Using Your own Words

Tolkien RJJ

Apr 24, 2022
What is the policy about using your own words in a future self-published book that is already published in a self-published book of yours?

Do you mean you are only quoting yourself and the original words were all your own work? If so, then there is no problem of being in breach of copyright, if that's your worry.

If you're effectively just re-publishing your original work with a few changes and a new title and cover, that's also fine as a legal issue -- well, that's the case in England and Wales and likely the Anglophone countries -- but morally it's suspect, especially if you're trying to get people to buy both books without informing them that the second is merely a revised version of the first.

By the way, if in the first book you were actually quoting someone else's words, and you wanted to quote those words again in the second book, then much would depend on how much you're quoting and what, if any, arrangements/agreements you had with the original author initially.
When quoting yourself from your own original words you can just do it; however, for story style and mood you might somehow call it out in footnote if our narrator voice calls for it.

I have a series I'm writing and I often revisit or recap events from a previous novel; however I have always done so in different words and can't think of any reason I would want to directly quote the other book. I would guess too much of direct quotes from previous work might look a bit like laziness.

Of course, again, there might be something in the style of narrator you have that is conducive to quoting previous work.

I rewrote a long novel by separating it into three novels so in each on the copyrights page I cited the previous work and indicated that each book was a portion of that novel that had been expanded rearraigned to create a complete novel in itself.

The thought I had here was that if you are quoting(an excessive amount)from another work because the present work is tied to that work then you might cite that somewhere in the front material for previous readers of that other work as an fyi type of thing.
I'm to opine that it is not desirable. A writer is expected to contribute something new, or do nothing at all.
Setting aside the self-published nature of what you want/plan to do....

There are plenty of real-world examples of this. The "fix-up", for example, described in Wikipedia as a novel created from several short fiction stories that may or may not have been initially related or previously published.

Asimov's Foundation is just such a novel, created from four stories that had been published in Astounding Science Fiction in the early 1940s under different titles, plus a fifth part, the first in terms of fictional chronology, added for the 1951 novel. Foundation and Empire, the first sequel, was earlier published as two separate novellas, as was the second sequel, Second Foundation.

Another example is Robert Reed's Sister Alice, whose five sections appeared in a different form in the magazine Asimov's Science Fiction.

Something vaguely similar can be found in Charles Stross' Merchant Princes series, originally intended to be three novels, but published as six novels. These six were later heavily edited into a trilogy (each volume based on two from the original six: 1+2, 3+4, 5+6), which was then followed by a completely original second trilogy.

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