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Should I Consider Republishing My Book After Making A Mistake? Other Questions Answered By Orna Ross And Michael La Ronn: Member Q&A Podcast

Should I Consider Republishing My Book After Making a Mistake? Other Questions Answered by Orna Ross and Michael La Ronn: Member Q&A Podcast

Should I consider republishing my first book? This is among the questions answered on our #AskALLi Member Q&A, hosted by author Michael La Ronn and ALLi Director Orna Ross.

Our questions this month include:

  • If I realized I made a mistake with my first book, should I consider going back and redoing it and republishing it?​
  • Which self-publishing service is best for literary fiction?
  • What’s the best way to sell print books direct from my website?
  • What’s the best way to offer a prize drawing for one of my books?
  • How much does a good editor cost?

Tune in for the answers to these and much more!

Listen to the Q&A: Republishing

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Watch the Q&A: Republishing

Should I consider republishing my first book? This is among the questions answered on our #AskALLi Member Q&A, hosted by author @MichaelLaRonn and ALLi Director @OrnaRoss. Click To Tweet

Find more author advice, tips and tools at our Self-publishing Author Advice Center: https://selfpublishingadvice.org, with a huge archive of nearly 2,000 blog posts, and a handy search box to find key info on the topic you need.

And, if you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self-publishing ally. You can do that at http://allianceindependentauthors.org.

Now, go write and publish!

About the Hosts

Michael La Ronn is the author of over 30 books of science fiction & fantasy and authors self-help books. His books include the Galaxy Mavericks series and Modern Necromancy series. You can now find his new writing course on Teachable.

Orna Ross launched the Alliance of Independent Authors at the London Book Fair in 2012. Her work for ALLi has seen her named as one of The Bookseller’s “100 top people in publishing”. She also publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and is greatly excited by the democratising, empowering potential of author-publishing. For more information about Orna, visit her website: http://www.ornaross.com

Read the Q&A Transcripts: Republishing

Orna Ross: Hello everyone. We are here again for this month’s Alliance of Independent Authors Member Q&A. And I am here with Mr. Questions and Answers himself, Mr. Michael La Ronn. Hi Michael!

Michael La Ronn: Hi, Orna, how are you?

Orna Ross: I’m very well. It’s nice and early over there where you are in the USA?

Michael La Ronn: Yes, it is. It is 6:02 AM as we speak.

Orna Ross: You are so dedicated; I hope everyone appreciates it. It’s brilliant. So yeah, we have lots of questions and lots of good, kind of, meaty questions to get to.

And just for those of you who haven’t attended before, what you are watching is, as I said, the Alliance of Independent Authors Member Q&A, so our members submit questions that they are interested in exploring a bit, you know, our members can submit questions by email or on our member forum.

But it’s really nice to get direct questions that we can explore here, Michael and I together, to maybe go into, sort of, layers and depths that are not possible on Facebook or by email. And also, I know that some of our members like us to pose the questions because the answers to their query helps lots of other authors as well.

So, that’s why we do this monthly Q&A, and as I said, only members can pose questions, but anybody can listen to the answers.

So, shall we get started, Michael? What is our first question today?

Which self-publishing service is best for literary fiction?

Michael La Ronn: Yes. Our first question is from member Nancy and she asks, which self-publishing service is best for a work of literary fiction?

Nancy’s novel is a satirical literary fiction, and she’s trying to narrow down self-publishing services and she’s seen some reviews of our different service providers and our service ratings directory, but she just doesn’t know which services are going to be better for literary fiction.

Orna Ross: Okay, great. Well, I’m sure you have thoughts on this, but my first thought is that literary fiction is not an exceptional genre and there is a reason why a lot of authors think literary fiction is different and that’s because, in traditional publishing, literary fiction tends to be the kind of fiction that trade publishing reads, and it’s certainly the kind of fiction that trade publishing puts out into the world in the most visible ways, through prizes like The National Book Award and Booker Prizes, and through their front list, you know, the kinds of books that will get you a big author interview over three pages, they’re the books that get reviewed in the fiction, well the dwindling review, Fiction Collins, in the major newspapers, and on TV and so on.

