Learning from Mistakes: Rethink, Redesign, Rewrite

cover of The Witch the the Warrior

Writing is in some ways a strange process. First you tell the story you want to tell; when you’re done with that you have the option of sharing it with others who might enjoy reading it. (I’ve written about this Writing vs. Storytelling dualism before.)

On platforms like Ao3, the “sharing with others” part is easy and low-risk, because everything is free. People browse, they skim the tags (sometimes), they click, they start reading. If the story goes somewhere they don’t like they stop reading. Sometimes they yell at you in the comments; usually they just move on.

Sharing your work by publishing on Amazon is not so simple. There are no tags, and while there is a description, you can’t merely toss the piece over the wall with a “take it or leave it” attitude, because money is involved. When you ask people to spend money on something they’ve only seen a small preview of, you need to give thought to what assumptions they will make about your work based on the category it’s in, what the cover looks like, and what the description says.

(Insert comparison here to movie trailers and posters. :p)

Anyhow, the short version is that initial feedback on my first two published pieces, The Taitaja and Poisons, told me that there was disconnect between the content and reader expectations, so (with Kalikoi’s blessing) I pulled both books and made some changes.

The Taitaja was re-titled, edited slightly, and got a new cover. It will be re-released July 26.

The Taitaja, before and after

(It’s still part of the loose series of stories in the Kyraxos setting, and will be noted as such in the Amazon listing, but the series name was dropped from the cover. “Too many weird words is off-putting” was one of the bits of feedback I got, as well as “she looks like she’s getting ready to make out with her grandma.” That wasn’t at all what we were going for in that original cover, but now I can’t unsee it.)

Poisons also needed rework, as the initial blurb was taken by early readers to mean that the book would be more heavily misogynistic-dystopian than it is. The initial version of the cover (a design I really liked), while completely suitable for a non-genre work, apparently wasn’t sending the right romance/fantasy vibes, so that also got a redesign. (Including a curly font, because apparently that’s essential for romance.)

book cover before and after redesign
Poisons, before and after

The title of Poisons could have stayed the same, but as several upcoming Kyraxos stories have titles in the format “The [main character] and the [love interest],” it seemed a good idea to rename Poisons to The Alchemist and the Lady. (Publication date for the re-release of this one is TBD.)

Note: If you bought the initial release of either The Taitaja or Poisons, please let me know and I’ll send you a free copy.