When I bought your book, I didn’t sign up to be your beta reader

Robin has a thought-provoking post up at Dear Author on reader expectations, book quality, and the dearth of multicultural romances. Only she could make those topics hang together and work in one post, and not surprisingly, there are a ton of comments. In it Robin quotes a section from my recent post on the published first draft. That post has gotten a lot of hits and comments and retweets, which surprised me a little. Clearly it struck a chord.

I recently ran across a published-first-draft problem that I hadn’t encountered before. I hope I never encounter it again, but somehow, I have a feeling that this is just the beginning. I bought a book by a new-to-me author which was recommended by a friend. The sample was fun and the book was only $2.99, so I purchased, downloaded, and read on. The story hook is unusual, the historical research is miles better than many traditionally published books, and I really like the voice. There are a number of small errors in it, which is pretty common in self-pubbed books and increasingly common in epubbed and trad pubbed books as well, and the first half of the book is much better than the second, for a variety of reasons. But I mostly ignored these niggles because I was enjoying the read.

I was curious about the author, so I went to check out the Goodreads reviews of the book, and I ran across this comment in a review by a reader who was recommending it to her GR friends:

This first-time author has taken the trouble to respond to several of the [Amazon] reviews, thanking the reviewers (gasp!), and agreeing with some of their criticisms (gasp! gasp!) … Miranda Davis has written a very good book here. I commend her for wanting to make it even better, and it’s in that spirit that I offer this review.

I wondered what she meant by “wanting to make it better.” The book is done and for sale, after all; I bought it. The next book could be better, but how would this one change? I went over the check the Amazon comments, which I hadn’t seen because I’d bought it from Barnes & Noble.

The author commented on several of the reviews. She was polite and receptive to the criticism, thanking the reviewers and taking the comments seriously. As the GR reviewer said, a refreshing approach. But a few sentences in her responses to several different reviews really jumped out at me:

I wish I had earned a fifth star but I understand what you’re saying. In fact, I’m revising it to realize what I intended more fully. It’s almost ready to go live in place of current version which I agree slowed a bit.

More errors, more my bad, now fixed. Storyline decisions some of which I address in revised, some not — by choice.

you should be able to get it by removing the old from your device and retrieving it from your archive (New will have 34 chapters).

The benefit of being self-published is that I can review and revise as I see fit … If you would care to be a reader of the next before I publish it, let me know via the email in the `about author’ section. I would appreciate your unvarnished opinion when I get it done. I’m a struggling writer working in a vacuum. If you’d like to help, let me know. I may not agree with you on every point but I know I will be a better writer for it.

At that last comment (which was made in response to one of the earliest reviews of the book), my jaw dropped.

Let’s leave aside, for the moment, the whole issue of authors responding to reviews at Amazon, Goodreads, etc. I don’t like it (I don’t even like it when authors “like” reviews on GR), but I know other readers feel differently.

I also realize that many times it is a great advantage for authors and publishers to be able to substitute new versions for ebooks. When Neal Stephenson’s most recent book was released, it was embarrassingly rife with errors in the Kindle edition. The publishers were  quick to swap out the original and put in a corrected version. It’s much easier and cheaper than having to pull physical copies and do a second run, as HBO is discovering with Game of Thrones right now.

BUT. But. Not every reader is interested in keeping track of the changes an author decides to make to an already published book. The author made choices and then published the book based on those choices. An author decides to put out a version with better proofreading? Fine. But putting out a version with storyline changes? New material? WTF?

Some readers, clearly, like the idea of an “interactive author,” as the GR reviewer quoted above put it. And sometimes I do too. But not when it involves keeping track of the many hundreds of ebooks I’ve purchased, on the off chance that an author has decided to “review and revise” as she sees “fit.” I bought your book. I read your book. If you change it to make it better (in your eyes), I have to read it again to get those benefits. And at the end of that reread, I may not agree with you, which will not result in a happy reader.

