Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chapter One

Today, I'm going to take a little time out to talk about my book. I haven't really done a lot of that, actually talking about it, although I mention it from time to time. However, there are some changes coming up with it and a new tab, so I thought I'd talk a bit about what's going on  there.

I made my book available for purchase back in January. That was probably a little earlier than I should have, but I'm glad that I did. I'll go more into how all of that came about sometime later, just in case any of the information is valuable to anyone. At any rate, I thought I'd done a fairly good job on the editing here at my computer, and, to a certain extent I did; however, when I got my proof copy and started back reading it in my kids' classes at their school, I started picking up mistakes that I had missed on the computer screen. I was fairly horrified. None of them were horrible enough, though, to prompt me to pull the book from availability, as many of them were only recognizable as mistakes to me. Except a homophone early on  the book, which I decided to ignore, for the moment, and the inclusion of the wrong name for a character late in the book (that was the one that really horrified me).

Anyway... none of that is what I really want to talk about.

There are several things that are unconventional about my novel, but, then, I'm fairly unconventional, so what can I say? One of those things is changing. I'm not really sure how I feel about the change, though, which is why I'm here talking about it.

One of the things I wanted to do with the book is give it the feeling of a story that's being told by a group of kids, 3 kids, to be exact. Now, if you've ever tried to listen to multiple kids trying to tell you how something happened, you will realize that what you don't get is a nice, steady stream of information. What you do get is a lot of interruptions and arguments. I wanted the book to feel like that. To do that, there are flashes of arguments and fighting between the siblings as they tell the story. The flashes switch from the 1st person narrative of whomever is speaking at that moment to 3rd person. I kind of like the feel of it.

However... it breaks the flow of the story. Of course, this was, actually, the intent. Again, if you've ever tried to listen to a group of kids tell a story, you frequently have to guide them back to the point from whatever disagreement they are having. And here's the conflict: the kids I read to seem to really like those parts. They're funny. They get lots of laughs. A few of them have told me those are their favorite parts (including my own oldest child). Adults, though... well, those parts don't really seem to be working for the adults. They're too jarring. Break up the flow too much.

I waffled on this issue for a long time. Is it a book for kids? or is it a book for adults? Well, hopefully, it's a book for both. I think it is. If it's a book for both, what do I do with those bits? In the end, I decided that, although the kids love those parts, they'll still like the book even without them in there. Adults, though, may not like the book with them in there, so out they go. Of course, this should also serve to drop my word count, not that I think my word count is too high, but it's certainly too high by industry standards.

All of that to say, if you want to really see my editing process, I'm making that available to you. The new chapter 1 for the 2nd edition of The House on the Corner is available via the tab up there at the top of the page. The old chapter 1 from the 1st edition of the book is available to read here. If you feel like you have the time, read them both, and let me know what you think. Once I'm ready to release the 2nd edition, however, I will be removing the old chapter 1 preview.

That being said, if you're interested in the 1st edition of the book, it only has a couple more weeks of availability. I should be finished with my revisions for the 2nd edition soon, and I'm going to pull the 1st edition about a week ahead of releasing the 2nd.

Thanks for indulging me! I hope you enjoy the read. If you do, let me know. If you don't, let me know that, too.


  1. You really touched on something I've been thinking about. In the past, if you submit something, no matter how much you may want to change it, an error perhaps, or add a scene, it was just too late, it was gone.

    I think Tolkien made some serious revisions to the Hobbit long after it was published, and Stephen King did something similar with the Stand. But those were years later in both cases, and pretty far removed from the original releases. But now that you have the power to sell something, then amend it... we can all be just like George Lucas and continually update our work.

    As an artist it's great, as a consumer I'm not so sure. I don't want to buy Star Wars again, I bought it three times on VHS, once on DVD and will probably do it again on Blue Ray. I bet the 3D conversion will be available in a couple of years too. It's really starting to bother me. Granted, the last couple are format changes, and not Lucas's fault. But I had the original trilogy, then got the THX widescreen version when it came out, then got the updated FX version just before I quit doing VHS altogether. Figures.

    But when it comes to books, making a change so soon after you released it could easily make someone who purchased your previous version feel like they paid for a rough draft. I'm not saying that's accurate, but that could be the perception. It's a fine line to walk.

    Now that I think about it though, Cory Doctorow made a 'find the error' sort of game with his e-release and proudly announces all the changes he makes. I guess we're in uncharted territories here.

  2. Actually, drastic changes in manuscripts are not a new thing. Later editions often corrected errors or had little changes the author wanted to make. Or not so little changes. Charles Dickens changed the entire ending to Great Expectations, because people didn't like his original ending. It's also not uncommon that when an author becomes popular enough and able to take more control of his/her work from the publisher that s/he will go in and undo changes the publisher/editors made.

    With movies, though, that is new. Lucas was the first to go back and film new scenes and adjust his previous "final" product, but director's editions are common place, now. Or unrated editions. Or whatever you want to call them.

    It bothers me, too. Because I never know when/what to buy, because who knows if a better edition will be released. But that's the point. They want us to buy the same product over and over again.

    However, with my own book, I'm not really worried about it, because I haven't sold enough copies to be worried about it. And it needs a cover. That's a big issue for the 2nd edition.

    Also, if people can follow me bumbling through this process and learn from it, it's worth it to have the "rough drafts" out there. I'm sure the people that have them won't mind.

  3. I will read both of these tonight and return with my comment...

  4. I meant to respond earlier, but got sidetracked and forgot. Just to say that what prompted my previous comment was that lady who had a book review of her self published ebook rather turn into a very public disaster for her.

    At the gist of several of her rants in response to the review, was her insistence that the critic was reviewing a previous edition of hers and that all his complaints were addressed if he only had downloaded the amended version.

    So that is the context in which I was putting that last comment out there with, that she really was putting out her rough drafts (and if the reviewer is to be believed, he did review the amended draft) for the world to have.

    Anyway, I'm sure you've already read the review and the too-weird-to-be-true meltdown she had in the comments, but if you haven't I'm sure 10 seconds and google will point you in the right direction.

    It, at least for me, made me leery of the damage she could have done for all self-published authors. And it also made me decide if I put something up for sale myself, (which I may do soon, we'll see) then I'd really be antsy about making subsequent changes. No matter how justified.

    However, I'm sure your right, especially about adding a cover, that by itself will have to help tremendously. Good luck.

  5. I can understand entirely what you're saying, and, really, I agree. To a point. Not to go into too much detail, at the moment, because I'm going to do a post (or a series of posts) about this, but I don't consider the book that's already available a rough draft. That's not to say that if I had been able to get more feedback ahead of releasing it that I wouldn't have made changes before I did. I also just didn't know enough about what I was doing when I did it, and I know enough, now, to fix some of them, the cover being one of them.

    This is the thing, I like the book the way it is. The target audience likes the book the way it is. I have to get the book past the adult gatekeepers of the money, though, so I have to make it into something they'll like.

    And I read enough about that woman's rant to not actually want to read the rant or have any place in that. If you write, at some point, someone's not going to like it. If you can't take it when someone says they don't like your stuff, you shouldn't throw it out there for the world to see. Keep it to yourself or with an audience that will be nice to you.

    Honestly, I don't think she damaged anything, though. Readers are (mostly) uninvolved enough not to notice that kind of thing. It's really only other writers and people in the publishing industry that notice those kinds of meltdowns.

  6. Oh, and Jennifer, I'll be looking forward to your comments.