If you’ve self-published a non-fiction book, chances are you didn’t lose interest in your subject matter a year after the book came out, whether your topic was woodworking or business management. In fact, you’ve probably kept up with the latest developments in your field and come up with some new ideas and techniques of your own in the time since your book was published.
If this is indeed the case, it might be time to think about releasing a second edition. Releasing an updated edition of a successful book is not only satisfying intellectually—it can also give a nice boost to your book’s sales for considerably less work than it takes to write a brand new book.
Here are some tips for making your second edition a success.
Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation
Keep a “marked-up” copy of your book (or print out a copy of your e-book) and highlight errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation as you encounter them. If readers e-mail you to point out errors, mark them in this copy. Keeping a physical copy makes it easier to track errors and gives you something against which to compare your revised copy.
You can also make corrections on the computer and use the “compare documents” feature in Microsoft Word to compare your original manuscript against your revised manuscript to ensure that you’ve caught all your mistakes.
Factual Errors and Misquotations
Create an “errata” file on your computer. As factual errors and misquotations come to your attention, log them in this document. Before you publish your second edition, check your facts and quotations and revise as necessary.
Some “facts” that were true at the time of your book’s original publication may no longer be so, or they may have been disproven by more recent research. Be sure to double-check all facts and figures you quote in your book to be sure they’re still accurate.
In order to be worth buying, a second edition must offer much more than mere corrections. To give your second edition added value, do your research. What new discoveries have been made since you wrote the first edition of your book? How has the public’s attitude towards your subject changed? Have there been any notable scientific, technological or political developments related to your book’s topic?
Part of the joy of releasing a second edition is getting to include all the nifty things you’ve learned since writing the first one. Don’t hesitate to add new chapters, or to scrap old sections that are no longer relevant.
The world is not the only thing that’s changed since your book was originally published. Chances are you’ve changed too—and your attitude toward your subject may have shifted since you first wrote your book.
If your attitude about your subject matter has changed dramatically, you may be better off writing a brand new book. But if you’ve refined your views subtly, you might find that writing a new introduction is enough to reflect these changes. You can also revise individual sentences and paragraphs throughout your book that no longer fit your views.
To add extra value to your second edition, don’t neglect the special features. Many revised editions feature an expanded resource section or appendix, new case studies and research, or even special web features available only to buyers of the second edition. All these “extras” help to set your second edition apart from the first one and convince readers to buy.
Spreading the Word
When you’re ready to release an updated edition of your non-fiction book, be sure to highlight its new features on the front or back cover and on all marketing materials. A new cover goes a long way towards creating excitement and setting your new book apart from the old edition, so invest in a good designer. Finally, be sure to freshen up your website before you publish the second edition—a good idea no matter what, but especially important when you’re about to make a first (or rather a second) impression.