So, we think that literary fiction is a different genre, but actually putting together a literary novel {inaudible} marketing, there’s absolutely no difference for the service providers. You may need an editor who has experience of literary fiction, that certainly can help, particularly, if you need a lot of development work. If it’s your first literary novel you’re likely to need quite a bit of development work on it. So, having somebody who has experience in that is good, but if you’re an experienced literary novelist and you’re basically going from finished draft to copy-edit, there is no difference in copy editing a literary novel, or very little difference. Again, you might get somebody with a bit more experience who might be able to, kind of, shine up a sentence for you in a way that you didn’t think of yourself.

So, then it comes to marketing and promotion and again, there is this idea that, you know, because we see the big interviews and the big reviews that, if we get a self-publishing service, they’re going to be able to win that for us.

And the short answer to that is, you are in competition with trade publishers. You might be able to win some of that publicity, but you’re far more likely to win some of that publicity if you hire your own PR and go after it yourself. If you are relying on a self-publishing service, they don’t, generally speaking, and I’m talking here because I’m assuming Nancy’s asking this sort of a general self-publishing service that covers everything, and they don’t tend to have the specialized expertise that it needs to get your book in front of the right people in order to have those reviews come through and so on.

So, my answer would be, a good self-publishing service who can publish other genre is just as capable of publishing literary fiction. The other point I would make, I would recommend literary fiction authors and poets to step outside the multi providers, as a general rule. And this is a general rule for ALLi generally, you know, to get yourself into as much independence as possible, to have your own team of editors and designers and people you trust, and particularly marketers. And the reason being is that you will really need to get to a sense of where you fit in that literary marketplace and it’s a very over, like all genre, it’s got lots and lots and lots of people in it. The quality is stunning, absolutely incredible books are being produced in this genre, so you really need to really get in there and get engaged.

And the thing that I find when people want to hire a multi-service provider is generally, they’re looking to hand this over and really, it’s not something that you can handover.

So, that would be my thoughts, not quite probably the answer that you were looking for, Nancy, which was a recommendation. Sorry about that.

Does ALLi have updated guidelines on how to use CreateSpace and IngramSpark together?

Michael La Ronn: No, that’s perfect. I actually wouldn’t add anything to that at all. So, why don’t we jump into our next question, which is from member Henry and he asks, and this is just a general question, if we can’t answer this, we’ll jump offline and give him an answer.

Back in 2015, Karen Myers wrote, How to Use CreateSpace and IngramSpark Together, given how much CreateSpace and KDP have changed in the past five years, I figured there must be some updated guidelines. Could you provide?

One, do we have updated guidelines?

Orna Ross: Yes, we do. I think what’s happened here is that Henry has just hit upon an old blog post that probably needs a redirect link. Debbie Young, who has written our book about physical bookstore distribution, keeps her finger on this pulse very well and she has written an updated version of that. So, we’ll get that into the show notes for you, Henry, and you’ll be able to click on it there. And I would recommend that you go to  the member zone and that you download Debbie’s book, where you’ll find all the information about that but also an awful lot more about physical books, you know, print books and how to distribute them.

What’s the best way to sell print books direct from my author website?

Michael La Ronn: All right. Next question is from member Sarah and she asks, what’s the best way to sell print books direct from my website? Seems like there’s a lot of choices, but what’s the best way to do it in the way that is most convenient, as well as economical, for the author.

Orna Ross: Yeah. So, this is still a challenge.

I don’t think this one has been entirely nailed. Some people have managed to do it. It depends on where you live, Sarah. So, Aerio is a service that works with IngramSpark, IngramSpark bought Aerio over some years ago, and you can use and set up an Aerio store on your website if you are in the US, and they will ship directly. So, you get the order in, the person pays on your website, and it gets shipped from IngramSpark, and the reader never knows that it wasn’t you who sent it. So, if you’re in the US, that’s great. If you’re not in the US, there are other providers, and again, I think the thing to do here is for us to provide a list with links in the show notes. There are people who will do this distribution for you.

One new, sort of, emerging way that you can do it is through Patreon, who’s now distributing merchandise, and that would include print books. So, if you had a Patreon account and Patron followers, that can be a way to distribute your print.

