Seeing Red …

The Red Pen is mightier ...
The Red Pen is mightier …

In a blog post last year, I said I’d be revisiting my books to produce updated or revised versions. Whether the idea works or doesn’t, I believe it’s all about knowing whether the book is good enough – or not.

In the case of the book I’m highlighting in this post, the story took me four months to write, and eight months to amend by using my method of leaving it aside for alternate months.

It has taken me two weeks of non-stop effort to revise what has been out there for a couple of years.

I posted a request for opinions on the Facebook page of the Indie Author Support and Discussion group. One of my quandaries was whether or not to produce a banner on the cover when I’d completed my revised work. The general feedback was superb, as expected.


Revision – creates the impression the first version wasn’t good enough.

Edition – creates the impression there might be more in time to come, especially if a date is used in conjunction with the word Edition.

Decision? I’ve abandoned the thought of either Revision or Edition as a banner. I’ve annotateded the blurb with ‘revised and updated – 2016’


Ten Days in Panama - the cover 2904

Ten Days in Panama was my debut novel.

It still holds a special place in my heart. The story was intended as a romance rather than a thriller, but during the many rewrites over the year it took to produce the book, action evolved as an underlying theme.

Knowing no better, I thought romance-based thriller might work.


Amazon – Universal (Preview/Buy)

Booklinker (if your country doesn’t support Amazon – Universal)


How has it performed?

It suffered in the early days due to an amateur cover, and because it was my first novel.

I paid to have a professional cover designed which created sales and taught me a valuable lesson. Since publication it would be fair to say it still sells, but not in great numbers.

Three and a half years have passed since first publication, and in that time I’ve learned many lessons.

I’ve written several more novels and I believe I’ve improved my craft.

I enjoy writing other genre, including romance, but my natural territory is action and thriller.

Without doubt, one of the most valuable lessons is to listen to others. Fortunately for me this is something I’ve done throughout my life. It was listening to others which prompted me to read the book again last year, and look closely at the writing – not the story.


How have I dealt with the rewrite of Ten Days in Panama?

As I said I would, I read and made notes from every review, and then amended small points to tidy-up the plot. I had a particular passage brought to my notice by fellow author Julia Lund for which I owe her my thanks. Suffice to say I removed three large paragraphs and replaced them with one small one.

The passage was intended to highlight a fragile aspect of a main character’s psyche, and nobody else had seen it (and reported it) the way Julia did. My amendment to the scene has made the character’s issue apparent, but in a more subtle manner.

Evidence in the form of reviews would suggest the story is enjoyed by those who’ve reviewed, which is great news.

The main characters are well-rounded, readers care about them and how they are drawn together.

The locations, circumstances and imagery appeal to readers.

While they seemed important and strong to me when writing the action scenes, the thriller aspects are undoubtedly playing a supporting role – because whatever my intention, it is a romance.

This particular aspect of the tale was highlighted clearly by an insightful review by blogger, reviewer, writer and friend, Paul Ruddock.

I printed the story to work from hard copy, and I’ve given it the same effort I would afford to a new piece of work. Superfluous words have gone, and there were quite a few. The style is closer to what I would regard as my latest.

Working initially from a printed manuscript I took two weeks to edit, revise and rewrite the story. I’ve remained true to the original plot, however I would suggest it now reads better than previously.


Where do I go from here?

My revised version of the story will now be marketed as romance, rather than thriller.


How will I know if it works?

The first indication will be sales, and then of course any reviews which follow after the re-release in the new genre.

Should I receive good reviews after the revision I have a feeling a sequel will be on the cards. I have ideas in the pipeline, but I’ll have to be sure the characters are strong enough to go on.


I’ve never been to Panama, however during the writing of the story I had incredible support from scientist, writer and dear friend Carmen Lopez. Using information gleaned from Carmen to ensure credibility but avoid legal action, no single character or location is exactly as it appears in reality. As I acknowledge in the front matter, without the aforementioned help, the story would have remained an idea.

