Friday, March 24, 2017

The Urge to Revise with Kendra E. Ardnek

Hello! I'm here today to talk about the URGE TO REVISE. This is something that is going to hit you a few weeks/months after your book is released. No matter how good you think your book is when you hit that button, sooner or later, you're going to find a scene that you wish you had written differently, you're going to find that odd typo that somehow escaped you, you're going to discover something new in the sequel that you wish you'd referenced ... or someone will leave a scathing review.

The beauty of Self-Publication is that, depending on the publication platform you use, it's easy to go in and tweak. But should you?

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As many of you know, I just released a revised version of Sew, It's a Quest.

(It's currently free until midnight tonight, btw)

And this wasn't the first revision that I did for the book. I did a small polish and added two scenes about a year into its publication when I changed the cover. But this was a full-over revision where I retyped EVERY word. Added scenes. Completely rewrote one chapter.

But I do not, typically, recommend that an author do what I just did. Here's why I did:

1. The book had been on the market for five years. I have thus had five years of growth as an author.
2. I really had rushed the book's publication five years ago.
3. The book is the first in a series that I plan to be writing for many years to come (I have nineteen books with confirmed titles, and a number more after that) and Sew being sub-par has impeded my ability to (a) promote this series and (b) write the next book.
4. I currently have Grammarly Pro, and want to get the most of it before my year's subscription is up.

So, that said, why I don't recommend that authors do this.

1. It prevents you from moving forward. If you're stuck revising last year's book, you're not writing this year's.
2. Your book is never going to be perfect.
3. It can annoy your readers to have the book constantly updating.

And here's why it annoys your readers:

1. If they have a paperback, they're going to have to REBUY your book to get your updated version.
2. If they have a kindle ... well, kindle's nicky* about updating a reader's copy. So they're going to delete their copy and REBUY it. And you can be nice and set your book for free for a bit, but if they miss that...
3. They're scared that you'll change, or even remove their favorite part.

*A word I made up based on persnickety and another word that I can't remember. It basically means very annoying and stubborn and doesn't do what you want it to.

So, if you're considering revising your books, I want you to ask these questions:

Why I want to revise?

Because I found typos: On this one, go ahead and fix them. As authors, we have a duty to look professional and provide books that are easy to read. Typos disrupt a reader's reading experience. So, since we have the power to fix them, we should do just that.

Because I want to change this one scene: Ah, but what if that was a reader's favorite scene? Unless you have readers specifically targeting a scene saying that it was badly written, I'd leave it alone.

Because I discovered something in the sequel: Up to you on this one. Just bear in mind that you might confuse readers who read the unrevised book one and are unaware that you changed it, or don't have the option of getting a hold of this revised version.

Because readers were taking issue: If your negative reviews outweigh your positive, then, yes, give them a grain of salt and consider revising. If it's relatively few, remember that you aren't ever going to write a book that everyone likes. I do recommend examining what they're taking issue with, though. For instance, with Sew, one of my readers mentioned that it seemed to her that events that took place over a month only seemed to take place over a couple days, and thus one of the romantic relationships felt rushed. So I went back over the book, saw that, yes, it did seem that way, and that was one of the issues that I addressed.

How essential is this book in your writing career?

Sew, It's a Quest is the first book of a series that I plan to be writing for pretty much the rest of my writing career. Its first three books are very order-dependant, and the books after that, moderately so. As such, it's a book that I cannot bury under my list of books. It's a book that I NEED to be promoting for many years to come. Thus, it was crippling my sales, and my ability to keep writing the series.

However, if your book is a standalone, or even part of a shorter series, I'd recommend leaving it alone. Everyone who is going to buy it has probably already bought it. Move on to the next project and make it bigger and better. Some day, someone will come back to your old books and smile and shake their heads, but you don't need to use it as your first impression.

How much have I learned since publishing this?

When I published Sew, I was sixteen. It was only my second completed book. I had not found my writing voice yet, I had not matured in my writing skill yet, and I there were things that were in my head that I failed to convey onto my paper (essential things like - how long they were sitting under the Big Tree).

Five and a half years later, I have published seven more books, I have found my voice, matured a LOT in my skill, and now see where I failed to convey things like that.

Do I have loyal readers who would be annoyed with me if I changed things?

Bookania has a few loyal readers, and I actually conscripted some of them as my beta readers as I did my revision. However, largely, it's a far less popular series than my Rizkaland Legends. As such, I could get away with larger changes.

Still, I did keep things mostly intact. There was only one chapter completely rewritten, and I did cut a few paragraphs here in there ... but those paragraphs had been "padding" that I'd written to reach my word count in NaNo, and didn't add anything to the story.

And, then, for my revision, I didn't rerelease it in the same purchase link as the previous edition. If a reader has the old version, they can still read it. And they can purchase this new edition (or get it for free today, and I plan to put it on permafree in about three months) and read it.

However, there's one thing that I see a lot of authors doing that annoys me to no ends, and it's this: REMOVING their books from the market.

When you hit publish, you make a commitment for your book to be available to readers. For it to ALWAYS be available to readers. See, there's a book I really like, I won't name names, but it was the first steampunk that I'd ever read and I'm pretty good friends with the author. Now, the book had issues. The author loved mixing up homonyms. Her most recent book, she published traditionally ... and had an actual editor - and realized how bad her previous books were.

Then promptly pulled all five of them from the market. From following the author's blog, I read that she's planning on COMPLETELY changing one of my favorite characters. And this scares me. Plot-wise, I really liked that book. She only needed to clean up her homonym act.

If you are going to revise your book, only pull it when you're about to release the new version.

So, yeah, bottom line. Only revise if you have to, and be as nice as you can to your readers about it.


  1. Thank you for this summary. This is why some of my older works, which are definitely not good examples of my current skills, are still on the market. *ahem* The Mercenary's Marriage *cough* Despite the risk of someone picking it up and thinking my writing skills are awful, I still leave it out there for those who fell in love with it way back in the beginning of my career. I know what it is like to love a book and then become unable to find a copy to share with a friend. I don't want to do that to my readers. Revision might happen someday, but I am not going to take it away from my readers until I get around to it. Besides, right now I am too busy writing new material to spend time revising old material. That might change some day, but for now, it isn't a priority. :)

  2. This was an incredibly helpful post, thank you so much for sharing it with us, Kendra!

    ~ Savannah

  3. Thanks for these thoughts! I don't know if this will ever be an issue I face, but I'll definitely be keeping this post in mind if I do.

  4. My question is - what do you do when you find a very minor formatting mistake in Book One of your series that none of your non-editor readers will ever notice? Do you follow the same pattern in the rest of the series for the sake of consistency, or do you fix it for the sake of perfection,even though it's not a mandatory thing?


Hi! Now that you've read my post, hast thou any opinions that thou wouldst like to share? I'd love to hear them!

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