Revise, Reprint, or Second Edition?

I am currently building a new website. Compared to my current ones, it will be organized differently, have updated pictures, and contain more up to date information.

As I worked on it this week, I asked myself if my first book might do with a little revamping, I sought the internet to give me the definitions of reprint, revise, and second edition. 

Here is what I found:

A reprint is a subsequent printing of a book already published that preserves the identical text of the previous printing. 

Concluding that was not what I intended, I read on about revision.

This is an edition of a book which incorporates major revisions by the author or an editor designed to bring it up to date. These are appropriate for non-fiction which can get out-dated and even obsolete.

Since I write fiction, I continued my search by looking for information about second editions.

If readers who already own the first edition would benefit in some way from owning a second edition. For example, textbooks (in which the information may change rapidly) should definitely be updated periodically.

However, in the case of fiction, where a reader is unlikely to reread a book just because the author has fixed a few typos, the answer is no.

So, based on my internet search, fiction books would rarely benefit from a revision, reprint, or being republished as a second edition.

Change the Recipe

I have a cobbler recipe that I like. It is delicious and super easy.

I have used the recipe quite a few times. However, I often alter something about it to make it “better.”

I have substituted different fruits. And I use less and less dry ingredients as I seek that perfectly moist concoction.

As I made my cobbler a few days ago, I thought of my day of editing the day before. Cutting out words, lines, paragraphs—even whole scenes. Inserting others so the story was more suspenseful.

I left my computer, pleased with the final product, and my kitchen with the delightful aroma of another tasty cobbler.

Olympians Do It, Too!

I hope you have been watching the Olympics. Besides seeing them compete, I enjoy hearing hundreds of stories about the awesome athletes and their families.

I especially liked a commentary about one of the snowboarders. The reporter said this young lady’s practice was to spend hours a day visualizing herself on the snow, as she executed whatever she would be performing the following day. A video accompanied the story in which I could see this girl, standing at the gate, eyes closed, going through the twists and turns of her upcoming runs in her mind.

Our writing needs to help our readers visualize our setting and our characters—what they look like, how they move, and so on.

And we can only achieve that if we visualize these for ourselves, as we write. A rich vocabulary (or a handy Thesaurus) is essential to make our writing come alive for our reading audience.

Additionally, we must be capable of visualizing our story as it unfolds. From beginning to end, we must continually step back and look at the big picture, asking ourselves if each scene leads us closer and closer to that satisfying end.

Finally, on days your writing is difficult and you wonder if you will ever finish your book, try visualizing it—amazing cover and all—in your hands or on a bookstore shelf. 

Closing my eyes, right now, I am visualizing a sea of writers standing shoulder to shoulder, newly published books held high and smiles on our faces.

Accomplishment feels good, doesn’t it? And, by the way, your covers look awesome!

K.I.S.S.

As I near the completion of another book, my thoughts naturally turn to COVERS. I think of them as the icing on the cake … jewelry to adorn an outfit… you get the picture.

They are really fun, but can be quite challenging. The process can be intense, but in a different way from writing and editing.

Best of all, they signal THE COMPLETION of my project and I give myself permission to look ahead to writing the next story.

Here are a few things to think about when choosing a book cover:

1) Make It Pop: Bright Colors, Images that cause the consumer to take a second look, something different than everything currently “out there.” But how will you know? Shop the bookstores or department stores and look through what’s on the shelves. (Years ago, I chose the perfect stock photo for one of my books only to find it already used on a book cover already on the shelf.) Back to square one…

2) Leave Lots of Space: The title, your name, and the main image will stand out more if you leave lots of open space. The more text you add and the more images you try to fit in, the more cluttered. Nothing will stand out for the consumer.

3) Appeal to Emotions: Buying a book is an emotional experience. Appeal to the reader’s emotions depending on your genre. Go for scary … suspenseful … empathetic … romantic … and so on. Get the reader hooked before they ever look inside.

4) Use Subtitles or Teasers: A sentence at the top saying you are a USA Today Bestseller, or Carol Award winner, for instance, helps readers judge the book’s value. Maybe use a tagline or a quote by a well-known author.

A subtitle is used to further explain the title. You can also delineate which book it is in a series. (Pick ONE. Don’t clutter up your cover trying to fit all of these in.)

5) Use Fonts and Colors That Stand Out.

6) Use an image of a person, or animal, or something in nature that speaks to the consumer in a personal way:  Lately, a dog on the cover is the most well-received image. However, if your book doesn’t have a dog in its story, choose some other animal or person that will elicit an emotional response/connection.

7) If you are writing books in a series: be sure each connects to the others, not only in content, but visually on the cover. For example, the covers of the series I finished last year (all four book titles are children’s games), share the same fonts. My name, the title, and the images have the same placement on the covers. The images are all different and the covers are different colors, but the tone is carried from book one thru book four.

**Just as we’re told to leave lots of white space on each page, remember to leave lots of space and use fonts/colors that make your information stand out. If your book looks too complicated, consumers won’t even bother to read the cover. You will be giving them a subtle message that what’s inside will be difficult to read and understand, too.

Solving a POV Problem

I read A LOT. And one of the things I notice most often is problems with POV. I’m sure you’ve seen them, too.

The most common mistake is head-hopping, or allowing the thoughts of more than one character at a time to take place in a scene.

Each scene should have the viewpoint of one person only. And the revealed emotions/thoughts of that person.

When you want to reveal another person’s thoughts/feelings/emotions, you must make a scene break, and begin anew with the person you want to be your new POV character.

All of that is probably no surprise to you. But it is what’s next that you may not have thought about.

I have learned that the main character of the book (the one who’s journey we are following) should be the one featured as your POV most of the time.

Why?

