I’ve been editing the first novels I ever released. The Psychic Trilogy is getting updated, and it’s more challenging than you would imagine.
First of all, my brain balks at having to read them over again. They were my first and I read them a hundred times each—especially Demon’s Bond, about to become Seduced in Dreams. It’s not like it’s my favorite story, I will admit. But it is, hands down, the book I’ve read most often in my life. That’s hard. Let me be honest about that—I don’t want to read it ever again.
But I am. I am reading it, and wincing…and impressing myself. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing back then. I wrote what words came into my head then I used a thesaurus, then I changed everything back to regular words. I mean, come on…a thesaurus? How obnoxious. On the other hand, it did help me broaden my vocabulary, so it served its purpose. (Maybe I’ll write a post on the topic, one day)
I think I asked for ten reviews, and got three or four for Demon’s Bond, which isn’t actually a bad return. They were good reviews. God, for Monster’s Chains, about to become Tempted by Nightmares, I only asked for one, and I got a five star return on that. But then I stopped asking for more, I didn’t even try with Ties of Family (soon to become Enthralled with Visions), and I didn’t know how to promote (I still don’t, but I’m a little better at it. Not great, or I’d be on the NYT Bestsellers list, but better…)
There isn’t a whole lot of advice concerning updating your old books. Sure, there are plenty of posts about cleaning up the interior, or changing the cover. But new titles? I found a few places that tell you to just change them, the metadata (ie how the online bookstores present your particular URL address) will reflect the changes. Hopefully. Otherwise, there isn’t much, as if everyone was entirely happy with their first attempts at publication. Yeah, okay…unless they’re all secretly unpublishing, then putting their updated version back up.
I’ve seen posts warning authors not to unpublish then republish their updates. Some people think that means you’re gaming the system, working your old book into the new releases. So that’s another worry I’ve got on my plate. Authors always have to think about the perception of others, because others’ opinions are what sells books. I’m going to try to upload the changes, even if just to preserve my few reviews, but if things go wrong, I’ll take them off and republish, and worry about losing respect if that issue ever materializes.
So what am I doing? Cleaning them up, tightening the prose. I ran across this quote—that’s right, I’m not really a Hemingway fan so I hadn’t seen it before—and it pretty much serves as my inspiration. “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.” I went a touch overboard in the first editions, but I’m not stripping out my description entirely. I don’t write ‘stark’ I write stories you can see, stories you can fall into.
For these books, I want to keep the voice I’d started my career with. I want to honor the place I began, but I want to marry it to all that I’ve learned so far. I don’t want to change the books dramatically, there will be no drastic overhauls. The plots remain, the elements are fixed, but the prose is tighter. Hopefully, it will flow better, seem shorter. It’s always good when a book seems shorter than it is—that means you enjoyed it.
They’re not bad books, I’ll toot my own horn. Sometimes it’s hard for a writer to understand that they do, in fact, have talent. Your book could be the #1 seller in the world, and you’re still going to wonder if it’s any good. You’ll also have the added pressure of wondering if that was the peak of your career, if anything else you write can measure up. Authors live in their own strange, little paradoxical hell.
I’ve created my own hell by choosing to update, but I think it will serve me better in the long run. At least I’ll wince less, if I ever have to read these books again. I’ve got a lot to do with my Psychic Trilogy in time for the blog tour I want to set up in late September. Just in time to promote these stories for Halloween. They are dark erotica/erotic horror, dealing with demons, monsters and ghosts. They’re hot, they’re compelling, and they’ll be updated.