But there is no satisfactory free and global print distribution direct. You can give a PDF download but, you know, most people don’t want to read a PDF on their computer or on a reader. It doesn’t screen flow, it’s not satisfactory. So, until Aerio goes global, or something similar goes global, I’m not aware of a provider that manages every country.

So, let us know where you are, and we will put in some providers who do have a good global reach and we’ll go from there.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, I would also add that this is a lot, the complexity of it depends a lot on whether you’re doing signed books.

If you’re doing signed books then it’s a complete problem, because it’s easier if you can do it without having to keep books in your possession, like if you can drop ship, do it that way. If you want to start doing signed books, that’s a lot harder because then you’ve got to ship the books to your house, and then you got to ship them to people. That’s problematic

Orna Ross: Absolutely. It’s so problematic, you’ll notice I didn’t even consider it as an option. Now, I will speak about somebody who did do, I did a special edition once of 500 signed copies of a special book, and I did sign and dedicate each book.

And it was very personal. It was kind of wrapped in gold foil and, you know, nice card and quotation from the writer that I was writing about and so on. And that was a lovely kind of personal project, and I really enjoyed it. And I used to stop the Facebook ads on the book when I got to the point where it was beginning to feel like a chore. And then I’d start the ads again when I could get back into feeling, this is a nice personal connection, one to one. But if you’re going to do that, you have to build in the cost of all that mailing around the place and you have to build in the time to do it, and enjoy it. And most of us don’t enjoy wrapping books and taking them to the post office. Yeah. I don’t think most authors do, unless you find it meditative and kind of a switch off, I think it’s not something to get into. And that’s why, you know, we really would love to see Aerio expanding out, because that facility that Ingram has to send a book to the reader without the reader knowing that it didn’t come from you.

So, it comes in an unmarked box, they assume you sent it. So, it’s really nice. It feels exactly like a direct sale. It is a direct sale. It’s just that they’re managing it, and you pay for that, you know, it all adds to your costs and all of that, but it is a great service and it’s one we’d like to see expanded.

What’s the best way to offer a prize draw for one of my books?

Michael La Ronn: I agree. All right. Now we have another question from member Natalie, a bit of a long question, but I’ll summarize it as best I can.

What would be the best practices in terms of organizing a prize draw that offers one or more books of a published edition as a prize?

She’s got a prize draw coming up where she wants to offer eight hardcover copies of her book has autographed prizes, but the cost of running such a venture is pretty costly, and there’s also some legal things you have to think about. So, the question is, what’s the best way to offer a prize drawing for one of my books?

Orna Ross: Yeah. Again, there are services for these things. So, the service that we use when we’re doing any sort of giveaway or prizes or anything is Gleam.

I know there’s King Sumo and Rafflecopter, and other ones,

So, there’s three and they’re all good. I’ve heard good things. We use Gleam, but I’ve heard great things about Rafflecopter, I’ve heard great things about King Sumo. So, you might want to explore those and again, we’ll give the links in the show notes.

Michael La Ronn: Yes. Yeah, those are all good choices. And just remember, you can Google this, but there’s also some legal things. Like, there’s some things you have to do to say that it’s not a sweepstake because, at least here in the United States, if you say that, you can get into some trouble. So, just make sure you’re abiding by the sweepstakes laws in your country.

The nice thing about those services that we just listed is they automatically help you do that.

Orna Ross: Yeah, I think that’s why  it’s good to use a service who has experience in doing this, and you’ll find that a lot of the services, they give so many options, you know, so you can do prizes in return for signups. You can use these at the same time as you’re creating your buzz. You can use it to build your social media following. Whatever your goal is at the end of that, beyond obviously, distributing your book and creating a bit of a buzz for the book, you can add in specific goals around your social media, around your email signups or whatever else you might like to achieve with the competition and, yeah, it’s a really good way, especially if you keep it focused on your ideal readers and the people who like your books, that’s why you’re really wise to be doing your own books as the prize. So many authors are giving away iPads, or stuff like that, and, you know, they get the email signups and then they’re gone again next month because they were only there for the iPad, not for your book. So, it’s slower to do it around your books, but that definitely is the way to do it. So, yeah, good luck with the competition.

What technical advice can ALLi offer on recording an audiobook?