All we need is for authors to decide that “selling” is just the first stage in an ongoing author-reader relationship, and WIPs will turn up masquerading as finished products. That way lies madness. In some ways it’s worse than the published first draft syndrome, because readers now have to be on the lookout for new! improved! versions of books, rather than treating the book as a finished product the author thought was in the proper condition to sell.

There is a great and funny and true line that gets repeated a lot online, about reviewer expectations for authors and the sense of entitlement some readers have:

George RR Martin is not your bitch.

Well, here’s a line about reader expectations for authors:

I’m your customer, not your beta reader.

I bolded that, just to make it easier to read. And clearer. And louder.

Oh, and one last thing. Authors, do not troll for beta readers in your Amazon reviews. It is not the place. Find a critique group. Join RWA. Frankly, I don’t give a flying fig how you find them. Just don’t do it in places whose purpose is to help me learn about books. I read BOOKS, not AUTHORS.

57 thoughts on “When I bought your book, I didn’t sign up to be your beta reader

  1. All we need is for authors to decide that “selling” is just the first stage in an ongoing author-reader relationship, and WIPs will turn up masquerading as finished products. That way lies madness. In some ways it’s worse than the published first draft syndrome, because readers now have to be on the lookout for new! improved! versions of books, rather than treating the book as a finished product the author thought was in the proper condition to sell.

    I couldn’t agree more. I also don\’t see how it’s good for the book or the author to be constantly revising the same manuscript rather than moving on to something new. Take it from one who has made this mistake — there is such a thing as too much revision, which can leave the writing dead on the page. Sometimes a work gets worse instead of better.

    But if this is what some authors want to do, I don\’t see what can be done to stop them.

    • Yes, I completely agree on the moving-on thing. Use what you’ve learned for the next project. But I don’t see how it can be stopped either.

  2. I bought the book from Amazon and haven’t read it yet. I hadn’t really thought about this until you brought it up, but if I don’t read this version and my copy gets updated, is it still even the same book? How do I discuss it with people who have already read the first version? Do the differences make it a different book? What if I don’t like the updated version better, and how will I know unless I read both but in the end only have the updated one?

    I don’t mind the updates for typos, etc.; in fact, I think that’s one of the benefits of digital books. But major revisions? That’s a whole different question, and I don’t know if there’s a fair way to manage that.

    Also, what does it say that I thought those topics in my post were totally logically connected? Sometimes I wonder if I’m on the extreme end of the conceptual thinker spectrum.

    • Oh man, I hadn’t even thought about that. I just assumed I’d review the original version, but readers may have read different ones. Ugh.

      I thought they were logically connected too. Move over on that bench.

    • I bought it too and now I’m not sure whether to read the one I have or wait for the update. She’s changing the actual story? WTF?

  3. I think Elle Lothlorien (she of “it’s good customer service to respond to bad reviews and get them up a few stars” fame) revised the ending of her Sleeping Beauty book in response to reader criticisms. Now she’s selling BOTH versions, so if a review complains about the ending … she suggests you buy the other one. My eyeballs popped out.

    I wonder if this is related to the rise of publishing fanfiction or self-publishing by people who have written fanfic. They seem to be coming from a culture where interaction with and responding to their readers’ feedback is the norm. But the idea that we should pay for a copy of something the author doesn’t regard as final, rather than reading it for free online, is crazy. If I didn’t like it much, why would I bother reading an update on the off chance? And if I loved it, I’d be upset it changed.

    • I understand the wisdom of putting up both versions, but PAYING for both? No way. At that point I think the author should either offer both for free, or offer the new one for free, which would allow people who had dl’d the first one to get the second one for free without losing the first. Actually, I’m re-convincing myself as I type that both should be free at that point.

      • I am stuck at “Some people didn’t like the ending. Suck it up.” Is it the author’s book, or readers’? You can’t write something that will work for everyone. On the other hand, I’m thinking of Great Expectations now. The old days of serial publishing created some of the same issues.

      • I agree. I have a couple of stories that didn’t get the response I intended, which was totally my fault. I’m reworking the stories, but I’ve already told people that when they become available, they’ll just be tacked onto the original so they can have both versions.
        It just seems very rude to make people have to re-purchase a book they’ve already got just so they can have the “new, improved, much more AWESOME” version that probably is just the same old thing that actually received some editing.

