Changing Your Book Up

Change Up

If you publish a book, chances are you will encounter a variety of reasons to consider making changes:

  • The blurb is quite challenging to write, so we often wonder if we should try to improve it.
  • It’s nearly impossible to edit a hundred thousand words and catch every single typo. Even if you edit extremely well, you usually encounter a couple of stragglers somewhere down the line.
  • As we’re human, occasionally we make a big oopsie. If so, you want to fix that as quickly as possible.
  • Nonfiction material can quickly become outdated. Revisions can help keep it up-to-date.
  • Reviews sometimes provide suggestions that have merit. You’re thinking about applying this helpful feedback.
  • An idea may occur to you, which you hadn’t thought of before. You’re wondering if it would make your book better.

Depending on the occasion, it might be best to make the change right away or it might be best to wait:

  • If you have an embarrassing or significant mistake, you need to take care of that promptly.
  • At Kindle, your present edition will remain available while you’re revised edition is in the process of publishing, so you don’t have to worry about losing sales in the meantime. So once your revision is ready, there is no reason to wait.
  • At CreateSpace, your book will be unavailable for about 12-24 hours while your file is being reviewed. So if the changes can wait, it would be a good idea to pick a day and time where sales may be relatively slow. Study your sales rank history at AuthorCentral for help planning this, and also consider what marketing you have going on and coming soon. Sometimes your book can be back online in less than 12 hours. However, even if you make a minor change to your interior file, your cover file can get changed for the worse (even if you don’t change your cover), and it can take several days to fully resolve this. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst-case scenario.
  • Most things, including your blurb, author photo, biography, and book files probably shouldn’t be changed when sales are going well. If sales start to drop off, that may be a better time to change things up and see if they help or hurt.

I’ve revised several of my books and blurbs in 2013 (and I’m still not finished with it). For me, it has been a year of revisions. I have a few projects that I wanted to complete in 2013, but which I have yet to begin, because I have spent so much time making revisions.

It started with one of my math workbooks. I had a request from a parent that would help one of my math workbooks better meet the needs of parents, so I devoted some time toward this. At about the same time, I also updated a couple of the covers of my math workbooks. Those I was able to improve without making the cover look significantly different. (I have a couple of other math workbooks that I’d like to give a makeover, but I haven’t because I don’t want anyone to accidentally buy the same book twice.)

Next, I made numerous revisions to my conceptual chemistry book. I completely revised thousands of symbols that were originally typeset as equations, realizing that they would format better as text with superscripts and subscripts. This was extremely time-consuming and took several edits. I have about 40 different versions of the eBook file, and dozens more of the paperback editions. I’ve never edited anything this much before, and hope to avoid such extensive editing in the future.

I’ve updated my self-publishing books a few times because every time I make a revision, something new seems to come out. My original (i.e. 2009) self-publishing book needs a major overhaul. I’ve been wanting to do this for a couple of years, but it needs so much work, I generally put it on the backburner and work on something else. I plan to finally do this by the year’s end.

Presently, I’m adding indexes to my new (i.e. 2012/2013) self-publishing books (i.e. Volumes 1 and 2 of the “Detailed Guide”). It’s amazing how much work is involved in making a thorough index. And it’s thorough; it may add another 20 pages (with two columns) to the book. I hope to have the index for Volume 1 finished today or tomorrow. Then I have a list of revisions to make, like mentioning the new Countdown Deal, but this should be quick and painless.

I’ll be combining Volumes 1 and 2 into an omnibus edition. I hope to have it out by Read Tuesday. Then I can get back to the major overhaul of my original self-publishing book.

I have some other minor revisions that I’ve made (correcting a few typos that I’ve discovered here and there), and a couple of covers that have some printing variations that could use a fix.

I’ve changed many of my blurbs extensively this year. In most cases, this had a very significant improvement on sales, often immediately. It’s amazing what boldface, italics, bulleted lists, and splitting a long paragraph up into shorter paragraphs can do.

How about you? Have you had any fun with revisions this year?

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing), Facebook page, Twitter

Check out Read Tuesday (a Black Friday event just for books): website, Facebook page, Twitter

13 comments on “Changing Your Book Up

  1. One of the nicest things about self publishing is that you can correct your book bloopers. My husband reads two or three crime novels a week, mostly by traditionally published authors and some can be really bad. You have to feel sorry for these authors. I don’t know how much power they have over getting corrections accomplished, but it is kind of sad. For example: A guy makes a big deal about taking his car into town…twenty minutes later, his friend is jumping into the truck and they take off down the road. What happened to the car? This is just one of many and my husband sort of makes it an ongoing joke to find these sorts of things in his books (which he always brings to my attention). Never mind all of the typos and misspelled words, and the barrage of wrongly hyphenated words, like dra-gnet, and celeb-rate..just little things that crawl under your skin.

    • That’s true. Traditionally published books aren’t immune to mistakes. I notice them in traditionally published books more frequently in e-books, especially when I know the paperback is virtually perfect. It can’t be as easy to make changes this way, especially in print.

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