August 6th, 2021

Time for a Second Edition

by John Peragine


 
 

So, you’ve written your novel, it’s selling, and the reviews are in. They are mostly positive, but a few consistent critiques may be keeping you up at night. You read back through your book, and you notice minor errors here and there, and that only increases your anxiety.

After some time, to stave off insomnia, you do something about it. You decide that it is time for the second edition of your book. Here are seven things to consider with a second edition.  

Second Printing vs Second Edition

There is a difference between a second edition and a second printing. If your book is being handled by a traditional publisher, they usually print a bunch of them simultaneously. The next time the book is printed in bulk, that is considered the second printing. Usually, there are no “significant” changes to the book with a second printing. With POD, second printings (and beyond) are not as relevant anymore.

A second edition has significant changes to the original book. These changes can be the cover or interior of the book. By significant, I mean there has to be more than just fixing a couple of typos. In the case of correcting some grammar, it is far easier to just quietly make those changes and resubmit a file.

Covers

Cover changes are sometimes a good idea. It can’t be overstated that a cover can make or break a book. Sometimes we think it is a great cover, but our sales and readers' feedback say differently. A cover is the first introduction to your book, and if it isn’t engaging, a reader’s eyes slip to the next book. It can be a difficult decision to make.

If a book is part of a series, and there is a brand look to it, it makes sense to create a new edition. Also, you might have a special artist create a special cover. This happens all the time in comics where there are multiple variants of a cover. When there is a new book cover, that would be considered a new edition.

Typos

Typos and grammar mistakes are something that readers will pick up and will mention in a review. It is considered amateur to have a book with typos, and it can be a hard pass for some readers. The goal for indie authors is to have a book that is indistinguishable from books from traditional publishers. Even with editing done before a book is released, there will be things that can slip by. If there are many of them, then it is time to come up with a new edition.

Titles

A title change is not unheard of. Here are some examples.

Guy de Maupassant’s The Tallow Ball (15k copies)  changed to A French Prostitute’s Sacrifice (54K copies)

Oscar Wilde’s Pen, Pencil and Poison (5Kcopies.) changed to The Story of a Notorious Criminal (15K copies.)

Titles of books can be changed when made into movies or sold in foreign markets. It is something to consider if sales are low. Perhaps float some titles to your audience to get feedback. Changing a book's title still makes it a second edition of the book if the interior is the same. The original name of the book is often added to the copyright page.

Content Update

Changes in the actual content of the book definitely create a new addition. A bit of thought should go into those changes, as anything significant could create a new book entirely. As writers, it never seems like a book is done, and we want to make tweaks on it even if it is published. A better strategy is to make sure the book is ready to be published and make those changes ahead of time. A good practice is to give time for people to read ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of your book. This allows you to receive critical feedback and make necessary changes before the book is published.

New Book in Series

If you want to add a chapter or two of a new book in a series at the back of your book, that is a good time to do a second edition. Also, your contact information might change, although if that is the only change, then you might just want to quietly update that in your current edition.

Process of Creating New Edition

Creating the second edition of a book, technically, requires you to set up a whole new book. This means that you need a new ISBN and a new listing for the book, and those files need to be uploaded. Once the new edition is released, you can stop the prior edition's production and distribution. This also allows you to re-release your book to a new audience. If you have a special new cover and people like your book, they may want to buy the second edition of your book.

There are some other practical reasons to have a second edition. If your first edition had some unfavorable reviews by trolls and it's hurting your sales, creating a second edition gives you essentially a clean slate. If you had hundreds of positive reviews, unfortunately, it will be like you are starting over. You can have them linked if you prefer on Amazon, but it is a process that you will have to contact KDP about to get done. With KDP, it can be a flip of a coin whether the books connect or not.

The decision to create a new edition shouldn’t be taken lightly. It will cost money, and it can negatively affect your brand and the sale of your book. Ask other authors for their opinions and their experiences.

Do you have a second edition of your book? If so, what was your experience?

About John

John Peragine has published 14 books and ghostwritten more than 100 others. He is a contributor for HuffPostReuters, and The Today Show. He covered the John Edwards trial exclusively for Bloomberg News and The New York Times. He has written for Wine EnthusiastGrapevine MagazineRealtor.comWineMaker magazine, and Writer's Digest.

John began writing professionally in 2007, after working 13 years in social work and as the piccolo player for the Western Piedmont Symphony for over 25 years. Peragine is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. You can learn more about his books at JohnPeragineBooks.com

His newest book, Max and the Spice Thieves, is available for purchase. Click Here!

4 responses to “Time for a Second Edition”

  1. Terry Odell says:

    I suppose, technically, I've had new editions of some of my books. When rights reverted to me, I went through them and made changes/improvements. I've changed covers on some as well. But I've never felt the need to regard them as new books; I simply put an explanation in the book description so readers would know what they were getting.

    Example: "Finding Sarah was previously published by Cerridwen Press. This version has been revised, updated, and includes some material not found in the original."

    I did something similar if it was only a cover change; I don't want readers getting angry thinking it's a new book when it's just a new cover.

    The most "drastic" changes I made were to books that had out of date references, such as floppy discs or a lack of cell phones. In one, I put back a scene I liked. But I never called it a second edition. I suppose that because this was the first edition published by me, I didn't think of it that way.

  2. Kris Maze says:

    I've been mulling over how and when to do a deep dive on a book published by a smaller press. It would be better to make major revisions and get feedback and potential reviews through ARCs.
    You've outlined great considerations. Thanks for the technical advice, John.

  3. dholcomb1 says:

    Wonderful insight and advice.

    denise

  4. When I published a memoir I co-authored we went back and forth with two different book covers that tested positively with two different audiences that were our target market, so it was hard to decided and which one was the "right one". We went with our first choice (a darker cover with a young man looking out a train window seeing his reflection). It's a beautiful cover (imo and so representative of the book) but after a year of weak sales, we decided to change it to the "other" cover which sold the concept of the book apparently better (rural life, small town feeling, wholesomeness). That's the cover we kept, but it was hard to choose to do so.

    And I agree with you John, typos, grammar, spelling if any of those are wrong, they should be always be corrected without making it a new edition.

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