    • Good grief. But then from what I’ve read of Lothlorien, it seems par for the course. I think that fanfic does influence this, because it shows how the interaction can work. And as I said in the post, she received positive support for being responsive. My opinion was clearly a minority position.

      • I’m not sure I would blame fanfic for this, at least in terms of my fandom experience. Responsiveness, yes, as the WIP is posted and readers give feedback about the direction of the story as a whole, but not so that a fic-writer goes back and revises previously posted segments (except for typos).

  4. I hear what you’re saying. You want a finished product; that’s what you paid for. As a fellow reader who spends a lot of $$ on books, I’m with you. But if I could say something without sticking my foot in my mouth… well, I’ll try.

    I have critique partners, but they aren’t the same as beta readers from the context above. The best beta readers are fans, ones who like your work and know where you’re coming from. And it seems that some people really like doing this, will jump at the chance for an early read and get a sense of satisfaction from being involved. Of course it’s not for every reader, but I really can’t see what’s wrong with that symbiotic relationship.

    That’s not quite the same thing as propositioning a reader, particularly one who didn’t seem to like your work, but just because you see an author with readers as beta readers does not mean they don’t have writing groups, critique partners, editors, etc. If anything, her desire to have a beta reader is a reflection of her desire to get it right before publication; otherwise, why bother? That reader could write a review, and she could revise, again. But she wants to catch these things before publication in the next book. At least that’s what I’m surmising.

    I recently expanded a book of mine. It had been a 16K short, which I found to be an awkward length. I wrote a follow up short story set a few years later at 5K words that I had originally thought to submit to an anthology and then realized hey, a few people mentioned wanting it longer and I’ve got their longer right here. Plus that will help move it out of what I’ve determined is a bad range for pricing and purchases. I’m planning on making the short free on my website for people who’ve already read the story. I don’t see what’s wrong with that scenario, which isn’t exactly like what you describe but is similar. Some people are helped, with extra content that they may want. Some stay the same, having read the book at the original length and who don’t desire to read the add-on. Certainly, no one is hurt.

    I’m not sure the slippery slope applies in this case. I thought the story was finished when I published it, after it had been reviewed by several critique partners and professionally edited. If something had kept me from adding the story (like if this had been through a publisher) then I wouldn’t have been heartbroken about it. It’s fine the way it is; it’s better with the addition.

    Despite the above, the threshold of verification is a totally valid concern and I appreciate your fair-minded take on it.

    • I agree that beta readers and critique groups are different, and I can see why beta readers who are fans of your work could be very helpful. And as for what you are doing in terms of your short stories and novellas, it doesn’t seem that problematic to me in terms of expectations new buyers might have (i.e., buyers who do not have a preexisting relationship with you). Your transparency makes the changes pretty clear; the only problem I see is what Robin talked about above, which is that people who have read different versions won’t be talking about the same things. It requires an extra effort on the part of the original readers if they want to talk to the newer readers.

      I have problems with the production of professional, for-sale creative work being treated as an ongoing process. The book not only becomes part of a collaborate effort between you and your readers, which can in some cases confuse provenance (not yours in this case, just more generally), but it means the book can’t be treated as a discrete object of discussion and evaluation and experience. This isn’t just an issue of authors publishing prematurely; Amazon is actively encouraging them to do so, by making updates easy and by letting anyone publish whatever they want. Maybe norms will change and some books will become like certain art installations, where the observer becomes a participant in the art. I just want there to be a clear divide between books-in-process and finished books. It may be too much to hope.

  5. I don’t know if the core issue is something stoppable–plenty of authors upload what essentially amounts to a first draft. How do I know? Because I’ve seen people refer to finishing the actual writing of a ms, and their next step is…formatting.

    This is the first I’ve heard of anyone currying feedback that isn’t error-based in nature, i.e., exhorting consumers to take on the role of beta reader. As an author, I’m baffled. People have their opinions, and that’s that. They’re not wrong or right; they simply exist. How would you even begin to try to change a book to suit everyone?

