I recently read one of my own books. That’s not weird. Most people read books where they already know what happens. When it’s my own book, I’m not just entertaining myself (though I do enjoy my own stories). I like to remind myself of expressions and mannerisms I’ve used, comparisons or descriptions, and scenes inspired by real life. The more I write, the more I begin to worry that I might unintentionally write something that sounds a lot like something I’ve already written. (Except that I ignore that person who insists all love stories sound exactly the same anyway.)
Sometimes it’s dangerous for me to read already published works. Sometimes I find things I want to change. These are only minor revisions, like rewording a sentence or adding a new detail. The dangerous part is that I could make those changes. Ebooks are fluid. Paperbacks are mostly printed on demand. I can easily access the files used to distribute the books. I refrain from making those changes both because I need to be able to let the project go at some point and because I don’t like the idea of people reading different versions, however subtly different they may be.
Can you imagine if something as wildly popular as the Harry Potter books got tweaked after release? Websites would crop up to catalog the differences. Readers would see where Harry yelled something with two exclamation points in some books and only one in others. There would likely be heated discussions over which was better, with many exclamation points. My books are obscure enough that I doubt anyone other than me would ever know, but I still won’t change them.
Even more than the release date, the first copy sold is when I have to consider the work final. Unless I spot a legitimate mistake. While I will not change an adjective to a different one, I will fix it if I discover that I somehow misspelled that adjective. My fans can rest easy knowing that they won’t find out Jojo was looking for a Beagle in someone else’s copy. But there could be a scene like this one.
Fan #1: It’s so nice that we can sit here talking about how much we love Amanda’s books.
Fan #2: I know. They’re awesome.
Fan #1: I’m glad she does a good job on the proofing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a typo.
Fan #2: There was at least one. I’m sure she had “at” where it should have said “as” in one.
Fan #1: No way! Where?
Fan #2: Give me a minute to find it. I think it was Into the Fire. (Paging through her well-worn copy of that title.) Yeah. Right here.
Fan #1: I don’t know how I missed that. (Paging through her own well-worn copy of the same title.) Wait. Mine says “as.”
Fan #2: Really. (Both fans look back and forth in disbelief until they get distracted by the story and forget about the typo.)
I have a good imagination, right? I imagined that particular typo as well, so don't bother trying to find it. Just skip to the part where you start rereading one of my books, too.