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Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Legalities

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 3, 2016

Continuing our series about reviving your backlist titles, consider how and where you want to publish these titles. Do you intend to put them into the Kindle Select program exclusive to Amazon? Do you wish to put them up yourself at the various vendors? Or will you use a company like Smashwords or Draft2Digital?

It looks more professional if your book is published by an imprint rather than Josie the Author or Amazon. So consider one of these options below.

Create an Imprint or Legal Entity

Create a publisher name and register with your State for a “Doing Business As” title. Or create an LLC if your accountant advises this route. Either way, this step will give your publications a more professional presentation.


Reserve the domain name for this imprint.

For a DBA: Put a Legal Notice in your local newspaper if required by the State.

Apply for a county business license/tax receipt. Note: if you’re 65, you may be exempt from fees but you still have to apply. Renewal is annual. Check your state and county regulations.

Open a business bank account under the DBA or LLC. As a sole proprietor for the DBA, you don’t need an EIN number. Use your own Social Security number. You will link this business account to the various bookstore vendors for direct deposit of royalties.

Purchase ISBN Numbers

It is advisable to buy your own ISBN numbers. This way, you or your company will be listed as the publisher and not Amazon or Createspace. Your ebook, print, and audio editions each require a separate ISBN number.

Buy ISBNs from Note that you do not need to purchase Bar Codes. These are assigned automatically by Createspace for your print edition. Buy in bulk if you plan to publish more than one title. Get on their mailing list so you receive discount offers.

Once you have your ISBNs and have a particular book to assign, go to Sign in and access My Account, then My Profile. Here is where you can register your company name. Then click on My Account and Manage my ISBNs. Assign an ISBN number to your book. Complete all fields marked by a red asterisk.

On the Title page, you can add a book description up to 350 words. Here is where you can list the original copyright date for your work if it’s a backlist title. You add the book cover here. And if you wish, you can upload a pdf file for Bowker to generate keywords for search engines.

Under the Contributor tab, click Add Contributor. Then fill in the boxes with your name as author and your biography. For Contributor Function, put Author.

Under Format & Size, Click on Medium. Input the type of edition (ebook, print, audio). Choose the Format, i.e. paperback or hardcover for print; electronic book text for digital. Click on Primary Subject. Add the genre, i.e. Fiction-Mystery and Detective. Secondary Subject is optional. Next add the size of the book if it’s for a print edition. I use 5.5 x 8.5. Put any other details you wish to provide.

Finally, under Sales & Pricing, answer Where is the Title Sold? This would be the United States. For Title Status, put Active Record. Here is where you can add your DBA or Company Name as the Publisher. For Target Audience, put Trade for a general adult audience. You must also put in your publication date. If you’re not sure, select a date in the future and go back later to change it.

Under Currency, put US Dollars. Add the price in the box indicated, without the dollar sign. Price Type is the retail price. When finished on this page, click Submit. You can change any of this material, except the ISBN number assignments, at a later date.

If you have another type of format for the same title, you can click Clone next to the first one, assign the next ISBN number, and change the data accordingly.

Now you should be all set and ready to go. You’ve had your earlier books scanned if necessary, cleaned up the manuscript, and decided if you want to revise the work before reissuing it. Catch up on these posts if you’ve missed them:

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Revisions

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation

Coming next is the Production phase.

11 Responses to “Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Legalities”

  1. This is good information for those choosing to follow this path. However, while there’s nothing wrong about following all these steps, those who find them intimidating should know that there are other paths. Until I started writing, I never looked at the publisher of any book I read. I’m curious as to how many non-authors reading this actually pay attention. As an author, if I’m curious about a publisher I’ve never heard of, I’ll go look it up, so finding that it’s a ‘private’ company that only publishes works by the author who has created it doesn’t lend it any more ‘professional’ status in my eye. And, frankly, the only time I’ve done this is when I’m judging contests.

    • Good points, Terry. What do discerning readers have to say?

    • As an author, I ALWAYS look to see who published a book. My daughter, who is an avid reader NEVER looks and doesn’t care. I know many readers who don’t know or care who published the books they read. I’m going to follow this blog series, Nancy, so thanks for laying out the info so clearly. My publisher is going out of business, so I’m going to need it.

  2. marilynlevinson said

    Thanks, Nancy, for this valuable information. I’m not as venturesome as you are and plan to use D2D to republish a mystery I’ve taken back from the publisher. Wish me luck!

    • I’ve heard only good things about D2D so good luck with them!

      • marilynlevinson said

        I have, too. I hadn’t known about D2D until yesterday, when I went through my many emails regarding uploading, promoting, & selling self-pubbed books. Then I asked about the company on various listservs. The writers who responded all had great things to say about it.

  3. Joanna Goldman said

    Dear Nancy, I would like to thank you for all the helpful information concerning Backlist Titles and Legalities. Also, where to obtain ISBN numbers and Registering your Copyright . All of this information is very important for Authors. Regards Jody

  4. […] « Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Legalities […]

  5. […] Backlist Titles – Updating the Work Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Legalities Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Production, Part […]

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