Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Legalities

Continuing our series about reviving your backlist titles, consider how and where you want to publish these titles. Do you intend to put them into the Kindle Select program exclusive to Amazon? Do you wish to put them up yourself at the various vendors? Or will you use a company like Smashwords or Draft2Digital?

It looks more professional if your book is published by an imprint rather than Josie the Author or Amazon. So consider one of these options below.

Create an Imprint or Legal Entity

Create a publisher name and register with your State for a “Doing Business As” title. Or create an LLC if your accountant advises this route. Either way, this step will give your publications a more professional presentation.

OGP MINI LOGO BLACK

Reserve the domain name for this imprint.

For a DBA: Put a Legal Notice in your local newspaper if required by the State.

Apply for a county business license/tax receipt. Note: if you’re 65, you may be exempt from fees but you still have to apply. Renewal is annual. Check your state and county regulations.

Open a business bank account under the DBA or LLC. As a sole proprietor for the DBA, you don’t need an EIN number. Use your own Social Security number. You will link this business account to the various bookstore vendors for direct deposit of royalties.

Purchase ISBN Numbers

It is advisable to buy your own ISBN numbers. This way, you or your company will be listed as the publisher and not Amazon or Createspace. Your ebook, print, and audio editions each require a separate ISBN number.

Buy ISBNs from http://Bowker.com. Note that you do not need to purchase Bar Codes. These are assigned automatically by Createspace for your print edition. Buy in bulk if you plan to publish more than one title. Get on their mailing list so you receive discount offers.

Once you have your ISBNs and have a particular book to assign, go to http://myidentifiers.com. Sign in and access My Account, then My Profile. Here is where you can register your company name. Then click on My Account and Manage my ISBNs. Assign an ISBN number to your book. Complete all fields marked by a red asterisk.

On the Title page, you can add a book description up to 350 words. Here is where you can list the original copyright date for your work if it’s a backlist title. You add the book cover here. And if you wish, you can upload a pdf file for Bowker to generate keywords for search engines.

Under the Contributor tab, click Add Contributor. Then fill in the boxes with your name as author and your biography. For Contributor Function, put Author.

Under Format & Size, Click on Medium. Input the type of edition (ebook, print, audio). Choose the Format, i.e. paperback or hardcover for print; electronic book text for digital. Click on Primary Subject. Add the genre, i.e. Fiction-Mystery and Detective. Secondary Subject is optional. Next add the size of the book if it’s for a print edition. I use 5.5 x 8.5. Put any other details you wish to provide.

Finally, under Sales & Pricing, answer Where is the Title Sold? This would be the United States. For Title Status, put Active Record. Here is where you can add your DBA or Company Name as the Publisher. For Target Audience, put Trade for a general adult audience. You must also put in your publication date. If you’re not sure, select a date in the future and go back later to change it.

Under Currency, put US Dollars. Add the price in the box indicated, without the dollar sign. Price Type is the retail price. When finished on this page, click Submit. You can change any of this material, except the ISBN number assignments, at a later date.

If you have another type of format for the same title, you can click Clone next to the first one, assign the next ISBN number, and change the data accordingly.

Now you should be all set and ready to go. You’ve had your earlier books scanned if necessary, cleaned up the manuscript, and decided if you want to revise the work before reissuing it. Catch up on these posts if you’ve missed them:

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Revisions

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation

Coming next is the Production phase.

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Revisions

Reviving Your Backlist Titles Part 3

In addition to reformatting and updating the earlier titles to which you’ve received reversion of rights, will you do a full revision of the work? How long ago did you write it? If you decide to tighten the writing, here is a reminder of what to fix.

Grammar

Remove those amateurish exclamation marks from your early writing days.

Motivate your characters with clear goals. Why is this goal important to him? What is he doing to make it happen? What’s stopping him? If he fails, what’s at stake? If your hero behaves a certain way, tell us what happened to influence this action. Don’t just have him lash out without rationalizing his attitude.

Keep description within the viewpoint of your character. Similes and metaphors should be within the protagonist’s frame of reference. Hairdresser: as limp as a strand of shampooed hair. Or: as tight as a newly permed curl.

When you’re in deep viewpoint, use pronouns rather than the character’s name. Keep viewpoints distinctive. Use a space break when you switch heads.

Avoid flashbacks and backstory. Leave the past in the past unless it’s important for your current story. Keep the action moving forward. Drop backstory into dialogue or relate it in brief thoughts during action scenes. Less is better.

