Revisiting Old Friends: Publishing a Book is Not the End

April 24, 2017

When Do You Consider a Book Truly Finished?

Every author has their own process. Mine goes something like this:

  1. Get an idea.
  2. Start writing.
  3. Repeat several alternating cycles of short-lived epiphanies and wall/head banging exercises. Occasionally curl up in a corner, convinced I am the worst hack ever.
  4. Eventually, finish a rough draft.
  5. Send to editor.
  6. Go back to step 3 and make changes, repeat until the work is deemed “passable”. (note: this may take years)
  7. Publish.
  8. Relax and move on… or not


Letting It Go

I’ve heard quite a few authors say once they write a book and hit Publish, they never look at it again. Not me. Those books are like my kids. I might breathe a sigh of relief when I send them out the door (click that publish button), but it’s not long before I start missing them and want to see (read) them again. Whatever mood or feeling that had me writing that book in the first place resurfaces, and I crave the familiarity and comfort of those words and characters.

Weird? Maybe. I don’t know. But just like I get a hankering to go back and read my favorite books by other authors, I like to go back and read what I’ve written, too. I admit it; I like what I write, and I think that’s a good thing. If I don’t want to re-read my books, how could I, in good conscience, expect others to do the same?

It Could Be Better

There are some pitfalls to going back, though. When I am rereading something that I wrote in the past, I will inevitably come across something I would do differently now.

Maybe, despite rounds and rounds of editing, I find a typo. Or maybe I think, “It would sound better if I worded it this way.” Or, “This scene could really use more/less {angst, description, clarification, etc}.”

What should I do in those cases? Well… I suppose I could just leave it out there as is, but I don’t like knowing that something is wrong or could be better and not doing anything about it. It bothers me.

Every book I write – every book I read – is another experience, a chance to learn. In a nutshell, I like to think that each ‘experience’ is making me a better writer.

Just Do It

And so… in an attempt to ease my conscience and right the wrongs, I quietly go in and make changes to the manuscript, then re-publish the new version. That way the next reader who buys or borrows it will (hopefully) have a better experience.

Is it a waste of time? No, I don’t think so. There plenty of people out there who have already read it, sure, but even more who haven’t. Maybe, just maybe, that little extra effort is going to pay off with a happier reader, one who might be more likely to try something else of mind because of it.

And I sleep better at night, too.

? Abbie