Because you can share the POV’s emotions and thoughts to a deeper degree. It just makes sense that our “hero” needs to become the character we know—and care about. The one we are cheering for.

I’m not certain in the case of your story just what percent of time to devote. It may depend on how many characters you have.

For instance, if your book has only two characters, then the main character could be the POV more than half of the time. For me, that might look like 60%. For someone else it might be 75%. 

If you have four characters, maybe they take up 60% (all together) and your main character accounts for 40%. You’ll get a feel for it.

There are times when I’m done writing, that I go back for that final read(s) and I realize I need to rewrite a few scenes to make them in the main character’s POV. I know this because my character’s just not coming through as someone I know well enough.

Other times, I may not change the POV. But, in order for the reader to identify more with him, I will have another character verbalize their perceptions about the main character. They might say, “You are just a crybaby, aren’t you?” Or, “That’s the second lie I’ve caught you in today.”

So you can definitely use your other characters to reveal information and emotions, too.

Be creative in finding ways to get us in touch with your main character at a much deeper level. Your writing will be richer, more interesting, and full of emotion.

COTT

We have all probably experienced opening one of our folders (containing notes from conferences, podcasts, or books we’ve read) and said: “Oh, my! I’d forgotten all about this.”

Well, that’s what I did a few minutes ago.

Flipping pages, I came across one marking a proud moment. My first book, Runaways: The Long Journey Home, won a contest called “Clash of the Titles” six years ago.

Why I haven’t thought about this until now, I do not know, but right away I wanted to give you some information on this monthly contest:

In their monthly games, several authors face off with their newest novels to see which is voted most worthy by readers. 

Just out of the gate with my first novel, I had no clue what I was doing. It must have been easy because I was able to enter—and win!

What did I receive? 

  • A big blurb about my book and myself as an author (on their website)
  • My picture and book cover displayed
  • A great “badge” that I used for advertising (see above)

So, today I went to http://clashofthetitles.com/ 

I read about the monthly contests and their COTT Blog Alliance.

But then I read these dreaded words:

  • Monthly clashes will not be held for the foreseeable future.

and

  • No longer accepting members to the COTT Blog Alliance.

So very disappointing!  This was a great website at one time and it makes me wonder what happened. I am still printing this because YOU may know what went on at COTT.

They made a big impact on me early in my writing career, as I am sure they did for many others just getting started.

** If you have any updated information on this group, please write back on this blog. **

Add or Chop?

What to do if your manuscript word count is too low:

  1. Consider making it book one in a series.
  2. Publish it as a novella.
  3. Reread your manuscript. Are there places you can add a scene? A chapter? 
  4. Could you write a prologue? An Epilogue?

What to do if your manuscript word count is too high:

  1. Reread your manuscript. Look for ways to use more concise vocabulary in order to say what you intend, but with less words.
  2. Eliminate repetition. Especially in cases where you are revealing your character’s inner thoughts.
  3. Split your book in two, making the second half another book in your “new” series.
  4. Remove some of your content (especially in non-fiction or self-help books) and use the “extra” content in a blog, short story, etc.

The Averages

At one time or another, we have talked about word count for short stories, novellas, novels, non-fiction, etc. However, if you missed one of those blogs, here they are for you. All in one place

These are averages because almost every article I read on this subject reported different word counts. Each publisher or contest will furnish writers with guidelines, including minimum and maximum word counts.

Fiction

Novel: 55,000-300,000

Novella: 30,000-50,000 (Average: 17,500)

Novelette:  7,700-17,500

Short Story:  Less than 7,500 (The “perfect” S.S.= 6,000)

Flash Fiction: Works under 1,500

  Non-Fiction

Biography:  80,000-110,000

Memoir: 60,000-90,000

Business & Money:  40,000-80,000

History:  60,000-100,000

Self-Help & “How-to”:  20,000-70,000

Tomorrow’s Achievements

2022.

Like all new years, it is welcomed as an opportunity for new beginnings.

“New year’s babies” are born.

New year’s resolutions are made.

We turn our backs on the previous year and look forward to future possibilities.

It is a time when writers (and aspiring writers) set goals. We shake off the failures and disappointments of the past and vow to do better. 

Write more.

Improve our skills. 

Work harder.

In our personal lives, especially in times of emotional trouble, “taking it day-by-day” is often good advice.

But what about writers?

It’s often hard for those of us who are planners, list makers and goal setters to take it one day at a time.

We plan. Look at the year ahead. The big picture.

Writers break goals down book by book, chapter by chapter, scene by scene, page by page.

Often, even word by word.

Breaking our writing into increments that are too small won’t get that book written; taking on too much will often lead to frustration and disappointment.

In the end, we must attempt what is challenging, yet doable. 

Meeting our goals for 2022 will lead to bigger and better ones in the years ahead.

The “New Beginnings” today will be tomorrow’s achievements.


Do This To Increase Book Sales

I always find it helpful to look back at what I have learned in the past year, before I can look ahead. As I reflected this past week, I read some of my past blogs. I think most of what I learned I passed along to other writers.

However, I saw something interesting that you probably already know: if your goal is to sell books, plan to finish writing by June, use the next few months for critiquing/editing/cover design. And publish by October so that you can cash in on the biggest sales period of the year: Christmas.

Furthermore, it will help if you have the word Christmas or Holidays or other words “of the season” in your title. Beyond that, if your cover has a Christmas tree or snow on it, sales will increase.

Now, let’s say that you don’t want to write a Christmas story, per se. You can still have your book ready in October, design a cover with a winter scene, use a word in your title that might tend to be Googled, such as JOY or HOLIDAY. (I once saw a book that was about a place named Holiday Farms. It had nothing to do with Christmas. The last name of the individual was Holiday.)

You can use similar ideas for Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, and so on. I leave you to your imagination and creativity in boosting your book sales around the holidays.