Monday, July 14, 2014

Everything old shouldn’t be new again

There’s a trend these days for authors to take older books, revise them slightly and put a new cover on them and release them again.  I know this practice has gone on for years but lately it is even more prevalent as more and more authors jump into the self-published game.   Frankly, as a reader, I hate this practice. 

It is extremely frustrating for any reader to purchase a book that sounded promising, only to find after reading the first ten pages or so that it is extremely familiar.  A few more pages, and its confirmed that not only did you already read that book, now you paid for it twice.  I know I feel duped  and I get extremely annoyed at the author for being dishonest.

As a fellow author, I have to wonder, why  not just write something new?   Obviously, you know how to write. You’ve proven that by all the books you already have done. Every author in the world will tell you they have more ideas for stories then they could have write in a lifetime.  Why not get them out there?  Why go back in time and recreate something that was done and finished?  Is it laziness?  Or is it simply doing what everyone else is doing? 

When an author writes something new, generally readers who haven’t read that author before, will go looking for his/her older titles.  The best promotion in the world, the best way to increase sales is always to write something new and release it.  Our best-selling authors have several stories out there all the time.  We see a nice uptick in sales for an author whenever she releases a new product if she has several titles with us.  To me, that makes sense.

Older isn’t always better and everything old sometimes shouldn’t be new again.  Remember things like orange shag carpet and parachute pants?  Do we really want to go back and bring those out again?  Your older books were written when you might have been a new author, you didn’t know what you do now.  Why revisit them?  Move on.   They did what they were intended to do at the time.  Leave them in the past and write something fresh and new.  The bonus is if you pick up a new reader, he/she will go back and buy that old title anyway.  It makes good marketing sense and good career sense.  Stretch yourself as a writer, don’t fall back on what you’ve already accomplished.


You don’t want to fool your readers.  Trust me, they won’t take a chance on you again if they’ve paid for the same book twice.  So next time you are thinking you’ll just slap on a new cover and re-release something, why not think about your readers and what that means to them and give them what they really want, a brand new exciting story.

Rhonda Penders, Editor-in-Chief
“To garden is to believe in the future”

22 comments:

Tricia Schneider said...

I agree! As a reader, it's disheartening to become excited to see a new book by a favorite author, only to realize it's simply a new cover. As a former bookseller, I know for a fact how many customers also agree. In fact, I used to make a point to inform my customers who were about to buy duplicates of the practice. Yes, I lost a few sales for my bookstore, but I saved a lot of readers from buying the same book again. I never like to see a disgruntled reader!

Juanita Decuir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juanita Decuir said...

I who recognizes a book by the cover illustration whether I have read it or not agree with you...and have done the research on an author thus purchasing her older novels...I really don't comprehend why authors are doing this, I sometimes think maybe it's the publishers that put pressure to sale more books.

Louise Lyndon said...

I agree, Rhonda. I'm not sure why authors do this. I guess the only reason I can think of is they have entered the world of self publishing and the titles they are re-releasing are titles they've just got the rights back to after being published by trad publishers. I'm thinking they want to rebrand them with their new brand. I'm just taking a guess here - I really don't have a firm answer.

As a reader, I get frustrated when I find out I've just purchased a book I've already purchased. Well, frustrated is an understatement. I feel ripped off. Why not just write another book?

As an author they must surely have new ideas for stories. I know I do. Even before I had reached 'the end' while writing, Of Love and Vengeance - I was planning the next story. I've just started that one - and I'm now outlining the next one.

It's a shame when authors feel the need to re-release their old work. Keep moving forward I say.

Ashantay said...

I've started checking the copyright and publishing dates at the front of books, which helps me avoid books I've already read. I've noticed that the library is also putting re-released books on their "newly released" shelves. Makes me want to scream! Thanks for the post, Rhonda.

Sandra Dailey said...

This has happened to me so many times. I think their should be a disclaimer on the front of the book that shows it's a re-release.

Marlow said...

Does this just happen in self-publishing or does it happen in the world of traditional publishers too?
I just ask because I've read some re-releases of Janet Evanovich's, not her big Stephanie Plum books, but some of her early work and I have to wonder if it was her choice.
As you said, they were her early work and weren't at the standard I had come to expect from her.
Anyway, I agree we always have to look to the future and at improving our work.

Lynda Coker said...

I am so with you on this! It makes me really angry when I've paid for a book and then discover that it has been slightly recycled to appear new. This practice makes the author appear lazy and less than honest, not a good impression to leave with what was previously a devoted fan.

Gloria Marlow said...

