Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Rewriting history

by Rick Blechta

In reading Aline’s post yesterday, she made a comment (the second in a week on Type M) about reading one’s earlier books. I’d like to take that one up. You see I have recently re-read The Lark Ascending, one of my earliest novels.

Now I’m not one of those glasses half-empty sort of chaps, but it was a pretty sobering experience. It’s not a bad book, but it certainly isn’t something of which I can be overly proud at this point in time.

The writing is okay, not horrible, but not all that memorable, either. Plot wise, I made a number of poor choices. Seen through the lens of an additional nine books, I would certainly not make some of the choices I did.

That’s the bad part.

The good part is that the characters are very acceptable and the basic premise of the story really stands up. My two protagonists were well-thought out (and turned out to be good enough to use in a additional novel, Cemetery of the Nameless). I was not embarrassed by what I did in this regard.

The really good part is that the novel was self-published so I own all the rights. Copies are very scarce since only 5000 were printed (my first sell out). Now I’m beginning to think it may be worthwhile re-releasing my “second literary child,” probably as an e-book. Thing is, though, I would definitely want to rewrite the entire book to bring it up to a standard of which I can be proud. Not many authors take up that particular task — even if they can. If they don’t own the rights, tough luck unless they can talk the publisher into it, which is doubtful.

So the question is: should I do it? I would not re-release this novel without considering fixing anything I don’t like — some of them pretty major — and that’s not normally done when book’s are occasionally rewritten. Sure, fix the wonky writing, make it stronger. Maybe remove a scene or two that don’t really add anything to the story. But to actually change the plot? Hmmm…

I don’t expect the second coming of The Lark Ascending would be greeted with record sales and a Hollywood film offer, but it is a worthy enough story to be retold and shared with more readers. I own the rights and the only investment would be my time.

So what are your thoughts, Type M readers? Should I rewrite a bit of my authorial history?


Janet Kellough said...

I recently rereleased two early self-published novels. I fixed up a few problems (although the books themselves were certainly acceptable efforts), got new ISBN's for them and threw them on Amazon. I'm not going to make a fortune from them by any means, but now that Amazon will do direct deposit into Canadian accounts, there seems to be this fairly constant little dribble of money coming in - and the royalty rate is certainly much higher than from publisher released. Print requires some investment, but even if you just do ebook, you'll get some kind of return and it beats having it sitting there doing nothing.

Donis Casey said...

I think that if you'd like to do it, you should certainly go for it. Like Janet said, it beats having it sitting there doing nothing.

Rick Blechta said...

Actually, this post has garnered more comments than I thought it would (here, on Facebook and some private emails). Everyone has been in favour. Janet, you're certainly right about making something rather than nothing.

Stay tuned. It will be several months, maybe even a year, but it will happen. Now what I need to do is find the electronic file so that I don't have to key the whole thing in again!

Thanks, everyone!