Somewhere along the way, when researching self-publishing, I came across the quote “YOLO (You Only Launch Once)”. I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint the writer of that, because I’m relaunching my Gbahn and Archipelago books.
I’ve redesigned the covers a bit, for both volumes. The first book, The Sea Between the Worlds, also has a new prologue. (More on that below the jump.)
To celebrate the relaunch, I’m offering the Smashwords edition of book one, The Sea Between the Worlds, for free! The Smashwords edition is available in EPUB and MOBI formats, as well as an HTML format you can read online. To get the free copy, visit the book listing on Smashwords, add it to your cart, and enter the coupon code at checkout:
This coupon will expire on September 13, 2015.
Why the relaunch?
There are only about a million things you need to do when you get a book published, and if you’re self-publishing, you have to do them all yourself. I asked my husband, who has some background in photography, art, and graphic design, to do my covers for me. He did a lot of hard work, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with the finished project. However, since I couldn’t quite articulate what I didn’t like, and I was trying to get the project done after seven years of sitting on it with no forward movement, I took the covers as they were. The changes I made for the new covers are extremely slight, mostly layout and font, but they accomplished what I was looking for.
As for the prologue, Sea didn’t have a prologue when I first wrote it. I added one in response to a beta reader/editor who made a comment about the first two chapters of the book: chapter one is a lengthy sea battle with a male narrator, and chapter two is a court intrigue scene with a female narrator. Two very different styles, and if you’re expecting chapter one to set the stage for the rest of the book, chapter two could come as a jarring surprise, which it did for my reader/editor. I decided to add a prologue to offer a shorter passage with a different narrator, to better ease into the fact that this book is told from multiple and disparate points of view.
However, I was unsure what to add for a prologue. Fantasy prologues so often consist of legend, lore, or events from the distant history of their worlds, and if presented with no lead-in, they can be disorienting. I definitely wanted to avoid that. So I went with material that I was already offering as an introduction; chapter two had a breaking point, a brief scene at a pier before my female narrator heads to the palace and all that court intrigue. So I cut that opening scene off and stuck it up front as a prologue. Not pretty, but it served the purpose.
Until a reviewer complained about how my prologue was pointless. I still think writers should take all reviews with a grain of salt – readers form opinions based on their preferences, and arguing about what they like or don’t like is as ludicrous as arguing about whether their favorite color should be green or purple – but when a reviewer is pointing out a technical flaw, it’s worth looking into. My prologue does have a point, as I articulated above, but the clumsy way in which I’d constructed it made it look like it didn’t belong.
Which brings me back to my original problem – how do I better prepare readers for the rotating nature of the narration, without throwing them into the deep end of out-of-context material? Then I remembered a piece of flash fiction I wrote back when I first launched these books, written from the point of view of a character who plays a significant role in the series, although we don’t hear much of his voice in volume one. I wrote it to stand alone, not to rely on having read the books, so it can serve as an introduction without requiring any lead-in. Even better, it also serves to better humanize the character in question right up front, since he’s somewhat distant and inscrutable in Sea. Seems like the perfect choice. I restored the previous prologue to the beginning of chapter two where it belonged, and added the new prologue. (So if you bought the first edition, and you missed the free EPUB/MOBI coupon, just read Falling first, then skip the prologue, read chapter one, then read the prologue and continue with chapter two.)
This is probably the most interesting thing about self-publishing. Almost everything I write (and I’m not alone in this) feels like it’s not finished. There’s more I could do, more I could revise, a million little things I could tweak, but when an outside publisher is involved, their schedule overrides all of my dissatisfied tendencies. At some point (like my deadline) I have to turn it in and accept the fact that it’s done, whether I want it to be or not. It’s as good as it’s going to get now. End of story. But it’s not the end of the story when you self-publish. Want to change something? Log in and click a button. Upload the new edition. Still don’t like it? Upload a new one. If it’s a really significant change, you can even petition Amazon to contact the buyers of your last edition to send them the new one.
A project could potentially never be finished. I’m not sure whether I like this or not. It’s a relief to have an editor say, “Look, we’ve got a deadline, it’s time to go.” Now I have to decide all on my own whether I’m ever truly satisfied.
But no, I don’t foresee making any further changes to these books, unless some careful reader discovers a real whopper of a mistake that evaded all writerly and editorial eyes. (Let me know if you do. My email’s in the right sidebar.)