I have never self-published and don't plan to ever self-publish. I didn't hide my firstborn kid when the other two came along. I don't throw out a dress I like just because I got a newer one. Why would I let my first few books fall by the wayside because I wrote others? My backlist is being released right now through a publisher who specializes in backlists after the original publisher went out of business.

They are marketed as a re-releases and after another round of editing, implementation of what I've learned since I wrote them, etc., I feel they are much improved over the original. I am excited about them being re-released. I have continued to write other books, and will continue to do so, but these are my books, too, and I want them available to my readers. In the years since they were originally published, I have gained new readers and I hope to continue to gain more as time passes. Having all my books available is very important to me. To be honest, they sold very few copies the first time, but in the re-release version one of them has been well below the 100,000 sales ranking on amazon since its re-release in December. Since I've never seen these kind of sales before, I am excited and it has truly given my writing a great boost.

Barbara Edwards said...

I have a close friend who has taken her older books and rereleased them. I envy her the enormous backlist, but wonder if her readers appreciate her efforts to cut out the publishers cut by going indie.

Nia Simone said...

Oh my gosh, that's not a good practice. That is what I would call "penny wise and pound foolish." Thank you, Rhonda!

Mackenzie Crowne said...

I agree and yes, I've been frustrated by this experience several times. Still, Gloria's point is valid too. As a reader, I want all I can find from favorite authors. As an author, I want my old books available to readers and if they're no longer available through the publisher, that's a problem.

vicki batman said...

I agree! Before I began writing, I would pick up various books, checking the cover and flipping to the back cover for the blurb. Hmm, sounds good, I think. Then eagerly dive in only to find I'd read it. I had a book database I'd loved and it went perclunk. So I got a new one and it isn't as good. And frankly, my reading time has gone down due to other things. Which means, no dupes.

Velda Brotherton said...

Rhonda, I agree with you in theory, however, my earliest books came out to a completely different audience. When I re-released them to Kindle only I made sure that the information was in the front when they were originally published. They've done quite well as Ebooks only to a new audience. However, I continue to put out new books as fast as I can write them. I've actually had new readers thank me because they hadn't been able to read my earlier books. So I guess there are two sides to the issue.

Abigail Owen said...

Really interesting topic and comments. I have been that frustrated reader, but there are also some good points to when this might make sense.

Having self-published, I don't know that I'd rerelease a new version of the book, but I have changed book covers. In my case, I realized that decisions I made with the original covers when I was first starting weren't the best decisions. However, the release dates are still the original dates - only the covers changed. Based on some of the comments I may have to consider adding a sentence about the cover change to warn unsuspecting readers.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

It isn't just authors who rerelease old books with new covers. One of the big-big six NY publishers does this. A very famous author of historical westerns passed away several years ago. Since that time, said publisher has been busy re-releasing all of his backlist with new covers. I got duped three times. Now I own new copies of old books that I've already read. It's a waste of good money, and unprofessional of the publisher.

Penny Rader said...

Imho, one of the benefits of older titles being re-released is it gives readers access to older titles by a new favorite author and/or replace books by a favorite author (ex: damaged, not returned when borrowed by a fried, dropped in the bathtub, etc). Sure, readers could go to a used book store and hope to find the out-of-print book(s), but authors don't received any royalties from those purchases.

Alicia Dean said...

Great post. Yes, it would be very frustrating as a reader to purchase a book you'd already read.

Rhonda Penders said...

Okay so here's another thought, if you have a book that is say more than a decade old - I can see the point in dusting it off, cleaning it up and releasing it. But there are authors who literally re-release a book that's only a couple years old. A new cover, a new look and out it goes. Frankly, you can't sway me into thinking that's good practice.

Older, again, more than 10 years since it was on the market I can see that - I guess. I probably wouldn't do it myself but I can see why an author might bring back some that have been out of circulation that long.

Rhonda

Mary Morgan said...

I could not agree more! I've been a bookseller and cannot begin to tell you how frustrating my customers were when they would buy a book believing it to be new, and then finding out they had already read it! My reply, "Return it."

Now as a published author, I will remember not to ever do this to my readers. I believe in moving forward, not backwards.

Great post, Rhonda!

Vonnie said...

Exactly. I find the thing that stands out most is that attitudes change so fast. A book that might have been readable 8 years ago, is now very dated unless it is brought up to date by an astute author.

Anonymous said...

As an author of published books, I understand the reader's frustration with re-prints. However, many of my books were sold before Kindle, Nook and Amazon and were not available as e-books. So what would be the problem to sell them again to a new publisher and make certain they say it is a re-print and give the date of the first print. I don't want to throw away my books like trash because readers still buy and enjoying them. Pinkie Paranya