Put a Fresh Face on Those Older Books

Good morning!  I LOVE that fish image... because sometimes you have to be brave enough and savvy enough to just go the other way. I think having survived a really rough childhood, I learned to swim upstream as needed.

Ruthy here. Ruthy who has gotten the rights back on four books this year.... and has the wonderful task of being able to go through them...

Word for word, step by step...

And re-publish them.




In the old days... like fifteen years ago... your old books sat on a publisher's back stock and most likely were never seen again. Now that's not true of Nora Roberts and Jodi Thomas and Debbie Macomber and Linda Howard.... those category authors hit the big time with bigger imprints and then their early works were published and repackaged and republished, and packaged again and republished.... and the author got whatever the original deal was.

Amazon/Kindle and Kindle Direct Publishing changed all of that.

And the law... the law helped, too, by saying that if an author's work was not being marketed, then the publishers needed to set reasonable guidelines to return the rights to the author if those guidelines were met. And that's the time we live in. As the author of 30 category books, I am very happy about that because that means my backlist doesn't die. It gets republished, only now I'm the publisher. So what does that mean? 

I'll tell you.

First, THIS IS NOT A DIFFICULT PROCESS. It takes time and work and effort but you are going to make money, so to me, that's a no-brainer.

1. Find the cleanest copy you can, complete with edits. (my original Love Inspired books in 2009 to 20013 were done with hard copy edits. I mailed them into the office in NYC, so those aren't available except in the story itself and back then, they sent LOCKED files so that you couldn't open them for editing. You simply printed the page with the edits. And mailed it.) 

SO MUCH  HAS CHANGED!!!!! Harlequin was gracious enough to send me unlocked files, which is wonderful. But they shift as I'm working.... so there's a lot of restructuring.... and they shift again during formatting, so leave time for two complete read-throughs. Am I particular about these read-throughs?

Yes. Because I want the best possible product for my customers, my readers. They deserve nothing less.

2. Arrange for formatting or if you have a Mac and Vellum and know how to do it, go for it. 

I don't. I don't have a Mac, nor Vellum, and I hire Jen at Killion to format all of my books (and I've put out a lot of them) and here is why: I have gotten no complaints from readers. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

When I see an indie book that's got publishing issues, I wince because it doesn't have to be that way. It costs me $60 for a Kindle format and $80 for a print. And as I get my rights back to multiple novels, I put every one out in print and Kindle format because I still have readers who love, love, love books. The print books are a minimal part of my monthly sales, but I love my readers and they have supported me for twelve years, so I'll do what I need to make accessibility to Ruthy books EASY.  I will do audio soon, too, God willing. Covid hit four weeks after I bought the equipment for my own little audio center, and my house has been noisy ever since...  Anyway, I want my indie books to look just as professional as my traditionally published books. Inside... and out.

3. Design a cover that reflects the book and/or series.

I don't find covers as important as some would have you believe.... BUT... having said that... I like good covers. When I went on cover hunts, though, I realized that the AUTHOR sells way more books than the cover, so as I release more and more books to the indie market, that readership (and page reads on Kindle, a wonderful marketing tool) increases. This is not overnight success. This is regularly feeding the tiger (Amazon) by getting books out there on a regular basis.  So the covers are important, but the readers' love for the author is still the #1 reason they buy or read your work.  And if you have the time/talent/wherewithal to design your own covers, go for it! Practice makes perfect. Personally, I gain traction by writing more and having Beth do covers and graphics. And I am not good at that stuff!!!! Not good!!!!! I can own it!!!!!

We've talked behind the scenes about series specific covers... I believe in that, it makes it easier for the reader to recognize the book/series/style. In my wonderful and long term with Love Inspired, the series didn't have a cover "feeling".... they were well done but looked like anybody's cover and one series could easily be stacked with another and no one would know the difference. Now I had the power to change that.

Here are the WISHING BRIDGE COVERS. The first two were designed by Waterfall Press/Amazon/Brilliance Audio the original publisher of books one and two. I wanted the ensuing covers to reflect the first two. To fit as if designed by the same person. Beth Jamison of Jamison editing created the covers for "Finding Peace in Wishing Bridge" and "Embracing Light in Wishing Bridge".

Put a Fresh Face on Those Older Books

But when I had Beth do the North Country Series, my first three books whose rights reverted to me, I had her do a distinctively different look:

Put a Fresh Face on Those Older Books

And now that I have rights back to several of my Men of Allegany County series with Love Inspired, they will have their own distinctive look. I wanted small-town/rural looks that reflect the feelings within each book but done in a style that shows the books are related. 

Put a Fresh Face on Those Older Books

Reunited Hearts has been re-released, Small Town Hearts is coming in March, and then The Lawman's Second Chance is coming in June and A Family to Cherish is scheduled for July/August.... 

Now, once you have the book updated (TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED SO MUCH IN TEN YEARS!!!! My references to cable TV, to flip phones, to what's available to businesses needed some updating.... the story was solid, but every mention of that stuff dated the story as 2011... :) Oh my stars, who knew?????) you're going to plan your launch. 

kdp.com walks you through it. And if you're going through the process and have questions, email me and ask. It is mostly a simple "enter your answer" process. And ten years ago, it changed like three times a year. That's not true now, the tech behind the scenes is much more solid.

Planning your launch.... This is where I differ from a lot of authors because when you're brand new at this, a big launch isn't always the best way to go.  It's like a splash of water in a pan of hot grease... quickly burned off. Think of how a mill wheel works along a historic creek bed.... the movement of the water pushes the wheel. Slowly at first... and then, as the wheel gains momentum, the water moves the wheel more easily. And the wheel speed is controlled by how much water is channeled to the wheel, right? Our "water" is the number of books... 

I plan ahead. I've had the Southern Tier books since last summer, but wanted them to fill in 2022 between Wishing Bridge launches. That way I'm feeding the fire every couple of months. I'm asking for several more books this year.

I am working on a mystery series for 2023 and 2024.... because I'm still doing traditional contracts. And I want four of these mysteries done before I publish the first one. So I write them when I have down time and I keep them tucked away like money in the bank.

I look ahead to make sure I'll have product to keep the wheel turning. Patience is your friend when launching indie books. And steady work helps keep you in the mix.

Are these hard, fast rules? No. But it's what's worked for me over the years, and the key component, the basic element is to keep producing work. Keep publishing. Keep writing.  

ALL RIGHT, THAT'S IT FOR TODAY!  To thank you for getting to this point, I've got a copy of any Wishing Bridge or North Country book... or Reunited Hearts... to send to some lucky winner! E-book or print, your choice. But in order to be considered, you've got to leave a comment below... what scares/worries/concerns you about indie publishing or getting rights reverted? Are you afraid to hurt editor's and publisher's feelings?

Leave a comment below and let's talk. Hey... it's Friday, I have a new bathroom that I've been waiting 32 years for... yes.... 32 years!!!!! So I'm in a real good mood! :)

Put a Fresh Face on Those Older Books

Bestselling, award-winning inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne is living her dream of writing the kinds of books she likes to read. Email Ruthy at loganherne@gmail.com, visit her website at ruthloganherne.com or friend her on Facebook where she shares probably WAY TOO MUCH information, but she does love, love, love her readers! Ruthy and Farmer Dave own a very busy pumpkin farm in Western New York, and for six months of the year her life is cray cray with planting, weeding, fertilizing, etc... but she loves it! And she knows So Much About Pumpkins and Squash that she's quite a bore to talk to as she shares copious amounts of pumpkin/squash and mum production. :) And yet, people keep coming!