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Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 21, 2016

You’d like to reissue your backlist titles now that you have the rights back, and you already have a complete digital file as in my previous post. So now what? Are you going to upload the file as is, or will you be revising the work?

I wanted to fix my writing, since my mysteries started coming out in 1999. That’s the pub date for Permed to Death. I wrote that book more than fifteen years ago. Do you think I’ve learned to write better in that time? Looking over the original manuscript, I was horrified by the number of exclamation marks. Many of the Amazon reviews said this book needed editing. You know what? They were right. Now I had my chance to go back and tighten things up.

I had another impetus. I want to offer my books in audio editions but not based on my older versions. I prefer to link these to my newly revised Author’s Editions. (Cover designs by Patty G. Henderson at Boulevard Photografica).

Author Editions2

For your decision, it’ll depend on how recently your title came out and how satisfied you are with the content. I’m proud of my Author’s Editions. The only problem is getting people to read them and to post new reviews on Amazon.

Regardless of your choice whether to fix the writing or not, you’ll need to format the book for today’s digital vendors. In general, remove all headers or footers. Use page breaks instead of section breaks. Choose Times New Roman 12 pt. font; indent new paragraphs 0.5 inches; and remove all tabs. Make sure you have one space and not two between sentences. Be aware that colons and semi-colons might cause problems so try to eliminate these where possible. Use proper Em-dashes. Later, you’ll go to your vendor sites and check their specific guidelines.

Decide what you’ll do about changing technology. In the current book I’m revising, Marla (my hairstylist sleuth) dialed directory assistance to look up someone’s phone number. I changed this to an Internet search. I’ve also changed answering machines to voice mail, flip phones to cell phones, wired home phones to mobile units. And I’ve changed the names of places or restaurants that no longer exist.

Here is an example from Highlights to Heaven. This is the original passage:

“Do you see any possibilities with Barry?” Tally asked Marla after they were seated at Legal Sea Foods in the Oasis at Sawgrass Mills.

There had been a short wait for a table, unlike the crowds at the Cheesecake Factory or Wolfgang Puck. Saturday night was bound to be busy anywhere in Broward, but with the cinema here, shoppers competed with moviegoers for restaurant tables.

“I like him. He’s good-looking, quiet in a dependable sort of way, and sincere. It’s his father who I can’t stand.”

Since two of these restaurants are out of business, I changed it to this:

“Do you see any possibilities with Barry?” Tally asked Marla, after they’d taken seats at a restaurant in the Sawgrass Mills complex. They’d had to wait for a table, but Saturday nights were busy at all the eateries in Broward.

“I like him. He’s good-looking, quiet in a dependable sort of way, and sincere. It’s his father who I can’t stand.”

So as you can see, you’ll need to reformat the text, update the technology, and alter certain place names.

Now comes the tough question. Do you want to do a full revision? Your book has already been professionally edited, and you have the advantage of a copy edit being done. But this time, you can examine the writing in a new light, with the eye of experience. Are you prepared to do a line edit? Because that’s what it will take. You might find repetitions you’d missed before, redundant sentences, inconsistent characterizations, or those pesky “ing” clauses that cause trouble.

Moreover, if you’ve written a series, now you know what comes next. You can fix this story with the sequels in mind. If you choose this path, you’ll have a lot of work ahead. In our next post, we’ll review what to look for when combing through your story to polish it to perfection.

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16 Responses to “Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work”

  1. All very useful things to ponder. Thanks!

  2. Helpful as always!

  3. I recently re-released several books after my publisher closed its doors. It’s work, but it’s also an opportunity to revise and update. I’ve noticed, however, the original versions remain on Amazon, and Amazon transferred the reviews to my new versions, even though they have new ISBNs. They won’t remove out of print books.

  4. I’ve been sharing tips for formatting on my own blog, and I’ve found section breaks better for conversion to epub except for Kindle, which wants page breaks. Also, because of the smaller size of e-readers, I set my paragraph indents to 0.3 inches. Each of the distribution channels has its own little quirks, so you can’t really have one file you upload to all the channels unless you choose to use an aggregator such as Smashwords or Draft to Digital.

  5. […] « Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work […]

  6. […] Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work […]

  7. […] Your Backlist Titles – Revisions Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation Reviving Your Backlist Titles – […]

  8. […] Your Backlist Titles – Revisions Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation Reviving Your Backlist Titles – […]

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