Probably not, unless the book is an iconic bestseller with the kind of visual recognition status that makes it identifiable by sight to the masses. In most cases, an old book will need a fresh opportunity in the modern marketplace. That fresh opportunity will likely mean that you need to get a new cover and a new author photo. Give the work a fresh new start. That new start will also likely mean brushing up the description of the book with an eye toward why it is important for today’s readers. It could also include some current endorsements from people who resonate with the readers of the current year. That is not to say bury or drop old endorsements but be aware that younger readers may not know who past icons are, especially if those icons are no longer active or no longer living. Leverage everything you have available to make the cover stand out on digital platforms. Look at the product with new eyes and new expectations.
I love makeovers! Not only do I have forty books on my backlist, and all have had cover makeovers, but the author has too. Nope, I didn’t go under the knife, I just changed and grew with the times. Fashions change, the way books are viewed has changed, delivery methods have changed. Today your covers need to pop as thumbnails online in an ever-more crowded field, so give your work every advantage. Embrace marketplace changes. Have fun. Enjoy the process. If there are elements of the original covers you love keep them, but make them fresh (are you even sure you have the rights to the artwork?) I say go for it. I say go for it!
I’m going to assume (yikes! Danger Will Rogers) that by “old” you mean the book was first released at least 3 years ago. Yes, refresh, re-boot, revise, re-work that cover.
We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover. I think that is a cosmic fallacy right up there with ‘one size fits all’. An enticing cover draws me in — at least enough to read the blurb. With an Indie release a good cover says something about the author. It speaks of quality and suggests a promising story. In fact, I bought my two most favorite novels on the basis of the cover.
Take a good look at the covers of books in your genre and the ratings each has received. That will give you an idea of what sort of imagery is selling. Is it a literal graphic depiction or more impressionistic? Consider what is selling. Go from there.
If the original release was highly successful and you feel the cover was a part of that, you could simply update the original look. Covers are like fashion — ever changing and then rolling around to a previous era, only with a ‘modern’ sensibility. One has only to look at the original Agatha Christie covers and those on offer today to see that.
Give your cover design the attention it deserves
It depends on the rights and cover quality. If the publisher paid for the cover, then they likely own the rights. Sometimes the artist will withhold the right to re-sell certain designs or use them as they see fit. It really depends on the deal originally made. If the cover is very good, this is worth pursuing. If it’s even half-average, I’d plump for a new cover to be safe. Just so happens I know a designer…
Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.
Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.
Last night all I could think about was the deadline for this blog post. I had put it off all month. At the last minute I was hoping to write something inspirational for both readers and writers. While hope springs eternal, I found myself pondering – and pondering – what that perfect message should be.
If I’m going to be honest, I knew I wouldn’t come up with anything substantial because I have been distracted. When I’m distracted I usually sit down with a friend at a coffee shop and hash out whatever is on my mind until I’m back on track. Since I can’t do that you’re ‘it’, my friends in a virtual coffee shop. I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing while I’ve been locked down and pondering this post. We’ll start with the garden and move on from there.
Tomato plants. I haven’t actually thought about the tomatoes as much as I have been checking on them. Going outside every fifteen minutes is a nice break from staring at my blank computer screen or at my husband napping on the couch. No matter how often I check, though, the tomatoes still have not turned red and my husband still has not gone back to work.
My fabric stash. Over the last eight weeks I have knocked it down some. Here’s the count: five blouses, a quilt top, a fully-lined summer suit (1 dress that would have fit 15 years ago when I was 25 pounds lighter), and ten face masks. Here’s my question: is sewing my stash like a tree falling in the forest or is it like ‘build it and they will come’? I think it’s the latter. When the day comes to have dinner in a restaurant I will have lots to wear.
Work. Honestly, my brain has been mush when it comes to writing a new book. I have an idea but I couldn’t get it to gel, so I looked through my files and reread some of my early work. I had so much fun that I edited and published five novels from the 90s. I also published The Death of Me, a novella I wrote that morphed into a novel (Before Her Eyes). These two works are as different as they are similar. Some times pondering one thing will lead to another. The trick is not to ignore the ‘other’. Productivity: mission accomplished.
