Of revision and new editions.

The last couple of weeks have been busy on the writing front, although that may not have been entirely apparent from my bloggings. It has not so much been new material, as revisiting older stuff and finally getting around to editing out errors and anything else I wasn’t quite happy with.

The most obvious result of this work will be seen as the new edition of ‘Countdown to Extinction’ whose edit was, quite frankly, long overdue. The book was originally written a few years ago – I actually forget when exactly. It is book two of the Syndicates trilogy, though in a curious manner which I may have mentioned before, the third book was written first, followed by the first then the second. They were published in order though. The third book, ‘Syndicate Dawn’, underwent a major revision before publishing and the original version (which was significantly longer) has never hit the bookstands. The first two though were published with only little tampering by my editor of the time who was hired after a curious encounter in Henley.

I’ve never been entirely happy with the text of these two books, and after undertaking a major revision of book three before its first publication I resolved that maybe it was time to revisit old ground. Some of the feedback received for ‘Countdown to Extinction’ had revolved around the errors in it. Grammer was an issue, to be truthful.

Writing is like any other activity. It gets better with practice, especially if you are a professional author. By the time my sixth book was accepted for publication, the first few were looking a little amateur in my eyes by comparison. ‘Daytrippers’, being very short, got the first makeover though outwardly there was no change to the cover. ‘Countdown to Extinction’ has conversely taken a lot of work. One section that I was never happy with was cut from near the beginning of the book, and several other sections have had rewrites. I’ve also done a comprehensive overhaul of all the text making sure that spelling and – more importantly based on feedback – grammer was one hundred percent. Now, English is not an entirely rigid language, but sometimes there are just better and clearer ways of saying the same thing. I also have slightly better understanding of the uses of a semi-colon; they’re more than just one half of a winking smilie face!

I’ve also taken the opportunity to ask the wonderful cover artist who did ‘The Atlantic Connection’ to do a new cover for it. Perhaps now it will look significantly more like a sci-fi novel and less like a biology or gardening textbook. The original image was picked very quickly, by the way, when it became apparent that the artwork I wanted from the start would be prohibitively expensive to have scanned; it was a large oil painting. Royalties and copyright wasn’t an issue, but you try scanning at high resolution a painting that measures nearly eight square feet!

The reading I’m doing on Sunday can now be done in the knowledge that at least if people were to feel motivated enough to buy copies of my work off the back of it, I would feel less embaressed about some of my earlier works. There is also a plan ultimately to release ‘Bringing home the Stars’ as the title piece in an anthology between myself and another up and coming author. It would contain a variety of short stories not available in print at the present time. I am also wondering whether to include a few of the short stories that subsequently became expanded to form the basis of some of my other work. Sometimes it might be nice to see where books came from, ideas-wise.

Some might wonder how I can have such free reign to fiddle with my books after they are published. Well, that is the beauty of Print On Demand (POD) that is rapidly taking over in the publishing World for all but the bigger selling books. The system means that books are held electronically until an order is placed, then printed on a digital press one at a time. The end result is slightly more expensive than a mass printed book, though in looks is indistinguishable from it. The advantage is that some poor sap at my publishers doesn’t have to justify a warehouse filled with thousands of copies of my book.

POD should not be confused with vanity press. It isn’t. It is a different way of printing a book made possible by the advances in computer and printing technology. A vanity press simply takes an author’s money to publish books. I, thankfully, receive royalties back from my publisher and it didn’t cost me anything. That’s the wonders of proper publishing for you. Of course, the ultimate vanity press is paying another author to write your book for you. I have little time for Katie Price (aka Jordon) who I believe did just this. It is sickening that just because she is a celebrity the book World fauns over her, when in a move of ultimate hypocrisy, they usually look down their nose at vanity authors.