I feel… ranty, today.
Here’s the thing:
I am busting my ass trying to create a series of 7ish fantasy books and other series(es?) as well. I am knocking myself out with trying to make sure everything is consistent with the rules of the world and the names and the maps and the directions and the math and the overall etc., blah blah blah.
I’m jumping through all these hoops because I don’t want to be the “oh, you’re a self-published author. That must mean you write a lot of bad tripe.”
I want to be the “OMG I can’t believe you couldn’t sell this to a big house!” kind of author. I’m saving for editors and cover art and all that. I’m trying to build as good a product as I can. I want people to look at my work and say “maybe I should give other self-pubs a chance.”
It’s a pipe-dream, but hey. Start with big dreams and work from there.
It irritates me when people just slam out their work without so much as a cursory edit. It makes me twitch when I see a crappy cover job. It hurts my brain when I see a weak story with plot holes so large I could drive a truck through it – traditional or self-pub for any of those categories. I see them in both.
But I can let all that slide. *twitch* No, really. I can. *twitch, twitch* There’s only one thing that sets me gibbering with rage:
“Well, I released it *insert X amount of time here* ago and then I realized ‘oh, damn! If I want this thing over here to happen later on in the series I have to go back and rework everything from the beginning.’ So I just took it all down and now I’m going to re-release it after I make the changes.”
The only time you should “take-back and re-release’ a book is under very limited circumstances:
1 – Huge editing/grammar problems that need correcting
2 – Huge formatting problems that need correcting
3 – A legal issue has arisen
4 – Maybe if it’s your book’s 20th anniversary and you think readers will get a kick out of seeing the stuff that landed on the editing floor included in the book. Then you don’t re-release, you release new and splash “now with 20 extra pages of stuff!” all over the cover.
You don’t get to wake up in the middle of the night, 5 years after you put something out there and say “gee, I made a mistake with that plot. I should really fix that so I can do this OTHER stuff in the same story arc.”
THERE ARE NO TAKE-BACKSIES. You’ve already released it to the world. People have already bought and paid for it. PAYING CUSTOMERS HAVE ALREADY READ IT. YOU WILL PISS THEM OFF IF YOU PULL THIS STUNT.
I don’t give a damn how much you apologize and mea culpea, you have just lost a significant portion of your audience because they don’t want to play this game. You have also made every other self-pubber in the world look bad because now people will think all self-pubbers will pull the same bullshit stunt.
We all know I’m not a great outliner, if at all, but c’mon! Even I have at least a vague idea of where my story is going and I know better than to release it before I’ve got everything bolted down tight.
You made your pitch. You threw the ball. Maybe you flubbed it. It happens.
You don’t whine to the referee that you screwed up because there was a rock in your shoe and you have to have a chance to do it over. You don’t get to shove the half-baked and now very cooled cake back in the oven. You don’t get to apologize to your live audience and demand the techs close the curtain so you can re-do the scene in the middle of Act II because you dropped your lines.
Bullshit. When you screw up, you try to recover from it as best you can while still in the play. You learn from your mistakes and you move on. A little embarrassed maybe, but better for it. And perhaps your fans will tell you that series/book wasn’t terribly awesome.
But you’ll know how to write a better one and when to release it the next time around.
I get it. It’s your work and you can do whatever you want with it.
Yes, that’s true. However, you are now a public entity – you have investors (readers) who have been sold on your idea. In the professional world of offices and what-not, most of the time you don’t get to start over on a project because you had this wonderful idea that totally changes everything and will make it all so much better.
You sold project X. The customer likes project X. THE CUSTOMER EXPECTS YOU TO COMPLETE PROJECT X, DAMMIT.
“But I don’t like Project X the way it is right now. I want to change it.”
Suck it up, babycakes. You want to change it? Fine. Figure out how to do it within the confines of the story/world you created in the next books in the series. Maybe it won’t be what you want, but you’ll learn something else: Emergency, on the fly repairs.
If you don’t want to outline, but you can’t wait for your series to to be finished in the writing phase before you publish, then you need to learn this skill. Theatre techs have to make emergency repairs all that time backstage in under 3 minutes. It’s a band-aid with duct tape and three screws, but it will hold together until the end of the night. Goal achieved. The audience gets their entertainment, the actors stay alive, people go home feeling they spent their money well(ish), techies have a new “no shit, there I was…” story to tell.
“But I did outline! It’s just this change makes it so much more awesome.”
If you yank it back and re-release your published book for no other reason than “I feel like it” (does your reason fall into the 4 categories above?) THEN YOU ARE A JERK.
Save your newly awesome ideas for a new project.
Stop making the rest of us look like unprofessional hacks.