So I lied.
I went back and updated two chapters of my latest book. The changes went to Chapters 19 and parts of 20.
I know, I know. The book’s been published. What do you mean, you published something that wasn’t your best?
Not exactly, although it was my best then. The editor didn’t complain or ask, can this scene or arc go any deeper? Can you expand it?
But in my perfectionist’s heart, I knew Chapter 19 was a cop-out, one that allowed me to focus on the romance more because dang it, I didn’t want to go down the road of self-harm in a book that was supposed to be a lighthearted follow-up to the angsty Dax and Harlow one. And so I let it go until I was ready to update it without feeling like it was an uphill battle.
Last night, it wasn’t. It was half of a chapter change; still a closing of another character’s arc that had been closed so easily in the original version. Too easily. This time, there was a bit more depth to it. And with that, the book is done.
It was Russell Blake* who gave the advice to fix something in your book that you’re not happy about. You want the future reader to get only your best work so if you can change it, then change it. Make it better.
And with that, Falling for Jordan is finally done.
- Took me awhile to scour KBoards where I’d first seen the advice but I found it finally and will put it here so I won’t spend another hour looking for it again. Bold my own.
I want every example of a Russell Blake book to be as good as I can make it. Not as good as I could have made it two years ago. Or good enough for what it was when I released it. If my command of craft has improved, I want to improve the books that need improving, so that the product I’m selling is the best possible product for the customer who buys it and reads it today. I’ve re-edited about 10 of my 22 novels. Some were minor tweaking, others were eliminating echoes or doing other craft-related chores, still others were adding backstory where I felt it was lacking. They are all better books for it. I’m glad as a business person that I did it, because if I’ve invested countless hours and effort in gaining a reader, and that’s the only book they read to decide whether to buy my oeuvre or not, I don’t want to take the chance that ANY of my work isn’t as good as I can make it. If you look at the car business, they are constantly tweaking and improving models from year to year. It’s understood. So I’ve taken that position with the books I sell, as well.
– Russel Blake, author of the Jet series
And there you go. As a “business person,” I re-edit and update my work even though the creative part of me, that writer, loathes the idea that I didn’t get it right the first time.