Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Re-Releasing a Backlist: Guest post by Elaine Viets

Today I welcome one of my favorite people and writers Elaine Viets who shares with us her experience of re-releasing a Backlist. This is a great article for writers with a backlist and for readers eager to read her series. The Dead-End Job novels are being re-issued by JABberwocky Literary Agency. Get the whole set or treat yourself to the books you missed. Prices start at $2.99 and go up. Check them out here. http://awfulagent.com/ebooks/elaine-viets  

*** To win an ebook from Elaine Viets' Dead-End Job series, make a comment below. The winner will be notified by April 1 ***

Elaine Viets:
Re-Releasing a Backlist

I didn't realize it until I met with my new agent, Joshua Bilmes, but I am "backlist rich." That's how Joshua, president of JABberwocky Literary in New York, described me. He wanted to re-release my backlist. JABberwocky represents award-winning authors including Charlaine Harris, Brandon Sanderson, Toni Kelner and Tanya Huff. Joshua has made books available from two dozen of his clients within the agency's e-book program.

Done right, re-releases are expensive: re-releasing my 23 books (13 Dead-End Job and 10 Josie Marcus mystery shopper mysteries) can cost a solid five figures, and JABberwocky fronted the money.

It takes a lot of work.

First, Joshua got the rights back from the publishers – he sent them revision of rights letters, and the publishers granted most of those requests.

He decided to go with the Dead-End Job mysteries first. Helen Hawthorne is a St. Louis woman who once made six figures a year, had a beautiful home— and a good-for-nothing husband she caught in the act with their neighbor. When she divorced the bum, the judge saddled Helen with alimony. Helen refused to pay her ex, tossed her wedding ring in the Mississippi River, and went on the run. She wound up in Fort Lauderdale, working dead-end jobs for cash under the table. Helen – and I – had worked at everything from hotel maid to telemarketer. The pink collar jobs that Helen and I worked for that series make it even more relevant today than when the series first started in 2003.

The Dead-End Job novels get new covers and fresh cover copy. It was exciting to work with artist Jenn Reese at Tiger Bright Studios for new DEJ covers. She designed 13 clean, bright covers with a different symbol and color for each novel. They captured the series' lighthearted tone and Florida setting.

Meanwhile, I had to read all 13 Dead-End Job mysteries, and correct the small errors that happen when the files are converted to book formats, plus the occasional typo. I was blessed with good copyeditors for this series, but one was crazy for semicolons. I have a deep, abiding hatred for semicolons in novels. They should be banished to term papers. I rewrote to get rid of the pests.

Each book had new cover copy, and this slogan: "The thrilling mystery series about one woman trying to make a living . . . while other people are making a killing."

It had been awhile since I'd read my novels. Readers ask me about a scene or a character, and I can't remember what happened.

"Well, you wrote it," they'll say.

Yes, I did. But once I finish one book, I'm on to the next.

I can't read my novels when they're hot off the presses. That's when I see all the parts that sag and the phrases I wish were more graceful.

I wrote Shop till You Drop 15 years ago, so it was almost as if someone else had written those books. Some lines made me laugh. In Clubbed to Death, Helen's co-worker describes their hated boss this way: "Her heart is as hard as her fake boobs."

In Just Murdered, Helen talks about how when she caught her cheating husband with their next-door neighbor Sandy, "She hit Rob where it hurt the most—right in the radiator." Helen knew the way to really hurt a man was to destroy his car.

Some of Helen's quotes reflected her philosophy – and mine. In Murder with Reservations, she tells her husband Phil,

"I hate to cook but I love good food. Most nights I settle for scrambled eggs or tuna out of the can.”

"Life is too short for bad food," Phil said. "I could teach you to cook."

"I'm hopeless," Helen said.

"How come women who can't cook are proud of it?" Phil said.

"Because we've escaped a drudgery men never have to face. Some men think cooking is creative. Women like me think it's a trap. We're afraid we'll have to waste our time making meals instead of doing what we really want."

And some were wistful. In Clubbed to Death, when her awful ex disappears, Helen says, "How come when you finally got what you wanted, it wasn't what you needed?"

Elaine Viets returns to her hardboiled roots with Brain Storm, the debut novel in her Angela Richman, Death Investigator series. Charlaine Harris calls Brain Storm “a complex novel of crime, punishment, and medical malfeasance.” Elaine has 30 bestselling mysteries in four series: hardboiled Francesca Vierling, traditional Dead-End Job, cozy Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper, and Angela Richman, Death Investigator. Elaine passed the Medicolegal Death Investigator Training Course for forensic professionals. She’s won the Agatha, Anthony and Lefty Awards. www.elaineviets.com 

1 comment:

candace knight said...

I love the Dead End Job series. I have not finished it yet. I'm about to read Final Sail.