Re-branding and Fall Clean-up

Fall 2004 015Don’t you just love October? A bit of Indian Summer to go with the beautiful autumn  foliage makes it the perfect time for some fall clean-up–although the past few days have felt more like May than October. I’m afraid I’ve spent far too much time indoors lately instead of being out enjoying this fabulous weather. I did get out for one last kayak trip this week, but yes, I’ll admit that I’ve been dragging my feet on weeding out my perennial bed and prepping for winter. I’m sure it will all get done in the nick of time, and trust me, I have a good excuse.

I’ve been working hard to finish up the third book in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy, due out in December. I’m happy to say the first draft is complete and I’m diving into revisions. Yayyy! If you’re a writer, you know that reaching “THE END” is never an easy feat and it’s definitely cause for celebration, but you probably also know that it’s just the beginning of the hard work of revising and editing, polishing and publishing within a pretty strict set of looming deadlines. In addition, I’m in the process of writing a Christmas novella (more on that next month), and I’m re-branding the Lily Carmichael trilogy.

That means new covers, some targeted marketing, and cleaning up some minor issues with books one and two. That’s right,  in order to move on to revisions, I’ve had to go back and read  WANING MOON and WESTERN DESERT to make sure I have all the details straight and threads tied up. During the re-reads, I found a few small continuity errors, typos, and some generally sloppy writing mistakes. (It turns out I’ve learned a few things in the past couple of years.)

One of the coolest parts of indie publishing is the ability to make changes even after a book is published. I consider this a fall clean-up project, much like cleaning out closets or washing windows. It’s not like anyone would likely notice the dirty little details, but it’s an opportunity to  put a fresh face on and make everything sparkly clean. I’m hoping that the combination of the new covers, the cleanest copy possible, and the ability to offer pre-orders six weeks in advance of the release of HEALING WATERS will have a significant impact on sales for the series. I’ll keep you posted and let you know if it works!

As for why the re-branding, Bella Andre once said in a workshop at RWA Nationals, that if your books aren’t selling, the first thing to do is to consider changing your covers. Aside from writing great books, it’s the easiest thing we can do and one of the few things we have control of. The market changes quickly, and competition is fierce, so it’s super important to try to make our books stand out and look professional. That’s why I hired Kim Killion of The Killion Group. She’s awesome to work with, reasonably priced, and tops in the industry. I’m excited about the fresh new look!

Here’s the new cover for SOUL REDEMPTION, the short story prequel to the trilogy. This is a 15k FREE short story available for download from Smashwords.PJSharon_SoulRedemption_200

What’s it like to be a teenager in the year 2057? Life is hard enough when three quarters of the population has been wiped out by a viral plague and a polar shift threatens to drive humanity to extinction. Adding a genetic modification that gives you the power to take life with a touch only makes being a thirteen year-old boy that much more challenging–especially when he can’t control his growing ability.

Zephron Carmichael would like nothing more than to have a normal life. But hiding out in the Northeast Hills trying to escape capture by the Industry—a rogue division of the New Government who wants to exploit Zeph’s gift—is hardly the way to go about it. Life isn’t so bad on the small woodland farm he shares with his Uncle, but he’s tired of living under the shadow of his annoyingly perfect and bossy big sister, Lily, whose ability to heal makes her well respected and loved in the community. It also makes her another perfect target for the Industry.

As Zeph struggles to control the awesome and terrible power that’s growing inside him, he must find a way to protect his sister, find a place in the world, and make amends for a terrible wrong.

You can also read Zeph’s story on WATTPAD

In the meantime, I’m releasing the new covers–one each Friday–over at my PJ Sharon Books FB page. For being such loyal followers of the Scribes, you guys get a sneak peak of the new cover for WANING MOON a day early!

PJSharon_WaningMoon__200

Be sure to pop over and “like” my FB page if you want to join me next Friday for the new WESTERN DESERT cover and on October 31st to see the big reveal for HEALING WATERS (my favorite cover so far!)

I’d love to hear your thoughts about new covers, re-branding, new ideas for marketing old books, or if you’ve ever wished you could go back and fix a book that’s already been published. Your turn…

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11 thoughts on “Re-branding and Fall Clean-up”

  1. It’s so great that, as an indy, you can be so flexible and adapt as you are seeing trends, etc.

    Love the new covers. Best of the luck with the upcoming new release!

  2. When I first published the 1st book of my series, I followed the advice to ‘hire an editor’ and was told to ‘keep it under 140,000 words’ and to pare it down to mostly just the two main POV characters, and also that my book would sell better if it was marketed as a paranormal romance, so I followed the editor’s advice, edited out a ton of stuff to enter it in the ABNA contest. At that point, it was ‘clean’ enough to publish, so I did. But while I got good reviews, I felt as though I’d betrayed my original vision, which was that this book was part of a sprawling epic fantasy series (of which I’d already written the entire 5-book series rough draft) and I’d sold my characters short. So after a couple of months I pulled it down, put BACK 38,000 of the words the editor told me to delete, including extending the scenes of some of the alternate POV characters I’d been told to pare down, and re-published it under a whole new ISBN.

    More importantly, I asked my genre-READERS what parts they liked best, people who loved the story for its own sake, and not an editor with an agenda or experience making a book ‘fit’ into a marketing plan. And, ironically, despite castrating and gutting out the story to force it into a PNR cubby-hole, the READERS who stumbled across and loved my story enough to connect to me were all people who saw, within the glimmer of the castrated PNR story, my original vision of this massive, sprawling tale about the wars in heaven at the dawn of time. The professional editor said ‘let’s make this PNR,’ while I had written a 3,500 BC version of Game of Thrones.

    Now it’s a lot harder to market an epic fantasy series than a PNR, but I’m happier with my choice, and more importantly I seem to have gathered that small, core group of readers who share and love my vision of that series as each new book comes out. Lately, as subsequent books in the series have emerged, the intergalactic space opera element has come more to the forefront, so I went back and changed the cover of my first book to reflect the fact my story is a melding of the two genres (which it always was, I just originally picked a cover that, while beautiful, only said ‘fantasy’). Thank god for GIMP! I had a great time playing ‘dress an angel’ with WWII military uniforms, modern weaponry, and futuristic spaceships all set into the real-life ruins of the Neolithic Mesopotamian city-state (Assur) where my story is set.

    And, of course, if anybody spots a typo or some clunky word they just HATE, I keep a running list and, every time I go in to re-upload the book to add links to whatever NEW book I just released, I skim through the suggestions and fix any boo-boo’s I still might have missed. My latest one was somebody complained I used the word ‘Rubenesque’ to describe a woman in 3,500 BC … uh … yeah … valid point. Ruben wouldn’t exist for another 5,400 years. She is now a CURVACEOUS woman.

    1. Thanks Stacey. Kim outdid herself on the covers. I’m not an easy person to work with because I’m picky and I know what I want…or think I do…haha. She’s a gem!

  3. I’m in the process of rebranding, too. It’s fun to refresh. Only my books are sort of in limbo right now. When people ask, I let them know new versions are coming because I don’t want them stuck with the old. Kim Killion ROCKS, btw. I’ve bought her stock photos often. Good luck with everything, PJ!!!

    –Ann

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