Self Published Authors, Do You Ever Change Your Already Published Work?
This morning I read the 24 Reasons Why George R. R. Martin Is The Biggest Troll in Literature Right Now. Now, days later, I still say that Julian Fellowes is right there with him (he’s the creator of Downton Abbey). I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll watch Season 4. It’s gonna take me a while to get over being bitter.
Went to see After Earth yesterday. I was kind of meh about it. The performances weren’t bad, but basically after Will Smith and his son crash on this planet, they’re the only survivors, and then they have to split up (because Will is injured) so that son can retrieve something from another part of the crash 60 miles away. There was a lot of action but not a whole lot of INTERaction, and that left me bored. I watch for relationships (romantic and otherwise). I really enjoyed the parts with both of them. And the score by James Newton Howard was really nice. But…eh. I won’t feel compelled to watch it again.
I reread Forsaken By Shadow over the weekend. I was struck with a fresh case of epic cringe at the total improbability of how I got them IN. Which is, of course, the primary criticism of the story by those who are bothered by such things. And I finally figured out another way. It would still require some suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader, but not near the level I’m asking now. For the hell of it, last night I sat down and sketched out how I’d do it, what would have to change. It would add another chapter. Change a few other scenes. I don’t know if I’ll do it or not. It began as kind of an exercise just to see if I could think of something more probable. Having thought of it…
This is, I suppose, one of the great benefits to self publishing something. If you find mistakes, be they typos or misspellings or something larger, you have the freedom to go in and fix it. When the initial release of Blindsight got poor reactions to the ending, I added a scene that tied things up better. It was absolutely the right thing to do. One reader who’d given me 1 star on the initial version changed her rating to 5 stars after reading the new ending. So sometimes it’s definitely the right track. But I did that within a month of the initial release.
It’s been THREE YEARS since I released Forsaken. We’re talking 7,000 copies out there. Not to mention my audiobook (not that it’s exactly making bank, but it’s there and if I changed anything significant, it would need to be updated and that costs money). And then updating Genesis and the print edition of that. Which would potentially require a tweak by my cover artist to accommodate a slightly thicker book… Then updating the serialization on the blog, the serialization at Wattpad… It isn’t as simple as that update to Blindsight. And yet, this is the start to a series I have no intention of giving up, that will, over its lifetime (I hope) sell a lot more than the initial 7k copies if the series ever gains a real toehold in popularity. And there’s that voice in the back of my mind wondering how many readers didn’t go on to try the next one because I pushed too far beyond their willing suspension of disbelief.
I read a compelling post about this (or rather NOT doing this) at Dear Author. And she makes a good point. The changes I’m considering really don’t impact the series. The book remains mostly the same. The characters just end up in the same location in a different way. Not the sort of changes that would necessitate readers REreading in order to keep up with the series.
Writers, have you done this? Gone back and made significant changes well after initial publication of one of your books? Not just fixing typos, grammar, or formatting, but substantive changes? A “director’s cut” so to speak?
Readers, how do you feel about a new version coming out of a book you already read? Are you inclined to go back and read it again to see what changed (I don’t think I would be)?
I’m curious what other people’s experience has been. Discuss.