Going Forward - Questions About Reprints

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LostInWonderland

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So, now that I'm no longer under contract with PA, I've had some time to think about the books I had with them, and I'm wondering about their future. Both are firsts in their own respective trilogies, so I really don't want to just let them die, but I also know what a headache it would be to try to get them published commercially. So I've been thinking about self-publishing these trilogies and had some questions.

First off, both books could sorely use a re-write and some fleshing out. If the books change significantly, are they still reprints? Should they have new titles, or should I just tack something onto the current titles like "new edition" or something similar, or just leave the title as is with no hint at it being a rewrite of a previous work? Also, would it be in my best interest to use a pen name or the name I used when the books were with PA? Is there a certain protocol for any of this? I want to be as professional as possible.

And on a sort of unrelated note, I'm also writing a new series of books which I would like to try to get an agent for. Will having current self-published books listed for sale be a negative in an agent's eyes? Or will it not matter since they're completely unrelated works?

My mind has been so frazzled as to how to proceed with my writing career, so any input would be greatly appreciated :)
 

Gillhoughly

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I don't blame you for being frazzled, but take a deep breath. You're out of the tar pit and can start fresh.

Do your rewrites and fleshing out. It's good for your craft as a writer. Make those the best books possible, get them workshopped, do more rewrites, polish until they shine on their own. If a trilogy is unfinished, then finish it.

It is not likely you can resell them to a commercial house. Even a new title and a pen name may not be enough for an editor to consider them to be all new books. PA, like it or not, was their first "publisher" and took their cherry. From now on, they're reprints to the professionals in the business.

I know many of the other pros here might shudder at what I write next, but for those reprints you may want to look at venues like Kindle, PubIt! and Smashwords.

They're free, no one cares what the past publishing history of a book is, and they are a way of getting instant and unvarnished feedback on the work. Nothing like a few bad reviews for taking a book down for another rewrite!

Or you may be able to sell a few copies.

Certainly self-publishing is a better venue than PubliSHAMerica. The royalty rate's better at the very least. Sell them at a fair price, no dicking around with .99-1.99 just to give a false boost to sales, no giving 'em away for free. Put a value on your work, and make sure it is WORTH BUYING.

You don't need a pen name unless you want one. You can--if you feel the need--mention in the description the books were previously published and have gotten the "director's cut" treatment. Otherwise, let them stand on their own and if you get feedback of any kind, use it to your advantage.

Your new books? Finish 'em, submit 'em to real commercial publishers or reputable agents. There's plenty of writers here who will be glad to help you with that!

There's no need to mention the whole PA experience to prospective agents / editors. They won't hold it against you, but why take up valuable space in a query letter by mentioning a rookie mistake. They're only going to be interested in what you've just done, not ancient history.

There's no need to mention the reprints to them (unless you sell 5000 Kindle copies for 3.99 a pop in the first month or so). If you pull an Amanda Hocking and hit the mother lode in sales, take advantage of that for all it's worth.

There's life after PA, no fear. Put on your game face, take the time to do a damn good job on ALL the books, old and new, and bull ahead. PA was a speed bump. They leave you shaken up, but you keep moving forward.

Good luck!
 

James D. Macdonald

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I'd say, work on your new book first, using everything you've learned over the past seven years to make it wonderful.

You can re-write the older material at the same time. I'm sure you're a better writer now.

You could self-publish as Gil mentioned, but don't do this if it takes time and energy away your new work. I wouldn't mention the prior PA edition anywhere in the revised editions. No one will have read the older versions anyway. I'd also come up with a pseudonym and new titles for the revised editions. It isn't like you're going to be springboarding off of the books' prior success to gain readers.

You probably will need a pseudonym for the new works with commercial publishers, though.

You don't need to mention PublishAmerica as you go forward any more than you need to mention the bad boyfriend you had back in high school when you're in college and starting a new relationship.
 

LostInWonderland

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Thank you both for the wonderful advice! My head already feels a little clearer, and I have a better grasp on where to go from here. :)
 

Gillhoughly

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What Uncle Jim said. He's more sensible on that kind of thing.
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Deb Kinnard

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That all being said above, with which I agree, there are publishers who WILL take reissues. I've reissued two books previously commercially published (not PA) with Desert Breeze. They went through new edits, new covers, and are basically better books.

Mind you, the larger houses will not reissue a previously pubbed book. But some of the smaller ones may, particularly if they like the story and/or your writing style. Like Uncle Jim says, I suspect your writer's toolkit will be quite a bit fuller than it was when you first wrote this story down.

May your work find favor, whatever you decide.
 

Christine N.

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What desert said. My first two books went out of print and my current series publisher picked them up for 'revised and expanded' editions. Meaning, I'm rewriting them and making them better before I let them go out again. They're not my favorite stories, but kids like them, so I think there's more life in them.
 

LostInWonderland

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Thank you, Deb and Christine, for sharing your experiences with reprints. Although I have heard of authors reprinting their novels with commercial publishers, I don't think that's the best course of action with mine. I think my time might be better well spent trying to find an agent/publisher for my new series which I'm most passionate about. But again, thank you for your input.
 

James D. Macdonald

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Commercial publishers will reprint books if they think they can make a profit on 'em. That's the sole requirement. Many times they won't do reprints, though, because they figure the book has already sold every copy that it's going to sell.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away