What prompts an author to kill her own book?
In early 2019 my third novel is scheduled to die. I admit the prospect makes me sad. This book, with its sunny yellow cover, has been part of my life for a while.
I finished it in late 2012, and released it on Kindle on my husband’s birthday in January of 2013. Physics teacher turned superhero Alex Zeitman remains one of my favorite creations.
As with my first two books, x0 and y1, I’ve never totaled up the exact sales, because it’s not easy to separate a sale from a give-away. I’m pretty sure I’ve been paid for at least two hundred copies, and have gifted at least as many more. I’d hoped for more sales, of course, but every time a stranger liked my book and let me know, it delighted me. No regrets.
Times change. Sales of z2 have gone from small to nearly zero.
A few months ago, I attended a conference of science fiction writers, and signed up for a mentor. It may have been one of my more useful decisions. This professional writer pointed out that I could still have a marketable product in this particular story, but I needed a more genre-appropriate cover, a much better title, and an updated and aggressive marketing plan.
I can change the title of my book? Apparently I can. I do need a new ISBN number (no problem). I also need to acknowledge to the new reader what has been done (just in case he or she is one of the 400 humans who already read this story.)
And …. I need to kill z2. That is, I must take it off the market completely. No electronic versions for sale, although those who have it obviously always will. No new paperbacks printed and sold, although nothing can prevent current owners from reselling their copies on Amazon and elsewhere.
Over the years, I’ve eliminated all the hyperlinks in the book, and the text that went with them. I’ve made corrections and done minor clean-up. Why not. But I’ve refrained from doing anything major.
Because this will be a new book, I have the chance to do some serious editing. So I have. The original z2 came in at almost 132,000 words. I’m not sure what the leaner new version will be, but I’m targeting under 110,000. I’m in the process of breaking the chapters into smaller chunks. I’m giving more attention to point of view. I’m taking the techniques I’ve learned over the past six years, at conferences, from other writers, and simply from practicing my craft for hours every week, and I’m doing my best to fold those learnings into telling my story better.
It is still a work in progress, but so far I’m pleased with the result.
So while z2 will soon cease to exist, it will give birth to a new and better novel. I’ll be blogging all about it here soon,