The Heiress at the Door contemporary romance series begins in North Carolina. But the second book takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area. People have asked why I switched coasts for the second book that’s due out in May.
The truth is, it wasn’t intentional. When I wrote The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé, it was intended to be the first of three books that take place in Blakely. Jessica’s brother and her best friend also get books. But when I finished Heiress, I was visiting back home in the Bay Area. I needed a break from Blakely, so I started The Billionaire Bachelor’s Revenge, another trilogy. I assumed I’d bounce back and forth between the two series.
But then I got nervous when I finished the book because both books start with a woman at the door. Both women are heiresses. Would readers be upset because the books have similarities?
It took my critique partner to point out that was a selling feature most publishers would love. Of course, that created a new problem because book three wasn’t starting with an heiress at the door. But it could. If I was willing to throw out what I had and start over.
As writers, we all face revisions some point. Lucky for me, I wasn’t really happy with the way the book was working, and I really liked the idea of the Heiress at the Door hook, so I was willing to face the music and start over.
The key is being willing to look at what you have and weigh the benefits of major rewrites. If an editor is suggesting the changes, it may be worth doing. As long as the suggestions don’t change the book to the point that the story is no longer your own. Or one that you’re willing to tell.
Edits don’t always mean massive changes. In my case, after reviewing the opening scene and looking at what wasn’t working for me in the original, I realized I can probably keep a lot of what I have. It’s a question of tweaking things here and adding a couple of sentences there. Yes, the first scene will have to be changed drastically since there is no door. But the heiress is there, so I can use what I have as a base to build on.
But typically when I edit for others, or I take edits on my own freelance articles and books, when you stop and really listen to what the reader is saying, the changes are minor. Adding emotion here, clarifying something else there. What seems at first glance like a mountain of “Oh My God, How Will I Ever…” becomes “Oh, if I bring out the emotion here and add a sentence here about…” and it works.
For one article, the client thought I would need to rewrite the whole thing. But when I listened to her concerns, it took a total of 30 words to change the feel of the article and give her what she had wanted. Thirty words I was happy to add because it made the story better, gave her what she needed and got me a paycheck.
Advice is lovely. Critique partners offer it, editors offer it, friends and family offer it. But at the end of the day, you have to take that advice and see if it melds with your opinion as the author, because at the end of the day, it’s your name on the cover. So consider suggestions from others. But don’t think you have to run with them. Only you know what your final straw is as far as changing your story for others. Just keep an open mind when you get the suggestions. Mull them over for a few days and see what comes of it.
And always save your original version before you make changes. That way, if you hate the direction the changes take your story, you haven’t lost a thing. And you’ve learned something along the way.