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Should Indie Authors Revise Books they Published Years Ago?

Writers often practice their skills
when writing their first books.

When listening to the "Writing Excuses" podcast, the hosts stated that many writers learn while they are writing, and as a result, may have some earlier materials available online that may not reflect the author's current skills.

It makes sense. Some authors write and quickly publish, some keep their books longer, editing and polishing, and some hold on to those manuscripts until completely assured the writing is the best it can be, which can take years.


I know I have learned so much working with beta readers and an editor, and if I were to crack open an earlier unpublished manuscript, that I had previously thought was complete, I would be able to make many revisions and improvements.
For authors who published and moved on to the next book, learning the craft as they produced, their published books may be examples of that learning in action. In other words, earlier novels will not be as effective, entertaining, or skillfully written as later books. 

It's never too late to correct errors, especially
if your readers'
reviews are listing issues.

I recently read a novel by a "bestselling author", which I enjoyed, so I clicked the link at the end of her novel and read a free one. In this novel, the writing showed strong command of character and storytelling techniques, which I expected, but there were some real issues with the research.

Character dialogue belonged to a decade hundreds of years into the future of the book's setting, as well there were problems with the period housing, access to medicine and cultural/ethnic naming of characters from specific geographic locations. Unfortunately, the novel had three damaging reviews targeting the errors in historical research.



Self-publishing allows you the control you need
over your work to revise previous editions
.

My first thought was, Why hasn't she fixed this? The novel is engaging, but those errors are blatant and probably affecting her sales. It wouldn't take much at all to go through and correct the mistakes clearly outlined in detail in one of the reader's reviews, so what might be stopping this author? Probably, it is the publishing contract she has for this book.


According to Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, one of the benefits of being self-published is having control over your material.

If an author is published by a traditional or independent publishing company, they won't be able to go back and bring those texts up to their current skill level until their contract is over, but as a self-publisher, a writer can always revisit their previous work.

Your "reader tribe" is going to expect consistent
writing skills in all your books.

I personally believe every effort at marketing writing or  building a reading "tribe" will be directly impacted if an author has an old book online that is not up to the quality they are currently able to produce.

As a reader, I generally don't only choose the most current novels in a writer's line-up. If I like one novel, then I am likely to purchase another, believing the author's overall writing will be consistent from one book to another.

So, how does an author update a published book? Lucky for me, KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) has an option for that.

I'll post the instructions on my next blog, "How to Update a Book on Amazon".

In the meantime, have you read multiple books by the same author and found some were superior to others in terms of the writing craft?









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