Revising Ebooks: Visions and Revisions


From flat to fleshy breather.

This isn’t easy to admit, but my first book in the Serafina Florio mystery series got some not-so-stellar reviews from readers who liked my book but had trouble understanding (read ‘they were bored by’) parts of the narrative and the dialogue of a few characters. And they didn’t like the sentence structure of one in particular, Rosa.

My first reaction was defensive. “What’s the matter with their reading skills? Don’t they know she’d speak that way? Haven’t they read historical mysteries?” And they weren’t the first voices who told me that readers would have a difficult time with this ‘Yoda speak,’ as one critic puts it. Call me a late bloomer, but after I read two or three reviewers complaining about Rosa’s dialogue, I finally took notice and began revising the manuscript, and …

Six months after I first published the ebook, I uploaded the changed file to Amazon. I’ve asked KDP to take a look, comparing the original to the newest version, and they’ll tell me within four weeks if they plan on notifying my readers. But for my part, I can’t call these updates a revised edition since they don’t really change the plot or the flow of the story. These days, books are different, especially ebooks and PODs, at least those distributed by CreateSpace. They are living and breathing and easy to change if you have the right tools.

Here’s what changes:

  • Narrative flow
  • One chapter break, and,
  • The biggest change of all, I think, is the transformation of Rosa from a one dimensional character into a fleshy breather.

She grows, I think, or so she delights in telling me. In the first version, she was a carping, one-sided character. In the second version, she becomes more of a traditional sidekick to Serafina, the protagonist. Too early to tell if readers will like it, but ultimately, I think, we must write for our readers AND for ourselves and I’m happy with the book. Happier with the series and with Rosa who goes on in the third book to have—what would Serafina call it?—a dalliance.

Formatting my own manuscripts has given my pocketbook new life and the freedom to revise frequently—or should I say, the ability to indulge my bad habit of constant revision. In a later post, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about importing a Word document and formatting it in Adobe InDesign, then exporting it to .mobi format for uploading to Amazon. And in another post, I’ll tell you how I use InDesign to format the interior of a book for printing.

Photo: The editorial department at the Seattle Daily Times, 1900. Credit: Wikipedia Commons.

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