If life is a journey, my life as an author has been a meandering one full of wrong exits, unintended pit-stops, and wrong turns. I should have bought a map.

Progeny was my debut effort as a novelist. When I first released it in December 2010 as an indie author, I believed I had created a wonderful tale worthy of sharing with the world. To this day, that belief holds true. However, my ability to weave a story far outpaced my skill as a writer. I might have told a good story, but I had not written a good book.

Close to a year after I published, a series of events opened my eyes to many of my shortcomings as a writer and helped spur me to improve.

In November of 2011, I had a wonderful opportunity presented to me. Someone in the traditional publishing industry wanted to read Progeny. Someone who could make things happen for this book. Naturally, I was quite excited and off the manuscript went.

All through the holiday season, I anxiously awaited a reply. And in mid-December, I received one: a polite ‘No, thank you.’

The individual and two of his readers had read the book and had a list of concerns. While they liked much of what was there, the criticisms offered were more than legitimate. They were spot on. Things about story structure. Things about character arcs. Things about trying to jam too much into one book.

Criticism, even when it is honest and good, stings. However, I did not get angry. I trusted what they had to say. They know the business. They know what sells. And Progeny, as it was in that form, would not advance beyond the group of loyal readers I had garnered.

But I wanted more than that.

I chose to treat the rejection as another opportunity. Few writers get such great feedback from experts this early in their career. So, I thanked the person for the constructive criticism and I shared that I was planning to do a true re-evaluation and rewrite of Progeny. Not just a touch-up, but a true rip-it-apart-into-tiny-pieces-and-put-it-back-together rewrite. I would axe chunks that did not work and write new ones that did. I would fix what I needed to fix.

I sent off the email without expecting to hear a response, so I was quite surprised when I received one. The individual sent me all of the notes taken on the book and asked to read the rewrite once completed, cautioning me that this was not something typically done in the industry. Gracious, I thanked them and got to work.

Which brings me to now.

Massive changes have been made to the book. While the guts of the plot remain the same, much of the book is very, very different. Readers of the original will certainly notice the changes—some might be jarring at first—but I promise this: I have not changed what so many of you have told me you loved. In fact, I have added a bit more of that while extracting what bogged down the story.

The original 40 chapters, 308k words is now 72 chapters, but at 285k words. Chapters are shorter, crisper chunks. I ended cutting about 45-50k of fluff, but added about 25k of new scenes to allow better character development. I do not miss what is gone and love what is there now. There are even five new chapters sprinkled throughout the tale.

The pacing is infinitely better. No more action scenes or conversations interrupted by three pages of background history. Story structure—something that I, as a novice, never considered—was a major focus of my rewrite. Dialogue is quicker and snappier where appropriate, but slower and deliberate when it needs to be.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Well, I want this letter to be a ‘thank you’ to the readers who have been on this journey with me from the beginning, and I want to promise you that the new version of Progeny is every bit the book you enjoyed the first go around, and more. To new readers…well, consider this a nice “behind the curtains” look at an indie author’s journey as he tries to make a name for himself.

While I am having the book professionally edited before I resubmit, I wanted the new edition—in its current state—available to the public now. Too much has changed for me to leave the old out there. A few trusted readers have re-read this edition for me, proofing as they went. I feel comfortable the typos and dropped words (my bane) are at a minimum. I am ready to turn the page on the old edition.

Anyone who has already read Progeny and would like a new ebook copy, send me an email at rtkaelin@terrene.info with your email address as well as the answer to this question: What is Nundle’s last name? If you are right, I will send you a new copy (let me know if you prefer Kindle or Nook).

I have received quite a few inquiries about the state of the second book in the series, so let me give you a short update. I am currently re-editing all of the short stories to line up with the changes in the book, and then I move into editing book two’s manuscript. It has been complete for six months, but I need to apply what I have recently learned.

One last note before I go.

As I was editing the re-write, I happened to glance back at the acknowledgments I wrote in the original edition. When I read the last few lines, I chuckled aloud, amused by the prophetic nature of my words.

“Thank you to anyone reading this book. I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I did writing it. Let us see where our travels go.”

I am still traveling. Thanks for coming with me.

Good days ahead.
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Published on February 14, 2012 07:20 • 2,034 views • Tags: author, fantasy, fiction, indie, re-write
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message 1: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Gray I loved the original, so I'm sure I'll love the new updated version as well. I'm looking forward to reading it.

~T.L. Gray
Author of The Blood of Cain by T.L. Gray

message 2: by R.T. (new)

R.T. Kaelin FYI - I should be clear. The new edition is NOT out yet, but I expect it will be by the end of the week. I have a small group of readers still proofing it for me (I love to drop words from sentences... bad me).

They're all doing a great job catching errors and I feel confident that I can release a clean version once they're done.

message 3: by Donna (new)

Donna Overall Ryan, it should be "quite surprised", not "quiet surprised"....ever the demented proofreader. Just saw that in passing.

message 4: by R.T. (last edited Feb 16, 2012 09:34AM) (new)

R.T. Kaelin Heh...

Thanks Donna. I need to uncheck the 'Brain Autocorrect Words That Look Like Other Words' option as I read.

message 5: by Uriah (new)

Uriah I know I caught that same error a couple times in the proofing.

Good luck Ryan and thanks for sharing your dreams and stories with us.

Good memories behind.

message 6: by Tina (new)

Tina Peterson 'Brain Autocorrect Words That Look Like Other Words' - I have this problem too!

Thanks for the update Ryan. I would love to read the new book but don't read in eBook form. It's too hard on me. Let me know if you ever do another print book. =D Also, any updates - I love reading about those. =D

Tina ~

message 7: by Tina (new)

Tina Peterson Hi again Ryan - I have added a link to this post on my blog review for your book. Currently I have a link to your book on Amazon. Will I need to change the paperback link to something else so people can find the new updated version? Or, will the new version only be available as a Kindle edition and possibly eventually as a paperback (meaning I leave the link for the paperback on my blog as is)?

Let me know,

Tina 'the book lady'

message 8: by Laura (new)

Laura Thomas Hi Ryan. I will add this link to my review when I post it. Can't wait to get reading. Thanks again.


message 9: by Margie (last edited Sep 20, 2014 03:20PM) (new)

Margie Vieira Ryan, a friend brought your letter as an indie author to my attention. I too, have taken on the long endeavor of re-writing my first novel, Seeing Again: Through the eyes of a child.
You were quite fortunate to have had such a kind individual sending you their notes about Progeny.
I have also been very fortunate to have met two individuals who have been, well in retrospect, guardian angels in the literary sea.
I delved into the water not knowing the truth of such a voyage. Now after five years and completing my second novel, I clearly see how blind I was upon setting on a journey so far from my comprehension.
Yet the knowledge I have accrued and am still learning is absolutely amazing.
I truly wish you the best outcome and many happy years to express your voice. Thank you for sharing such an enlightening story and placing hope in my court.
Best wishes,
Margie Vieira

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