I’ve been thinking about venturing into new writing waters lately, as if I haven’t been doing enough of that already with doing my first biography, my first co-authored book, editing someone’s memoirs, and doing work under a pseudonym. Anyway, now I am thinking about publishing a book in the public domain.
I came across an interesting historical character and had considered doing a biography about him. When I did some preliminary research, I discovered that he had written his own autobiography in the early 1800’s. The book has seen limited circulation and is in the public domain. So I thought, “Why re-invent the wheel? Maybe I should just reprint this book.”
I do have some issues with the original book. I would want to give it a nice cover and a better title. I would also want to do some light editing and add some illustrations.
I’ve seen some reprinted public domain book out there that have a plain cover and the interior pages are scans of the original book pages. You can see that the publisher didn’t put much effort into them so is it any surprise that they probably don’t sell? The only ones I’ve ever purchased are the ones that I have specifically been searching for for research.
Having never published a public domain book before, I wasn’t sure if there was anything I needed to do to reprint this type of book. I put the word out on some forums that I’m part of to see what people had to say. Boy! I got answers all over the place!
Some did recommend this web page, which I found immensely helpful. You should definitely read it if you are considering going this route.
I also found out that by making the alterations I wanted to do, I would be making the book able to be copyrighted because I would be making it my unique version of the book. In the future, someone could certainly reprint the book, but they wouldn’t be able to reprint my version.
So this project looks like it will move ahead. Of course, finding the time to get it ready for publication will be the real trick.