When You Should Write a New Edition of Your Book or Ebook

by John Soares on August 8, 2011

Many writers have written books and e-books, but aren’t sure when, why, or how to write a second or revised edition. I’ve written two mainstream trade paperback books and 2 of my own e-books, and between them I’ve done both new editions and revised editions. So let’s examine…

4 Reasons to Write A Second/Revised Edition of Your Book/E-Book

1. The New Book Edition Will Contain Important New Information

This is usually the best reason to release a new edition of any book. For example, I recently released a second edition of my first e-book, Writing College Textbook Supplements: The Definitive Guide to Winning High-Paying Assignments in the College Textbook Publishing Market, which details how to succeed in my main freelance writing niche.

The first edition came out in 2009. However, ways in which freelance writers can market themselves to textbook publishers changed in following two years, plus I’d learned a few new tricks. Here’s what I added or expanded in the 2011 second edition:

  • Best ways to find jobs on the Internet
  • Using LinkedIn as a way to connect with editors
  • Working for other companies and nonprofits besides textbook publishing companies
  • The pros and cons of having your own website, and what to include if you do decide to have your own website
  • Increased information on how to please editors and increase the likelihood you’ll be hired again
  • More tips on how to get the actual work done well and quickly
  • Discussion of Bloom’s taxonomy for test questions, along with an extensive list of resources
  • More Internet resources, along with updated URLs

Overall the e-book expanded from 107 8.5″ x 11″ pages to 139 8.5″ x 11″ pages; that’s a lot of new info.

 2. The New Book Edition Will Correct Outdated Information

My mainstream trade paperback 100 Classic Hikes in Northern California (The Mountaineers Books) first came out in 1994 and is now in its third edition (2008) because my publisher and I agreed that we needed to update much of the information about the trails covered: some trails had new regulations about permits; a couple had been affected  by wildfires; and we had to change some of the website addresses.

3. You Can Sell More Copies of the New Book Edition

It’s much easier to market and sell a new edition of book, especially a book that is a how-to or contains important information that can go out of date. I’ve had a substantial increase in overall sales of Writing College Textbook Supplements: The Definitive Guide to Winning High-Paying Assignments in the College Textbook Publishing Market and I’ve had a higher conversion rate for the sales page.

The sales page now states that:

  • The entire e-book is updated
  • I’ve added important new info that helps freelance writers do better in this niche
  • The copyright is 2011, which reinforces that the e-book is up to date

And, of couse, I put “Second Edition” on the book cover. (See the cover in the right-hand column.)

(Note: I promise all purchasers of my e-books a free copy of new editions and I made good on that promise. It took some time, but it definitely created good will (I got many thank-you emails), and some of those people may have then gone on to recommend the new edition to other writers.)

4. The New Book Edition Will Make You Feel Better

I always want my published work to be of the highest quality. It’s easy for me to update my blog posts, and it’s relatively easy to add information to my e-books. Something that’s in print, like my paperbacks, requires a lot more effort, along with the cooperation of my publisher.

However, I just feel better knowing that I’m putting forth my best efforts.

The Difference Between a New Edition and a Revised Edition

Whether to say “second edition” or “revised edition” for a book or e-book is subjective. For me it depends on how much new information is included, and also whether or not repagination was necessary.

For example, my above-mentioned 100 Classic Hikes in Northern California  third edition in 2008 contained a lot of new information and many new photos. It was entirely reformatted and it has a new cover shot.

By contrast, my 75 Hikes in California’s Mount Shasta and Lassen Volcanic National Park Regions came out in a revised edition in 2006. The difference? Although we added the few necessary corrections and updates as needed, repagination was not done, although there was a new cover picture.

Your Take?

When would you consider a second edition of one of your books or e-books? What’s been your experience with new editions of books, either your own or those by other writers?

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    { 25 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen August 8, 2011 at 8:01 AM

    Hi John,

    I’ve written 4 ebooks, and keep wondering when I should update them! The point that resonated with me is to edit/revise your ebook to make you feel better. I, too, want my best work to show…and perhaps one of my ebooks isn’t as good as it should be. Or could be!

