Giving the First Novel a Do-Over

I don’t know whether to say I’m revising it or re-editing it, but Hidden Boundaries is in the process of a major do-over, including the cover. What brought on this massive project? It doesn’t make a lot of sense in light of the multiple projects that are ongoing and unfinished. But my writing has improved since that novel was finished. So have my editing and formatting skills, and my cover design skills. But all that probably wouldn’t have served as a strong motivator if I hadn’t decided to add another sales site. Gumroad requires that you upload your book in each of the formats that you want to make available to readers. When I discovered that they didn’t do the conversions for you, the way Smashwords does, that almost killed it for me. But I do need another distributor, and Hidden Boundaries does need to be brought up to a higher standard.

In many ways, the book looks just like the kind of amateur effort that Jaye Manus complains about in Creating a Professional Look for Ebooks. While I don’t let the “amateur” look keep me from reading a well-written book, some people will avoid it like the plague. That’s a personal choice, of course, but I can’t see the point of missing out on a book I might be crazy about because it wasn’t nicely formatted.

But I shouldn’t be at that amateur stage myself. Not after publishing three novels and two short stories. So it was time to buckle down. Hidden Boundaries would have a revised edition, with all the headaches that involves. I have no way of knowing whether I’ve lost sales because of its aesthetic faults, but if I now know better, why take that chance?

After going over the first four chapters with a fine-tooth comb, I have to say that my belief in my proof-reading ability has been vindicated. It isn’t perfect, but it’s damned good, even compared to traditional publishing standards. So, a few corrections have been in order. Mostly, at this text-revamp point, I’m revising sentences that don’t flow as well as they could. I’m filling in descriptions and emotional content, both of which I wasn’t very good at, to start with.

When I’m satisfied with the text, I’ll go to the aesthetics. Chapter headings need to be improved, and page breaks between chapters added. Those are two very simple things, and the ones that are most conspicuous. Then there’s the chapter first line indent. In spite of having read many hundreds of books over the years, I never noticed that the first line of the first paragraph is never indented. So call me unobservant. It’s a small touch, but an important one to people who know about such things. And who knows? It might even have a subliminally positive effect on people who don’t.

And then there’s that not-too-bad-for-a-first-effort cover that I’d have to describe as a wallflower trying not to be noticed at her first dance. That will change.

It was a simple decision to try another sales site. Who would have guessed that it could escalate so far? But it makes sense for even my first book to come up to the standard I’ve worked so hard to reach. Will it mean more sales? Maybe, maybe not. But I want to be able to point to all of my books with pride, not with a cringe.

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5 thoughts on “Giving the First Novel a Do-Over

  1. I am right behind you… having decided last year to relaunch “Dance of Souls” with a new cover, I now find myself going through the interior with that proverbial fine-toothed comb. Like you, I found nothing glaring (and not even that many typos) but there is always room for improvement.

    I have a feeling you will be finished and re-launched far sooner than I. Good luck!

    1. I’m glad to know I’m not alone. But it’s slow going with so many writing projects demanding to be finished, so you may beat me to the finish. One thing I didn’t mention is that Crossing Boundaries will go through the same process, and that I’m going to give them both subtitles. Hidden Boundaries, a Hand Slaves Novel. Crossing Boundaries, a Hand Slaves Sequel. Possible future stories in that universe will have the same cover style and be subtitled to tie them in. It’s time I got a bit serious about branding.

  2. It makes sense, I think, with the small attention spans browsers have, to go for branding. As you know, I’m going to have a crack at it with a few short stories and see what happens. It should definitely work well for novels..

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