Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tweaking a Book After Publication

My novel Lighting Candles in the Snow (WiDo Publishing, 2012) never sold as well as my other books, an understatement since it never did well AT ALL. Ever. It's the only one that dropped below a million ranking on Amazon Kindle and stayed there.

Finally, it came time to do a bit of tweaking. The ebook has a new cover, and the summary has been tweaked also.

Newly divorced Karoline London needs to heal and find her normal again, as older sister Suzie keeps reminding her. But what does Suzie, married to the ideal husband, know about the shattering effect of living with someone tormented by addictions? 

When Karoline meets a handsome new man, things just might be looking up. Until the day she learns about a tragic event in ex-husband Jeremy's childhood. 

Faced with the horrifying experience that shaped the man she used to love, Karoline reconsiders what she thought was real. In the process, she comes to know the true meaning of love and forgiveness.

My husband said, "As long as we're making changes, how about you take out some of the swearing?" He and I do not swear in real life. However, this book isn't about us. It's about a divorced couple, the divorce driven by a troubled man and what happened to make him who he is. There are characters in this book who do swear, although not that much since I toned it down. But in the world represented by my story, yes, there would be swearing.

Seriously, I don't believe that's what affected sales of this novel. I write different genres and each of my books has its own audience. The audience for Farm Girl will be different than the one for Lighting Candles in the Snow. And generally, those who read Candles gave positive reviews. My favorite is from an unknown reader: "my life is played out in her story. I'wonder how this woman can know enough about addiction? seems so very real. o hell it is real."

As I've stated on this blog, I write what I want and don't concern myself with genre. It may hurt book sales overall, but I don't worry about that. When a story idea comes to me, I go with it and let it come to life with the characters that show up. I don't turn any of them away, even if they swear.

I'd like to see this book get more attention. What do you think about the new cover? And any feedback on the summary? I'd love to know what you think. It's gone to WiDo's summary expert for review so may change again when he gets back to me, but please share your insights!

31 comments:

  1. I think the cover is very tasteful and appealing. I'm not sure about taking out the swearing, but like you and your husband my wife and I don't swear (well, I try not to but sometimes let a word slip through--it's rare though). Blue language seems to be the norm and it's something I struggle with since it can create a greater realism for certain characters.

    I wish you well with the re-release.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  2. Hi Karen - well done on tweaking your book ... how strange it didn't do as well. Good luck with the revamp ... I think some swearing probably is appropriate - I do swear and shouldn't ... but not in nasty way ... and I'm usually laughing as I say the words. But I don't like reading or hearing things full of **** **** **** etc!

    The cover looks professional ... and now good luck as you re-release .. cheers Hilary

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  3. I really like the last paragraph of the summary. And I love the cover. Now alone with dogs, I swear at them in Swedish. I have one phrase I say when they misbehave. And it makes me laugh. Good luck with the tweaking and I will check out the book.

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    1. Inger, Now I'm curious about your Swedish swear words! I'll have to ask my sister who lived in Sweden.

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  4. The new cover is really nice. The blurb is good too, but of course I want to see the old stuff now. :) I hope this perks up the sales as that review was pretty darn good.

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  5. I like the cover. I think the title is a little too cramped on the page, but overall I like the layout.

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  6. I love the cover and title! Even the blurb is good. I do think it was a good idea to tone down swearing. Sometimes I feel like swearing is the equivalent of using italics constantly or capitalizing every single word. It can be overwhelming for a reader even if it is something you feel the character would do naturally. Hopefully your tweaks will get you more sales. :) Have you offered something like a sneak peek for readers?

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    1. Mandy, You are so right. Excessive swearing can be such a distraction and seems even more powerful in the written word than when heard in films. It can make me put down an otherwise good book.

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  7. That is a lovely cover, and the blurb is very good. Perhaps it is its time now!

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    1. Diana, Thank you! I hope it is time for at least a little increase in attention for this novel. It was one of my favorites to write.

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  8. It's a really nice cover. I hope it helps spur more sales. Sometimes we can't figure out why a book lags.

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    1. Alex, I don't even think Amazon knows the secret behind what does or doesn't make a book catch on but they like all publishers keep trying to figure it out.

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  9. "Blue"language is or would make me uncomfortable to write at first, but if it advances the movement of the writing, definitely do it.
    Lovely cover.

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  10. The cover is beautiful! Such a shame it never found an audience. I really liked the story.

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  11. The cover is fabulous! I also like the color palette you've chosen. Writing from the heart, from that place that inspires us is what it's all about. Good for you! All the best with this one!

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  12. Very nice cover indeed. And I'd say well done for tweaking and experimenting - makes a great deal of sense.

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    1. Susan, Diane, SA, Simon: Thank you for your positive feedback on the cover. I too feel it's very well done. The previous cover was one I also liked but I think it was too different and readers were unable to relate to it.

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  13. I really like the cover and the summary is enough for me to go and find it, download and read it! Summaries are SO HARD to write! I don't know what you had before, but I think you did a great job summing everything up.
    Also, I was just reading a blog about writing for yourself and how you can't please everyone. Maybe the right 'group' of readers just hasn't discovered this book yet. Did you promote it the same way/on the same sites?
    I hope to read it soon and will leave a review!
    www.heathermccubbin.blogspot.com

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    1. Heather, "I hope to read it soon and will leave a review"-- Those are the words every writer wants to hear!

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  14. I think the cover looks fabulous and the summary sounds good. I am not sure what you mean by tweaking? It is different for different folks. If this were a house would you be decorating a bit (staging it?) or renovating? I believe that your characters need to swear if that is who they are. I swear like a sailor on leave and some of my characters do and some wouldn't if you put a gun to their heads. It doesn't bother me a bit, obviously, but limiting the true nature of your characters would stand out terribly to me. I think, if it were me, I'd sit and read the book all the way through and then decide what you want to change if anything. I, like some of the others, wonder if this isn't a selling job that needs tweaking rather than a writing tweak. A pain I know, but...

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    1. Jan, I agree it's the selling that needs tweaking. It's been 4 years since I wrote this novel, there's no way I could go back in now and redo any of it. I've moved on. However, I do hope the cover and summary change will make a difference.

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  15. I do love this cover, and can definitely feel the chill even through her marvelous (cable knit?) sweater. Best of success with the revamped book!

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    1. Gail, The image with the cold, snow and Karoline trying to warm herself up or arm herself against it is so ideal for the story and tone of the book, it's amazing to me how the designer got all this just from the summary.

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  16. I love the new cover. I think it's great that you can redo a book after you've published it. Traditional publishing doesn't allow that.

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    1. Stephanie, They actually do, changing covers and doing reprints. But not on a whim, only if they feel sales will justify expense.

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  17. I liked this story and your way of telling it. Good look with the tweaked cover.

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  18. All the best with the new look and new blurb! Sounds interesting story.

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  20. I absolutely love the cover, Karen. It can be taken two ways. Karoline can be warming [or bracing] herself against the winter snow as well as the figurative snow in her emotions toward her ex-husband, considering the new insight into his situation you hint about. The plot is intriguing. All the luck with this release. Thanks for sharing this with your readers.

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  21. I REALLY like the cover. I'm thinking the insides match its awesomeness!

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  22. My only suggestion to the comment would be "Faced with the KNOWLEDGE of the horrifying EVENT...

    My reasoning is without the word "knowledge" it is as if she is facing the event itself, which is impossible if it happened so many years ago.

    I really like the cover.

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