    Thanks for this :-)

    Laurie
    Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen recently posted…How to Improve Your Blog – A Quick Website Review

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    2 John Soares August 8, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    I think it’s important to follow the feeling in your gut about whether or not to do a new edition. For me, if I really feel the e-book can be substantially improved, I’ll want to revise it.

    However, it’s also important to look at the time and expense involved versus the actual importance of the changes.
    John Soares recently posted…8 Ways to Increase the Joy of Writing

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    3 Harleena Singh August 8, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    Twitter: @harleenas

    Hi John,

    Though I haven’t still ventured into the book writing field, I had been thinking about doing so. Your post surely motivates and encourages one to do so- of course, and keep updating it as well!

    Thanks for sharing!
    Harleena Singh recently posted…Flat-Rates vs. Hourly-Rates: Pros and Cons

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    4 John Soares August 9, 2011 at 6:17 AM

    Glad this helped Harleena. Two points to think about:

    1. It’s a good idea to do a great job on the first edition.

    2. You can make changes and add info in a second edition.
    John Soares recently posted…Freelance Writer’s Guide to Internet Research

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    5 Joel Friedlander August 8, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    Twitter: @jfbookman

    John, excellent advice and good guidelines. I also receive this question a lot, so thanks for spelling it out.
    Joel Friedlander recently posted…Authors: Getting Started with Video Blogging

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    6 John Soares August 9, 2011 at 6:18 AM

    Thanks for the praise Joel. I appreciate it.
    John Soares recently posted…Write Faster: 12 Top Tips for Freelance Writers

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    7 Anne Wayman August 9, 2011 at 6:50 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    John, love this question. I have a small slew of ebooks and recently updated most of them – mostly to please me. I was surprised at both how good the originals were and how easy it was to improve them.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Report From My Circus Venture

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    8 John Soares August 9, 2011 at 6:58 AM

    E-books are very easy to update and then upload to whatever server/service you use.

    Did you make them new editions or revised editions, and did you mention it in the sales pages?
    John Soares recently posted…Small Positive Changes Add Up to a Big Difference in Your Life

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    9 Anne Wayman August 9, 2011 at 8:15 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    John, wasn’t smart enough to do editions… not sure why… old thinking probably, but hence forth I will, and mentioning that they are revised/updated in copy is a great idea.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Three Ways To Avoid A Self-Publishing Scam

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    10 Eric Soares August 10, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    Good idea John! I plan to do a revision in the upcoming e-version of my CONFESSIONS OF A WAVE WARRIOR book. I may get a hold of you for help and suggestions. My goal is to get the buyers of my original print version to buy the e-version, plus grab a whole new market segment. I’m crossing my fingers.
    Eric Soares recently posted…THE FAT PADDLER

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    11 John Soares August 10, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    Sounds interesting Eric. I think you’ll need a substantial amount of new material to entice buyers of the previous print edition, and I’d label it a second edition.
    John Soares recently posted…8 Ways to Increase the Joy of Writing

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    12 Devon Ellington August 10, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    Twitter: @DevonEllington

    I recently pulled my ebooks off Payloadz, because they kept changing the links/terms/etc. I’m re-vising them substantially, putting three of them in a “combo pack” along with new information, and then doing it through Amazon and Smashwords. I’m making it clear in the blurbs what’s been changed, so people don’t think they’re paying for the same thing again. I think the new format will be easier and better value for readers, and less frustrating for me.
    Devon Ellington recently posted…Tuesday, August 10, 2011

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    13 John Soares August 10, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    That sounds like a good plan Devon. I suggest you put “second edition,” “thoroughly revised and updated,” “expanded,” or other appropriate terms on the cover and in the sales material.

