Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Query question: revising/expanding a previous book

 I wrote a memoir about my childhood based on what I remember and what I was told. I didn't know anything much about my past, how to write a book, or research that goes with it. I was adopted. So, without the research I just rushed through with writing and self publishing the book. Since then I've located my biological parents and did research. I have all the research documents and people to back me up. How can I used what I have to rewrite my memoir? How so I explain the rewrite? Can I use a different title for my book?

You can do anything you want since this is your book, and your story. "Revised editions" or second editions of books are much more common with textbooks than memoir, but there are lots of people who write more than one memoir of their life. The late great Leonard Nimoy is a case in point. I AM NOT SPOCK was published in 1975.  I AM SPOCK was published in 1995.

You might think about writing a completely different book rather than revising. That will solve the biggest problem you face which is reader confusion.

You don't want readers to think they've already read the book if you want them to buy the revised and expanded version. Also, you don't want people to think it's a different book and be angry cause they'd read
the first version.

You can use a different title, but that makes it a new book.

You can call it an updated, revised, expanded version and use the same title but you MUST put "parts of this book originally appeared in an edition published in X"  OR "this edition is a revised, expanded version of TITLE published in X"

Nothing gets a reader annoyed like thinking they've been hoodwinked by old books being sold as new. 

And you might address the issue of the revision/expansion/update by writing a preface to this new book, saying what you said here: you've got  more info and more story.

The rule here is to be transparant with your readers and buyers.  


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I love this, "... updated, revised, expanded version...". Sounds like it not only applies to the book but to the writer's life. How wonderful. Not many woodland creatures get a chance to update, revise and expand their lives. To you, I wish good luck and less lima beans.

Dena Pawling said...

There's been a lot of discussion on this topic at my RWA chapter meetings, because several of the members have received their rights back to previously-published work. One lady just sold her 100th book to Harlequin! How exciting is that? :)

Anyway, most of them update their books and some of them re-title the books too. Then they self-pub, and occasionally offer these backlist books for free, to promote their newer works. The biggest piece of advice they give [besides to make sure your readers know how to find your website] is to make SURE the Amazon or whatever seller page states PROMINENTLY what Janet said, that the book is revised/updated/retitled/whatever of previously published Title X. And when people don't do this, OUCH! I've seen lots of one-star reviews that say basically “I would have never bought this book if I'd known it was the same/similar as X title, because I already have X title. I feel cheated.” You certainly don't want your readers to believe you cheated them.

Congratulations on your revised memoir. Good luck.

Unknown said...

I agree wholeheartedly on the transparency. I recently bought what I thought was a novel (and was promoted as such, on Amazon Kindle and on her author website) but turned out to be a 30,000-word novella. I felt cheated.

I probably would have paid the full price knowing how short it was from the get-go, but I was pretty annoyed at the sleight of hand.

Good luck!

Colin Smith said...

"Be transparent." Can't argue with that advice. Everyone hates duplicity and deceit when they are the targets of it, so let's not be guilty of what we hate.

To our memoirist friend, if you hadn't planned to already, I would consider completely re-writing the entire memoir. Not only do you have new material that might radically alter the way you present the previously-written stuff, but I daresay you've grown as a writer since the first edition. If you're like any of the rest of us, you read through your old work and roll your eyes. "I can't believe I said that!" "Eeek! That's such a bad sentence!" And so on. Don't just make the new version an expanded edition. Make it a better book. If you do this, for the sake of transparency, you should still say that it's based upon the previous work.

That's my 2c.

Christina Seine said...

I love the way Leonard Nimoy (RIP) titled his second memoir in such a way that it shouted, "Look! There is something totally new and interesting and provocative here! Not only do I have new things to share, but I have changed the way I look at myself and the world!" and by extension, the reader hopes he/she might gain a new perspective on themself and the world. Which, I think, is why most people read memoir in the first place.

Colin Smith said...

Christina: I agree 1000%. If all you knew about Leonard Nimoy was that he played Spock in Star Trek, the titles of those memoirs already tell you something important about him, and his growth in the years between their writing.

April''s Handmade Crochet and Knitting said...

Thank you all very much for your comments and opinions. I think I'm going to write it as new. Starting from my childhood, adoption, high school graduation, car crash, and on into my adult years and where I'm at now.

REJourneys said...

My thoughts, for the 1 shiny cent they may be worth, is to do a Prologue (please don't hurt me) with the information you presented in the first memoir. Something that would refresh the minds of readers of the first memoir, and would "somewhat" catch the reader up to speed.

You can acknowledge your first book in this introductory chapter(and hey, maybe get some more people to buy it).

But, like everyone said, make sure you are transparent. If you rewrite the first one, make sure people know that it's in there, mixed with new elements. If you write the new material as a separate book, let them know about the first one, "this is a follow up to book X".

Best of luck!

Colin Smith said...

Uh-oh... REJourneys said the "P" word. Pack your bags. I'll make space for you in the cave here in Carkoon... ;)

Craig F said...

Since reading this my damaged mind can see nothing but opportunity in this. What most strikes me is the possibility of a trilogy. Write you second manuscript now with an aim toward discovery. In a few years put out the third, directed toward how it all had shaped you.

With the movie BOYHOOD having just done so well I can see a great amount of response.

DLM said...

Aww. Spock. The exact perfect example - and, hey, TWO books. Eminently sensible.

LLAP, everyone.
--Diane, vommenting early because I'm deadly sick at home. Blah.

Colin Smith said...

Awww... Diane!!! :( Hugs and a prayer for a speedy recovery.

DLM said...

Colin, thank you.

Also, um - COMMENTING. Erp.

Colin Smith said...

Diane: lol I thought that was a deliberate typo! Being sick... vommenting! :)

Christina Seine said...

Oh how funny - I thought that was intentional and clever too, Diane!

I hope you feel better soon!

DLM said...

Ah. Well, then. YES! For I art clever and some junk.

Though let it be said, mama did *try* to teach me it's impolite to go vommenting about the place as a guest.

Amy Schaefer said...

Who among us hasn't been guilt of vommenting from time to time?

And another vote for transparency. Whether you update the old manuscript or start fresh (that would be my pick), be sure that readers know up front.

Amy Schaefer said...

Or guilty of vommenting. *sigh* I swear, the comments form drops random letters after I hit Publish just to mess with me.

Colin Smith said...

I don now wha yo mea, Am. :)

Craig F said...

Amy, I hope Cyclone Pam isn't heading your way. She looks nasty.

Amy Schaefer said...

Thanks, Craig. Our family should be fine; we are in Papua New Guinea at the moment, so while we are getting a lot of crazy wind and rain as a result of both Cyclones Pam and Nathan, it won't develop into anything serious here. However, our boat - our home for the past four years - is on the hard in New Caledonia. And both cyclones are likely to pass nearby. So there is a chance that, a week from now, our home will be no more.

Which would suck. But, in the end, it is just a boat full of stuff. I only hope our friends in New Caledonia stay safe.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Calm winds for Amy, calm tummy for Diane. I wish us all awesome prologues, memorable memoirs and killer epilogues.

Craig F said...

The best luck comes to those who stay on their toes, keep a bag packed so they can run, and have their insurance paid up. The only thing that I'm sure of in the face of hurricanes and cyclones is that they never go where they are predicted to go.

Keep on your toes and best of luck.

April''s Handmade Crochet and Knitting said...

I've decided to write a completely different book instead if revising. I already have 4 chapters written but it's only a rough draft.

I have chosen a title for my book.


What do you think about the title? Is it too much?