Last week I did something I hadn’t done in a couple of years. I read the first book I published, Casting Stones. I have to say it surprised me. I have some things I might write a little differently if I were to write it now, but really, not much. The book held my attention even though I knew what was coming and I even reached around to pat myself on the back a few times for the turns of phrase, clever analogies and interesting metaphors. Yup. When it was all said and done and I read the last words, I breathed a sigh of satisfaction and realized there was only one thing I wanted to change about the book—the way I published it.
Originally, Casting Stones had around 180,000 words. I know. Like… wow… that’s a ton of words. It took a year, but eventually I trimmed that baby down to a sleek 78,000 as per recommendation of the editor I’d hired. I went ahead and published it in its new fit and trim form, but people did have some questions about what had occurred before and after the events in the novel. The readers wanted more and it was all just laying around on my proverbial cutting room floor.
A respected writing friend suggested I publish companion books as ebooks only, and the short stories of Prelude and Conclusions were born. They’ve done well all along, selling a little every month over the years, but I’ve always felt kind of bad about this because it was as though I was trying to get more money out of my readers and that had not at all been my intention.
One elderly woman in my home town stared me down in the aisle of the grocery store and asked me about what happened prior and after the events of the novel and I explained she would have to buy the Prelude and Conclusions online to find out.
With a scowl on her face, she said, “So that’s your game. I see how it is.”
I felt like an absolute heel.
Well, that little unsettling conversation led to me to put out yet one more Casting Stones book which included all three parts, the prelude, novel and conclusions, in one book. Someone suggested I call it the New Unabridged Version, which I now think sounds too, too… just too. Regardless, this is all a good example of how things evolve and the little stumbling blocks we trip over as we learn the business of writing and publishing… which, of course, I’m still learning.
Regardless, I’ve decided I must figure out how to fix this situation. I’ve decided to take Prelude, Casting Stones, and Conclusions off the market. Retire them. This will leave only the version which includes all three parts… the unabridged version.
BUT, that name is just goofy. And there’s a glitch every author who indie publishes is gasping about right now—If I retire the novel, I lose the majority of my reviews on Amazon. Thirty-two I think, and it took a long time to earn those. The unabridged version only has nine reviews.
What to do, what to do.
Well, here’s what I did and I’m not sure I’ve got this completely figured out, but I’m inching closer all the time. I uploaded the Unabridged version as a new interior file to the Casting Stones Novel edition so I could keep the majority of the reviews.
I then retired the Unabridged version. Not sure this even makes sense to me, but the goal is to keep the reviews the novel had, but give the reader all of the stories in one book. I’m not sure it worked, but I feel pretty good about the idea, and we’ll see how it all turns out.
Now I kind of want to play with a new cover for the new unabridged version, which I am going to just call, Casting Stones, like I originally wanted to call it. I’ve seen the writing big dogs change covers on their books when they bring them back into print or make changes. I just feel like it needs a new face for this new , old, complete or whatever people want to call this book. Not sure though how the public would feel about a new cover. Opinions are welcome. Keep the cover or try something new? Too confusing or interesting?
Anyway, right now if you go buy Casting Stones, you should be getting the entire story in one book. And as I just finished reading it, I can say it is a work of dramatic fiction I am proud of.