Michael La Ronn: All right. Well, our next question is from Ru and this question is after my heart and that is, do you have any technical advice for recording an audiobook?

Orna Ross: Hi, Michael, over to you.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, such a great question. So, for the book that we wrote for this podcast, 150 Self-Publishing Questions Answered, I actually recorded the audiobook for that, and I built an audiobook booth recording studio in my house. And that sounds really, really expensive, it only costs me like $250.

And I actually have, it’s like this little closet in my basement, it’s super tiny. It’s kind of like a Harry Potter closet, and I retrofitted that with, you know, it’s like a two by four closet, literally, it’s not very big at all. I basically bought these poster boards, and you can get them at an arts and crafts store, you just measure up your wall. I bought enough poster boards to cover all of the walls, and then I bought acoustic foam, which you can get on Amazon for like $50 for like 50 panels, and I just put them up. Yeah, Orna’s got those behind her, for those of you who are watching. I just basically put them on the wall, and then that became a sound booth.

And that was the best thing I could do, because I can go into the closet, I can shut the door, and then when I start speaking into the microphone, it sounds like I’m in a padded room. It’s like a whisper room. So, first things first is treating your space. That is the number one thing you can do. And making sure that the air conditioner and the furnace are off when you’re recording, because it’s amazing how those will get into your sound. That’s the first thing.

Second thing would be choosing the right microphone. So, I’ve seen some people record audio books on Blue Yetis. Hey, there’s no shame in that game if that’s all you’ve got the money for. I’ve seen some people do it successfully. I think Joanna Penn, that might be how she records.

I think I spent like another $200 to buy a nice Audio Technica microphone. It’s not high end or anything, but it makes a world of difference when you’re recording into your computer. And then also having some sort of an audio interface. So, if you buy a traditional studio microphone, you’re going to have to have some way to power it. So, a digital interface, you can buy them online, they’re really cheap. That’s going to help you get the best possible sound, and it’ll also ensure that you’ve got a clean signal. So, those are the two big things. I mean, there’s all sorts of other things that I could go into, but treating your space is the big one.

If you can solve that problem, then just get the right microphone and then you won’t have to worry about sound quality. There’s a lot of other things with, you know, editing and mixing and all that. But like I said, we’d be here all day if we talked about that.

Orna Ross: Yes, it’s definitely outside the scope of the program.

However, good news is that we are putting together a book about podcasting and audio for authors, one of our ultimate guides and we’ll have that in the member zone for download before the end of the year. So, keep an eye out for that. Howard has contributed to that and Tim Lewis, who does some podcasting and audio book work as well.

And there’s a lot of technical, as well as other advice, in that guide. So, keep an eye out for that one.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, if Howard and Tim are involved, that’s a dream team as far as audio goes.

Orna Ross: We might pull you in too and make the dream a trio.

Is there a service where I can get feedback on my book cover?

Michael La Ronn: Alright. Well, we’ve got another good question here from Jeanette and she asks, is there a marketing service where you can submit your book covers for feedback by experts in the field?

I don’t know if my book covers a right for the genre. I get lots of clicks on my Amazon ads, but the conversion rate is lacking.

Orna Ross: There’s actually a free service that we can highly recommend. One of our advisors, Joel Friedlander, does this every month. You can submit your book to his website, it’s called, thebookdesigner.com

He does it publicly, so if you’re up for that, I’d really recommend it.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah. He’s got a fantastic operation over there and how he does that. He gives the honest feedback, you know, if it’s good he’ll tell you, if it needs work, he’ll tell you too. He’s a good designer himself.

Orna Ross: Yeah, he’s fantastic. So, if you’re up for the public feedback, which some people might feel, especially if it’s your first book, might feel a little bit too exposed, I think that Joel also does a private service, paid service, behind the scenes. So, you can write to him about that.

Michael La Ronn: Absolutely. And if he likes your cover, you get a gold star, so you use that for your marketing too. Absolutely.

How much does a good editor cost?

Michael La Ronn: All right. Next question is from Pat, and this is a very general question, but how much does a good editor cost on average?

