Which Edition Is It?

After publishing, it’s almost inevitable that at some point you’ll want to make changes:

  • You might discover a typo yourself, or have some pointed out to you.
  • The formatting of the Look Inside often doesn’t come out quite as expected (even if the book looks great on Kindle).
  • After writing another book, you may want to include a short sample of the first chapter at the end of your previous book.
  • You might want to add your website, email, or other author information to your books.
  • As you learn more about publishing, you may find good ideas or inspiration that you’d like to incorporate into your existing books.

Revising your book is fairly painless: You simply revise your files and resubmit them. (If you were wise enough to keep track of which version of the file was your latest file and where you saved it, that will be quite handy. The last thing you want to do is introduce mistakes by accidentally using the wrong file.)

Beware that a tiny change can create a domino effect, messing up the formatting on dozens of pages that follow. Take the time to inspect the formatting throughout the book, no matter how small the change is.

Where the fun begins is after your revise the book. You check out the product page, wondering if the changes have been made. If they occur in the beginning, you might be able to see them on the Look Inside. You might be wondering if you should buy your own book just to see if it has been corrected, but then you’ll be really disappointed if you invest in this just to discover that it hasn’t been.

Suppose a customer brings a paperback copy of your book to you. It might be handy for you to know which edition of the book that customer has read – i.e. did the customer buy it before or after you made the changes?

Fortunately, there is a simple solution: When you revise your interior file, simply place something that will show up in the Look Inside that will distinguish one version from another.

If the copyright page shows up in the Look Inside (it should, unless you move it to the back matter, which some authors and publishers do with eBooks in order to maximize the free sample), you could simply write Edition 4, for example. Then when you check out the Look Inside on Amazon, if you see Edition 3 instead, you know that the old Look Inside is still showing.

If you added new material and made corrections, you could write Revised and Expanded Edition instead of the edition number. You can even write a brief note like Revised to Include…

It’s not necessary to make it appear like a new edition has been made. If you only made a few small corrections, for example, you might not want to advertise that it has been updated. If you don’t want to advertise the update, but want to be able to tell yourself that it has been updated, then you just need to make some subtle change to the Look Inside that will help you tell which edition you’re seeing when you see your book.

Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon