Old Favorites Made New Again

Most readers have a keeper shelf for those books that so touched them, they’re kept to be read and re-read over and over through the years.  At left is one of my keepers, though without the original cover.   The romance so integral to the story remains unchanged, but as decades pass it’s unavoidable that some of the details become dated.

Recently I got the rights back on five of my earliest novels for Silhouette.  Two have received new life in digital format so far, with the other three following (hopefully this summer).  As I wait for my son to design new covers for them, I take the opportunity to re-edit the books and update the characters’ world to make them more relatable in today’s context.  This includes checking to be sure the story people aren’t driving models of vehicles that have been discontinued; that there aren’t descriptions of hairstyles or clothing that are out of style; they use GPS rather than scrambling for a map; there are no references to popular culture that is no longer, well, popular; and that no one searches endlessly for a pay phone rather than taking a cell out of their pocket.

Being the ruthless self-editor that I am I also take the opportunity to change word choices and phrases that probably only bother me.  And–take my word on this–none of my new covers will show heroes sporting what can only kindly be described as mullets <g>.

MCLAIN’S LAW, the first of the novels to be released digitally was the second book I ever wrote, the first to be published by Silhouette.  I e-pubbed it in March and it’s been a fun experiment to take total control of the book in all areas.  I still remember the thrill of  my ‘first sale’ call with that book, and how excited I was when it was first released.  I made my husband take me on a search of stores and he thought it was hilarious as I got progressively more irritated to find the copies sold out at each place we stopped.  I wanted to see the book on a store shelf, darn it!!  Oh, for the print run and distribution of those days!

The sequel to that book, AN IRRESISTIBLE MAN was uploaded this month.  I just love it when authors give favorite secondary characters their own story and Cruz Martinez remains one of my favorite heroes.  As I recall I sent the book in untitled (80% of my books ended up with different titles anyway) but I was vehemently opposed to the *one* title suggested by the senior editor:  Maddy’s Lawman (gag).  After no fewer than thirty suggestions of my own, we came up with AN IRRESISTIBLE MAN.  Cruz earned himself a hero’s W.I.S.H. award from Romantic Times magazine.

Next up will be RANCHER’S CHOICE, the very first book I ever wrote.  It was published second, but it does give me the distinction of having published the first book I wrote, albeit after doing a couple major surgeries on it!  I can’t look at it objectively, as when I read I see every rookie writer’s mistake in it, but it started me on my writing career, so it’ll always be a little special to me for that.  Later this summer we’ll release GUARDING RAINE and BRINGING BENJY HOME.

It’s gratifying to see the books earn new readers and even more so to hear from readers who have much loved dog-eared copies of the original on their keeper shelves.  Some buy the digital to have it on their e-readers, as well.

Do you have favorite books you’d like to see get new life?  When you re-read one of your keepers, are you ever yanked out of the story by dated details?

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14 Responses to Old Favorites Made New Again

  1. Your covers are awesome! Good luck with sales!

  2. Kylie Brant says:

    Thanks, Cynthia! It’s so nice when our kids are old enough to be useful to us, isn’t it 🙂

  3. michelehauf says:

    COngrats, Kylie, those look awesome! I have a keeper shelf but never get a chance to reread! But someday, for sure.
    It’s fun, and sometimes weird, re-reading those old stories and touching them up for re-publication. Just got one of mine back that I sold in ’93. That’s almost 20 years since I’ve read it! It hasn’t weathered the years very well, either.
    Do you find in those old books that you want to rewrite things? Or are you content to just let them stand as ‘classics’, with just a few adjustments, like you said, to cell phones and hair styles?

    • Kylie Brant says:

      No, Michele, I’m a ruthless self-editor and will slash away when I re-edit the books. What I cringe at with mine is how the alpha heroes of the time came off as great big jerks 😦 Tried to change that some to reflect more modern heroes, but they still aren’t the way I’d write them today.

  4. loisgreiman says:

    Oh yes, favorites…love them. I’m having fun re-issuing my old friends, too. Who knew we would have this opportunity?

  5. Kylie Brant says:

    It’s a great opportunity, isn’t it, Lois? And so fun to have total control, LOL!

  6. leannebanks says:

    Kylie congrats on your re-releases! So exciting! So nice for your readers!:) I reread every now and then. The dated stuff doesn’t usually jerk me out of the story, although it may make me smile.:)

    • Kylie Brant says:

      Leanne, I used to be a huge re-reader. When I’d finished the new month of Silhouettes I’d spend the next two weeks in the month re-reading. Unfortunately my writing time came out of my old reading time. Just don’t get the time for that anymore.

  7. I have mixed feelings about updating too much. For one thing, the copyright dates on mine have remained the same. I want the editors on my reissues to point out anything that strikes them, and then I look at it in context. In the last book I worked on, I took out a reference to Michael Jackson, but I didn’t replace it with someone who wouldn’t have been popular or maybe not even around when the book was actually copyrighted. If I have to switch vehicles, the updated one will be a make that would’ve been around before.

    I’m careful about changing technology in the book, but I have to say, technology doesn’t figure in much with most of my stories. And it could ruin them. I don’t want my cowboys riding around on ATVs, which are way too popular in cowboy country today. My characters tend to be the exception to the rule anyway, so maybe I’ll find a way to play that up as I’m doing revisions. (We don’t need no stinkin’ ATV in these parts, mister.) I thought about referencing a GPS in a scene recently–editor asked whether it would make sense–I decided not to. It didn’t fit the overall feel. And you know what facelifts can do to an old friend.

    My understanding is if you make substantial (substantive?) changes you need to get a new copyright. Anybody know how that works?

  8. Kylie Brant says:

    I don’t know anything about that, Kathleen but I’d like to know more. I suppose if one rewrote the book? I tend to stick to more superficial changes of phrasing and updates.

  9. MaryC says:

    I am very happy to be able to purchase backlists of authors I love. As I am aware it is an older book, outdated details don’t ruin the story for me. Even though I have a huge pile of books tovbe read (print and digital), I love rereading old favorites.

    • Kylie Brant says:

      Great, Mary, you are exactly the kind of reader we love 🙂 The one nice thing about this process is–I always sort of wished I could read one of my books with no memory of it, so it’d be fresh. I wanted to see it as others would. This is the next best thing!

  10. Cindy Gerard says:

    Congrats on the reissues, Kylie! Love that our old books are getting new life. They were great back when they were first released and there’s an entire audience out there who missed out. Yea for them to get this crack at them!

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