I get together once a week with a talented mastermind group of female writers; the eight of us discuss all kinds of writing topics including marketing and business, the creative side, and encouraging one another. A few weeks ago, I brought up the question of how we felt about our first books. Specifically, if any of us would ever consider editing them over, learning from our initial mistakes as it were.
See, we tend to get better with each book, right? With every new story, with the obscene number of hours we put into learning, it’s standard for writers to grow. We develop our voice, our style, and theoretically, our team of editors and beta readers gets bigger, which is also a huge help to growth within each book. Experience and practice are key to being a better writer, after all.
It’s safe to say that my latest books have a stronger voice and style than my first book. I mean, I’d hope so, right? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m proud of Gifted, the first book I ever published, back in 2012. It went through several drafts, an editor, and multiple betas, including a bestselling author I’m lucky to call a friend. I took it seriously; every step was a learning process. I don’t just mean with the writing either, but also with the business side of things like marketing. I understand loads more now than I did 4 years ago, but that doesn’t make me any less proud of the work I did then. I’ve come a long way, and will keep forging the path.
Some writers toy with the idea of rereleasing their first book; ideally, it’s for simple edits like typos or tightening up the writing style, rather than a rewrite of the plot or characters (so clean it up without touching the actual story). I don’t find anything wrong with this personally, but the basic view of the mastermind group was that we didn’t want to move backwards. Because I’m proud of that work, because I want to admit how far I’ve come and grown over releases, I’m okay with leaving it as is. There’s some cleanup I could do, but obviously it’s not so bad seeing as the reviews are well-starred and readers pick up the rest of the series.
So why not keep moving forward? Who’s to say my 15th book won’t put my 8th book to shame? I’ll always keep trying to grow within my stories. I’ve finally found my voice, my writing style; how can I keep pushing myself? I can try different points of view between first and third person (which I’ve tried to do with all of my books); I can test out a different genre; I could co-write or join an anthology, or any number of things to always be moving forward.
Ultimately, it’s your call to rerelease your earlier works, and I don’t think there’s any wrong answer there as every writer is different. But no matter your decision…be proud of where you began and how far you’ve come. And remember: Always Forward.