To update or not to update—that was the question I faced when I decided to re-release some of my older published novels as ebooks. I actually requested rights back on a number of my books some years before Amazon introduced its digital publishing program and then sat on them, confident that some sort of opportunity for republishing would come along.
The problem, of course, is that most of those books were written over twenty years ago, and a lot has changed since then. Since my books are romantic suspense and romantic mystery, changing technology can have a huge impact on the books. It’s amazing to me to consider that when I wrote my early books, cell phones and iPods didn’t exist, laptops were the size and weight of sewing machines and the Internet still belonged almost solely to the Department of Defense.
I could have left the books as they were and marketed them as recent historicals, but they were intended to be contemporary and that didn’t feel like a good solution. Fortunately, the first couple of books I released didn’t require that much change. Although the existence of cell phones had the potential to change things, both were set, in whole or in part, in places where I could legitimately explain that they were out of coverage area.
But when it came to the book titled Programmed for Danger, it wasn’t going to be that easy. The heroine of that story is a computer programmer. Obviously, the technology has changed so much in the twenty-plus years since that book was first published that I couldn’t just do a few tweaks to update it. I had to basically rewrite the story.
Plot and characters remained basically the same, but nearly all the detail had to be updated. I was fortunate that updating the technology didn’t force major changes in the story itself.
While re-reading and re-writing Programmed for Danger, I realized that I still very much liked the characters and the story. That helped make it worth doing the work to make it sound genuinely contemporary.
Karen McCullough is a web designer by profession, and the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres as well. She has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, five grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.
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