To Update A Re-Release Or Not


Today I'm going to discuss a dilemma veteran writers face—to update or not to update? I've had over seventy novels published by traditional publishers since 1991. Every writer is facing the "new" world of publishing which includes the e-reader world. I've often had readers ask me for copies of my first novels, but I couldn't provide them when they were out of print. I've had the rights on eleven novels for some time now, but was waiting for the right opportunity to do something with them. Suddenly writers and readers have been thrust into a digitalized world and there is more demand for ebooks. I waited because in 2000 Harlequin tried a demo program for ebooks that I was a participant in that didn't take off. Now the market is different.

When I set out to e-publish my re-releases, I thought I'd just have to learn about reformatting, nuclear option, the style requirements of each digital publisher and finding an artist to develop a new cover. But after I uploaded my first two published novels whose plots revolved largely around a non-tech world (1992-93), I started reading the rest with a different eye. I decided to update them. The basic plots were still universal and, to my surprise, timely! A small town doctor (LOVE IN BLOOM) must make a career decision. A hero with a special needs sister (KIT AND KISSES) finds a heroine worthy of his love. A massage therapist helps a type A personality single dad de-stress (RIBBONS AND RAINBOWS). Two eight year old girls who are best friends want to see their parents—a single mom and a single dad—fall in love (MOM MEETS DAD). I think you get the idea. But, of course, the technological advances were missing. When I wrote these books, cell phones weren't common. We were listening to tapes not CD's. We watched videotapes not DVD's. So I went through seven more books with an eye to making those changes—along with a few others I found along the way. A former English teacher can never stop editing. But, also, I didn't upload two of the titles because I didn't feel they could be updated successfully.

So I guess this is a question I have for readers and writers. When a writer brings out her re-releases, do you want those stories updated? Or do you want them preserved in the time in which they were written? All comments and discussion much appreciated! With coupon code MA29F Readers can download a free version of KIT AND KISSES at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/48129.



7 comments:

Sonia M on April 7, 2011 at 9:04 AM said...

Personally, I'd rather read the early work in all of it's glory...no updating or editing. It's really nice to see where a writer has been. Plus, at some point, everything we write will be out of date. It captures that moment in history. I don't mind reading older stuff that talks about tapes versus CDs any more than I mind watching the first episodes of X-Files with their gian cell phones. :D

Myrna Mackenzie on April 7, 2011 at 9:09 AM said...

Karen, I'm posting here as both a reader and a writer. My vote would be to update. I don't want to read a book that screams "1980's" or "outdated" (unless, of course, a 1980's setting is relevant to the plot).

I see your dilemma, though. There are older books where a major plot point might hinge on being unable to contact someone or on a character being lost. That's much more difficult to manage today (at least for any length of time) in an age where we are all hooked up and connected to one another all the time.

I haven't faced this question yet, since I don't have the rights back to any of my books, but I wish you well with this new, exciting endeavor. It sounds like great fun, being able to breathe new life into favorite books, knowing that once again readers will be able to enjoy them. You always write such heartwarming stories. This will be a treat for readers who discovered you too late to be able to find copies of those books and for new readers who want more. Good luck making your decision on "to update or not update."

KRS on April 7, 2011 at 9:59 AM said...

Sonia--Thanks for stopping by to comment. It takes a lot of rereading to update and reformat. I could upload them much quicker if I didn't update!

KRS on April 7, 2011 at 10:04 AM said...

Myrna--Thanks so much for commenting. Like many writers, in some of my books, I actually think I was forward-looking. The plots are still relevant! I will probably decide this on a book by book basis. My biggest problem is getting the word out that these books are now in e-books.

Myrna Mackenzie on April 7, 2011 at 6:10 PM said...

Karen, I see your point, and by screaming 1980's, I only meant situations like the ones I mentioned, places where technology might have changed in a way that might affect the plot.

Without that, I wouldn't even worry about updating. Emotion never goes out of style (I still reread old favorites, no matter when they were written). This is so exciting!

Sonia M on April 7, 2011 at 7:23 PM said...

I watched the original Die Hard the other day and still loved it. I did get a little laugh out of the whole 80s hair and clothes thing but it didn't affect my enjoyment of the movie. To me, being out of date with current technology is not a bad thing. Again, a story is written in a certain place and time. I don't think it's necessary to update. Totally a matter of opinion though.

KRS on April 7, 2011 at 8:00 PM said...

Actually, now I can see why my editor usually takes out anything that dates a story. Because romances really can be timeless and if you put a singer in who doesn't last, or slang that is only hip for a little while, it does matter.