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Opinion: Why You Should Never Stop Growing As An Author

Opinion: Why You Should Never Stop Growing As An Author

“I'm not interested in pressing the ‘Publish' button,” says Irish self-published author Eliza Green, who kindly shares here her brave decision to rewrite her debut sci-fi novel to match the more mature writing style of its sequel.

The author Eliza Green at her desk

Eliza Green at work on Book 3 of the Exilon Trilogy

In December 2012, I published Becoming Human, Book 1 in the Exilon 5 Trilogy. A year later, I published Altered Reality, Book 2 in the same trilogy. It was when I completed the second book that I noticed something. My writing had moved on quite significantly in the space of a year.

I sent Altered Reality to my editor and set about working with my cover designer. But in the back of my mind, I was bothered that the two books didn’t entirely match each other in terms of style. In November, very late in the day, I made a decision to rewrite Becoming Human.

Why I Rewrote My Debut Novel

Cover of Becoming Human by Eliza Green

The decision was both an easy and a difficult one. Easy because it made no sense to have one book written in a different style to the book I was about to release. Difficult, because I was planning my launch, working on the formatting for Altered Reality and many other things. I didn’t really have the time to rewrite Book 1, but it had to be done and so I had to make time.

In addition, I had signed a deal with Podium Publishing in September 2013 to bring the trilogy to audio, so why would I want voice actors to read a version that I wasn’t entirely happy with? It’s the perfectionist within me. Sometimes I get a little crazy over imperfections, but I’m learning to step back and only change things around when they need it. 2013 was a difficult year because I only had one book out and my reputation hinged on that one book being good.

The initial reviews for Becoming Human weren’t bad, but they weren’t as good as they could have been. I had rewritten it during 2013, but without my editor’s input. The reviews improved. When it came to the end of the year and the revamp to incorporate my new style, there was no way I was going to take a chance on it not being right. I needed to engage with my editor again. I re-released the new version in December 2013 and the new reviews told me I had done the right thing.

The rewrite was always going to be about the style and presentation and I was careful not to change the story. It wouldn’t have been fair to readers who had enjoyed the book in its earliest form. People already loved the story. I wanted to make them fall in love with the way I was telling it too.

Practical Considerations: Dealing with Readers of Version 1

The cover of Altered Reality by Eliza Green

Notifying readers was tricky, but I posted about it on my blog and was especially interested in reviews on Amazon that complained about the very things I was about to change. I let some people know there would be a new version available. Behind the scenes, Amazon’s Whispersync is supposed to notify readers of a new version, but I’ve never received that notification on my Kindle. Barnes and Noble’s Nook allows readers to download a new version. Kobo reader doesn’t and customers there have to purchase the book again. I gave the option to readers that if they wanted a new version after having purchased the book, to contact me. There really wasn’t much more I could do about those who had the older version. I was more interested in targeting new readers who hadn’t seen the series before.

I had read somewhere that part of an author’s job is being willing to change something if it doesn’t work. But it has to be the right change, not a knee jerk reaction to a comment here or there. Personally, I’m not interested in pressing a publish button. I’m here to learn and improve and I’m not afraid to rewrite my work if it better serves the trilogy and my career. I’m a member of Alli and on our Facebook group, we talk quite a bit about being an Authorpreneur. Learning and not being afraid to change is an integral part of that world.

Like to share this inspiring article with other author friends? Just cut and paste our ready-made into your Twitter timeline:

“How to keep growing as a #selfpub author – http://wp.me/p44e6Y-1Fm by @ElizaGreenBooks via @IndieAuthorALLi”


Author: Eliza Green

Eliza Green tried her hand at fashion designing, massage, painting, and even ghost hunting, before finding her love of writing. She often wonders if her desire to change the ending of a particular glittery vampire story steered her in that direction (it did). After earning her degree in marketing, Eliza went on to work in everything but marketing, but swears she uses it in everyday life, or so she tells her bank manager.

Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, she lives there with her sci-fi loving, evil genius best friend. When not working on her next amazing science fiction adventure, you can find her reading, indulging in new food at an amazing restaurant or simply singing along to something with a half decent beat.


This Post Has 17 Comments
  1. I had the same experience! And reacted the same way. This is the gift from self-pubishing in e-book and POD physical books.

    It comes down to having the best quality out there over the long haul.

    1. I’m so pleased to meet other like minded authors in that respect, Laure. I was worried when I first wanted to rewrite Becoming Human in 2013 because I didn’t know if it was the done thing, to re-edit a book after it was published. But I absolutely had to. My gut feeling was to do it.

  2. Hi Eliza,

    Really enjoyed this post 🙂 You make a good point (a few of them really) about needing to change when change is required, but also avoiding the impulse to change in response to comments or criticisms. If the changes match your overall vision for the story world or series, then it’s called for, and I think you do yourself and your readers a service by making the changes. Reading and authoring can share a reflexive relationship this way, though I do think the author should always remain in the driver’s seat, erm…writer’s seat. 🙂

    I recently ran a serial release of my novel and received a handful of comments about errors that were missed during editing. One reader went so far as to send me e-mails with notes about Kindle location numbers I should look at. Those revisions all went into the omnibus edition and paperback, which I put out last month. I’ve yet to receive feedback about larger issues, but book #2 is in-process, and it’s already developing a slightly different feel. Who knows. I might be revising book #1 somewhere down the line.

    1. Aaron, I’ve had that too, where readers have contacted me with Kindle locations for spelling errors on older versions. When you make yourself available to readers, they respond in the nicest of ways. I wonder if traditional authors get the same love? I’ve seen spelling mistakes in their books too, but I never feel compelled to tell them.

  3. This is all so, so true.

    In the run-up to the launch of Feral Youth last year, I re-wrote my two (yes, two. I’m twice as crazy) first novels, Golden Handcuffs and Poles Apart, so that I could re-launch them alongside Feral Youth with matching new covers and writing styles.

    Although I thought it was ‘perfect’ at the time (fully edited, beta-read, proofed), my 24-year-old self just didn’t have the maturity to write what I’m capable of now.

    Congrats Eliza – it’s a lot of hard work but it’ll be totally worth the effort.

  4. Writing styles change with time, with words, with experience.

    I’m hoping my own style is mature enough to last through the current trilogy – but getting to this point has taken almost 14 years, so there should be some leveling off of the necessary craft improvement after a couple of millions of words.

    Good luck with both.


    1. I agree. If you don’t have your style after 14 years, then when will you? Mine was fluid in 2013, then settled down towards the end, for sure. Thanks and good luck with your trilogy.

  5. Hello Eliza: Thanks for your comments.

    I never stop rewriting until I am satisfied that my novels are as perfect as I can make them on every level: Premise, inciting incidents, characters, lead-in 1st pages, 1st line of text, the 2nd act of Fun & Games, and the climatic lead, where all is (almost) lost and the sometmes surprising ending. Then I pass it to my copy-editor and test reader groups. for correction and feedback… and more polishing.

    Best of Success…


    1. Warren, agree with everything you say. Betas and editors are an important part of my world too.

      But what if you’ve done all that and published a book that you can improve no further only to realise later on that your style is still emerging? It took me four years to write Book 1. Less than a year to write Book 2. I couldn’t ignore the style difference between the two books in one short year 🙂

      Success to you too!

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