In the original version of the story, apart from Panama City and Santiago I replaced the town names with fictional names. At the request of some of the folk who live in the region where the story is set, I have now used the real town names including: Torio, Malena and Coiba Island.


As always, thank you for reading and now without further ado, here is the link to Amazon, and for those unable to use Amazon – Universal – a connection to Booklinker.


P.S. I’ve checked the new sample and found two things.

The first two chapters can be read in their entirety.

Once again, the sample shows the sub-headings in different font sizes, but I’ve seen this occur in many samples. The ePub formatting remains true. 🙂


19 thoughts on “Seeing Red …

    1. Thanks again Ian – much appreciated mate. You know well what it’s like to create, destroy, and recreate. Looking forward to your next. I’ll get over to ‘The Quill’. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Reblogged this on Pam Kesterson and commented:
    Pack your bags and go to Panama. Having recently shortened and revamped one of my novels, Eternal Infinite, I love Tom’s revision breakdown. This should be helpful for anybody wanting to do the same. After my change to the interior of E.I., I’m still in the process of adding an image on the original cover. Making changes to a book is a long process, but well worth the efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your support Pam, and I’ll get over your way. It is hard work to revise something which once felt so right. I’ve got E.I. on my TBR so you have a review on hand there. 🙂


  2. I love this step-by -step revision breakdown that shows/reminds us of just how much commitment and work is involved in tackling something like this. I have to say that I would never have considered changing genres. This is an interesting leap. I’ll be watching closely to see how the change works for you. Good luck with this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Anne, and thank you for dropping by. I have to admit I was cursing the red pen after the first two pages, but it soon became a labour of love, which is appropriate really, since it is now a romance.
      I’ll be interested to see how it shapes up. I’ve tried one other small idea which isn’t mentioned above. Instead of two categories in Amazon, I’ve left it as Fiction/Romance/Contemporary. I’m hoping with my tags it will streamline the prospective readers. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Julia Lund

    Revising a novel is a huge undertaking – I know from personal experience, having re-edited my first book earlier this year. I know you always strive to produce the best you can and that you are never complacent. That’s what will keep you on your upward trajectory. Great job.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Julia, and sincere thanks for your earlier message which shaped the scene slightly differently. I believe it’s still effective.
    I know you’re no stranger to hard work and re-working. I hope the issues with your latest are easily drafted out.
    I have a feeling ‘Amsterdam Calling’ will be calling in for a servicing in the summer. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Julia Lund

      I’ve had to call a halt to my latest project – 43 000 words in and it ran away from me. Think I’m just not skilled enough (yet?) to handle the concept. So … I’ve started the research for a new project and am feeling very excited sbout it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Having read two of your books Julia I would suggest it might be something other than a ‘skills’ issue. I noticed you had a new post regarding your most recent project so I’ll get over and have a look. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Julia Lund

        I haven’t posted about this one yet – it’s a decision I took just a few days ago. I know this is a goer!


  5. Thanks for sharing your methodology, thoughts and conclusions, Tom. I went through a similar exercise with my first book a few months ago, and it was a similarly interesting and instructive experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Andy and thank you for the visit. Yes, I’d agree with your suggestion of interesting and instructive. As usual I started the year with so many projects lined up, and my first major rewrite was the scariest. 🙂


  6. I stand in awe of your organizational skills, patience, and your method in general. I’d be curious to learn what will come of the changes you’ve made to your first book, especially the rebranding as a romance as opposed to a thriller. I’ll be keeping tabs on your news as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Ramona my friend and thank you for dropping by. Although sales are not astounding I’ve broken my own rules to check the title out over the period since I published it under the guise of ‘romance’.
      For a day the book was ranked *1.5 million in the US – *1.3 million in the UK.
      One day later when settled *900,000 in US – *280,000 in the UK.
      Now one week later *650,000 in US – *166,000 in the UK.
      My next move is to set it up on Smashwords and then push for Amazon to allow it to be perma-free. I’ll keep you posted. 😀


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