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Perhaps you’ve been following my eBook publishing series, or maybe you happened upon this article because the topic sounds appealing. After all, no one can argue that making a few extra dollars from an online business you don’t have to manage sounds a little bit exciting, right?! This is exactly that kind of business. You publish an eBook and watch the income continue to flow in from month to month. After the initial effort of publishing an eBook (about 1-3 hours), there is not much more involved until you see money coming in!
I initially came across the idea of writing public domain (PD) eBooks for an income while watching Pinocchio (The Disney version, my favorite!) with my son. I started to think about why Disney got away with re-writing so many stories originally from the public domain: Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc. Virtually all Walt Disney’s wonderful creations were based upon Andersen’s and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I began researching the legalities of reproducing public domain works and learned a lot of insightful information just by visiting Project Gutenberg’s website. Once I figured out the legalities, I started selling eBooks I didn’t write. I got the content for these books completely free and my process was 100% legal.
Public domain material is content that is not under a copyright and currently belongs to the public. Some of the best works of fiction and non-fiction, alike, falls into this category.
If you’d like more information about how to make income selling public domain eBooks or the publishing process, make sure you check out my FREE tutorial, How to Publish a Public Domain eBook in 7 Steps!
How to Choose a Public Domain eBook to Publish
In order to publish a public domain title on KDP, you need to make sure your book is illustrated or annotated. You also need to know which direction the annotated version is going to lead your marketing strategy. Illustrated is pretty self-explanatory, and almost anyone could search Pixabay for public domain images to include in their book. In order to create a valuable annotated content, you’ll need to decide an annotated strategy.
Option 1: Choose a Popular Book
If you choose a popular book that others have probably already reproduced, you need to have a gimmick–something that will make your annotated version better than all the others…
Here are four ideas that will make your Public Domain title stand out against the rest and make people want to purchase your title. When you publish a popular public domain work, use one of these additions to annotate your content and make your edition valuable:
-Include a study guide
-Include a character analysis
-Create a play out of it
-Create an Author Bio
First, If you choose to annotate using one of these methods, you’ll want to choose a popular title that libraries or schools might use for a literature class, or a university may do a book study about. Then, you could potentially advertise your “study guide version of Alice In Wonderland” to the school and ensure a large initial purchase (This is just an example of different ways your could advertise an annotated version of a Public Domain Work).
Next, Figure out the most popular Public Domain titles and download them. I use sites like ‘Project Gutenberg’ to find my public domain books. If you check out the top 100 eBooks on Project Gutenberg’s site, you’ll come across some popular titles available to download.
Last, Ensure your title is unlike others published in the same category. Use my FREE tutorial, How to Publish a Public Domain eBook in 7 Steps in order to guide you through the publication process.
Market this book, depending on who it is geared towards. Are you hoping a school will puck up your study guided version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? Or maybe you’re trying to get the library to buy your annotated version of Pitman’s Spanish Grammar. (Those are both public domain eBooks I published and marketed for those exact purposes!) Here’s another example: I published The Go-Getter (my most popular Public Domain eBook yet) and sold it internationally to businesses as a philosophy about better business strategies. This was highly successful and I’d encourage you to look into some more of Project Gutenberg’s business eBooks. They seem to be a real hit with corporations.
Option 2: Choosing Unpopular Books…
Choosing the most popular books is not always the best tactic when looking to re-produce a Public Domain title. Looking for obscure titles and then promoting them via facebook KDP support groups (where you can easily generate traffic to your kindle eBooks), is a very good tactic. I like to search for fairy tales I haven’t heard of before or other unpopular fiction novels by famous authors.
There is a wealth of content offered free in the public domain. Many of them have expired copyrights and are free game in terms of reproducing them into an annotated KDP book you can truly monetize from!
Check out some of L. Frank Baum (Author of “The Wizard of Oz) stories. Many of them are brilliant and worthy of reproduction. You can annotate or illustrate his stories and advertise it as “from the author of The Wizard of Oz!” I am sure this would generate some traffic to those titles!
Edit Your Work
Don’t forget to thoroughly check your work. For a limited time, you can download the Best Plagiarism Checker & Proofreader for free (only when you use my link). The last thing you want is a reputation as a sloppy editor/author. Even though public domain eBooks are easy to crunch out in a few hours, you’ll want them to also be top quality if you intend to market them to anyone and sell a massive amount of copies! Download Grammarly for free to proofread your finalized eBook. Grammarly checks your entire document for plagiarism and grammar errors. It is far more intuitive and comprehensive than word’s spell check. Grammarly has caught several errors in my eBooks that spell check glosses over. For free, it’s definitely worth the download!
This tactic has worked wonders for me and generated me nearly $700 last month, alone! Click here to see my income report for August.
Be sure to check out the other posts in my “Publishing Public Domain eBooks” series: