Five Years From Now

fiveyearsfromnow

I recently came across an active thread on Goodreads from an Indie author who’s freaking out about their earlier works. Perhaps you’ve already seen it? Something about hating their books. That phrase really jars me, but don’t worry, this isn’t a (total) rant.

Actually, I’m very grateful for the thread, because when you come across someone having the same problems as you, it gives you the opportunity to take a step back and look at it more objectively. Everything the author stated in the post, I’d already been feeling toward my own earlier works. Books that I wrote and submitted to my publisher years ago. I signed my first contract in May of 2013 on a book I finished in 2009. I know for a fact that my writing has improved over the past 3 months, let alone 3+ years. Thanks in LARGE to beta readers and honest reviews!

The best part about being an Indie author, is that we can publish new editions of our earlier releases, or update the editions already available, if we want to. From what I’m understanding, many self-published authors have already done this and there’s a way to make Amazon send free copies to readers who already purchased the original version. (You’d have to look into that further). It may be a time consuming process, but at least the option is available.

For those of us with a publisher, we’re S.O.L. The published version is it. There are no 2nd editions, second chances or do-overs. I can read my novel The Zen Lounge today and notice things I would change given the chance. However, I’m still in love with the story and characters. I still proudly stand by the book, despite the lack of reviews and sales. I’m glad it was my first published book, that it’s out there on the market. It’s a damn good story, plain and simple.

To me, saying that you “hate” your books is like saying you hate your kids. I know that seems extreme, but the way I look at it is this: You are the sole spokesperson/representative of your work. To state publicly that you hate your own books isn’t exactly instilling confidence in potential buyers that they should even bother reading what you write. What if five years from now, you “hate” your books again? See the potential pattern/problem here?

The thing is that five years from now, you should be able to look back on your works and think, “I can totally write that better now.” If you can’t, then you’re doing something wrong.

We all evolve as writers. It’s supposed to be one of our main goals. To better our craft. The only way to do that is through experiencing all the ups and downs of the journey. Looking back on your prior works should enable you to see how much you’ve grown.

All of the manuscripts my publisher have of mine are old. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to assert my own changes during the copy-editing process, so the best versions of those stories are hitting the shelves at publishing. There’s a really good chance that I won’t be able to, though, so I have to take it in stride as part of my writing journey. To use it as the invaluable lesson it is, to slow down and give each manuscript the time it deserves to become amazing prior to submitting it to my publisher in the first place.

It’s very, very difficult not to get caught up in the frenzy – to feel like you’re taking too long to put books out when other authors are getting them out once a month. But in all honesty, there’s no one timing you. Write at your own pace, don’t hobble yourself or your books by rushing the process in order to compete. There will always be readers. Take the time to make sure that five years from now you can look back at your works and say with pride and confidence: “I love my books, but man, could I totally write them better now!”

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!

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4 thoughts on “Five Years From Now

  1. Great post! I know which thread you mean, I read it too. And I know the feeling…I cringe at the stuff that I wrote as recently as 1.5 years ago. But I totally agree that ultimately we’re supposed to write the best book we can, publish it, and be proud. If the reader feedback is mainly positive, you’re on the right track. We all get insecure about our writing from time to time, but if you don’t believe in your work, why should anyone else believe in it? And if you revise endlessly to achieve the perfect book, you might end up working on it for 30 years.

    Of course there’s always an exception…I understand revising an already published book if you’ve gone and published your unedited first draft. I don’t know if that was the case with the fellow on GR, but I’ve seen this happen to enthusiastic new indies. I would revise too, if that had happened to me. But other than that, I wouldn’t touch an already published work. So yeah, the final version of His Hostage is out there 😉 I’m glad that you’re proud of The Zen Lounge because it IS a damn good story – my favorite scene is Nex’s unusual wall painting 😉 – the weak sales I blame on your publisher’s bizarre marketing strategy.

    Let’s keep loving our books, old and new! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Anna! 🙂

      That’s a good point, about working on the same novel for 30 years. I hadn’t even thought of it that way, but that could happen! I can see how tempting that would be – but also, not a very constructive way to go about it. I think the author of the thread was more concerned about making their readers angry with new editions, but I think as long as you didn’t make a habit out of it, your readers would be okay and you might even draw in more readers with a better version than before.

      I’m just relishing the fact that we can put out new editions if we want to. That we have that freedom as Indies. There’s no freedom with traditional publishing, your hands are tied in every aspect, so this has been a huge learning curve for me, to make sure I’m 100% happy with a MS before turning it in and losing all control over it.

      Now, I have 5 books that aren’t even published yet that aren’t going to be as great as my Indie stuff, simply because my publisher sits on them for years before getting them out into the market. My readers are going to be scratching their heads, wondering why my “new” books are written poorer than my “old” ones, when it’s really the opposite. LOL my books coming out in Summer of 2017 were written and submitted 2 years ago in 2014. I can’t change that, so I have to just suck it up and do it right the next time. 😉

      Live, Learn & Love Your Books! ♥ That should be our new motto! 😀

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  2. I’m sorry – I just can’t with this one.

    I agree with you. Everything and everyone must evolve and/or GROW…CHANGE…and hopefully, IMPROVE.

    But for an author to have a public meltdown over how much they hate their early work – that is just asinine to me. (Um…hope it’s no one I know – LMAO!)

    Are they winning Pulitzers or Newberys now? Are they the be-all end-all of literature? Um…probably not. And there’s a good chance (READ: certainty) they’ll have another meltdown in five years, and hate the books they have out now.

    I would go so far as to say, our early writings are not our children, but, in fact, US! Moving through the years, our writing shows growth and maturity; it shows phases and stages. It doesn’t have to be a detailed accounting of OUR lives, to show who we were. I may have only just released my first published work, but I have nearly forty years of short stories, poems, song lyrics and journals. While none may be expressly about ME, I can look back over them and see how I have changed. There’s no way the book I released last month could have been written by me any sooner than I wrote it. It just wasn’t in me yet. No matter the mistakes made in writing, editing, development, etc., I will always OWN whatever I have written because it is a road map of my literary journey.

    What is this “Zen Lounge” and why don’t I know about it? (You know my issues! LMAO!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a very good perspective and you’re absolutely right! Our earlier works do show ‘us’ in all the ways we grow. Thanks for adding that perspective! 😀

      Aside from having a public meltdown, it seems the author was more worried about angering their readers by pulling and/or changing all of their previous works. I think readers would be just fine with it as long as it didn’t become a habit – but the meltdown doesn’t exactly give anyone much faith that it wouldn’t happen again.

      Another good point! I’d be surprised to learn that any author didn’t have some kind of pre-published collection of writings to look back on and see all the ways their style and craft has evolved over the years. I also have plenty of short stories and poems dating all the way back to my teens, but none of my published books could have been written until they were ready to be.

      The Zen Lounge was my very first published book, traditionally, not Indie. It was released on Nov 1, 2014 so before we started following each other’s blogs. Since I happen to know the author *wink, wink* I could probably hook you up with a free copy to read at your leisure. 😉

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