Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Christian Authors: Second Edition vs. New Title

For the author / self-publisher, not only is there the whole writing / researching / listening / editing process, the effort to get the book in published form, and the exceptional amount of time spent marketing with advertising, relationship building and developing social media, there is also the effort to produce a second edition. If I am honest with myself, I must admit that I made mistakes in each of my books that I now want to correct.

I must not be alone as evidenced in the non-fiction world by the large number of second editions that are released. In fact, I know one very scholarly man that will never read the first edition of a book because he realizes that the kinks are still up for grabs.

Second Edition vs. New Title
In the case of Joshua's Spiritual Warfare, I've been considering a second edition. I think that the basic flow of the book is probably satisfactory, but some text needs to be removed and replaced because it is either not current or not consistent with my current theology. There are a few typos and there is one chapter that I would like to re-write for greater clarity.

My second book, A Topical Treasury of Proverbs, was written to meet a publisher's deadline. I was not the publisher with that book; working against this time schedule, I am not happy with the quality of that manuscript. I have spent a large part of 2011 preparing a yet unnamed title that in some ways is similar to the first book, but in most ways is a significant overhaul of the original text. When finished, my hope is to self-publish this manuscript.

In my case, I contacted the publisher to ensure that I have the legal right to self-publish this. We reached an agreement that I believe is equitable for both of us. I do not know if they will keep the first book in print once I release the second. It doesn't matter to me because the two are so significantly different.

If your modifications are very small, possibly changing the wording in a few paragraphs or replacing a few photographs, things of that nature, it may not be necessary to release a second edition. If I were to replace a photograph or two in A Garden of Love and fix the use of italics in several places, that would not require a second edition. I would simply submit the revised text to my printer, paying whatever small fees they may charge for this effort. On the copyright page, I would add a note about the second printing with a date, but that is not necessary; in the print-on-demand world, there are few hard and fast rules.

A second edition should be used when the reader would discern a different flavor of the text. There may be substantial editing of some chapters, adding some significant insight that was not in the first, or removing a portion that is not appropriate. Second editions require a new ISBN number; small modifications do not require a new ISBN.

In my case, a new title is warranted for the book on Proverbs. The table of contents is very different from the first book. The flow of the manuscript is substantially different and there is a considerable amount of new content that was not in the first. Also, a good amount has been removed from what was in the first book. Most importantly, the original publisher is not involved with this second title. I have domain expertise in this area of Proverbs, and that is something the publisher does not own.

Should you simply modify your existing text, call your new effort a second edition, or come out with a new title? I don't know and probably don't have the answers. In part it is a marketing question, asking, "How do I best build on the exposure that the title has achieved?" Hopefully my examples with help some shed light on your scenario.