Show, don’t tell. Show your character’s emotions. Don’t tell the reader about them. NO: She felt afraid. YES: Ice gripped her heart. NO: He was angry. YES: He slammed his fist on the table. Physical reactions and nonverbal clues indicate emotions. Without these, you’ve written a cardboard character.

Dialogue should have a purpose. All conversations should have direction. What’s the point you’re trying to make? Who needs to be in this scene? How will it propel the action forward?

Eliminate most substitutes for said along with adverbs that describes speech. NO: “I love it,” he chortled merrily. YES: “I love it,” he said with a chuckle.

Replace he/she said with character tags, but don’t overuse them. Make sure it’s clear who is speaking if there are several lines of dialogue without tags. Eliminate unnecessary tags altogether, like in this example:

His mouth curved in a suggestive smile that made heat rise to her face. “This potato-crusted grouper sounds good,” he said with a wink. “It comes with a salad and herb bread. Why don’t you order for me?”

In my revision, I removed “he said with a wink.” We already know who is speaking and he’d given a suggestive smile. No more is needed.

Avoid long paragraphs of exposition or description. Do these passages really need to be there? Or will readers skip over them? Make the reader feel what your hero feels. Don’t just tell us what’s going on. Also, if paragraphs get too long, split them up. White space is a good thing.

Replace passive verbs with active tense. NO: The slaves were slain by lions. YES: Lions mauled the slaves. NO: His forehead was heated by the sun baking overhead. YES: The baking sun heated his brow.

Replace walked and went with a more visual word. She shuffled toward the door. He raced down the street. He sprinted across the yard.

Watch those “ing” phrases. Make sure your subjects match: NO: Glancing into the rearview mirror, her breath released upon noticing the coast was clear. YES: Glancing into the rearview mirror, she released a breath upon noticing the coast was clear.

Beware of ing phrases that are illogical. NO: Flinging the door wide, she stepped inside the darkened interior. YES: She flung the door wide and stepped inside the darkened interior (i.e. you can’t do both actions at once in the first sentence).

Avoid weak phrases like seemed to, tried to, began to. NO: He seemed to want her input. YES: His smile encouraged her to speak. NO: She tried to tie the knot, but it slipped through her fingers. YES: As she fumbled with the knot, the rope slipped from her fingers. Avoid unnecessary phrases such as she realized, she figured, he decided, he watched.

Avoid weak verbs: is, was, are, were, there was. NO: There was water on the window. YES: Water droplets beaded the window. NO: His pulse was racing. YES: His pulse raced.

Delete redundancies. NO: sat down YES: sat. NO: He thought to himself. YES: He thought. NO: Climbed up YES: Climbed

Check for repetitions: Most of us subconsciously overuse a favorite word. Be alert for these when you read through your manuscript. Avoid the same phrases or words in consecutive pages. Watch out for repeats of the same information in conversations or in a person’s thoughts. As an example, note the word “hoping” used three times in this same paragraph. Oops. This excerpt is from my current Work in Progress.

Hoping to learn more, she focused on what she already knew. “Mr. Ripari was hoping to sell the property. Did you know it had been a pioneer theme park back in its earlier days? He was hoping to turn the house into a living museum. I understand there’s some controversy involved.”
Needless to say, I’ve revised this paragraph.

Remove qualifiers such as: very, rather, quite, really, just, awfully. NO: I remembered that she was really nice. YES: I remembered how her smile lit the room. NO: It was very hot. YES: The heat made my skin itch. One of my favorites is “only.” Vary this one by using “merely” or “simply” or eliminate it altogether.

Beware of flying body parts.NO: Her eyes flew across the room. YES: Her gaze flew across the room. NO: She threw her hands in the air. YES: She raised her arms. NO: Her eyes floated above the crowd. YES: She surveyed the crowd.

Be specific: NO: She passed a clump of flowers. YES: She passed a clump of red tulips sprouting from the ground like supplicating hands. NO: It had been a hard day. YES: Her body sagged as though she’d run a marathon (cliché alert?).

Learn correct spelling: their or they’re; it’s or its; lay or lie; you’re or your. They’re means they are. It’s means it is. You’re means you are.

Be consistent: If you’ve written a series, make sure you are consistent with particular words. Moustache or mustache? Chardonnay or chardonnay? Duffle or duffel? Nightstand or night stand? Think about creating a style sheet so you can have a handy reference for these types of words.

