy fiction. Alternatively, if you are writing historical fiction, you might want to target audiences in Europe or Scandinavia since they produced so much of the world’s great literature. In either case, distributing your work online through digital marketing and social media is likely to be much more fruitful than trying to reach an audience via physical bookstores.