Giving My Books New Life

Every day you’ll find a handful of blogs, maybe more, telling you about the joys of going indie. You have more control over timing, editing, copy-editing, design, distribution, everything. You have the chance to make more money and you also don’t have to worry about giving up rights.

But that’s when you’re starting out fresh. What you don’t read as much about is authors like me whose careers were based in traditional publishing, who then got the rights back to books that were in limbo and launched them on Amazon and B&N. These were mainly five Nick Hoffman mystery novels, set in the mythical State University of Michigan, a snake pit that would put the Borgias to shame, according to The New York Times Book Review.

I started the series at St. Martin’s Press, then moved when Walker offered more money. Two books later, Walker’s publisher fired the mysteries editor, which left his authors orphans. But in a few weeks I found a home for the series with Perseverance, a wonderful indie press in California which did the next two Nick Hoffman books as paperback originals.

I was writing the series as a break from more serious work in other genres, and if I’d had to write one a year, had to be funny and mysterious on command, it would have killed me. But even without that kind of pressure, I ran out of ideas.

Then I started noticing strange news stories across the country about out-of-control SWAT teams running and tiny police forces in towns with minimal crime rates buying military grade hardware, even armored personal carriers, from the Pentagon. The War on Terror had morphed into the War on Us.

Because the University of Wisconsin Press had done such a bang-up job on my memoir My Germany–which got me three different tours, two in Germany–I gave them Assault With a Deadly Lie and the cover they came up with knocked me out.


The mysteries from St. Martin’s, Walker, and Perseverance I’d gotten ebook rights to had all been launched at different times with different covers.  I was tired of them. They were dissimilar in type font, cover art style, and feel–because I had worked with two different artists.  It couldn’t be avoided.  So with all the kudos I was getting from readers for the new book’s cover, I decided the older ones needed a makeover by one artist who could give them a “series” look that somehow echoed the new book. Well, DDD came through with designs I’m very happy with, and now the books feel brand new to me.  Wonderfully reborn.

blog header for Nick books

That’s all because I took the plunge years ago and took control of my own books, something I never would have dared think about as a young author.

Lev Raphael is the author of 25 books in genres from memoir to mystery to Jane Austen mash-up


One Response

  1. A fascinating blog, Lev. DDD has obviously done excellent work for you. A brilliant idea to make your books look like a series! I know you outsell me by a good deal, but my career has been similar to yours. My YA series was orphaned when my editor had a sudden brain tumor, and another small press turned up its toes after publishing my two middle grade mysteries (one won an Agatha, the other an Agatha nomination). After five mysteries with St Martin’s Press I was dropped when my books didn’t bring in the requisite $20,000 (according to my editor Ruth Cavin), I was then picked up by wonderful Perseverance Press for two books in a new series–for which I’m still grateful. The story goes on, but enough here. Thanks for your backstory!

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