Avoid clichés like the plague. If you spot one during revisions, go back and replace it with something more original. NO: He wore a scowl like a cloak. YES: He wore a scowl like a seasoned samurai.

Go for strong endings at ends of sentences. Don’t end sentences on a preposition. NO: I didn’t know what he was waiting for. YES: I didn’t understand why he waited. NO: He stared in horrified dismay at her. YES: He stared at her in horrified dismay.

Be aware of series continuity. Now that you know where your series is going, you can correct any inconsistencies along the way, plant a hint for something to come, or add/verify the ages and dates when things occur in your characters’ lives.

In conclusion, reword sentences so they’re stronger. Eliminate needless drivel. And make your book the best it can be out of respect for your readers. You want your work to shine so you can be proud of it all over again.

Read earlier post on Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work

Read earlier post on Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work

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.

Contest Alert!
Win an ebook copy of Hair Raiser at Booklover’s Bench on my Let’s Talk post. Enter Here.

 

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation

Once you get the rights back to your earlier titles, what do you do with them? Try to resell these books to a new publisher? Put them online as ebooks for sale? Offer them in a new trade paperback print edition? Go through an intermediary such as Draft2Digital or publish them yourself directly to vendors? And should you revise and update the stories first?

When I got my rights back from Kensington for my earlier Bad Hair Day Mysteries, I decided to tighten the writing, update the technology, and add back materials to the books. Now was my chance to hire a cover artist and get the design I’d always envisioned.

Here are four versions of Permed to Death, the first book in my mystery series. From the left to right: Kensington, Ereads, Open Road Media, and my new AUTHOR’S EDITION (Cover design by Patty G. Henderson at Boulevard Photografica).

coverPTD  PTD  Cohen_PermedDeath  PERMED TO DEATHeBook

So what should you do first if you’re interested in reviving your old titles?

Obtain a File

First you’ll need a digital copy of your book in one entire file. I wrote my early books in the days when we copied the manuscript and snail mailed it to our publisher. Each file was a separate chapter. I didn’t have a single intact file for the book. Nor did I have the edits that were done by my publishing house. In other words, my original files didn’t match the finished product.

What to do? These books came out in hardcover and then in mass market paperback. I decided to have the paperbacks scanned in since they held the most recent edition.

The Scanning Process

If you’re lucky enough to find a digital copy of your book online, you could buy it, download the file and work from there. You can use the free Calibre program to convert between formats. Otherwise, choose a scanning company. I used Blue Leaf. You’ll have to sacrifice the book you send because it’ll be destroyed in the process.

Once you get the files back from the scanner, make sure you have an editable Word document, if this is the software you use. Then you have to review the text WORD FOR WORD to look for scanning errors. You may see a strange squiggle mark. Note this excerpt from Died Blonde:

Shutting off the blow-dryer, Marla plunked it on the counter. “Did you see how Claudia looked away when I mentioned a power blackout? She knew about it Pro­bably Carolyn went to the meter room to turn off my electricity.”

You have to turn on the paragraph reveal mark in Word to see the irregular mark in “probably.” It looks like a hyphen with a bar hanging off the end. You’ll have to go through the entire document looking for this weird symbol. It’s intense, eye-straining work.

Notice the period is missing after She knew about it. Missing punctuation is another problem. Or quotes pointing the wrong way, use of an apostrophe instead of a quote mark, or an extra space after a hyphen.

In revising and updating your work, one of the things to look for are “ing” sentences like that first one. More about that when we talk about revisions.

Here’s another example with a misspelling for Sun-Sentinel. That weird mark is also present in “released.”

“The medical examiner’s report hasn’t been re­leased yet, but the SunSenlinel reporter is saying Carolyn died under mysterious circumstances.”

Here’s a guide on what to look for after having your book scanned:

· Weird symbols when you turn on the paragraph symbol in Word
· Missing or wrong punctuation
· A number “1” instead of an “I”
· Misinterpretations, such as comer instead of corner. Watch for words like this with “rn” coming out as an “m” instead.
· Misspelled words such as for away instead of far away; “die” instead of “the”
· The letter “d” instead of “tl”: Words like abrupdy. Or see this example:

Marla setded a cape around her mother’s slim shoul­ders.

