One aspect of writing and publishing (self, professional or otherwise) that doesn’t always get talked about is the subject of editions. To tell the truth, it’s kind of a boring subject, not to mention it’s one that the writer and publisher doesn’t always want to talk about, for various reasons. With professional publishing, the idea of a second edition is sometimes seen as a distant hope; the publishing house only goes into multiple editions once it’s seen that the book is a big seller, and that the original run of however-many copies has been accounted for. This happens with much less frequency than one expects; this is also why writers are often super-paranoid about possible errors before it has its first print.
With the self-published writer, especially for one like myself that’s just starting out, one might not want to tell one and all, “Hey, I have a new edition of my book/e-book available!”, for the reason that it could be read as “hey, I just uploaded the latest version of my book, which doesn’t have bad formatting and other embarrassing mistakes!” It’s better just upload the new version and just keep it on the QT, and hope no one noticed.
But new editions of your self-published e-book don’t necessarily have to be a bad, embarrassing thing. Well — for the first edition of the physical book you should at least make sure that the formatting is tight and there’s no weird errors, but that’s another post entirely. [This is the main reasons A Division of Souls is still e-book only at this time. I’m about to start in with the Big Galley Fix starting today, so hopefully within the next few weeks it will finally be available at Amazon.] But future uploaded versions of your already-released book doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.
Upon finishing her reading of the ADoS galley, my wife stated that I have to go on a strict diet of NO ELLIPSES. I will totally cop to using that punctuation WAY too much (that, em dashes, and italics), to the point that I’ve trained myself to cut them nearly 99% of the time in future editing projects. The Persistence of Memories doesn’t have nearly as many as ADoS did, but I’ve managed to quash nearly all of them. Most of them are hiding in dialogue, where I want the client to…well…you know…kind of avoid having to reveal something they need to reveal, but it can also slow down the flow considerably. I’ve learned to use when and where necessary, and only then.
She also mentioned that, since it contains a large cast, some of which are mentioned early on but not mentioned again for some time. I’d been on the fence on this one, to tell the truth. Luckily, among all the notes and outtakes for the Mendaihu Universe is a solid dramatis personae that I can add before the main text.
The next edition of ADoS will contain a few formatting errors I missed (such as the Case of the Curiously Vanishing Pilcrow), some minor edits, a dramatis personae, as well as the deletion of a number of said ellipses. The cover will remain the same for the e-book, but still want to toy around with the spine for the physical book, as I’m still not happy with it.
Will this lessen the worth of the book? In terms of self-publishing: not entirely. The mistake made here is the belief that once you have the book out there, for good or ill, it’s out in publish and any mistakes will be points off your credibility. I made peace with that some time ago; I still find glaring formatting and editing errors in professionally published books, which just goes to prove we’re never dead-on perfect the first time out. While it’s great to want your best work out there, focus on the story and the execution mostly, and do your best with the editing and formatting. We readers will forgive you if your character’s name is spelled Rbfrit instead of Robert in exactly one place on page 276. It happens.
Again with the music parallel: you’re re-releasing your album because it’s been remastered, not because you hated your vocals on a few tracks and chose to completely rerecord them. You’re reuploading the album because Jimmy hit a bum bass note on Track 8 and a quick ProTools edit made it go away. In short, you’ve already uploaded some of your best work to date; you’re just making it even better this time out. [And believe you me, there are some fans out there who will buy the ‘remastered’ version — and I’m talking books now, not music. If they enjoy the story that much, they’ll have your back.]
So yes — don’t be afraid if you see a minor error in your self-published book. Go right ahead and make those fixes and reupload the file to whatever platform you’re using. It’s totally up to you if you want to make it publicly known that it’s a new edition, but don’t fear it. Use it to your advantage.