Monday, October 16, 2017

When a Book Goes Out of Print


Cold in the Light was the third book I wrote but the first to be published. Invisible College Press picked it up in 2002 an it sold modestly. Emphasis on the modestly. This is despite the fact that I believe it was, and is, a really strong thriller. I’m very proud of it.

In September of 2017 I received word from Invisible College Press that they were closing their doors, officially making Cold in the Light “out of print” as of October 2017. The question then becomes, what next?

I see two possibilities: First, I could seek out another small press publisher who might be interested. Second, I could self publish it. Frankly, because I believe it is really good, I’d like to try another publisher who might have more marketing sense than I apparently have. I’m going to take a bit of time to look around.

Another issue that has arisen though is whether I should update the book. My writing skills have, hopefully, improved since this book was written in the 1990s. I at first just assumed I’d update and started going through it. A problem quickly became apparent. The technology has changed dramatically since the book was published. And not only that, but the geographic setting has changed. When I wrote Cold in the Light, Highway 71 was the main route students took to get to the University of Arkansas. That is no longer true.

My alternatives then became, rewrite the tech and the geography, which will require considerable work, or simply set the book in the past time in which it was originally written. I already have times and days mentioned in the book so I could easily establish a year. What do you think of the latter idea? Have you read books like that? Do you care if a thriller is essentially set in the past? Or do you want your thrillers to be "torn from today's headlines?" Before I make any further changes to the work I need to make this decision. Any feedback would be appreciated.








21 comments:

Blogoratti said...

I think updating the book may prove to be more tasking (you can use that time to write something new), so perhaps keep the events as they are and just find a new publisher or self publish?

Just a thought.

Greetings and best wishes.

Keith West said...

I don't see anything wrong with leaving it in the past. Historical thrillers can be just as exciting as a contemporary thriller. And every contemporary thriller will one day become a historical thriller.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Bummer they went out of business.
Setting it in the past seems like the simplest plan. Plus I'm sure you'll find other little things you'll want to change.

Tom Johnson said...

I tried to update one of mine, but it caused more headaches than it was worth. Now I wish I had simply left it in the past where it belonged.

the walking man said...

I s highway 71 still passable? The technology may have moved on but what is today is built on what was. Is it so archaic that a new younger reader would not understand the technology?

I do not know anyone who writes that doesn't think whatever they wrote 20 years ago couldn't stand an edit BUT after applying the above questions to the text I would edit with a very light hand if the answers are acceptable.

Angie said...

I think updating would be awkward and frustrating, and has a good chance of leaving you with a spackled-over mess of a book. :/ Or rather, doing an excellent and seamless job would probably take you about as much time as writing a new book, and having N+1 books out there is always better.

Make it clear when the book is set and leave it at that. People still read, say, Hunt for Red October, which certainly takes place in the "past" now, and enjoy it, and enjoy the movie. It's not like you wrote a historical. It was a contemporary when you wrote it, and it's still a thriller. Make sure the reader knows when it's set, and move on, IMO.

Angie

Riot Kitty said...

I would leave it as-is and either approach another publisher or self-pub. Because you were who you were, writing as you wrote, at that point in time. It's a capsule of sorts.

G.B. Miller said...

I would leave it the past, as updating may cause you to pull your hair out with a pair of tweezers. There are quite a few books out there that are set in the past and have done quite well (ex. "No Country For Old Men")

Charles Gramlich said...

Blogoratti, it took a long time to write in the first place so this is likely good advice.

Keith, true about contemporary thrillers. Thanks.

Alex, I'll probably make some minor changes to the writing at least, but all that research, wow.

Tom, thanks for that input. Good to hear from someone who has done it.

Mark, I talked to a buddy who still lives up there. 71 is basically a local access highway now and not very well kept up.


Angie, I think you're absolutely right about the "spackled mess." Could easily happen. Thanks.

Riot Kitty, True, thanks.

G. B., I definitely don't want to do all those updates

^.^ said...

If so you so desire, you will be published, congrats, friend Graemlich, and if not, then not, congrats as well ... cuz life is not a dress rehearsal so you got to do what you want to do ... now or never ... Love always, cat.

Neil Waring said...

Think I am with everyone else on this, put the year in and leave it in the past. I tried updating a nonfiction book that was only a few years old - gave up and thought, "What was I thinking?" I went on to another project, but maybe . . . . .
.

David J. West said...

I'd think you should leave it in the past. Use time now to pursue your next bit of inspiration.

Charles Gramlich said...

Cat, that is true

Neil, yes, the more I look through it the more daunting the prospect of updating becomes.

David J., good advice

David Cranmer said...

I always want to update and I do if it is small issue... otherwise I leave it alone. I still enjoy The Spy Who Came in from The Cold and it's set at a Berlin Wall that no longer exists. Sometimes the out of date elements ads to the charm.

Shadow said...

I know accurate facts are important, but I don't have an issue with a 1990's, for example, timeline, as opposed to current, especially not today's headlines, they are rather unbelievable at any rate *grin*. Take some time, sometimes doing nothing is doing something.

Charles Gramlich said...

David, that's pretty much what I'm looking to do I think.

Shadow, thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it

Cloudia said...

Past time settings carry something extra don't they. Personal memories of the time become part of the reader's buy in

Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, that is true

roth phallyka said...

I look through it the more daunting the prospect of updating becomes.


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Shauna Roberts said...

I'm late to the party, but I agree that setting it in the past is better than trying to update it.

You may have improved your writing since then, but it was a strong book. A great book INHO. I think trying to revise it might wreck the coherence and style. If you find a publisher, an expert editor (fingers crossed) who isn't so close to it will work on it, and that might be the best way to improve it.

Five, ten years ago, I thought we were in a blossoming era of great sf/f/h small presses that would give the Big Five (or however few there are now) a good run for their money. I'm less sure of that now, but I'll look on my bookshelves and see who's put out some good books who's still around.

Shauna

Ray Palm (Ray X) said...

You could move the time to the present but to keep Highway 71 as the main route for students have this occur in a parallel universe. :)

Seriously you could republish the book as is, leaving the story in the past, and see how well it sells. Then after you see the reaction you could decide if updating it would help to improve sales.

I know after Dean Koontz reread the 1973 version of his novel Demon Seed he was upset with the way he portrayed the woman protagonist, she was too weak. So the 1997 version has the Susan character stronger. Unless you have a problem like that I think you should keep your novel "historical." After all, if you update the story it will be "historical" again in a few years. A fiction writer can never really catch up once and for all with time passing by.