The great thing about e-publishing is that readers can actually influence writers in a way that simply was not possible in the traditional publishing model. Didn’t like a chapter? Write the author to tell him/her, and they can actually change it and seamlessly update the work on Amazon or Smashwords. I’m not suggesting that writing should become a collaborative effort, but if hundreds of people e-mailed me to say they loved my novel except for one non-essential chapter, I’d toss it.
Praise works the same way. Hugh Howey published a novelette called Wool in 2011, and many people wrote to beg him to expand it. He added more stories set in that underground world, and thus was born the best selling Wool Omnibus Edition. Suddenly, writing has become more like software in that beta versions can be released and tested by the audience before the irrevocable version goes out the door, in my case, the print edition.
I’ve spent two years with Apocalypse Revolution in beta, and the feedback has been great. The verdict is that before I go to print in early 2014, I’ll be updating the e-book with a new prologue, tweaks that help set up the next four novels, a new cover, and a title change. There were problems with the old cover that I never dreamed of until kind people brought these issues to my attention.
Yup, this’ll be the third title for this novel. The first was The Book of Bertrand, and the second was Apocalypse Revolution. At the time I intended to make each book in the 1000 Souls series start with the word Apocalypse, but my chief adviser (my wife) convinced me that Generation Apocalypse was just too accurate a title for us to pass up for that novel, way better than Apocalypse Generation, which has a number of meanings: are we generating an apocalypse, or are we talking about a generation of people who are experiencing the apocalypse? Fans will know that I meant the latter, and Generation X/Next/Apocalypse has the cultural sway to push readers to the correct interpretation.
The other challenge is that the world changed. When I chose Apocalypse Revolution to replace the rather biblical title, The Book of Bertrand, there were only a few Apocalypse fill-in-the-blank titles. Obviously, Apocalypse Now is the total granddaddy, but back in 2011 there were only a few others, like Apocalypse Law. Now there’s Apocalypse damn-near-everything. The brand is totally diluted.
We (Susan and I) spent a month debating new titles, writing pages and pages of ideas to run by each other. The kids thought it was funny because any piece of paper left lying around the house would magically fill up with title after title. Anything that popped into our heads we wrote down immediately, and my thirteen-year-old even got into the game, suggesting many cool names that will work for other novels, but not this one. He’s actually got quite a gift for titles.
But one day we hit a title that worked for all of us. Then I started shopping it around to my readers, and the beta testing returned positive reviews. So here is the new title and cover for Apocalypse Revolution:
The new cover to celebrate the print edition was produced by the very talented Barry Curry. I think he did an awesome job, and I can’t wait to reveal the other three covers in the coming weeks. He incorporated the circle for the 1000 Souls, which will be part of all the covers. Chicago is still bright and modern since we’re pre-Apocalypse, and Bertrand appears as the man he is late in the novel, when everything has really fallen apart, and he’s in open rebellion against the infiltrated governments.
The new ebook launch will be next Friday. If you already own a copy but would like to own the new edition, be sure to e-mail me, and I’ll send you a free file either for your Kindle or your e-pub device. The print edition will launch in January.
Next Friday I’ll also reveal the new cover for Generation Apocalypse. I may even get carried away and reveal the cover and title of book three and the cover for Vampire Road, book four. They’re all great. Thank you to all my beta testers.