Today I will share my experience of updating books at Amazon. I recently updated Volume 1 of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers at CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). The paperback now includes a comprehensive 18-page index, and both the paperback and eBook include minor updates (such as mention of recent changes at CreateSpace, Amazon, and Kindle and correcting a few minor typos).
If you need to revise your interior or cover file at CreateSpace, first study your sales rank history (you want to know the time of the sales, not the time that the royalties report) to help choose the time where you’re least likely to sell books. Your book will be unavailable for sale while the new file is being reviewed, so you don’t want it to interfere with sales (unless your revision is more urgent, then you just have to do it immediately).
It takes approximately 12 hours for your files to be reviewed. The biggest concern is how Murphy’s law will get you:
- One way is for CreateSpace to make changes to your cover, even when you didn’t change the cover file and it had been perfect. The best thing to do is resubmit your files for review and hope the next reviewer doesn’t make changes to your cover. This is another 12 hours. But if you call, they put in a request to research the problem, and this can take a couple of days (and may not even resolve the problem). There is, unfortunately, a worst-case scenario where your book is offline for several days. You just have to cross your fingers and hope it doesn’t happen to you. Let me add that this rarely happens, so most likely it won’t be an issue. I didn’t mean to scare you. Just prepare for the worst, then if something does happen, you won’t be surprised by it.
- Another way is for you to make a minor revision, which winds up causing major changes to the layout of your book. You see, revising a phrase on page 3 could cause a crazy page break on page 8. Take the time to scroll page by page through your book in the Digital Proofer to ensure that there aren’t any crazy layout problems and you might be able to avoid this problem.
- Then there is conservation of typos, whereby you introduce a new typo in the process of correcting others.
- Finally, there is the Doh! moment when you click Approve Proof and suddenly remember something else that you should have done.
Very often, your book is again available for sale in 12 to 24 hours after uploading the revised file.
A crazy thing is that you can actually order the paperback directly from Amazon after the revision and receive the older version. This evidently happens when they already have your older version stocked in their warehouse (e.g. if there was a returned copy to resell or if they had ordered some in advance to stock up).
What I like about KDP is that your previous edition remains available for sale while your new eBook is in the process of publishing. This way you don’t miss out on any sales in the meantime.
I put a note on the copyright page indicating when the eBook was last updated. This way, when I viewed the Look Inside at Amazon, I knew I was looking at the updated version.
I like the way the Look Inside turned out. The Look Inside when viewing on a PC is the greatest formatting challenge. I went into the HTML in my effort to perfect this. The indents look large on the PC, but that’s because I set them to a percentage instead of a value in inches. That way, the indents will look fairly reasonable from a cell phone to an iPad.
Another thing to consider is updating the description. I updated the paperback description from CreateSpace, using the basic HTML that’s allowed to create linebreaks, boldface, italics, and bullets. I used Author Central to do this for the eBook. The paperback description begins with a note about the new index that has been added.
The paperback was ranked around 14,000 on Amazon, but has now dropped down to 45,000. It’s amazing what a 16-hour window of no availability can do to sales rank. On the other hand, the eBook edition jumped up to 40,000 from the 100,000’s. I guess when the paperback wasn’t available, people decided to go with the eBook (ordinarily, I sell many paperbacks for each eBook that sells).
For those who may have purchased the original paperback without the index, there is a free index available in PDF format online: https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/index-for-a-detailed-guide/
Now I need to work on an index for Volume 2.
Volume 1 eBook: http://amzn.com/B00AA5CJ7C
Volume 1 paperback: http://amzn.com/1480250201
Volume 2 eBook: http://amzn.com/B00CSDUP66
Volume 2 paperback: http://amzn.com/1484037243
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
I hate updating my book on Createspace because they have so many checks and hoops. Never had a problem with Kindle though. Might be that I’m more careful there and they seem more streamlined.
I prefer formatting the paperback, but much prefer waiting for the eBook to go live as I know it won’t get modified or need a person to approve it.
I’m still feel a little odd loving eBooks for that. I remember my youthful days of swearing I only liked paperback.
Really like the idea of putting last update in the copyright page. I need to update my wittle book soon going to incorporate that one. As to time of day… meh… I am not selling copies at all so… anytime I want! 😀
Hopefully that will change soon. One of the things we all have in common is hope. 🙂
It is always a good idea to self-publish your book in two formats, the ebook and the paperback. Always edit, proofread, check the formatting before publishing it first so that there will be none or only minor errors that needs corrections thus saving you the hassle of having to make changes and re-upload again. For CreateSpace, I have been uploading many times in their system so I do not have much problem about it.
It’s definitely important to strive to perfect the book before publishing. But to err is human, and even big publishers have made an occasional embarrassing mistake. Even if you perfect the book, you may run into other problems. In nonfiction, for example, information can change in important ways on a monthly basis, so it’s often necessary to update the book every few months just to keep the content up-to-date.
You’re right, though, with careful proofreading and additional eyes to review the book, you can prevent some of the need for revisions.
What happens to those who downloaded my previous version of the kindle book? Do they get the newer version as an update? If not is there a way to get it o them and inform them? I do not want a bad review because of a few mistakes.
Visit KDP and look for the Contact Us button. One of the options in the contact form is specifically for notifying customers of updates. The first step is for you to notify KDP that your book has been updated and to describe the updates in specific detail.
It may take up to 30 days for KDP to determine whether or not to notify customers of updates by email. It’s totally at KDP’s discretion, and may not happen unless the update is deemed quite significant. You will receive an email with KDP’s decision.
If KDP doesn’t notify customers of updates, they will still make it possible for customers to receive the update. However, the update isn’t automatic for most customers. It depends on the customer’s settings in their Amazon account settings for Kindle. If the option is set to automatically receive updates, then it will be automatic. Otherwise, the customer has to login to Amazon and select the option to receive the update.
The system isn’t perfect, but it is possible for customers to receive the updated book, and in some cases KDP does notify customers. Nothing will happen, though, until you notify KDP of the updates through the Contact Us form. Good luck.
Thank you for the guide provided above.
I am sorry, I really need to have a step by step guide on how to update (actually – revise) the description of my book which I published with Booksurge (Createspace ) long ago.
I didn’t really know that what I needed to write there was a description for the book. I also didn’t have much understanding of publishing then. I am actually trying to gain understanding now.
I also want to check to enlist the book under ‘General’. I don’t remember where I had listed it earlier.
I am now trying to learn and to position my book for effective sales and promotion.
I will be very glad if you can tell me the links to follow.
Thank you very much and God bless you richly!
The Author, The House Girl – Story book for General.
You can edit your book description at Amazon Author Central, or you can login to CreateSpace, open your book, and edit the description there. If you need help with that, use the Contact Us option at CreateSpace and CreateSpace can help you. You can also edit your categories at CreateSpace once you open your book. Good luck.