I have a dilemma. True, it’s not an entirely unpleasant one, but I always have a hard time making decisions, so I’m hoping advice from my friends might make this easier.
About three years ago, I contracted with PersonalNOVEL, a publisher in Europe, to write a book they could publish as a personalized novel—meaning buyers could change the names and details about people and places to match their own friends and families.
The story idea I sold them on was based on a manuscript I’d written many years before, but had not published and did not have to hand anymore. All I had was my memory of the general storyline and a few snippets of scenes I remembered as being key elements. They liked it; they paid me; they’re selling it now.
Now that the contract terms are up for renewal, they are giving me the option to reprint a non-personalized version with another publisher if I want. Great, right? Let’s do it. Here, however, is where the dilemma comes in.
After moving back to Illinois a couple of years ago, I took all my things out of storage that sat here for over 15 years and guess what I found in a box of old notebooks and papers? You’ve got it—the original manuscript of the story.
Reading through it, I realized there was a whole lot I remembered wrong—or differently, at least. The three main characters are there, though their background and names are a bit different. The intent of the heroes and bad guy remain primarily the same. Certain scenes are very similar: the female character waking to find eyes staring at her through a car window, the ghostly scent of perfume that seems to come from nowhere at night, what happens in the climax scene at the end.
But whole chunks of it are completely different. My main character is no longer a city career woman tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, but a vulnerable, damaged girl trying to regain confident footing after a lifetime of verbal abuse. There is a fourth main character, as well, who I’d completely forgotten about, who lends a triangular element to the romance/suspense. I also had to tame down some of the more risqué elements of the story to fit in with the family friendly guidelines of the publisher.
So here’s what I’m asking. If I choose to republish this story, should I go with the version already printed, or do I edit and release the original version? Or should I do what I really kind of want to do, publish both of them with different titles?
Here are the first few paragraphs of each version which will show you how similar they can be in some scenes. Maybe that will help you give me some helpful advice.