    • I’ve fled some reader groups because they turned out to be primarily newbie-writer groups where everyone was talking about writing their next story, and there was a lot of that kind of thing.

      I think it comes back to the fanfic dynamic; it’s fun to get feedback on your work and maybe rework it as a result. The disconnect is that when you throw it up on Amazon, there is the possibility that some stranger will think it’s a finished book. Because she’s paying for it. And even if it’s free, Amazon is a business, not a fiction community, so some us have expectations that everything that says “book” is actually a finished book.

  6. I’m not a fan of choose your own ending stories. I guess my question is if the ending keeps change is this going to affect book 2?

    • In this case, I don’t think the ending changes, just aspects of the pacing and characterization. So it shouldn’t affect the second book. But that’s just in this case.

  7. Nearly everything (hell, maybe everything?) that was once private has, with the advent of the internet, become public spectacle. That includes the writer’s process. And not just the process of creating a story from first draft to last, but also just simply learning to write. While it’s interesting to see the effect of the internet on the traditional ways people live and work, it creates (true or not) a sense that everything of quality, everything that requires time, patience, solitude, self-motivation and extended periods of concentration, is all going to hell at an ever increasing pace; that we’re in the thrall of public spectacle and so dulled down by it, it’s too late to save ourselves from the stultifying effects. That quality doesn’t really matter because people are perfectly content with things that are produced with minimal effort, so much so that work produced with minimal effort has become the new standard of quality (and not just in fiction. In everything Americans produce.)
    I have a huge sense of despair over this. I want someone to tell me I’m mistaken, and everything good is not actually sinking into a terrible sameness and mediocrity.

    • I actually think that for some people, this trend is having an opposite effect. Not everyone wants to read WIPs, or debut efforts that are absolutely positively the first book the author has ever finished, or little stories for a GR group. In my case, I’m downloading samples of literary fiction that I passed on years ago. I just have this overwhelming desire to read something that is written really well by someone with great talent and confidence (writerly confidence, I mean). And I’m rereading the first book of the Lymond Chronicles, slowly. It is like night and day. And it feels great. I’m not abandoning romance at all, I’m just leavening it with some other reading.

      I also just read a self-published book by a new Indian author. Jayne and I have a joint review coming up at DA. It was far from perfect, but the voice was terrific. It reminded me why I read self-published books. I think she would have had a hard time getting this published, for a variety of reasons, but it absolutely deserves to be read. While there were some issues with it, they were the kind of issues that authors conquer over time and with experience, not things that any decent development and/or line editor could fix in her sleep.

      • “In my case, I’m downloading samples of literary fiction that I passed on years ago.”

        That’s a good point. It’s not fair of me to bad-mouth the internet, I guess, when I make use of its conveniences, like the wonderful number of old books to download and the absolute feast of research sources. It’s certainly a boon for historical fiction writers.

        I don’t know. My gut feeling is that self-published writers could really benefit from choosing to set gatekeepers in their paths, gatekeepers that are not the general reading public. I think this practice of turning readers into unwitting critiquers will only further damage the reputation of self-publishing. The problem is, new writers don’t know they need it. If I could have self-published this easily twenty years ago, I would have probably fallen into these same practices because I wouldn’t have known enough to know how detrimental they might be.

  8. You know, I thought about re-editing my first published book, The Proviso because, well, it’s rough. It’d been edited twice, but, you know…

    Anyhoo, I talked to my now-unparalleled-beta-reader (Sabrina Darby–shameless plug for her books) and she said, “Don’t re-edit it. The book is rough like its characters and THAT is why people like it.”

    Considering Stay, the second book in the series, was polished to the nth degree (and, I thought, my best work), but consistently gets lower ratings than the first book, I figured I should take her advice and leave well enough alone.

    From an actual writing standpoint, taking writing advice from random people is just a bad idea in general. What you end up with is the journey THEY want and not the journey YOU took, in which case, it’s a better idea for those people to write their own journey.