    I use e-junkie and Paypal to sell my e-books and have had few significant problems.
    John Soares recently posted…My Guest Post and Live Call on Carol Tice’s Make A Living Writing Blog

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    14 Devon Ellington August 11, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    Twitter: @DevonEllington

    That’s a great idea, John. Thank you! I’ll have to check out e-junkie; not familiar with them.
    Devon Ellington recently posted…Thursday, August 11, 2011

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    15 John Soares August 11, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    E-junkie is used by a lot of people who sell e-books and other information products, including some people who sell large quantities, like Darren Rowse of Problogger.
    John Soares recently posted…Write Faster: 12 Top Tips for Freelance Writers

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    16 Dave August 11, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    Twitter: @doolin

    I need to do a new edition of BPE, but it won’t be this year most likely. It’s a labor of love in many respects, which isn’t something the bottom line can afford at the moment.

    Reply

    17 John Soares August 11, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    There has to be adequate justification for a new edition, and having the time to do it and getting significant financial return are key considerations.
    John Soares recently posted…How to Make the Most of an Online Conference, Course, or Seminar

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    18 Pinar Tarhan August 14, 2011 at 5:18 AM

    Twitter: @zoeyclark

    I didn’t write a book, but I bought several books from bloggers/writers I admire.
    And unfortunately, one of these (e)books is in serious need of a new edition. The book gives invaluable advice about writing, and all the the tips are still applicable and relevant. However the resources section, a huge list, is filled with sites that stopped publishing content, disappeared from the web altogether, etc…
    I wish the writer would publish a second addition with a renewed resources list. It would make me feel better too:)
    Pinar Tarhan recently posted…Review of Wayne E. Pollard’s I’m Not Out of Work! I’m a Writer!!

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    19 John Soares August 14, 2011 at 6:23 AM

    Outdated information is one of the top reasons books and e-books need revising. It’s quite easy to fix in an e-book: update the relevant info, convert to PDF, load to server. It’s far more difficult and expensive with a print book, of course.
    John Soares recently posted…8 Ways to Increase the Joy of Writing

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    20 Pinar Tarhan August 14, 2011 at 6:34 AM

    Twitter: @zoeyclark

    I guess the writer didn’t want to spend more time researching her topic. I can understand the time constraints, but I wish she’d make the time to make her book even more useful. And as you pointed in your post, she really would make more money.

    And I agree that giving the new edition for free to a buyer of the old edition is a great way to gain permanent customers and supporters.
    Pinar Tarhan recently posted…Review of Wayne E. Pollard’s I’m Not Out of Work! I’m a Writer!!

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    21 Cathy Stucker September 7, 2011 at 6:21 PM

    Twitter: @CathyStucker

    John, an event that gets me thinking about a new edition is when I am about to run out of books. I self-publish a popular non-fiction book that I have offset printed, thousands of copies at a time. When stock runs low I ask myself if it is time for a reprint or a revised edition.

    If all I am doing is correcting a couple of typos and updating some links, I do not mark it as a revised edition. That is just a reprint. I update the print date on the back of the title page but keep the cover, ISBN and everything else the same. A new edition involves substantial rewriting.

    Although a new edition is a lot of work, when it is warranted it can lead to a lot of sales, as even previous customers want to own the new version.
    Cathy Stucker recently posted…Are Mermaids the New Vampires?

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    22 John Soares September 7, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    Cathy, that’s the same set of rules that Mountaineers Books, the publisher of my hiking guidebooks, uses. We actually just did a reprint of the third edition of 100 Classic Hikes in California, but all we did was change a few sentences, thus no “revised edition.”

    New editions really can lead to a big boost in sales, not only from previous customers, but also from those who want a book with current information.
    John Soares recently posted…My Review of Carol Tice’s Freelance Writers Den Membership Site

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    23 Belinda Sherman December 5, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    I recently pulled my ebooks off Payloadz, because they kept changing the links/terms/etc. John, love this question. I self-publish a popular non-fiction book that I have offset printed, thousands of copies at a time.
    Belinda Sherman recently posted…Cancer Tips

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    24 Christina Simon April 9, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    Twitter: @beyondbrochure

    Thanks for this post! I’m going to update my book with a second edition and your information has been very useful. My 2nd edition will be a substantial amount of new information for a 2009 self-published book that has sold very well.

    Reply

    25 John Soares April 10, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    Glad the info helped Christina. Best of luck with the new edition.
    John Soares recently posted…How to Have a Successful Coauthoring Relationship

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