So, how do you know when you’ve written enough books? Is it when your muse holds up her hands and says, “Enough already!” Or is it when living through a pandemic makes you so overwhelmed that you—the one who wrote twenty-nine books with endless story lines in sixteen years—can no longer summon another plot? (I mean, how many awful things can happen to Gus LeGarde?) Or is it when you finally realize that all twenty-nine books have old links, incomplete book lists, and your defunct email address?
For me, it’s been a combination of the above. I’m not saying I’m “done,” writing. I needed a hiatus and I’m actually starting to get the writing bug again. But one day as I was working on another author’s book to help her polish, format, and prepare it for publishing, I realized that she was using color cover images for her backlist, her author picture, etc. I was motivated! Why do I stilI have boring text links to my books? And no pictures of my ugly mug? Where’s the glamor? Where’s the color?
I took a look through my horribly neglected backlist of books and decided to go for it.
Updating “front and back matter” in your backlist
What is front and back matter? Here are some examples.
Front matter: copyright page, dedication, forward, request for reviews, free book link (to get signups on your newsletter), etc.
Back matter: Links and chapter excerpts to the next book in the series, afterword, review request, newsletter signup, author biography, contacts, websites, etc.
So – after far too many years of neglect – I’m in the process of updating book lists, contact information, links, and adding lovely color photos to my eBook and print books.
Well, so far, I’ve only done two of the twenty-nine books in the past week. I’ve reached some stumbling blocks (because SO much changes on Amazon in a year or two!), researched the heck out of each issue, and applied my new knowledge. But, I’m on a roll now, and I think I’ve got the process down.
I gathered random some tidbits of info to share with you which might prove helpful if you decide, like me, that it’s time to get your books up to date!
· Although required several years ago, mobi and epub files are no longer needed to load eBooks up to Amazon KDP. But you can still use mobi and epub files to give to reviewers to read on their Kindles, tablets, etc. for reviews. I use the free download of Calibre to convert an html file to mobi and epub. It also includes the book cover, which many of the other free conversion sites don’t do. (Although it’s slightly dated now, I have instructions on how to use Calibre in my Write Like the Wind eBook, volume 3.)
· Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) now accepts Microsoft Word documents (doc or docx) and still accepts Kindle Create files (kpf). A few years back I converted all my original mobi files (the old way to upload to KDP) into Kindle Create files, a monumental task at best! The Kindle Create automatic TOC (table of contents) was foolproof and it seemed to work best for me. But in past years, Amazon KDP started accepting Word documents for manuscript uploads.
· I tried to upload Word documents using two different eBooks with multiple color images, links to other books, author picture, etc., but the spacing was all goofed up in the KDP Preview screen, in spite of the fact that it looked fine in the Word doc. There may be some trick I’m missing, but for now I’m sticking to Kindle Create when I load up a book with color images.
· Kindle Create does has its own quirks and I could write a five-page article about what to watch out for. However, the best advice is proof every single page using the preview feature before you generate that file to upload. Then proof it on KDP Previewer as well. Page by agonizing page. It’s the only way!
· For eBook cover art, continue to use a properly sized and formatted jpeg image.
· If you’re just updating an old file, you should have a suitably formatted version to work with. This includes page size, margin setups, page numbers, headers, footers, etc. (again, if you want to, you can refer to Write Like the Wind, volume 3 for instructions that still work)
· Loading the paperback Word KDP books using a Word docx file works fine. I’m not sure if this is because I don’t have any color images or live links in the print version. Don’t forget to remove all links and just spell them out. Either way, a print book will be b&w for all images unless you choose a pricey, color print book.
· Continue to save your jpg print wrap cover art as a PDF for loading onto KDP. This is a continuous image of front cover, spine, and back cover that your skilled cover designer can create for you. (my beloved designer is Kellie Dennis at bookcoverbydesign.uk.co)
· Remove automated TOC for print book, unless it is a non-fiction book. Then manually type in the TOC.
· PAGE COUNT: When you are updating your front and back matter, you may add or delete pages compared to your original book. Remember that the cover art is optimized for the page count to within just a few pages to allow the spine to fit on the wrap based on paper thickness and number of pages. You must keep the page count close to the original book if you are changing anything, or you will need a new resized print wrap cover.
· If you “gift” an eBook to a potential reviewer, it is counted as a verified review. Use the “Buy for Others” link.
Sample of Front Matter with color images/links.
Here’s an example of one of the updated front/back matter pages that I’m adding. The beauty of this is that for now, I can use most of my new pages for all twenty-nine books and just customize some parts like the dedication, afterword, etc.
Bittersweet Hollow, book 1
Two years ago, Portia Lamont disappeared from a small town in Vermont, devastating her parents and sister, who spent every waking hour searching for her. When she suddenly shows up on their horse farm in a stolen truck with a little mutt on her lap, they want to know what happened. Was she taken? Or did she run away?
