Madeline (M.M.) Gornell is the author of six award-winning mystery novels. Her current literary focus is Route 66 as it traverses California’s Mojave Desert. Madeline is a lifetime lover of mysteries, and besides reading and writing, is also a potter. She lives with her husband and assorted canines in the High Desert. For more information, visit her at website or Amazon Author Page.
A couple weeks back, Kate Thornton penned a Writers in Residence post on recycling your work, which started me down the road of maybe sharing an experience I’m going-through/learning-through right now, and it’s recycling of a sort. Wasn’t sure if my experience would be relevant for other authors, but I do continue to believe sharing writing experiences is a good thing. And most assuredly, I’ve learned so much from my fellow authors; in particular, many of your experiences allowed me to move on without recreating the much talked about “wheel.” I call it “fast tracking” the learning curve.
Here’s the back-story. In 2009, Andy Zang at Aberdeen Bay Publishing offered me a publishing contract for Death of a Perfect Man (I call it DPM), my second mystery. If it weren’t for Andy, I’m not sure I would have continued to pursue writing—needless to say I owe him a lot! Alas, fast forward to 2015, my rights for DPM have been returned to me. Low sales.
My initial thought was, sell the remaining copies I have, and move on. Then I thought, recycle maybe? But, I’m not sure it’s a common practice to issue a 2nd Edition, or reprint of a book unless the author is dead? Living authors don’t rewrite an old novel, do they? Next thought was, this is going to be a pain. Finally I came to the conclusion—the publishing world is rapidly changing, with evolving circumstances, so what the heck!
Here’s what happened:
- First hurdle was converting my final Aberdeen pdf to a MSWord file so I could edit! Ha! Not exactly a perfect conversion process. It was like reformatting the darned book over again. Having your final published pdf is a good thing, but it isn’t a slam-dunk to a fresh manuscript—especially if you want/need to make changes.
- Secondly, while converting, I couldn’t help but rewrite—and it was the most unique editing experience I’ve ever had. It was like editing someone else’s work, I write somewhat differently now, even my voice is different, while it simultaneously didn’t feel right I should change much. I did take out words, combined sentences, removed redundancies—the stuff you never see until reading again down the road. And the mortification at the errors that ended up in the published work! And that’s despite having wonderful and extremely competent editors at the time.
- Next, what do I do with the new and improved DPM? Here’s where I got lucky, Kitty Kladstrup at Champlain Avenue Books agreed to publish my second edition! I’m awaiting a proof to look over now.
As an aside, while I edited/rewrote, I found I still liked Jada Beaudine’s story, still liked the characters in Red Rock City, and I’m even thinking about a sequel. No matter I’m in the middle of a sequel to Rhodes, no matter I’ve already started a whole new series…I’m flitting on.
On a more personal note, Jada’s experiencing the Red Rock and Ridgecrest area for the first time, the scenic imagery from that area, the pottery studio I created in that book, all took me back along with my character to those days when we first moved to Southern California and I was heavy into pottery. Reminded me how much I still like pottery. Working on cleaning up my studio.
And my take away from this experience, and the nugget I want to pass on writing wise is: Just do “it” if you want to! There will be challenges, curves and forks in the road… But the result is worth it—even if only as a learning experience.