Finally, I’ve been pondering important things: the individual versus the greater good, the constitution and ‘guidelines’ as our lockdown stretches into yet another week, another month, another century. My heart is sad for those who are sick and who have died; my heart is breaking for my relatives and friends who are losing their livelihood, home and, well, everything they have worked hard for. I won’t tell you which side I’m on when it comes to hunkering down or opening up. I will only say that I realize that what I have been pondering all along is something readers and writers have always been inspired by: story. No matter what road we choose there will be stories at the end of it. We are writing them now.
These will be tales of tragedy and triumph; there will be something to laugh at and something to cry over. We will all see these events – and each other – differently. Eventually there will come a time when we put pondering aside so that we can sit with friends at a coffee shop, tell our stories, and hug each other when all is said and done.
I enjoy book reviews. I read reviews of books I might want to purchase, reviews of books I’ve read and loved, reviews on the works of authors I I know and love, reviews of books I’ve just finished, reviews of my client’s work. And I read reviews because, well, I really love listening to fellow bookworms talk about books.
Reviews are important to any author’s success, of course, but they’re especially important to the Indie author. Indie authors can promote any number of ways, but reviews are the crucial fuel for sales. Readers rely on reviews, especially if the author is new to them; Indie authors rely on reviews to find readers. It’s this fact that makes me so crazy when a review is an elaborate retelling of the story, complete with outing all the twists and mysteries as well as the resolution. That isn’t a review; it’s a damn book report.
I can feel my head begin to explode when a reviewer prefaces a sentence with ‘spoiler alert’. That’s not a pass to spill the beans. It’s a glaring neon sign declaring that this reviewer, this self appointed arbiter of storytelling, has kindly read the book for me. Now I can save my money because reviewer person has graciously taken care of that grisly chore of actually reading. (Audacity always makes my blood boil.) I mean, what about the word ‘spoiler’ don’t you understand?
A book review should give me some indication of why and how the book affected the reviewer. Specifics are welcome, the more insightful the better. Perhaps the author’s voice is particularly unique and pleasing, or the plot was a refreshing take on a well-loved genre. Maybe it’s the characters that win the day, or the book presented a world view that made the reviewer thoughtful. And if the reviewer didn’t like the book I want to know why. If the book was terrible, what made it a stinker? If some aspect of the story was off-putting be fair; not all readers like the same thing, which doesn’t necessarily make the work bad.
It’s not about the author. If a reviewer dislikes a book because the F-bomb and it’s numerous cousins were used it does not mean the author is in need of spiritual counseling. If the political bent of the tale does not suit the reviewer it does not mean the author could use time in a re-education camp. A review is about the story.
Being of mostly open mind and generally democratic spirit I’ll take the one or two line reviews of the “If you like fill in the genre then this is a must read” or “I spent a great winter weekend with this book. Highly recommend” variety. I may not have any specifics but there is something wonderfully persuasive about that kind of joyful sharing.
You may say I should just give a pass to the book reports and the spoilers, and you would be right. But I raise my pen-sword in defense of every Indie author I know, and those I’ve yet to meet. Insightful, honest reviews are sustenance to a writer. They impact sales and the writer’s heart. When you review, do it with substance. Please don’t retell the story – it’s the author’s story to tell and the reader’s tale to enjoy, and for the love of the muses, don’t give away the best bits. You’re going to make my head explode and I do not want my heirs to have to clean that up.
This has been a year of challenges for me, since I started seriously indie publishing. I’ve learned it’s a lot harder to do everything myself, even though it has been rewarding. The one thing that has got me through it is the support and camaraderie from the romance community, including OCC.