2015 Finalist Readers’ Favorites Awards
2015 Semi-finalist in Kindle Book Review Awards
What else should you update?
While you’re at it, you should update your Amazon retail book details page and take a fresh look at your sales categories. If you’ve neglected it, like me, you may not have all your titles listed below the book description. (Edit this through your KDP bookshelf, edit book details page) This would be a great time to page through your old and new book reviews, grab some choice blurbs from several of them, and paste them below your book description. Here’s what I did for Upstaged, book 2 in the LeGarde Mysteries series.
Sample of Updated Book Details
Here is the book description followed by review blurbs, and finally by the complete list of books. It’s long, but it’s all in one place for easy reference.
When Gus LeGarde agrees to play piano for the high school drama club’s production of “Spirit Me Away,” a sixties-style musical he wrote in college, he doesn’t expect to face a series of menacing pranks played on his fiancée Camille and the drama club. Who’s sabotaging the show? And what do they have against Camille? Is it sex-crazed Armand, the Latino teen infatuated with her?
Something happened last year that Camille won’t talk about, and it has to do with Armand. Gus wants to know what happened, but she’s not talking. Could it be Superintendent Marshall, whose past holds horrific secrets related to one of the worst crimes of the 20th century? And why did someone break into Camille’s home to steal her intimate undergarments and her beloved mini-dachshund, Boris?
Gus must unravel the mystery before the backstage saboteur stakes his final, deadly claim.
"There is so much pure goodness in Mr. Lazar's books, from the innocent purity of grandchildren and pets, the beauty of nature, the bounty of a glorious garden, to love that is enduring and eternal; all the while weaving strands of mystery throughout the pages with suspense and surprises around every corner. I find myself craving more...only one left unread in the series. I will try to savor it slowly but to no avail. I devour these books like melting chocolate." Janice D. Adams
"Mr. Lazar's magnificent tapestry is a work of art without holes, missing threads or shades or stitches that do not fit." D.C. from WA USA
"Upstaged is a mystery that is well told, with subtle clues, red herrings and lots of surprises. Mystery fans will appreciate the challenge and all readers will want to become part of LeGarde’s extended family. The characters are unique, diverse, quirky, friendly, funny and memorable." Janice L. Smith
"If you equally divide your time between audiobooks and reading, I would suggest the audiobook. Not because of any misspelled words or bad formatting. No, his writing is clean and well formatted. The production quality of the audiobook is excellent. It is made even more excellent by the songs that were composed and recorded specifically for the audiobook. I was delighted to later discover it was Mr. Lazar's daughter who played and sang the songs. Amazing voice and talent." Clay Boutwell
"High school dialog and atmosphere feel spot on; a blinding eagerness to get the part; magical joy of dance; rising excitement as the date of the show approaches. But behind the scenes there are evil deeds afoot and no-one knows if the attacker is aiming for the people, the school, or both. Will the show go on, or will it be upstaged by danger and deceit?" Sheila Deeth
Books by award-winning author, Aaron Lazar:
1. DOUBLE FORTÉ
5. TREMOLO: CRY OF THE LOON
6. DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU
7. THE LIAR’S GALLERY
8. SPIRIT ME AWAY
9. UNDER THE ICE
10. LADY BLUES
11. VOODOO SUMMER
12. MURDER ON THE BREWSTER FLATS
13. THE RETURN
THE LEGARDE MYSTERIES BOXED SET
YOUNG GUS BOXED SET
GREEN MARBLE MYSTERIES
1. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF BILLY MOORE (formerly Healey’s Cave)
2. TERROR COMES KNOCKING
3. FOR KEEPS
GREEN MARBLE MYSTERIES BOXED SET
TALL PINES MYSTERIES
1. FOR THE BIRDS
2. ESSENTIALLY YOURS
TALL PINES MYSTERIES BOXED SET
PAINES CREEK BEACH, love stories
1. THE SEACREST
2. THE SEACROFT
3. THE SEADOG
PAINES CREEK BEACH LOVE STORIES BOXED SET
BITTERSWEET HOLLOW, romantic suspense
1. DEVIL’S LAKE
2. DEVIL’S CREEK
3. DEVIL’S SPRING
BITTERSWEET HOLLOW BOXED SET
4. THE ASYLUM
1. WRITE LIKE THE WIND, volume 1
2. WRITE LIKE THE WIND, volume 2
3. WRITE LIKE THE WIND, volume 3
What else could you update?
I’m going to update my Author Central page in the near future, and then, someday, get into that massive website that certainly needs an overhaul. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check through your mailing list subscribers and eliminate those who never open your newsletters.
Well, that’s it for now. Sometimes when I gather new information I get the uncontrollable urge to share it with fellow writers. Today was one of those days!
Let me know if you have questions or would like to learn about other aspects of this process.
Aaron Paul Lazar