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Should we re-edit published novels?


I have started re-editing ‘World Cup Dreams: Extra Time Edition,’ but is that right?

I have released a few novels, solely editing them due to not having funds to pay for an editor. This is largely due to me being a hobbyist writer and having another full-time job as well as a young family. Despite looking at my novels repeatedly before release and getting the odd beta reader to take a look, I still find silly errors in my work after they are published. I think to myself, ‘how did I miss that? It’s not like I rushed the book out.’ In fact, I feel quite embarrassed when I see them. So surely I should get a proofreading editor at least, well they are a couple of hundred pounds a pop and I won’t see that kind of return on my books so I will lose money. So I thought to myself, ‘why don’t I go back and edit them again?’ Is that fair though? Releasing something then changing it, making people pay twice for the same work, just one piece being shinier and generally better written? But as Leonardo Di Vinci said, “art is never finished, just abandoned.” I don’t want to think of my work as abandoned, I want it to be the best it can be. Even if no one reads my novels, I will still know there are mistakes. Then there is the issue that re-editing takes time out of stuff I am working on now, not to mention that when they were released that was a snapshot of the writer I was then. They sort of show how I have improved or developed.

But then we can look at other medium, especially movies, where you get multiple versions of the same items. Have you seen a movie even if you have not watched the directors cut? Have you truly experienced a film if you have not seen it in the cinema in 3D? Who knows? I certainly don’t want to think of my books being media that you have to consume in multiple forms to really say you have read them. If we think about books like ‘War and Peace,’ have you really read them if you have not read the unabridged versions? I suppose what I am say is, is it about the story or the version you read? Should we, as artists, release something then say that’s it, not tinker with and let the public decide, or should we be constant revising until we are happy? Will we ever be happy?

From my point of view, I am not an author by trade but by hobby, I have not sold lots of copies, I am not making major edits, just adding punctuation and correcting the odd word. It’s not a hard job for me to know that re-editing is the right thing to do, but is it morally right? Would I be doing the same thing if I were top of the bestseller list? Maybe I should just stop worrying about it, maybe I should bite the bullet and pay for an editor. If my hobby was something like coin collecting I would easily spend a couple of hundred pounds in a year wouldn’t I? I suppose one good thing is that if I make the big time and you have an original edit of one of my novels you could make a bit of money on it on ebay!

So, I have noticed that a lot of blog posts end with questions. Maybe to get readers to comment, maybe to feel like they are connecting with others. Anyway, here are mine for today…

  • Do you think authors should keep going back and editing novels, making them closer to what they want?
  • Have you ever gone back and edited a novel after it was published?
  • Have you ever got annoyed when you have read a book then a new edition comes out with more stuff in it?

Right that’s it for this little blog post except to say that if anyone would like to help me edit my novels then I would be grateful. I am going back to ‘World Cup Dreams: Extra Time Edition‘ and ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.‘ If you want to have a quick read and tell me any errors you notice that would be amazing. All I can offer is a free copy of the book(s), a mention in the thanks section of the new versions and possible a blog post or tweet about your work. Thanks for reading.