Author Topic: On rewriting already-published books  (Read 4661 times)  

Offline Zoe Cannon

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On rewriting already-published books
« on: June 12, 2013, 08:27:13 pm »
Tempted to rewrite a book you published several years ago? Mike Carey (one of my favorite urban fantasy authors) explains why that might not be such a good idea: http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/4332929-visions-and-revisions

"Looking back, I think a lot of the time I was thinking, 'Yeah, this is great, but the next one'll be better. This is all a road upwards, and one day we'll get to that plateau.' But there isn't any plateau, folks. Happiness is the journey."
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    Offline Vivi_Anna

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    Re: On rewriting already-published books
    « Reply #1 on: June 12, 2013, 09:00:53 pm »
    I don't know I've rewritten 6 of my previously published works, and I think that's awesome. Plus they are selling really well for me.

    Rewriting can find new life for something that was previously dead.

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    Offline Joshua Dalzelle

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    Re: On rewriting already-published books
    « Reply #2 on: June 12, 2013, 09:03:50 pm »
    I tend to agree.

    For me, personally, no matter where this wild ride of indie publishing ends up there was something really special about hitting that yellow "Publish" button the first time. I had zero expectations, a book that was a tad short for a novel and a completely amateur cover done by the worse graphics artist I know: me.

    I toyed with the idea of fixing parts I wasn't in love with, getting a pro to re-cover it, etc... but I like the idea of keeping the first one at least intact as it was. I may be over-romanticizing it a bit and veering off topic, but I also wouldn't want to majorly revise the book since it's already been so widely distributed. The book as it stands now is a reflection of the kind of writer I was and where I was in life when it was written. There's a certain wide-eyes innocence about it and from what I understand that's what others appreciated about it as well.

    Offline CoraBuhlert

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    Re: On rewriting already-published books
    « Reply #3 on: June 12, 2013, 09:37:31 pm »
    Except for fixing typos and perhaps changing a cover, it's best to leave a book alone once published and move on to writing something else. It's different when republishing backlist works. All of my republished backlist stories have been rewritten to some degree, because I am a much better writer now than I was when I wrote those stories. But in general, one should not tinker with already published work.

    Another exception are books that have glaring issues, for those books are indeed better off being rewritten. But then, you shouldn't publish a book with glaring issues in the first place. 
    « Last Edit: June 13, 2013, 10:56:30 am by CoraBuhlert »

    Offline 60865

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    Re: On rewriting already-published books
    « Reply #4 on: June 12, 2013, 10:41:41 pm »
    I remember reading in one of the long posts of one of the KB members that really does well the sentence
    "There's no such thing as not your best work" and he advised to rewrite whatever you felt needed it now.
    I thought it was good advice specially if you feel that you can truly improve what you published earlier.

     

    Offline BelindaPepper

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    Re: On rewriting already-published books
    « Reply #5 on: June 12, 2013, 11:49:49 pm »
    Let's say you're writing Book Six of a series. Compared to your latest work, Book One sucks. And because Book One sucks, the series as a whole isn't doing very well. This is the only time I think it might be worth rewriting a book.
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    Offline ElisaBlaisdell

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    Re: On rewriting already-published books
    « Reply #6 on: June 12, 2013, 11:52:32 pm »
    Well, one of the first things that I read, when I discovered Kboards, (Kindleboards then), was a thread where someone was proclaiming that she would never, ever read another book by an author if that author had dared to rewrite a book to try to make it better.

    I assume, however, that that attitude is fairly rare.

    Offline Greg Banks

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    Re: On rewriting already-published books
    « Reply #7 on: June 13, 2013, 10:24:26 am »
    I think it makes a difference how well a book sold previously. I'm rewriting and republishing a novella of mine now with a new title. While it did well years ago under the old Amazon Shorts program, "well" for that program was still very modest. I would think it would be less wise to rewrite a bestseller unless you released it as a new edition.
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    Offline blakebooks

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    Re: On rewriting already-published books
    « Reply #8 on: June 13, 2013, 11:08:10 am »
    Your obligation is to the reader. If you believe that something you published isn't the best you could write it, even if written right now, then in my opinion you should rewrite it until it's up to par. Forget all the author-centric reasoning about why for artistic reasons it might not be best. That sort of stuff always strikes me as a wee bit self-absorbed and rationalizing.

    If a new reader picks up your old book, cracks it open, and starts reading, you're only as good as what that new-to-you reader gets.

    Make it your best. Every time. Anything less is, well, less, and could lose you a reader that might have loved your later, better work. Readers are won and lost one at a time, and they're very easy to lose and extremely difficult to gain. I have zero compunction about improving my offerings whenever possible.


    Offline Zoe Cannon

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    Re: On rewriting already-published books
    « Reply #9 on: June 13, 2013, 11:40:09 am »
    Your obligation is to the reader. If you believe that something you published isn't the best you could write it, even if written right now, then in my opinion you should rewrite it until it's up to par. Forget all the author-centric reasoning about why for artistic reasons it might not be best. That sort of stuff always strikes me as a wee bit self-absorbed and rationalizing.

    If a new reader picks up your old book, cracks it open, and starts reading, you're only as good as what that new-to-you reader gets.

    Make it your best. Every time. Anything less is, well, less, and could lose you a reader that might have loved your later, better work. Readers are won and lost one at a time, and they're very easy to lose and extremely difficult to gain. I have zero compunction about improving my offerings whenever possible.

    From how I understood the article, he was essentially arguing the same thing - that the author's obligation is to the reader, and that, when it comes to rewriting older works, that obligation should be placed ahead of artistic vision. An author will inevitably grow and change during the course of a career, and might reread a later work from that new perspective and want to change it to match his/her new vision - but that's not fair to the fans of the original story, who knew and loved it for what it was.

    He was talking about already-existing fans, though, rather than new readers. And he was talking more about changes in perspective than about serious quality issues. If the book has serious quality issues, I would agree that it shouldn't be out in front of readers - although I'm inclined to think that in that case it probably shouldn't have been published in the first place.

    "Looking back, I think a lot of the time I was thinking, 'Yeah, this is great, but the next one'll be better. This is all a road upwards, and one day we'll get to that plateau.' But there isn't any plateau, folks. Happiness is the journey."
     - Brian May

    Offline Vivi_Anna

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    Re: On rewriting already-published books
    « Reply #10 on: June 13, 2013, 11:56:40 am »
    Here's the thing, in the past an author didn't have that choice of rewriting a book.  It was out there published, and done.  You couldn't go back 6 years later and rewrite it and have the publisher republish it.  Not going to happen.

    But now you CAN do that. You have the opportunity to do that.  If something you indie published 3 years ago isn't doing well, or your style has changed or whatnot, why the heck not rewrite it if you choose to.  As long as you make mention in the blurb that this is a rewritten version of a previously published book, you've served the reader right there.

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