Orna Ross: You can get a price range from the editor’s associations, you know, the equivalent of ALLi for editors. So, there is a CIEP, which is the Chartered Institute of Editors and Proofreaders, they have a good range pricing on their website. Now, the reason that people cannot give you an exact price on an edit is because it just varies so much, as you can imagine, from person to person. So, a brand-new writer, writing something complex, is going to cost far more than an experienced writer who is, you know, working on the eighth book in a series. Editing those two is just not the same experience whatsoever for the editor. So, some editors work with samples. And you can, you know, you can send them a sample of your work, but then you will also meet editors that say, look, a sample is no good. Until I see the whole book, I actually don’t know what is involved here.

So yeah, as I said, you can get a price range, but you’re not going to get an exact price. And then you just shop around, you shop around, you send out your book, and you, you know, you look at editors in your genre who’ve done a good job, you’ve heard them recommended and praised by other authors. We have a list of approved and vetted editors in the ALLi database and directory. So, check that out. They’re fantastic. Every editor in there as good value for money, they’ve been checked on pricing as well as everything else.

But really, it’s terribly personal. Finding an editor, sourcing an editor, this all takes time. It’s not something that you can just order up like, you know, producing your book, pressing the publish button and getting it distributed all over the world only takes a few seconds, getting the right editor can take years and is often a trial and error experience.

So, it’s about jumping in there and refining your knowledge as you go in terms of what you need.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, and it’s going to depend on the type of editing service you buy too. So, if you’re wanting a developmental edit service, that’s the most expensive edit you can buy. Depending on the length of your book that could cost you thousands of dollars, depending on the editor and then what you’re trying to do, Whereas a copy editor is going to be somewhere in the middle and a proofreader is usually going to be the most cost effective service that you can buy, but they’re not going to spend as much time looking at things like flow and consistency, as a copy editor would. So, you know, there are a lot of factors to consider.

Orna Ross: There is, and the irony is that the more you need an editor, at the beginning of your business, is when you’ve got the least money to spend on it.

And it’s a real challenge and, you know, authors expect to start they’re author business or they’re author careers for, you know, as low cost as possible, and we all get that. We wait a long time for our income to come as well, it doesn’t come in immediately. So, these are the challenges. However, compared to setting up any other the business, when you consider the returns over time, it is important to invest in your business upfront.

And it usually is utterly essential for a first time writer, you know, unless you’re writing straight forward, say how-to nonfiction or a very straight forward genre novel where all the tropes and everything are very well defined, and everybody knows what to expect, and all that kind of thing. You may be able to get away without a developmental edit for that, but if you’re writing anything that has any sort of complexity in there, you’re probably going to need the help of an editor. Until you’ve been edited, and been through the experience, it’s impossible to explain how much an editor can add to your book.

I would like to do a shout out here for an ALLi partner member who has a tool, a self-editing tool, which is very helpful for the novelists among you. It’s called Fictionary, and you can feed in your completed novel into Fictionary, and it really can help you to do to your developmental edit yourself. So, I would commend that to you and, you know, get all the self-editing books you can together, make the book as good as you can before you send it to a developmental editor or a copy editor, and definitely before you send it to a proofreader.

What should I put in my book’s disclaimer (and is changing character names enough)?

Michael La Ronn: All right, our member Ru has another question and that is, are you able to give detailed guidance on disclaimers? My book is a work of fiction, but not all the characters are a product of my imagination. Some have been re-imagined. Am I putting myself in jeopardy if I state this?

Orna Ross: There is a standard clause that appears at the front of every novel published practically by trade publishers, which you know, is a disclaimer that the people are not to be confused with real people. I would ask why you need to state it, would be my first question to you.

And the second thing would be, you need to be very careful, because if somebody does, you know, it’s a flattering portrait or something, it’s probably okay, though you will be surprised about people can take offense to. But, if it is  in any way un-flattering, critical, you know, if your book is about highlighting stuff that happened, that you feel should not have happened, you are stepping into dangerous territory and most countries have strict libel laws.

And there are people who have been known to go around trying to find things in books and claiming that that’s about me and, you know, frightening authors into paying the money. So, you know, you’re stepping into a legal territory. The way to protect yourself, the truth is not a defense in some jurisdictions, that’s one thing. The way to defend yourself best is to really change these characters and these situations, as much as you possibly can, and to then reimagine them more if you can. Unless you’ve got an absolute reason not to, if it is a work of fiction, really let your imagination go on it. And then you can safely put the standard disclaimer at the front of your book, that any resemblance to any person living or dead is coincidental or whatever, whatever the terminology says.

