Old Books, New Technology…Your Money-Making Venture

So you think there’s no way for you to participate in the Kindle revolution because you can’t string two sentences together? Don’t worry…there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and you can create an e-book without writing a word of it.

Public domain books are works that are no longer subject to copyright. The copyright has expired, either because of age or because it wasn’t renewed, and that means it is available to everyone to use that work. It’s in the public domain, so it is “available to the public.”

Moby Dick, for example—the classic work by Herman Melville—is one of the millions of books that are in the public domain. U.S. copyright law (which much of the world honors) dictates that a book published prior to 1923 (Moby Dick was way back in 1851) is automatically in the public domain.

That makes it available to anyone who wants to use it…in any way they choose. The law also provides that books after 1923 that weren’t renewed properly are also in the public domain. Think and Grow Rich (1937), the number one selling financial book of all time, is one such example.

You can use the book as is…or you can create some new content from the old work. You therefore create what’s called a “derivative work”. The hugely popular Disney stories like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Pocahontas, Pinocchio, Aladdin, Robin Hood, and so on…those are all derivative works. Disney took a public domain work and then created some new content from the old content. And from that came a derivative work they could copyright and claim as their own.

If you look at the Disney fortune, the foundation of it is public domain works and even though my fortune is peanuts compared to Disney, it’s also been my cornerstone.

I sometimes hire a writer to produce the derivative work I want. It’s really easy to connect with writers on freelance websites these days. Then I apply my highly successful strategy to making that work profitable. I’ve made more than $100,000 this way.

Using public domain works are a quick way to create an e-book but two notes of caution:

  1. Amazon has specific rules about public domain books and what you need to do to get them accepted so follow the rules.
  2. You need to know the rules about public domain and about copyrights, because copyright infringement is a serious, serious matter. There are a lot of free resources on the web that are easy to follow and understand but do take the time to study them.

Yes, be cautious, but don’t let the caution stop you from acting. As W.H. Murray, the Scottish explorer wrote, “Action has magic, grace, and power in it.” Find out more about my e-book strategy here.

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