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How To Plan And Release A Second Edition Of Your Self-Published Book

How to Plan and Release a Second Edition of Your Self-Published Book

Karen Williams Author

Karen Williams, Author and Mentor

In this post from the Alliance of Independent Authors, we are joined by guest blogger Karen Williams; bestselling book mentor, author of 10 books, and a TEDx speaker.

Karen shares her advice and experience on releasing a second edition of a self-published book; answering key questions and recommending what you should consider.

For this post, we'll be focusing on non-fiction books, but many of the tips here can also be applied to a second-edition fiction release.  

Your book needs to be changed or is out of date, what can you do?

One of the problems with writing a non-fiction book in particular is that it’s never going to be complete. There will always be things you wish to add or things you want (or need) to change. But if you wait until your book is perfect, then you’ll never get it out there.

There are some simple ways to prevent your book from going out of date quickly. For example, you can have a page on your website for links and other useful bonus material, rather than including pieces of potentially changeable information in the book itself.

Another option, particularly for more substantial changes, is to consider producing a second or third edition of your book. If you have published your book independently, then the process doesn’t need to be difficult.

In this blog, I will answer some of the questions I’m often asked when it comes to creating a second edition of your book. I found out many of these things by accident when I launched a second edition of Book Marketing Made Simple in 2023, and – as a book mentor – I have worked with some of my clients in this area too.

If you are making changes to a book, do you need to release a second edition?

The word change in lights photo

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

If you want to make minor changes (and I mean minor!) to your published book and the changes do not significantly alter the content, structure or presentation of your book, then it’s unlikely you will need to publish a second edition. These could include things like correcting a couple of errors, minor formatting changes, and design tweaks.

If the changes you want to make are more extensive, such as updates or revisions to the text, adding new material, layout changes, or a new cover (this list is not exhaustive), then you will need to produce a second edition of your book.

When might you create a second edition of your book?

A couple of years ago, changes in legislation forced one of my clients to do a rapid review of her book and release a second edition as a result. Another of my clients is updating her book to reach a new market. I updated my book in response to significant changes in the book industry and emerging trends.

Although there is never a good time to produce a second edition of your book, if there has been a change in your industry, or you want to release a second edition to coincide with a particular event, or you simply have the time to do it, then here are four steps to consider.

  1. Decide what content needs to be revised for a second edition

If you have made the decision to release a second edition of your book, then it makes sense to do it properly if you have the time. So, the first step is to decide what needs to be changed and how you are going to make these changes.

When I revised Book Marketing Made Simple, I booked a cottage in the countryside to make a start. I knew I would get so much more done if I was away from my office and had focused time to work on the revisions. I took a physical copy of my book to read and used Post-it notes to mark different areas in the book that I wanted to update and change.

You might find it easier to go back to scratch with your book, in which case you could start with a big piece of paper and Post-it notes or create a mind map to get you focused.

Bear in mind that what you might initially think will be a simple update may morph beyond recognition. This is what happened to me in 2023. What I thought would take me a few weeks landed up taking six months. But the book was better as a result. I added 20% more words and 80% of the content was new or updated. Although this might not happen to you, be mindful that this could take place!

Here’s a checklist of some areas you might consider reviewing:

  • Changes in your field – What’s happened since your book was first published? Are there significant changes to your industry or trends that need to be reflected in the copy?
  • Facts, statistics, references and data – It’s useful to review, fact-check and update any information referenced from external sources. This could include things like technological or legal updates. Obtain new permissions if necessary.
  • Content expansion – You may want to consider what new content you might want to add. This could relate to changes in your knowledge and expertise since your book was originally published. You can also consider removing any content that is no longer relevant.
  • Tone of voice – Has your voice or style changed since you originally published your book? If so, you might find yourself rewriting part or all of the book.
  • Structure – If you want to make changes to significant parts of the book, will this impact on the structure of the content? You may decide to remove or add new chapters or sections.
  • Visuals – If you have visuals in your book, such as diagrams or illustrations, do they need to be reviewed or updated?
  • Feedback – If you’ve had comments from readers about typos, errors or corrections in the first edition, or subjects they would like you to add to your book, then this is the perfect time to make these changes.
  • Expert input, stories and case studies – If you have sought input from other people in your book, are these still relevant? Do you have new stories or case studies to include?
  • Foreword and reviews – If your book has been published a while, you could update the foreword and include new endorsements.
  • Acknowledgements – For example, if you have previously released the book under a traditional publisher and are now releasing afresh independently, it is usual to include a reference to this in the copyright information of the new edition, such as: ‘Previously published under {original book title} in {original publishing date} by {publishers name}'. In this situation, always ensure you have the correct rights and agreements to launch your book again before doing so. 
  • About you – Have you changed since you published the first edition? Consider updating information about yourself in the introduction, the ‘about the author’ page or back cover blurb.
  1. Create a timeline and edit your second edition manuscript

Magnifying glass on book

Photo by ethan on Unsplash

Once you have identified the areas you wish to revise and the extent of the changes, the next thing to do is to establish a clear timeline. Believe me, it will probably take much longer than you think! Schedule time in your diary and create a plan for it to happen.