    That said, people who write to the market sell a lot more books than I do, so clearly their approach is working and mine is not.

    • And oh, yes, this totally makes me the hugest hypocrite ever because I’m serializing a work in progress. However, I’m not taking advice. Love and hate, yes. Suggestions, no.

      • Serializing is totally different, in my opinion. Jordan Castillo Price has at least two books that began as serials. She made them “choose your own ending” segments and then wrote each succeeding chapter according to which possibility won. The serials installments were free and then she revised the installments into a book and sold that. I read one and have another in my TBR.

        Even if you did take suggestions, the fact that the two components are clearly separate makes it a different case to me.

        What you end up with is the journey THEY want and not the journey YOU took, in which case, it’s a better idea for those people to write their own journey.

        I could not agree more. I don’t write fiction and I don’t want to. I want to read what the author wants to tell me, I want to see where the author wants to go.

  9. “I’m a struggling writer working in a vacuum.” That’s what I found significant. Rather than submit her book for critiques, beta-ing, or just general feedback, she apparently chose to work alone. If this is her first novel, that was a very bad idea. Even experienced writers usually don’t depend entirely on themselves. I’ve chosen, as an experiment, not to ask for beta readings or feedback on the book I’m preparing for publication right now. But it’s my fourth novel and I’m putting everything I learned from the first three into it. I’m also prepared to suck up whatever criticism comes from readers. Call it a test of confidence in my ability to produce a book that will please readers and leave them feeling that they didn’t waste their money or their time.

    A writer who agrees with too many of the readers’ criticisms is simply proving that the book wasn’t ready and that she didn’t know how to make it ready.

    • I was surprised by that comment too. There are so many possibilities for feedback now for writers, I don’t know why someone who wanted that feedback wouldn’t get it in advance.

      • I agree. Though it’s certainly scary to go and put your work out there for critique, there are lots of websites and online groups where you can do it. It might take a while to find the right one, but another thing new writers often have to learn is that everything about writing takes a really long time.

        • I agree, as well. I’ve been part of the Internet Writer’s Workshop for years (seven years?) now. I practiced my fiction writing skills on those wonderful folks and ended up learning a lot from them.

  10. I can’t believe this is actually a thing. If an author is going to read constructive negative reviews and take them to heart–and I don’t think they’re at all obligated to do that–then the way to do it is to use that criticism to improve her writing so her next project is better, not to edit something that’s already been published. I can maybe be okay with that if it’s an old book and she decides to redo it several years later. There are so many authors I love, that when I go back and read their early stuff, I think how nice it would be for them to rewrite it now that they’re more experienced, but even then, there’s something about seeing a writer’s work evolve and improve over time, and I’d hate to see that erased. To publish something with the intention of changing things based on reviews, though, is just so lazy.

    • I was discussing this with a friend and we were thinking that if we did a major revision (like when you get the rights back to something and want to update and reissue), it might be good to include both versions in the new edition, so fans of the original aren’t left out.

  11. I do know that some authors have revised books when they were reissued (Mary Jo Putney’s revision of The Rake and the Reformer into The Rake, Nicole Jordan’s The Lover, the infamous alterations to Whitney, My Love). But there’s usually something that indicates that it’s a revised edition. The idea of an endless parade of updates, of a book never being “done” (as though we should all take Leaves of Grass as our model) terrifies and annoys me. It’s one thing to fix typos, something slightly different to fix outright errors (as Eloisa James did with her debut), and a whole nother kettle of fish to change the actual story or a major plot point (see the endless confusion when you bring up the rape in WML in a discussion).

  12. The most extreme example of this that I know of author/reader feedback is Sam Starbuck. He posts his work on a livejournal blog here and invites readers to offer all and any feedback. He then posts a revised version for further feedback (I think), and then finally formats it into an actual book for sale. He is very clear that the feedback of readers is an important part of his process of writing the book. However, as far as I know, this process finishes when the book is published. The version you pay for is the final version.