Two of the challenges and rewards have involved group projects. Being part of the Romance Super Bundle brought me together with a group of wonderful indie authors: Amy Gamet, Dale Mayer, Donna Marie Rogers, Edie Ramer, Kate Kelly, Pamela Fryer, Lois Winston, Barbara Phinney and Wendy Ely. I’ve learned a lot about marketing and promotion from these ladies, including my first ever Facebook Launch Party.
Monday, Nov. 18, is the Facebook launch party for the other project. I was honored when Debra Holland invited me to be part of her second holiday anthology: Sweetwater Springs Christmas: A Montana Sky Short Story Anthology (Montana Sky Series) by Debra Holland and Friends, namely E. Ayers, Linda Carroll-Bradd, MJ Fredrick, Paty Jager, Jill Marie Landis, Trish Milburn, Linda McLaughlin, Bev Pettersen, Tori Scott, and Cynthia Woolf.
Writing my story, The Best Present, was both challenging and rewarding. It’s not easy to write in another author’s story world, plus I was unfamiliar with Montana in 1895 (or any other time.) Some research was required. (That was okay since I love research.)
For once, I shed my romance persona and wrote about a ten-year-old girl having the worst Christmas of her young life. I drew on some personal experiences, including my memories of my tenth Christmas, which took place two weeks after the death of my grandmother. Allison’s story has a different ending than mine did, but it’s the most personal work I’ve ever written, and it was an emotional experience. I was reminded of the old saw about opening a vein.
Sweetwater Springs Christmas: A Montana Sky Short Story Anthology releases Nov. 18 on Amazon but is available for pre-order now.
I hope some of you will join us on Monday to celebrate the release of the anthology at Facebook. It runs from 9AM to 6PM, Pacific time, and I will be there alone (gulp) from 10-11AM.
Happy Thanksgiving and happy writing!
Life has been pretty hectic since I started down the self-published road. I am so impressed at the energy and innovation I’m seeing in the indie author community. But now that I’m a publisher as well as a writer, it seems there’s always something to do and not enough time for everything.
My latest project was to get involved in one of the popular e-book boxed sets we see popping up at Amazon and other online retailers. I was fortunate to team up with a bunch of knowledgeable and savvy indie writers, and we published the Romance Super Bundle in late September. Our fearless leader, Amy Gamet, has been the driving force behind the project. She also created the gorgeous 3-D cover.
My contribution to the bundle is my historical romance, Rogue’s Hostage. We priced the boxed set at $5.99, but it’s currently on sale for 99 cents. We still hope it will hit one of the big lists like USA Today.
On Oct. 7, we had a dynamite Facebook Launch Party guided by the dynamic and extremely organized Wendy Ely. It was attended by a lively bunch of readers, and the messages were flying fast at times. (It was all this old broad could do to keep up.) The event page is still available if anyone wants to see what we did.
Today, one of the authors, Lois Winston, is at Inkspot where she discusses this new way I’m thinking outside the promotional box, and does it more coherently than I can. I like her analogy of promotion being like “shouting into a tsunami” though I tend to think of it more as a lone voice crying in the wilderness.
At the same time, I’m still working on re-issuing my back list. In the last week, my werewolf novella, Ilona’s Wolf: A Fairy Tale Romance, was published at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, just in time for Halloween.
Imagine a world filled with magic, a tormented knight, a damsel in distress, an evil sorcerer…
While picking herbs in the woods, Princess Ilona is rescued from a woodsman by a wolf. When the creature licks her wounds, it is suddenly transformed into a man. A very handsome, very naked man who makes passionate love to her in a glade. She has dreamed of a handsome knight to aid her cause, but a werewolf?
Cursed by an evil wizard, Rolf was trapped in wolf form until he tasted the blood of a royal. Now he must escort the princess on a hazardous journey back to the castle to stop an ill-fated wedding and face the evil wizard who placed the evil curse on Rolf.
Passion flares between them, but both know there is no future for a princess and a werewolf. Or is there? In a world where magic and passion combine, anything may be possible.
(Previously published by Amber Quill Press)
The beautiful cover was designed by Carey Abbott of Safari Heat.
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