Do you reread your published / self-published books?


Smeerp of Wonder
Staff member
Oct 13, 2008
West Sussex, UK
I've asked this question to two authors with quite a few books under their belt, and both responded with "no", which surprised me. I've reread my two published books about once a year so far, and I'll probably do the same with any future ones. Mostly this is for enjoyment (I write what I want to read and can't find elsewhere) but I also find it interesting to notice new things about them as time goes on, often larger points about structure or theme.

I'd be interested to know what others do.

(I guess I'd also include trunked novels that you're never intending to do anything with, so the reread isn't for revision purposes.)
I’ll say ‘no’ as well. I self publish as a way of putting a story ‘to bed’, otherwise I’d be forever tinkering with it. Although this is still possible with Amazon releases, having a narrative ‘out there’, with a cover and blurb and everything, generally allows me to move on.

Some short stories on other media I do reread, as I find it easier to fashion them closer to the ideas in my head, and thus feel happier about the ‘printed’ version.
Some. Well, okay - Abendau. I like bits of it. It’s the only one I’ve written I’d reread if it wasn’t by me. The others, no not really unless I need to check something
I've done that with 1: Gathering, specifically to make a couple of significant changes that I thought would improve it.

First, I removed the prologue, as I realized a big part of reading is unraveling the mystery behind the story - so a Prologue that explains the context works against that. I had to read how that change might affect what followed, and made a couple of minor edits.

Secondly, when I originally published every POV character had it's own short chapter. However, after reading Conn Iggulden's series on Genghis Khan I realized it would work better if groups of these were brought together under their own general and longer chapter. That, in theory, would make the narrative smoother and less jarring. To do that I had to re-read for continuity, and make some slight edits to make the POV transitions work better,

More recently, I tried to re-read it again, to imagine how a new reader might experience it. However, it's too familiar to surprise me, and other commitments drew me away.
No. They get read so much before publication anyway. I might do now, if I had time. I'm constantly busy though - no time to read anything by anyone.
Though I'm not at the grade level of everyone else here, I've written quite a bit since roughly 2001. Taking larger examples of work and tripling that with smaller, I'd not be surprised if I didn't have three, four, or more million words worth saved. Everything I've written like @Boneman was written to suit my tastes. Some of the creativity is staggering (in a good way, imo), which sadly proves out my aging and health has caused a bit of cognitive decline; I doubt I could ever match that creativity now. The research to generate that work, doubly so.

However, I can look at something I wrote a month ago and I'm horrified. My current work, I'll work through a half-a-novel's edits, and go back when I decide to change something...and from that scant amount of time realize I now must re-edit the entire work again since I've advanced that much.

Unlike most of you, my basic skills are improving by leaps and bounds, but I'm running out of time. The stories are fantastic, the creativity is wonderful, and the fine details precise...But, the ability to execute that content in such a way that it's passable is what I struggle with. And as I improve on the latter, I'm quickly losing the former half of the equation.

This earlier post of mine exemplifies my frustration:

*insert sighs, whines, and self-pity here*

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God. No.

Editing is painful enough and I guess the main pleasure for me is in the writing not the reading. Also I do feel like I’m not reading a genuine story or book if I’ve written it because, well... I’ve written it.

I don't, really - certainly not from cover to cover. I sometimes open one of the Smith books and I must admit that I do laugh at my own jokes quite a bit. I'd be too worried about finding typos and wincing at my earlier style though.

I must admit, I get very self-conscious about reading my own work once it's in print, or hearing anyone else read it out. Even looking at the cover art (which has so far been great for everything I've done) is a bit of an effort. When the publishers did the audiobook of Space Captain Smith, it took me ages to steel myself to hear it. It turned out that the reading was great.
Nope. I already know those stories. I have limited time for reading, and I want to spend that time reading something new, from other authors.
Also I do feel like I’m not reading a genuine story or book if I’ve written it because, well... I’ve written it.


Yep, I get this. It doesn't feel like I'm reading a proper thing.

Also, stop angry-facing my posts, ya gurt doughbake. :ROFLMAO:
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I've read my first published novel three times since it came out six years ago and enjoyed it each time. It holds up very well (in my humble opinion!) and although I have little detailed recollection of actually writing it, I love spotting sentences, passages and other elements I would do differently if writing it now. It's as good a way as any to measure my progress as a writer.

My second novel was released last year and I've read it once since then. There are a couple of things I would change, but very little at this early stage. I'll read it again in a couple of years, which I'm sure will be more revealing.

I've found that once I finished editing with the publisher and the books were out of my hands, there was a certain detachment and reading them again is like reading another author's books.
I absolutely read them.
However; I am always looking for something that might be incorrect so that if I ever republish I can fix it.
I published my first novel in 2013 and have reread it not quite but almost every year.
My second novel has had fewer reads--however I am in the process of rereading it right now.

One big factor is that the two are part of a series and rereading them helps me keep track of continuity for what I'm working on.

Hopefully, those authors who say they don't, and publish a paper edition, I hope are not also referring to reading the initial galley--well this should apply to reading the eBook once also--the galley proof must be read by the author before publishing or any gross errors fall on the author and not the publisher and for self publishing they should always read a copy of the finished product.

I always read a galley proof and then a finished published copy of every book.
Same thing with eBooks--after publishing I read through it to make sure that the formatting hasn't gone all wonky.

Oddly though, I never grow tired of rereading my own work after it's published; I worry about that being Narcissistic,
At the moment, I have to in a way. I'm having one of mine turned into an audiobook. The narrator surpasses my expectations.

I'm finding that I remember my books in their original forms. It can sometimes be jarring to read a passage where I had to kill one of my darlings, and I have to remind myself why I edited it out.
It might be worth distinguishing between rereading a book for pleasure (or curiosity) and rereading it as an act of proofreading.
You bet. Like HB I enjoy reading something not readily available. Also, like some others, I always look for ways of improving them. One day, I swear, I'll reissue them, so I want them to be their very best.
By the time something is ready to be published I'm always sick of reading it. Sick to the point where my brain shuts down and I can't even absorb the words. But after several years have passed, yes I have been known to reread by own books.
Every time I need to cheer up, I especially read my second novel, which was awarded in an international competition and is my greatest pride. So, as I read, I think: "Wow, I wrote that, I beat eighty other novels, it must have not been for nothing." That gives me a huge injection of energy to go back to work, and although it is true that one will always want to change some things, because obviously, one has evolved since then, it is good to leave them as they are, they are a testimony that makes you smile. It's like the songs that we recorded with a metal band a long time ago (four of them are mine, including the main hit that they asked us at concerts and that we almost got to sneak into the final credits of a boxer movie), it makes you happy a lot to know that those songs have aged well, like the good wines.
Not an author but as a reader I've come to the conclusion some authors never re-read leading to inconsistencies in later novels.
I would suggest if you're going to write a series of books or even books that are loosely connected either re-read or at least keep some sort of database on characters, time lines etc.
I hate when in the middle of a book an author gets family trees etc wrong and I have to go find the previous book to check I'm not going mad.

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