I’m sure you have thoughts on this Michael.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, I was just going to say, everything you said is great. If you put a disclaimer on a book and it’s not true, then there’s no reason to have a disclaimer. So, you have to make sure that what you’re actually putting in the disclaimer is true. So, if you say that everyone in this book is merely coincidental and they’re not merely coincidental, that it is based on, well, then your disclaimer’s not going to do you very much good.

Orna Ross: In fact, more harm than good. It would probably hurt you, and different territories are different in different places. So, it’s really important to, I think, you know, we have fiction for a reason and also I think a novel generally works better the more you can move away from the actual thing that happened.

So, the seed of what happened is in there, the emotional truth of what happened is in there. Everything that satisfies you as an author and the reason that you decided to write this book, can be in there, unless you’re writing it for revenge, which is never a good plan. Everything is in there and you can get your creative satisfaction from the book, and the book will be better the more you bring the imagination to it. =If that original thing is a seed and then the book takes on a life of its own, it generally will tend to be a richer experience, both for you and for the reader. So, I would be very careful here and I wouldn’t do anything that you don’t need to do.

Michael La Ronn: Agree. And next question, which might be our final one here.

Orna Ross: Sorry, just one second on this because Charles has just come in saying, just changing names won’t help. No, it’s not enough. If the person recognizes themselves having changed, the name does nothing. If they can make a claim, if they can make a case; this person is writing about me, they are known to me, they’re writing about an event that happened, this is their opinion, they have taken, they have impugned my reputation, they have made me look like a, you know, there are all sorts of things that they can accuse you of and the laws tend to protect people, rightly so. Otherwise, we could all go around putting in writing all sorts of terrible things about each other that aren’t true. So, no, changing names is not enough.

Should I re-work or re-publish my book if I made a mistake?

Michael La Ronn: All right. So, our question, which is our title question for today, our marquee question, is, and for some reason, I’m not showing a name. So, I apologize that I’m not going to give it a name shout out here, but if I realized a mistake with my first book, should I consider going back and redoing it and republishing it?

Orna Ross: Now, you’ve got a great answer to this in your book, 150 answers. So, I’m going to let you take this one and then if I’ve anything to add, I’ll pop in at the end.

Michael La Ronn: You know, there’s two schools of thought on this, and for those of you who are interested, certainly if you’re an ALLi member, you can download 150 Self-Publishing Questions Answered in the member zone. If not, just go to selfpublishingadvice.org, and you’ll find links to the book and all that.

Everybody’s going to make mistakes with their first books. There’s going to be typos. There’s going to be, you know, plot holes or things that you realize, oh, I could have done better on that.

And there’s two schools of thought. The first school of thought is you should just leave it and let it be a monument to your skill level at the time that you wrote it. Dean Leslie Smith would be a great example of someone who believes that.

The second thought is, and this is kind of an extreme thought, is, I can fix it. If I find something wrong with the book, I can pull it down, un-publish it ,rewrite it and then put it back up because I can adjust the book based on what the market thinks.

You can take that too far. I mean, if you’re going to pull down your book and republish it just because you get a bad review and rewrite it and republish it, I think that’s problematic. I think you need to figure that out.

But there’s nothing wrong with fixing typos, or updating your cover, or going through and looking for more, you know, looking for more things that need to be fixed, if it’s something that’s going to be micro, it’s not going to take you a lot of time.

Because there’s the ‘would I be better off writing test’, the WIBBO test. And the answer is you’re probably better off writing your next book than you are spending time going over the first book again and again and again. I find that it’s generally not worth my time. That’s Michael La Ronn’s opinion only.

Now, I will go back to my books and I’ll redo the covers every few years. I’ll redo the book description every few years, because those are some of the things that, if you can redo those, that’s going to give you a bigger bang for your buck generally than rewriting the book.

And then there’s also the thought, well, what is a mistake? Why do you need to rewrite your book? Nine times out of ten, that has to do more with self-doubt or doubting, you know, your ability as a writer, it doesn’t really have anything to do with the book itself. And so, it could just be that you didn’t get your book in front of the right readers. So, if you pull it down and rewrite it, you could actually be doing yourself harm.

