Monday, April 22, 2013

Letting those early novels go

In September, my sixth novel, The Inheritance, will be released. I’m excited about that as I think it is my best yet—plus I love the two main characters in it! But this novel brings with it two dilemmas for me that I am currently trying to think and pray through.

The first one is this. I wrote this particular novel before my first non-fiction book Soul Friend which was released last September and was given the choice as to which would be published first. So now it’s time to release the novel. But which direction should I head next? Should I alternate my books and aim to complete another non-fiction book this year? Or should I stick to novel writing?

But my second dilemma is the more pressing one at the moment. I feel so blessed, having six books published when I never thought I would have any. My first novel Heléna was released early in 2007 and since then, I have had one book released each year. It’s not that I am particularly prolific, however. It’s just that while I waited to find a publisher for my first novel, I decided to begin the next. So until now, I have always been in the happy place of having another novel completed by the time the previous one was released. But now the question is—do I let those first two novels go and not try to promote them anymore? Although the first one has just become hard to find in most bookstores, there are still a handful of copies of the second around. And small numbers of orders still seem to come in for them via the bookstores, plus I have people contacting me as well for copies from time to time. Also, wherever I speak, it seems people are still interested in those first two novels. I sell almost as many of those as my later ones—which leaves me a little reluctant to run out of copies myself. Yet, if I did, would I sell more of my later novels? It’s a puzzle!
And of course, there is a limit to the number of books I can carry around with me wherever I speak. Often, I am unsure which book people will go for, so I need to take a good number of each. I could no doubt get back the rights of those first two novels and attempt to make them available as e-books only, but to me, that seems to answer only half the question. Also, I know if I did this, I would need to re-edit both novels severely! After all, they were my first two attempts at writing—and back then, I knew nothing about the current anathema against using omniscient point of view or the evils of ‘head hopping’! And my very long sentences are liberally sprinkled with lots of lovely ‘ly’ adverbs! Yet do I want to invest time in re-writing these books? I’m not sure.

So ... you see my dilemma. Any suggestions? I know some of you have had many more novels released over the years than I have, so would you have any wisdom to offer from your own experience?

Meanwhile, I will keep thinking and praying about it—and writing that next best-seller!
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney, Australia. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher and editor, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of five published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Her sixth novel, The Inheritance, will be released in September. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren. For more information, please visit or


  1. I've noticed several authors re-releasing older titles as e-books and to me this seems a good way to go. It makes your books readily available to people like me who live overseas, and also means you don't have to carry them around with you.

    Several of these authors mention editing the original versions of their book. This does mean more work for you, but then you'd have an even better book out there!

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Ruth Ann. I would certainly have to edit those earlier novels of mine severely before releasing them as e-books, but as you point out, then I'd have even better books out there! Now to just find the time to do that ...

  2. I do enjoy rereading books that I read a few years ago especially since I am now retired. What I have found is that some authors combine some of their older books in a single volume but keeping the individual books intact.
    E-books are fine for those who have a computer, but I find it too difficult to read feel, no ink, etc.
    Judith Coopy

  3. I understand where you're coming from, Judith. and thanks for the idea of combining my first two novels in one volume. I'll think about that, as they were originally written as one book.

  4. Interesting dilemma to be in Jo-Anne. A shame to see the early books lost. E book is probably a good idea as Ruth Ann suggested even though like Judith I don't like reading an E book either. Lots of other people do.

  5. Thanks for your thoughts, Dale. Still unsure about it. Part of me would hate to say goodbye to those hard copies of my early novels, but probably early next year I will make a decision one way or the other.