This past week I’ve been reformatting and updating Destiny Unknown, a romance published by Bantam Loveswept back in 1997. I’ve been lucky with this one. I had the original manuscript on a 3″ disc and a friend just happened to have a computer that could still read those discs. (None of my computers can.) I’d forgotten I saved books back then not as one file but as a file for each chapter. My first step in reformatting was to get all fourteen chapters into one file and add the necessary front material (Title, Copyright, Acknowledgements, and Table of Contents). The file for chapter 6 was corrupted, so I had to retype that chapter. (Thank goodness I had the paperback for that book here in Michigan and not in Florida.)
Original cover Created by Mort Engel Productions
Once I had a single file for the book, I made the basic formatting changes. One space after a period, not two. First line indent, not a tab indent. Actual italics, not underlining. single space, and Times New Roman font. I then had to go through and get rid of a lot of extra space bar hits I never realized I’d made, change my time breaks, ellipses, and dashes.
I could have left the content as is, but as I read through the ms, I was amazed by how much has changed in the fifteen plus years since I submitted the ms to my editor. In the book, my heroine, Bernadette Sanders has been left in charge of two department stores and is making decisions about a web page. In the original story they don’t even have a web page, and Bern doesn’t feel secure about using the Internet or e-mails. Can you imagine a store manager today lacking that knowledge? I can’t.
I felt I had to bring the stores and Bern up-to-date. And that’s what I’ve been doing, but I had a friend ask if that was fair. The e-book would no longer be the same as the original book.
So I wonder, how do other writers of contemporary fiction feel? When you convert a previously published paper book to electronic form, do you leave it exactly as originally published or do you up-date it?