Orna Ross: I love what you say in your book on this, and I’m probably slightly misquoting, but essentially you said, the worst judge of any book is its author, you know, of how acceptable that book is.

And I think you and I will be on two ends of this scale because I’m a fixer, and if I see something and I feel, oh, that could be better, I dive in and I’ll fix it. So, this has been a real challenge for me, a real problem.

More than a challenge, because it’s exactly what you say, you can get stuck on stuff that you’d be far better just moving on from and getting the next book done.

I find that much easier with nonfiction than I do with fiction and poetry, and I think it comes back also to your motivation as a writer, and what it is you’re trying to do.

It’s back to that first question we had about the literary fiction too. If you see yourself as, you know, an artist who wants to leave a shining legacy, then you’re probably hopping in there and fiddling and fixing far more than you need to, and it can be a very sophisticated way of not, you know, of resisting. It can become full on block.

And I do see a lot of new authors, first time authors, who are obsessed with the first book and cannot let it go. And the fact that we can now, as indie authors, make those changes is actually a bad thing for a person like them, and me, because in the old days, I handed my book to my publisher and that was it, it was gone. I used to hate the stuff that I didn’t like in it and that I thought afterwards, Oh, it would have been so much better if such and such had happened. Now, if I think that I can go in and kind of make that happen.

There’s also the question that it is unfair perhaps to those who’ve already bought your book, and read it and enjoyed it, that you then go in and make some changes that they’re not aware of.

This happened to me when I put a prologue on that some people hadn’t read and, you know, that was quite a bit of a hoo-ha, some of them turned up in a review.

And then there’s also librarians and booksellers in the wider ecosystem. You know, the reason books are done, if you make major changes, you call it a new edition, is because these people want to make sure that they are giving, you know, any new addition that has a lot of extra or different information in it, that the reader is appraised of that.

So, all of this is new and each writer, like everything in indie, you know, we’re a broad church, everybody decides how to do it differently, but do watch out, as Michael said, for that thing where you’re just fixing for the sake of fixing, and definitely if you’ve just finished your first book, your job is totally to write your second, forget about that first book, as soon as you possibly can. Move on, move on.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, no matter what you do, you’re going to cringe when you look at your first book. Even if you rewrite it 10,000 times, you’re still going to get 10 years down the road and you’re going to look at it and you’re going to be like, ah, I could have done better on that, because there’s a  ceiling to how well you can write it.

And that’s true of everybody.

Orna Ross: It is, no matter how much time and I’m somebody who spent, because it was the only way I was able to get published, was each time it came back from somebody, I used to go back in and improve it again. So, my first book was highly polished because I didn’t have self-publishing in those days and every time it would come back to me, I would do something because it made me feel better about sending it out, that I had  improved it another bit.

But the thing is that you become a better writer. So, 10 years later, you know, of course, you can see things that you would have done and wanted to do. So, yeah, I think we’ve covered that fairly comprehensively anyway. So, it’s up to you.

Michael La Ronn: Yes, indeed, and you’ve heard both sides and now you can make your decision.

Orna Ross: Exactly. That’s great. Okay. So, that’s it for another month. Do get your questions into us. You can just go into the member zone and navigate to Member Q&A, and you’ll find the form there where you can send them through.

Do, if you haven’t already and you are a member, download your copy of 150 Questions. And if you are not a member and you’re watching or listening to this, you can buy the book in eBook directly on self-publishingadvice.org/shop, you’ll find it in there. And we are working on a print edition, Michael and I. We’re trying to get it Glindexed, which is turning into a bit of a saga, but we will have a print edition very soon. The audiobook is there, which Michael has narrated, and it’s really fantastic. So, do enjoy that, and thank you for being here. We’ll see you again next time for another Q&A.

Michael La Ronn: Take care, everybody.

 

Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an editor and writer with more than 30 years of experience in journalism, from newspapers to magazines specializing in business, science, and technology. He has spent the past few years guiding coverage of independent publishing, amplifying voices of the marginalized. Howard is also a book doctor who enjoys working with authors to get their work ready for publication.

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