    He says: “Extribulum publishing offers authors a chance to pre-screen their book, to get feedback from readers who have a vested interest in helping the author tell the best story they can tell. We are not sellers and buyers; we are writers and readers. If you want to tell a good story you have to know how your audience will react to your structure, characterisation, plotting, grammar, and style. Offering a book for anyone to read and comment on is very, very difficult and very, very scary, but it creates a greater understanding of audiences and how to affect them.”

    It does, as others have noted, rise naturally out of the fanfic world where reader feedback often influences authors, especially when publishing serially. It ought not, in my opinion, be part of a financial transaction. When I pay for a book, I expect a finished product. If I were more organised about reading books when I buy them, I would be better at returning the ones which are not up to standard, but sadly the size of the TBR pile prohibits this. I’m not sure what else I can do as a reader to make it clear to authors and publishers that this isn’t acceptable.

    • I guess if you want your writing to be part of an interactive, community process, then this method makes some sense. And it is very clear that many readers enjoy being part of the process. Thinking about it, focus group screenings for films have been doing a version of this for years.

      The one drawback I can see is that you’re addressing the interests of the people you already know about, but what about readers you don’t? You’re assuming either than your readership is an accurate sample of the wider readership you’re trying to reach, or you’re happy with your current readership.

      • Yes, I think the focus group screening is a good analogy. It probably tends to make the book/film work for the majority, but might well mean that some outliers get watered down.

  13. As a sometime Shakespeare scholar, I’m all too familiar with the issues that can arise in critical interpretation and discussion from having multiple editions of a text. Similar issues arise in Biblical scholarship, although I don’t go there anymore. I thought of Whitney, My Love right away — huge revision, really changes the experience of reading the book, and as Isobel points out, results in confusion because the new version has the same title and newer readers might not even know they are talking about the revised edition.

    I know some writers who have wrestled with this in re-releasing their backlists. Do you fix the typos? What about awkward sentences or other things you notice could have been better (whether that’s speaking from what you’ve learned as an author, or just something you notice on a fresh read after N years)? I know at least one author, Pamela Clare, who was delighted to put back tens of thousands of words that were cut for original publication of her debut historical; I get the sense that most of her backlist re-releases will get some revision, although I have no idea how clear that will be to readers.

    Of course there’s the extreme revision, too, like Robin Lee Hatcher “redeeming” some of her romances for the Christian fiction market — some with new titles, some not. Definitely can muddy the waters from a reader’s perspective.

    • I suppose in the Clare example she could release the “author’s cut” version of her book, which would be fine as long it was clearly marked.

      But I really wish authors would let their early work stand on its own. Believe me, I understand the motivation. I can’t reread my early stuff unless I’m forced to. But that’s who I was at that point. I’m not ashamed of it. In these authors’ cases, they sold it then, people bought it and loved it, why not leave it alone?

      Isobel also mentioned MJ Putney. I would get into these discussion about her early books at AAR and people would talk about how The Rake (and one other one) were so much better than the rewrites. I finally went and bought them so I could know. They weren’t hugely different, but they *were* different.

  14. I’m so glad Anne Rice never got around to “Christianizing” her vampire books before the old her returned and ended all such talk.

  15. I don’t know that I agree that it’s inappropriate to ask for beta readers on goodreads and AMZ — isn’t that akin to fishing where the fish are biting? Serendipity can be a powerful force and altho I’ve never responded to a shout-out like hers, I’ve certainly met so many different folks online, including authors. I don’t on the face of it see a problem.

    As for the other issues, well, I’m of the Balogh group haha but seriously, La Balogh has made an occasional mistake in titles and such over the years. When those books have been re-issued, she has chosen to reprint them warts and all. She has said she’d rather be writing new works than fussing with old. And I think that’s where I come down too. Obviously when a self-pubbed author switches to traditional publishing, one expects a bit of editing but other than that, to me, a finished book is a finished book.

    • My perspective is that Goodreads is a reader community in which authors participate a great deal. Amazon is a business website. I would have had no problem whatsoever with the author going to an appropriate Amazon discussion group, talking about her book, and asking for beta readers. But if I were to post a review at Amazon, I’d assume it was for other readers. The reviews are for buyers, not sellers.

