Three-time literary fiction author, funeral director, and constant gardener A.B. Funkhauser returns with a warts and all discussion about second editions...

Second Editions - The Ultimate Do-over:

a guest post by A.B. Funkhauser

Keen to get to the next book in the series, I was reminded that, five years post release, it was probably time to redo my old book covers. Why not? A lot of writers I know do that and with terrific results. 

Surface re-do’s ignite interest, drawing fresh eyes to what in reality has been on the shelf for far too long. Successful, trending anything pays close attention to color, movement, the change of seasons; those things that catch the eye and move the soul. And so, too, is it with covers. 

I love messing around with Paint, Paint.Net, Photoshop. And I love that as a newly minted indie author with her own imprint, I have the time, resources and freedom to experiment any way that I choose.

No wonder I didn’t win any cover contests

The old covers, it turns out, did more for me at the time of publishing than they ever did for the readership. What I thought was a cool homage to the funeral home I worked at (yes, those are the front and back doors to the old place) had nothing whatever to do with the contents inside the books. I needed faces, people, animals; anything with a pulse. Readers like that, studies show. 



But there was something I didn’t bank on; something that was so obvious it answered all the questions I couldn’t answer when first put to me by betas and readers years ago.

They saw what I didn’t

In the five years post publish, I had grown as a writer. I had also grown as a reader, and that’s where revisiting the old work really jolted me. 

I remember sending my final drafts out to betas years before with all the hope and excitement new writers have. What I had, I thought, was fresh and exciting with lots of experimental plot devices and time slips that would really bring the reader into the visceral experiences of my protagonists.

They didn’t get it

Who’s talking? Who’s dead? I’m confused? came back at me in urgent rushes that sent me running for the safety of my large, fuzzy afghan. I moped. I sulked. I made significant changes before printing — indeed, I was picked up by a traditional publisher whose editors had serious goes at my “experiments” before press — and still, years after publishing and among the heralds and critical praise my work received, I still got 'I’m confused' from some reviewers who didn’t dig my vibe.

What was I missing?

Writers from all genres look upon their early books with an equal mix of fondness and cringing; fondness because these works are the flagships that got them started; they cringe because they’re the babysteps, the ones that could have done better with an extra scene, less exposition, or a more over the top villain. 

So, what did my work lack or, indeed, have way too much of? Let me tell you…

It lacked the distance a writer needs to edit with readers' eyes

To rebrand under a new imprint, I really thought all I had to do was change the cover and the logo. But then I cracked the spine and turned the page and began to read. I still loved my work. I still laughed at the jokes. But I could not get past some of those fatuous, indulgent sentences that went on and on and on and on…

Sure, my signature character spoke English as a second language, so he was bound to be a bit heavy on the adverbs. But it was the literary stuff, the lofty descriptions of the basement and its cobwebs that sometimes went a bit too far. No longer the writer but a reader with editor’s snips, I could see with years of distance that everything the critics gently pointed out to me years ago was…gasp…correct.

Chop, chop, chop

Is it wrong to go back to our first editions and fix them? I don’t think so, especially when so many of us function as indie authors and can do a lot of this stuff on our own. Certainly, the danger is always there that something might be lost in the cutting or worse, the original heart and premise gets buried under extra scenes.

I don’t do that—add or take away large blocks—but I do correct the spelling errors that creep by no matter how many eyes look at it before press, and I do get rid of the over the top words, phrases, and digressions that, frankly, have lost their meaning with time. 

How did these murky passages get past me in the first place? The answer is simple: I am a reader now reacting to the words, not the writer who knew every facet and nuance of every scene and character.

Distance is the thing

Distance, that physical entity that is so hard to grab on to when writing fresh and then trying to self-edit after, becomes possible with second editions. The best do-over I can possibly imagine is the one where the goofs in my scripts spring out at me in glorious 4D. 

I am a writer who has never stopped writing. With the writing, I inevitably get better. The same is true for painters, sculptors, brick layers, race car drivers, piano players; anyone really who practices what they do often and with joy.

As I set to work finishing the fourth novel in my series, I will keep in mind the words of the betas, ARC readers and later, the critics who offer sharp, stinging, critical appraisals of my latest. I will not mope. I won't flinch. In fact, I'll take the work and place it far, far away until such time as I can tackle it again…with reader’s eyes.

A.B.’s next novel POOR UNDERTAKER is set to release in Fall 2020.

Wow! Such a helpful article that gives us a real look at the process of putting out a second edition... 



Guest Blogger Bio

Toronto born author A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us and we not it.
Her debut novel, Heuer Lost and Found, released in April 2015, examines the day to day workings of a funeral home and the people who staff it. Winner of the Preditors & Editors Reader's Poll for Best Horror 2015, and the New Apple EBook Award 2016 for Horror, Heuer Lost and Found is the first installment in Funkhauser's Unapologetic Lives Series. Her sophomore effort, Scooter Nation, released March 11, 2016 through Solstice Publishing. Winner of the New Apple Ebook Award 2016 for Humor, and Winner Best Humor Summer Indie Book Awards 2016, Metamorph Publishing, Scooter picks up where Heuer left off, this time with the lens on the funeral home as it falls into the hands of a woeful sybarite. Her third effort, Shell Game, was released in 2017. Tapped as a psycho-social cat dramedy with death and laughs, it pits competing protagonists in a death match with a comely black cat as their muse.

A devotee of the gonzo style pioneered by the late Hunter S. Thompson, Funkhauser attempts to shine a light on difficult subjects by aid of humorous storytelling. "In gonzo, characters operate without filters which means they say and do the kinds of things we cannot in an ordered society. Results are often comic but, hopefully, instructive."

Funkhauser is currently working on Poor Undertaker, a prequel to Scooter Nation.

All of her books are currently releasing as Second Editions under the Out of My Head Publishing imprint.

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