· Check the spacing for italics that it’s normal and not expanded or condensed (Highlight the word, hit Font, then Advanced).
· Make sure italics don’t come out as bold.
· Replace two spaces between sentences with one space if necessary.
· Format chapter headings properly with a page break and remove any section breaks.
· Look for run-on paragraphs or paragraph marks too soon that split a sentence onto the next line. Example:

“Carolyn promised Linda she would inherit her collectibles, but we couldn’t find any items of value.” “Jewelry? If a collection exists, it makes sense 

they were gifts from her private benefactor. I don’t see how Carolyn could afford anything else. Did she have a safety deposit box?”

This should read:

“Carolyn promised Linda she would inherit her collectibles, but we couldn’t find any items of value.”

“Jewelry? If a collection exists, it makes sense they were gifts from her private benefactor. I don’t see how Carolyn could afford anything else. Did she have a safety deposit box?”

You need an eagle eye and several read-throughs to catch all these errors. Regardless of which route to publication you take, you’ll want to present a professional product. So gear up to begin the next stage, which is revisions and/or formatting.(Coming Next!)

LAST DAY FOR CONTEST ENTRIES!!!

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners. http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Enter to win 35 cozy mysteries and a Kindle Fire in Storytellers Unlimited Spring into Mystery Giveaway. My contribution is an ebook copy of Permed to Death. http://bit.ly/CozySpring

 

Author Collectives

AUTHOR COLLECTIVES

“Brainstorming on the Beach” Conference with Novelists, Inc.

Multi-published authors are looking for a way to distinguish their epubbed books from the multitude.  In some instances, they’ve banded together to form cooperatives.  Here are three that presented to us at the conference.  Again, these statements are from my notes and subject to my interpretation.

A Writer’s Work

This site is for authors who have had at least two commercially published works. They sell direct to readers. Books may be original or previously published.  There is no exclusivity.  The author can put it up elsewhere or pull it down at any time.  The author gets 70%.  Then 25% goes toward maintaining the website and the other 5% for Paypal fees. So far they have 18 multi-published authors participating.  http://www.awriterswork.com/

Backlist EBooks

This site is for authors who put their previously published backlists up for sale themselves. They can list the titles here.  This site does not put the books up for sale directly.  There’s a small fee for website upkeep. Each author will have their own page and links to their sites. http://backlistebooks.com/

http://www.facebook.com/BacklistEbooks?v=wall

Book View Café

Membership in Book View Cafe is limited to authors who have had at least one novel published with a traditional advance and royalty-paying print publisher. Author members may sell original works as well as backlist titles through this website direct to readers.  They offer free fiction as well.  These authors have varied amounts of experience in epublishing and help each other format and prepare their work.  They can help with cover design, publishing, and promotion.  http://www.bookviewcafe.com/

Someone said that ePub and pdf are the two most requested formats.

I imagine we’ll see more cooperatives by career authors who want to distinguish their body of work from the uninitiated masses.  If publishers are the gatekeepers, then these authors have already passed through the gate.

BREATHING LIFE INTO YOUR BACKLIST

It’s hard work to breathe life into your backlist but well worth the effort. Fans who get hooked on your latest title will search the bookstore shelves for everything else you’ve written. Hoping to catch new fans with my upcoming futuristic romance, SILVER SERENADE, I’ve begun the process of updating the offering of my very first three published books. These futuristics ended up as a threesome that I now call the Light-Years Trilogy. Belgrave House is converting them to digital media so people with eBook readers will be able to download them onto their Kindles, Sony Readers, Nooks, and more. Originally published in mass market by Dorchester, these titles are currently available online in trade paperback format at iUniverse.com. You’ll have to look for me under the name Nancy Cane. That’s my alter ego for my earlier titles.

It may seem like an easy transition, but I have spent hours reading through CIRCLE OF LIGHT, book one in the trilogy. Not only am I proof-reading for conversion errors, but I’m tightening the prose and adding a Glossary. So my ebook fans will get a new and improved version plus an added bonus!

Hoping to attract interest to the digital version, I’ve posted a new blurb and excerpt on my website as well as on iUniverse. And this doesn’t even count the numerous other places where my books are listed. I still have to do books two and three, but I feel it’s worth the effort. I’m very excited about the potential to bring these titles to a new audience.

If you have the rights back to your earlier works, now is a great time to exploit them. With digital formats, self-publishing, and print on demand, you can breathe new life into your backlist. A whole new generation of readers is out there, just waiting to discover your fabulous stories.