      But, as I said before, most of her reviewers were pleased with the interaction, so I’m in the minority.

  16. >>>In some ways it’s worse than the published first draft syndrome, because readers now have to be on the lookout for new! improved! versions of books, rather than treating the book as a finished product the author thought was in the proper condition to sell.

    Why is this a new thought? This is usually touted at book conferences all the time. “Oh, we can now instantly update! Or change things!” Usually they mean non-fiction but as you’ve seen, this plague will not be limited to just one type of book.

    What I find even worse are writers who have had their print rights reverted and then want to extensively revise their older work for e. No no no. I read it originally in p and I want *that* version again in e. If you want to do a damn rewrite, sell that with a 2.0 attached to the title somehow and let me enjoy the original version too.

      • Don’t get me started on that again. That was done by the publisher, not the writers. That makes it worse.

    • What I find even worse are writers who have had their print rights reverted and then want to extensively revise their older work for e. No no no. I read it originally in p and I want *that* version again in e. If you want to do a damn rewrite, sell that with a 2.0 attached to the title somehow and let me enjoy the original version too.

      Exactly. I like Isobel’s idea of putting both versions in the ebook and letting the reader decide which she wants to read.

  17. The only real issue I have with the author’s approach is if there’s no way to distinguish the old version with the new version–I think that’s confusing to readers. Other than that, just as I have no obligation to the author beyond paying for the book, I don’t feel the author has any obligation to me once I’ve bought the book. I’d prefer, though, that the works be versioned and either sold separately or the new/old version offered in place of or free in addition to the other.

  18. It was only fairly recently that I realised that there had actually been 2 versions of Whitney My Love. I thought I must have been on drugs or something when people were talking about the rape scene because it’s not in my book. I remember poring over my copy after one such discussion and thinking that I just could not understand how readers were misinterpreting what was on the page (of my book). Of course, they weren’t. Thank goodness I never piped up any said anything to that effect in the comments!!

    Re Pamela Clare. I think it’s pretty clear from her blog that the books where the rights have reverted to her have been updated. What I liked about it (although I haven’t read any of them yet) is that they have been added to with stuff which had to be cut out for word count when the book was originally published but the essential story is the same. I didn’t get the impression (I could be wrong) that she did a massive re-write as such – more just adding in the chapter/s that she’d cried about having to cut out way back when. I suppose it would be nice to have both versions in the e-file though.

    If only Margaret Mitchell were alive – she could go back and “fix up” Gone with the Wind so it had a happy ending instead of a crappy ending…. LOL!

    • Maybe we can start a movement to get authors to include both the original and the “author’s cut.” That would be kind of cool.

      Oh, Whitney. I have never read this book. For me, the book would be an anticlimax at this point, after the many many online discussions I’ve been able to lurk on.

        • My understanding from reading this McNaught interview was that the rape scene itself wasn’t changed, but in the revision it was no longer referred to as a rape by Stephen, Clayton’s brother. But maybe I misunderstood what she was saying? I’ve read both versions but that was so long ago that it’s possible I have this wrong.

  19. Forgot to say that I’m generally not a fan of the revised. There are rare exceptions. I think to go back and fiddle with an old work just makes a mess (most often).

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  23. Oh, I am so happy to have discovered this thread! I recently read the first three books in a Contemporary Romance series. They seem to release at the rate of one every other month. I found that at first they were evidently self-published, then the series was picked up by a publishing house. All three books are riddled with typos – homophones, missing words, extra words, etc. The series has rave reviews everywhere, not only on Amazon, and Goodreads, but from the major Romance Review sites and blogs, and now they are advertised as NYT Bestsellers! I actually wrote the author, congratulating her on her success, and suggested, politely, that she might ask her Editor to have her work line edited for future editions. I got back a form letter that thanked me for reading and being a fan.
    Is it now fair for me to post an unfavorable Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing review of her work? Whose fault is it? Does the Editor/publisher take part of the blame? Rush to publish, perhaps? Or does it fall back upon the author?
    What to do, what to do?

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