To make it easier to create a second edition, when you publish the first edition of your book, ensure you have an editable latest version of your book that you can use. When you are ready to get stuck into creating a second edition, the last thing you want to do is have to type it out again or convert a typeset copy into MS Word or Google Docs.

I advise you to get a professional copyeditor/proofreader to ensure your updated book is polished and free from errors. Agree in advance how they would like the changes presented. For less extensive changes, tracked changes and comments may be appropriate. For more detailed changes, you might start from scratch with a new document.

Consider also, depending upon the extent of the changes, whether you might want to have existing or new Beta reviewers review your book before you publish your second edition.

  1. Plan the book design and publishing for your second edition

You will need a new ISBN for the second edition, as this distinguishes the second edition from the first. I would also consider having a new cover designed. It’s probably time for a refresh anyway. Make sure you update the copyright page, and you may explicitly indicate that it’s a second edition with a banner on the cover or in the back cover blurb.

When you publish the second edition, consider whether you want to remove the first edition from online sale. One downside of publishing a second edition is the fact that you cannot transfer your reviews to the second edition, so it may be better to keep both listed for now. If you do this, ensure you clearly indicate early in the online listings that the second edition is the latest version of the book.

Be aware that you will have to submit the second edition to the British Library if you are based in the UK. Check the rules in your territory.

Finally, ensure you consider whether e-book and audiobook editions will also need to be updated.

  1. Develop a marketing and launch plan for your second edition

I’d advise that your marketing of a second edition is as comprehensive as if you were launching a book for the first time. This means creating a marketing plan to attract your ideal readers as you edit your book and when you launch.

Although the components will change depending upon your market, here are some of the things I did to market and launch the second edition of Book Marketing Made Simple. As I was launching a book about book marketing, I wanted to ensure I was walking my talk when I published the book!

  • I ensured my community were involved in the process. I shared updates on social media and with those on my mailing list. Leading up to my launch date, I recorded weekly video blogs to show people the process of creating a second edition.
  • I followed (and updated) my own Amazon bestseller process for the launch, had a community of people supporting the launch and it became an Amazon bestseller. I updated the sales pages in line with the new content in the book.
  • I launched the Business Book Bites podcast off the back of my book, with the first series focusing on interviews with many of the experts who had contributed to the second edition (all of which had been reviewed and revised in the edits).
  • I also had a wider plan to get in front of other people’s audiences with podcast interviews and speaking engagements after the book was launched.

Final word – do you really need a second edition of your book?

I didn’t find creating a second edition of my own book as easy as I’d initially hoped, so here’s one more thing to consider. Do you actually need to create a second edition of your book?

While this is the appropriate action for many, in some cases you might find it more advantageous to write a brand-new book from scratch, especially if you are focusing on a different angle, pivoting to support a new audience, or wanting to tackle a new subject.

I hope you have learnt from my experiences and can short-cut the process to make it as easy as it can possibly be to release a second edition of your book!

About Karen Williams

Karen Williams is The Book Mentor at Librotas. After starting out in business in 2006, and writing her first book in 2009, Karen knows the difference that writing a book can make to your business when done well.

Over the last 10 years, she has worked with hundreds of coaches, experts and leaders who have a story to tell or a message to share. She takes them through the whole process of writing a book, from idea to final manuscript and launch, so that their book helps them to attract more clients, raise their credibility and show up in a bigger way. You can follow Karen on LinkedIn, Facebook, X and other social channels.

Find out more:

Once you've launched your second edition, you may be wondering… what next? Take a look at our recent blog post answering just that, here: What Do I Do When a Book Launch is Over? 

Text reads 'Non-fiction marketing strategy for indie authors' with image of a piece of paper on a desk saying 'marketing strategy'For more guidance on marketing and promotion specifically for non-fiction authors, you can take a look at our post exploring strategies and steps here: Non-Fiction Marketing Strategies for Indie Authors


Thoughts or further questions on this post or any self-publishing issue?

Question mark in light bulbs

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

If you're an ALLi member, head over to the SelfPubConnect forum for support from our experienced community of indie authors, advisors, and our own ALLi team. Simply create an account (if you haven't already) to request to join the forum and get going.

Non-members looking for more information can search our extensive archive of blog posts and podcast episodes packed with tips and advice at ALLi's Self-Publishing Advice Centre.


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