Should You Make a New Edition?


Republishing Your Book

You’re faced with an important decision when you revise your book:

  • Should you create a new edition of the same book?
  • Or should you simply update the current edition?

Revisions are easy to make in the modern publishing world. With print-on-demand paperbacks and with e-books, there is no need to produce a new batch of hundreds of books.

You could simply upload new files to replace the old ones in the existing book. Or you could create a new book with a different edition number.

Each has its own benefits and disadvantages.

Keeping the Same Edition

In this case, you simply upload revised files to your existing book.

Possible pros:

  • Your book won’t have to rebuild customer-also-bought associations at Amazon.
  • If your book has good visibility in search results at Amazon, you won’t have to rebuild this.
  • If your book has a good sales history, you won’t have to start over with no sales history.
  • If your book has a good history of reviews, you won’t have to worry about transferring them.
  • All the links in your online marketing to your current book will still work.
  • There is no need to use a new ISBN; customers who search for your book by ISBN will easily find your update.
  • Kindle has new features to help customers get the most recent version of your e-book.

Possible cons:

  • If your book has a slow sales history* and you’re hoping to improve on this, the lack of sales in the past month may be tough to overcome.
  • If your revisions address critical reviews, those reviews may continue to haunt the book after republishing.
  • Your book won’t gain new exposure in the new release categories.
  • Since the ISBN and edition haven’t changed, customers who purchase used copies may receive old editions without realizing it.

*Sales rank combines both recent and distant sales history. When a book hasn’t sold much in the past month and suddenly sells, its sales rank climbs much more rapidly than a book that normally sells frequently, but just hasn’t sold recently. It’s easier to maintain a good sales rank than it is to overcome a history of slow sales.

You can still write the edition number on the copyright page. In fact, this is a good idea: That way, you’ll be able to tell which edition is showing on the Look Inside at Amazon, and if you’re discussing your book with a reader, you’ll be able to tell which edition the customer has.

Making a New Edition

With this choice, you publish a new book with a different edition number.

Possible pros:

  • You get new exposure with the Last 30 Days and Last 90 Days new release filters for sorting search results on Amazon.
  • If your earlier edition struggled with sales and reviews, a new edition gives your book a chance for a fresh start.
  • It should be clear (but isn’t foolproof) if customers are selling or buying old editions of your book, since the editions are clearly separate and have different ISBN’s.

Possible cons:

  • You have to rebuild your sales rank, reviews*, search visibility, and customers-also-bought lists at Amazon.
  • Any links to your old edition in your online marketing need to be updated; there may be some links on websites that you can’t update.
  • The new edition needs its own ISBN (in order to distinguish the two different books). If customers search for your book by the old ISBN, it will pull up your old book.**
  • If customers want to get your updated edition, they must purchase the new edition (for print books, this will be true regardless of how you update your book).

*It is possible to get your new and old editions linked together on Amazon in order to consolidate reviews. Your best bet is to make the request through Author Central. (If they hassle you over it, go to the CreateSpace community forum and find examples of books for which this has been done. Cite these examples to help demonstrate that it can be done.)

** If you get your editions linked together, customers will have the opportunity to find your new edition from the product page of your old edition.

You do have the opportunity to build buzz for the new edition. Successful pre-marketing can help you start out with a good sales rank, early reviews, and make early progress rebuilding your search visibility and customers-also-bought lists at Amazon.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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12 comments on “Should You Make a New Edition?

  1. I think you must be able to read my mind! Haha. I’ve been thinking that I would change my book cover and correct a few editing oversights ( periods, spaces, etc) for Crossing The Line. I would like to do this a couple of weeks before publishing the sequel, What Line. Would I have to republish or could I just update? Also, would there be a better time to do this?

    • If you’re going to keep the same book, simply upload your new files and repeat the remaining steps of the publishing process. With Kindle, check the preview carefully on each device, just in case (strange things can happen, so it’s better if you’re the first to see it). There is no advantage to waiting at Kindle, as your current edition will remain available while it’s republishing. If you published with CreateSpace, your book will be unavailable for sale while the book is in file review and before you click Approve Proof. Check your book carefully, because a tiny change can create a cascading snowball effect of formatting nightmares. If you use the Digital Proofer (I’d still order a copy of the book after approving it, just to be sure), your book can be back on sale again in 12 hours or so. I pick a day where sales are usually slow and make the changes before I go to bed, then the next morning check the proof. Note that customers can still receive old paperbacks (Amazon may have returned copies on-hand, or may source an order through a third party for whom it may take weeks before the version updates). Good luck.πŸ™‚

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