Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. As I’ve mentioned before, now that I’m seventy-four years old and have declared myself to be semi-retired, I’ve been looking back over some of my sixty-four traditionally published books with an eye to new editions. Reissuing older titles has become a pretty common practice among writers who were first published in the 1980s and 1990s because the rights to books that came out in the days before e-book editions of every title were the norm have usually reverted to their authors. That means we can do what we want with them—consign to the scrap heap, republish without any changes, or revise and update before reissuing.
All rights on all the books I wrote before I started using the pseudonyms Kaitlyn Dunnett and Kate Emerson have reverted to me, some of them quite a while ago. Around 2002—yes, twenty years ago now—I started making those titles available as e-books. The mix included category romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, young adult romance, nonfiction, and two historical mystery series, one set in sixteenth-century England and the other in the U.S. in 1888. I proofread each book, made a few corrections of typos and the occasional blooper, and changed a couple of the titles back to what I’d originally named them, but I didn’t make any substantiative alterations.
After making those books available, I didn’t give them much thought. Sales led to a small but steady income, with the books in the Face Down series and the nonfiction far outpacing the rest. Then came the pandemic and the completion of Kaitlyn’s last contract and I had plenty of time to consider what to do next. Since writing a proposal for a new series didn’t appeal, I found myself once again considering my older books and what I might do with them.
I was also reading a lot more and couldn’t help but notice that many writers (or their publishers) were issuing what are variously called omnibus editions, collections, or box sets. Ah-ha, I said to myself. That would work really well with my Face Down titles. It didn’t take me long to come up with a plan to collect all ten novels and the sixteen short stories connected to Susanna, Lady Appleton, sixteenth-century gentlewoman, expert on poisonous herbs, and sleuth into three volumes.
I started out intending only to proofread for typos, but before long I found myself doing some revising, too. The plots are the same, but I’ve smoothed out some passages and eliminated the annoying use of contractions like ’tis and ’twas. I don’t dare change too much. After all, whatever was established in one book may crop up in a later one and I can’t guarantee I’ll remember that I went ahead and made the earlier change.
The biggest challenge, though, has been technical. I want all the formatting to look the same but the individual books did not always follow the same pattern. Chapter One might be One or I or 1, and I marked scene breaks in some books with * * * and in others with * * * * or with just a blank line. In one short story, I used #. Then there’s what happens during the conversion to various e-book formats. They all provide a table of contents and pagination but they also pick up any stray commands that didn’t get taken out of my manuscript. They sometimes do strange things with spacing, too. If I want to leave a blank line between Chapter One and the start of the text, I need to leave at least two blank lines in the text. There are other fiddly bits as well, but you get the idea. Keeping it all straight and catching the glitches is time-consuming and often frustrating. Volumes One and Two, already available, still need a little cosmetic tweaking.
One problem I did not anticipate was the difficulty sellers like Amazon might have distinguishing between books. I deliberately designed covers that were similar (it’s called branding), but that delayed the Kindle edition of Volume Two because the powers that be thought they were the same. The fact that I designated Volume One as “Face Down Mysteries, Book 1” and Volume Two as “Face Down Mysteries, Book 2” also proved confusing to Amazon. Volume One actually contains Books 1-3 and Volume Two has Books 4-7, plus short stories, all in chronological order. For some unknown reason, the Kindle editions of both are linked to the print editions of the fifth book in the series. This adds the very good reviews for Face Down under the Wych Elm to the entries, so I’m not complaining.
I’m still proofreading the three novels and nine short stories to be included in Volume Three. When I publish that one, hopefully sometime next month, I’ll include “Volume Three” in the title and/or designate it as “Face Down Mysteries, Books 8-10” rather than “Book 3” and hope that this time the Kindle bots won’t have a meltdown. Then I’ll go back and change the titles of Volumes One and Two so they’re consistent. Correcting an e-book that has already been published is, in theory, simpler than publishing it in the first place, but of course there can always minor delays and glitches.
And what will I do when that’s done? Why start setting up a “boxed set” of my Diana Spaulding 1888 Mysteries, of course.
For those of you interested in the first two volumes, here are buy links:
For Volume One:
Barnes & Noble:
For Volume Two:
Barnes & Noble
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-four books traditionally published and has self published others, including several children’s books. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Her most recent publications are The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries (a collection of three short stories and a novella, written as Kaitlyn) and I Kill People for a Living: A Collection of Essays by a Writer of Cozy Mysteries (written as Kathy). She maintains websites at www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com. A third, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, is the gateway to over 2300 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century Englishwomen.