It’s that time of year again, when stores shake out the so-last-season clothes and prepare a back-to-school wardrobe fit to lure teenage hands clutching their mother’s credit card. A new school year offers a second chance, the opportunity to reinvent yourself, and along with the tired new-leaf proclamations that truly, this year you won’t skip class, shedding last year’s skin for a new style can have a revitalizing effect. Even though none of your classmates might have noticed that you traded in your Sketchers for boat shoes, the fact is that you do, and consequentially your swag is fresher than ever. When you look your best, you are able to present yourself with the necessary confidence to draw people in. Why not try this approach for that book that’s been sitting on the shelf for the last few years?
First, take a good hard look at your book and check for gray hairs. Does your character listen to audio cassettes, make phone calls from land lines, or have to rewind the VHS before returning it to Blockbuster? Unless your book is intentionally a period piece, it’s time for an update. Although most readers remember the days before Facebook converted everyone into Internet junkies, tweaking certain outdated references to match the world readers live in compared to one of the not-so-distant past allows the reader to more fully interact with the plot. Although refreshing your book to keep it as current as possible can provide a new spark of life, make sure that this is done subtly; there is nothing more annoying than a book that seems to name drop technology, explicitly pointing out that Linda responds with a “ROFL” via text.
Once your book has undergone the necessary facelift, search for someone to write an introduction for the revised edition. Whether it’s a fellow author or a loved one, a well-written endorsement and summary of the book’s merits has the power to entice readers to purchase the book and continue onto the story. The introduction has the ability to launch readers into the book from the vantage point of an established supporter; starting with an enthusiastic reaction will subconsciously guide readers into beginning with a positive outlook instead of a blank slate.
Although browsing through bookstores for the most intriguing cover is steadily becoming a thing of the past, judging a book by its cover is not. The cover of the book Wench by Dolen Perkins- Valdez originally depicts a woman sitting on the grass and reading a book while the new cover utilizes the more abstract design of a bird flying from an opened cage.
Updating the cover to have a more ambiguous design alters how a reader perceives the book before reading the first page; an actual figure creates preconceived notions about the book while a more open-ended cover leaves room for the potential reader to anticipate the book in the way that most appeals to them.
Especially with the rise of E-books, obtaining a new cover design for your novel can be as simple as hiring a designer and uploading the art. The original book design should remain static for 18-24 months because consistency and familiarity are key in a consumer-driven market. However, after that point re-releasing the book with a new cover can allow you to better target your audience and give your book new life.
As any Madonna fan knows, sometimes you have to get some work done in order to keep your book looking (and feeling) young! What would you change in your book?