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!