There. That's not exactly selling it, is it? Not the sort of admission that sells books at all, in fact. But I'm going to explain and talk about it a little while, because I think it's a pretty good lesson and one that might stand writers new to 'indie' publishing a novel in good stead. I've made plenty of mistakes with my self-published books...doesn't mean you have to.
I did it wrong. I know that now, and I should have fixed it years ago. I'm going through 'Rythe Awakes' for the first time in twelve years. I never, ever wanted to revisit the story. I wrote when I was very poorly. I'd had what is cosily described by old folk as a 'breakdown'. I'd been made redundant, homeless, bankrupt. I wrote this I guess as an attempt to regain some semblance of sanity.
I think the reason it sucks are twofold - I was mental when I wrote it. And I wasn't very good.
The reason it still sucks is because I couldn't really face going back to the novel and doing what needed doing. Not just a new cover, but a complete overhaul. It's confused. The writing is dreadful (objectively awful...passive voice, repetition, mistakes...). It went on Amazon when the book wasn't ready and I was even less ready. I put pointless covers on it...those covers are still on the Internet. The cock-ups you make with indie publishing last.
It's only this year, with 'Beneath Rythe' coming soon, that I've pushed myself to finally read it - a story I haven't looked at for twelve years. For twelve years, too, I've known it needed an overhaul. Probably, I think, the only novel that's been really desperate for it. The other Rythe novels are fine - good, even, I think (though I try desperately not to be a boasty-twat about my work). Rythe Awakes isn't good.
Anyway, on to my advice for those new to self-publishing a novel. I put this up a long time ago and assumed that no one would ever read it. I assumed it didn't matter. I could put it up and just leave it forever, never bother with it again. But I fucked it up because I didn't think of the future. Twelve years ago absolutely no one read anything I wrote. Twelve years later, that's not the case. My advice? If you're hoping to be a writer, to have a career...think long term. Don't jump the gun. Get it right, then release it.
Is it too late to mend 'Rythe Awakes'? I don't think so but it certainly has hurt the series. Hurt me, my sales...and what a huge pain in the arse it's been to fix it. I've reformated the thing (down to each single paragraph) and I'm around 80 pages short of a rewrite through what was a 125,000 word book. I've cut nearly ten thousand words so far, and rewritten nearly every single line to some degree. I'm basically writing a new book. Why? Because the story's worth it. If the story, structure, the world I built wasn't worth the effort, I'd shoot it behind my shed like a bad dog. I've shot bad-dog stories before - 'The Seven Point Star' and 'Evolution' will never see the light of day again. These three stories were written at my lowest point, and they show it. Towering ideas, flights of wonderful fantasy, and absolutely no idea of how to get that across. I hope I've learned and improved in those years. How to write, certainly, but also how not to write. Of those three novels, Rythe Awakes (the first novel I wrote) is the only one worth a reprieve.
But the story is there. The bones are there. In a week the new (pretty much entirely new...) story will be live on Amazon and at last, after twelve years, I'll know it deserves to be. Then I can move on. I need to move on, too. Beneath Rythe's been looming. Seven or eight hundred thousand words so far, over six novels, and only one to go.
Anyway - long and short of it, new writer friends - plan long term, not short.
And, as a small measure to mollify those who stuck with the series despite the faults in the opening story, I'll put all three 'Rythe' novels free and post where I can to let you know. Thank you for putting up with this novel and as always, thank you for reading.
When you see this cover go live on Amazon...safe.
Love you. x