Do overs and revised editions

People keep saying it – the beauty of being indie is your book can always evolve.  You can always repair and update your books.  The indie world never stands still.  People are forgiving.


ROCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 03: A general view of Restoration House, believed to be the inspiration for Satis House in Charles Dickens’ novel ‘Great Expectations’ on February 3, 2012 in Rochester, England. The bicentenary of Charles Dickens’ birth, one of England’s greatest ever authors, is marked on February 7, 2012. Dickens’ novels, written and set during the Victorian period, represent some of English literature’s most iconic texts. His work which concentrates largely on social injustice, continues to hold relevance with over 300 film and television adaptations based on his books. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

But there are some mistakes that are very difficult to forgive.  And what happens if you make one of them?
I was speaking to an indie author (who shall remain nameless) whose book had been edited, but for some reason she’d uploaded the wrong edition.  I’ve had it happen with clients too – they’ve taken my changes and either applied some or all of the changes, been happy with the end product, and then uploaded some edition that wasn’t it. Track changes can be a pain in the ass, to be fair.
I’ve heard too, from editors, whose clients upload their books and then blame the editors when they’ve missed something and it’s gone up with mistakes.  This is especially hard to take when we editors know we’ve fixed those issues, and we’ve done a metric tonne of work on the pieces.

And so, these people consider ‘do overs’.
And for most, this isn’t actually a bad idea.  Except….

What I’m talking about when I say ‘do over’ isn’t updating the file – it’s breaking the flow from where it is now, taking the book and uploading it again as a revised edition – lose all reviews/rankings etc.

If you’re getting panelled because your book has gone up without editing (accidentally or on purpose), if you’re getting slammed for formatting, or your book cover, it might seem really easy to just go ‘I give in’, pull the book and start again.
I know of a few authors who have opted for the ‘do over’.

Do overs are almost always instantly alienating.  People have to buy your book AGAIN if they want the revised edition.
And it’s almost like saying ‘I didn’t do it right – I didn’t follow advice’ .  And sure, your new readers won’t know anything about it, but there will be some that remember your book – if they buy it again, they’ll feel tricked.

And the problem is too, many authors gaining their back catalog back want do overs – they clean up the book, update it and et voila.  But often, because they’re only ‘cleaning’, they don’t bother with an editor or other services.  Which means that though you’re an established writer, your books still might be mistake riddled.
And I’ve seen a very few of these writers blame the original edition/publisher.  The mind just boggles.

KDP does kinda mitigate the edge of that, if you’re clever.  You could use your five days during a ‘do-over’ to ensure that people got the new book.  Promote the heck out of it, and give new readers your book free too.  Again though, you run the risk of alienating people – if they miss it or whatever.

There’s a second option – one that more authors opt for – the rebrand.  You can even call it a ‘revised’ edition, without removing it from the site.  You don’t NEED to unpublish.  Just upload the new file, et voilà!
And again, unlike traditional publishing, this is much easier to do.  It’s also less likely to alienate, but you will have to take your lumps for the book not being ready for primetime and those reviews will *always* remain.  It alienates less people but you don’t have the ‘clean slate’ people crave.

Either way – the best solution of course is to ensure your books are as close to perfect when you send them out.
What do you think?


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Kai Wilson-Viola writes under various names, and in all genres. Co-founder and webmistress of the IAG site, she writes content on request of members.
She has written several books including the Ten Hour Marketing Plan and 12x12 - tutorials for social media.
When not writing, she can be found maintaining sites, designing themes, managing a charity called the Less than Three foundation, gaming, knitting or reading.

0 thoughts on “Do overs and revised editions

  1. The only thing I can say is that Amazon is making it easier. Authors are not losing reviews by updating their file. Cover art, edited, new formatting etc. This is how you can sell a serial novel with 10 projected parts for 5 bucks when it first comes out and upload it with the second and the third etc. Amazon let’s your customers know and most of us watch for it. When I went to download the latest in my zombie serial I had 42 updates and it was new cover are, formatting and five that I knew had horrific editing issues were CLEAN! It was awesome! But ummm what you said, I think I lost my brain when I reviewed three books three days in a row and stayed up making a tarot card with my out house, sleep deprivation maybe to much.. MWAH!

    • I think revised editions are definitively the most ‘honest’ way to handle our book updates – that is, keep updating the file that’s up there and keep going with improving.
      I mean, yeah, at some point you have to give in and say ‘right, ok, I’m fine with this book now, I really need to focus on ‘NEW’, but I really don’t get authors that see reviews that say ‘your editing is bad, this is an issue, that is an issue’ and go running to lists complaining they’re being picked on. Uh… Isn’t there a minimum standard out there?
      I guess the other side of it is always going to be ‘some readers are never happy’ and there are some really nasty people out there who see indie and think ‘aha, another chance to post a one star zinger’.
      I might talk about that next week actually 😉 *hugs* thanks for the comment.

  2. I need new covers. I *know* I need new covers (I’m saving up!), I just hadn’t really realised when I started out that a cover was still important in the world of ebooks… daft, maybe, but mistakes are for learning 😉 I was just planning to update the existing editions.

  3. Great post. I completely agree that books should be as perfect as possible when they go up. However, as an Indie author I ran into unforeseen publishing snags and politics that forced a complete do over of my entire series.

    Luckily, as Kriss said, Amazon does make this much easier, although I have to struggle to regain my footing in that slippery market.

    I do hope that my case is an unusual one, and that all other authors reading this don’t run into the same snags that I did.

  4. My books are the best that they can be. I didn’t go charging into self-publishing without doing my homework first, so if there are typo’s, I’m sorry, but I’m not losing sleep over it. I just make it a habit to be more vigilant in proofreading with future books.

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