Frontlist, backlist mean little in self-publishing

After you’ve self-published several books, you’ll likely encounter a couple of terms that categorize your writing: frontlist and backlist.

In corporate publishing, frontlist refers to your new titles that have just been released. The backlist are older books that are steady sellers. Often, corporate publishers would look at an author’s backlist and no longer print those that didn’t sell well. The only way for readers to get copies of books removed from the backlist would be to borrow from a library and scour used book stores.

In self-publishing, your book never goes out of print unless you personally decide to remove it from sale. That’s because the book actually isn’t printed until someone orders it, hence there’s no need to store unsold copies in a warehouse, the cost of which was a primary reason corporate publishers decided to remove books from authors’ backlists.

Still, the terms are somewhat useful in differentiating your newly released material from your older books. For example, your marketing and promotional efforts will focus on your new releases, or your frontlist.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.