I stumbled on your blog and honestly, the timing couldn’t be better. I’ve put out the second book in my series and have run into a problem. A big problem… A major plot flaw has been uncovered by my readers! I’m not sure how I missed something so obvious and honestly, I’m not sure how it missed editing! I don’t know what to do now, I feel like a fool and my readers have been asking me about it like crazy. I don’t know what to tell them! Do you have any advice for me?
(Requested to remain anonymous)
Phew… well let me just say… I understand why you wanted to remain anonymous, so don’t worry about that. You’re right, this is a pretty big problem. If the book has already hit mass market, pulling it back now is ill-advised. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of shadow editing when people have already read the book. There’s certainly nothing wrong with putting out a second edition with some corrections or alterations, that happens all the time. Compare a 1st Edition of something like Lord of the Rings to one that was just published. Huge difference.
I’m not too surprised that editing missed this. Editing is mostly to make our amateurish writing look professional. Though we’re great story tellers, in my experience, writers really struggle with grammar and punctuation when telling their story. They get so engrossed that everything else goes out the window. That’s why so many become reclusive when they’re writing. In short, don’t blame the editors. Did you have anyone beta read your story? That’s where plot flaws should come up. Beta readers are the ones who would catch something like. Anyway, that’s something to consider. Now, how should you handle this?
First, don’t panic. While this is a big issue, you’re published, you’ve got people reading your book, and they seem to be enjoying it other than this flaw. That’s certainly better than what happened with my worst book. I’m still not sure why, but Soul Siphon was my least-read novel. I’ve thought about retiring it, which is too bad, because I thought it was a good story. So you’re actually in a lot better shape there.
Okay, so now that we’ve gone over what not to do… what should you do? The best advice I can give you a two-syllable word; ‘retcon’. Are you planning on writing another sequel? You mentioned that it was a series. The best thing to do would be to take that plot flaw and flesh it out. Address it and make it part of your story. Flaws can be explained and built into the book. It can also be used to your advantage, because right now you’ve got people shrugging about it. Imagine you explain it out logically in your next book the resounding ‘OH!” from your readers. A good story teller is one who can tell an entertaining story. A master storyteller is one who can quickly adjust their narrative to be able to explain such flaws on the fly.
So what if you really can’t… like you’re stuck and you really don’t think you can retcon a plot flaw? Well… in that case, though I truly advise against this… you put out a public statement about it. Do NOT ignore this. It’s going to keep coming up and readers will go nuts. Put out a public statement, announce that you’re making edits, and offer free copies to anyone that can prove they purchased the original, should they want it. Customer service is key to success in these cases. However, I strong recommend you go with my first recommendation!!
Either way, I wouldn’t sweat it too much. The literary community tends to be… fairly forgiving about such things. Do what you need to and move on from it.
Hope this helps, but let’s open this one up. Readers, what do you think? How should this person handle this?
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!
Catch you on the flip side!