Monday, July 7, 2014

Revisions, Re-writing, Re-Publishing in the Digital Age

Good Morning. Well, I never expected to be gone for this long, but it's been a wild ride the last few months.

I've been writing, of course, and revising, naturally, then re-writing, what else, and then re-publishing.

Re-Publishing. What a concept. Thirty years ago that would never have happened, unless you wrote a scholarly tome, and the changes that occurred would have demanded a re-write. You know, Second Edition, with a new forward, index, glossary, what have you.

These days, rewriting and republishing are almost second nature. I've done it myself I don't know how many times.

Writing my series The Reluctant Grooms has been a challenge these last few months. I'm finally at the end of it with one more novella, one more novel, and possibly one final final short story to give the entire thing complete closure. (I say final final because I keep finding more stories to tell. Yikes!)

Here's the thing -- As I wrote the last novella, I kept finding little things that needed to be tweaked in the other stories to make the series work as a cohesive whole. If a reader wanted to start at THE LADY'S MASQUERADE and work her way through the series in order, (and has a really good memory) the ending wouldn't make much sense. Some of my earlier dates were wrong, some of my characters names have changed, some of the information I imparted means nothing now. Even though I wrote everything as a stand-alone, there is a sub-plot that runs through each of them that ends with the final novel.

To take another example, I started reading Sue Grafton's Alphabet series (you know -- A is for Alibi with Kinsey Milhone), but I stopped somewhere around L. I can't remember exactly why, I only know it had something to do with her family. By L, they either weren't there or had changed so dramatically I just didn't get it. I was disappointed because I really liked those books. Perhaps it had to do with the publisher (she is a famous cash cow) and they didn't want her bogging down the main plot. I don't know. However, because of that, I won't finish reading them. (Okay, maybe someday when the series is finished, but not now. I like to read in order.)

In my latest novella LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING, Lady Olivia receives an invitation to the Duke of Straford's holiday ball, which was also an engagement party for his brother. Well, according to the novella that I wrote about his brother, this engagement party could not happen because Dorcas and Daniel did not get engaged until the following summer.

Well, I went back into LADY CADORET'S LONGING, and not only did I tweak the dates, I also revised and rewrote what was necessary for LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING to be correct and true. I did the same for LOVE FINDS LORD DAVINGDALE, another story that held content for the ending of the series.

Yes, it was a pain in the neck. Literally. I spent the better part of eleven days
hunched over the computer, re-reading, revising, rewriting all to allow the ending to make sense. And also to not have some reviewer slam me for mixing up my dates.

You may ask, does it really matter? Oh, YES! Series readers are quite fanatical about information. They REMEMBER even the slightest mistake. As I did with Sue Grafton. If you lose them half-way through, they may never come back no matter how many glowing reviews you have.

I also added the first chapter for each succeeding novel, to the novels I had already published. Remember in the old days that was how publishers got you to buy the next novel in the series. A little tease for what was to come next. Well, I hadn't done it because none of my books were ever published in order according to the series. I had to wait five years for that to happen, and now that is finally has, I decided it was time to keep the order straight.

Also, I found that my writing has changed over the years. Words and phrases that I used five years ago were cumbersome and sometimes just plain wrong. I also found typo's (egads that just about slayed me because I have four critters and two betas) so I took those out. Little changes that allowed the books to become more polished so NEW readers won't be deterred from giving up on the series. You know.

Re-publishing. What a concept.

Tell me -- Have you ever republished? How long did you wait between publication dates? Are you writing a series like me and found the beginning didn't match the ending?

I also wanted to say that for some reason Blogger is being mean to me and I find I can't comment on some blogs. I joined Google + thinking that would help, but it didn't. I've spoken to a few people and they can't figure it out either. I know I'm not the only one. If anyone has a clue why Blogger won't let me comment, please tell. Thanks.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014


J.B. Chicoine said...

I don't know how you've kept any of the timelines straight, Anne! This whole series is really amazing, especially with all the really great characters that you so consistently render throughout the series.

Anne Gallagher said...

Thanks. It's all written down. Believe me I have to keep looking things up. And then when I change them, I have to find it all in the other books and change those as well, hence the blog post.

Shelley Sly said...

Re-publishing is quite a concept, and I'm so glad we're able to do it. Times are changing and the publishing world is certainly progressing. Good luck with your writing and revisions!

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

I love Sue Grafton.

Sarah Ahiers said...

I LOVE Anne McCaffrey's Pern series. I've read the whole thing (over a dozen books) so many time i've lost count.

But did i notice when in an early book a dragon was blue, and then later was brown? Heck yeah i noticed.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm working with my publisher to republish a book. It will be much better.

Anne Gallagher said...

Shelley -- Times they certainly are. If you had told me ten years ago I'd be the author of 10+ books, I would have laughed at you. But I am, and have learned so much from the process. I'm so glad I can "erase" my earlier editions. They may never be "perfect" but is there such a thing as a perfect book?

Mac -- I love Sue Grafton too.

Sarah -- Oh yes. Blue dragons, green eyes, blond hair. Someone will notice.

Susan -- Congratulations! Better is always better.

Rodrick Lal said...

The use of digital tools has made it possible for us to prepare multiple drafts, revise, and republish. Being a blogger, I am no stranger to this practice. It is so much easier to do multiple drafts on the the computer than on a note book!

Anne Gallagher said...

Rodrick -- Yes, multiple drafts are so much easier on a computer. Cut and paste, are so much easier to use than white -out.

Maria Zannini said...

I'm waiting to get my rights returned, but I'll be republishing as soon as they're mine again.

Re: Blogger
Blogger gets glitchy every once in a while. Sometimes it lasts a day, other times longer. It always straightens out eventually.

Ted Cross said...

I've been curious about this. Can you publish revisions on your novel without the system calling it a new version? I ask because the contract my cover artist gave me says I only have rights to the art for the first edition!