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This is a guest post from my friend Lindsey Nubern, author of 501 Questions: A Travel Game.
Earlier this year, I asked Heath, “Should I update my book?” It’s a few years old and there were a few out of date sections that I knew I could get updated in a couple of days. But I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it. Would it boost sales? Would I have to publish a whole new book, or could I just update the file?
Little did I know, Lindsey was working through these same questions as she updated her book. I’ve asked her to write a guest blog on how to know if you can or should update your book.
You published your book a while ago and now you’ve had time to see the response. You’ve seen your book gain traction; however, critiques and negative reviews keep you up at night and you’ve been keeping track of a list of updates you want to make on your phone. With another winter of COVID ahead of us, you’ve considered taking the time to update your book, but you haven’t taken the plunge yet.
Here are five things to think about if you should take on this project and if now’s the right time to go for it.
In February 2020, I was in your shoes. My game 501 Questions: A Travel Game had been out for year, the game just had a successful holiday season, and it had received many great reviews and a few critiques that were bothering me.
Also, for a year, I had been flirting with the idea to change the interior from color to black and white. A few months after publishing the original game, I realized I could lower the game’s printing costs and make double the royalty for each sale by simply changing the interior from color to black and white. In January 2020, I was trying to decide if making a second edition was a worthwhile investment of my time and resources.
Here are five things I considered before deciding to start the second edition. I want to share these thoughts with you to think about if now’s the right time for you to update your book.
1. Are there items in your book that need to be updated?
First, since you’ve published your book, are there items within your book that you know need to be updated? Have any concepts or steps changed? Or, maybe you need to do another read through with fresh eyes to make sure everything is still up-to-date.
For example, my game 501 Questions: A Travel Game includes 180 travel trivia questions that I knew I needed to double-check if the answers were still correct. As I started going through the game’s questions, I found several trivia answers that needed updating.
One exciting change was the question: “Which planet in our solar system has the most moons?” The original game was published in 2018. Back then the answer was Jupiter with 79 moons. However, in 2019 scientists found 20 more moons around Saturn. With that discovery, we now know Saturn has the most moons with 82 moons! I definitely needed to update that question.
2. Have you received feedback you can improve on?
Have you received suggestions from readers or have some negative reviews been keeping you up at night? We’ve all received negative reviews on our books and no matter how many great and kind reviews we receive, the negative ones have their hold in our minds. I’ve received 66 reviews as of writing this, but the two negative reviews I’ve received have stuck with me:
“Underwhelmed: This book is cute and will be entertaining, but the word “book” is really misleading here. It’s almost a pamphlet. The book is very small, flimsy, and almost the size of something you’d find in a cereal box. For $5, this wouldn’t have been an issue and I’d have given this a great review. For nearly $15, this feels like a bit of a scam/ripoff. The book will be fun but whenever we use it I’ll be thinking, ‘I paid $15 for this thing!?’ “
“Not for travel trivia fans: Overall disappointed with this. Bought it after hearing about it on a travel podcast but only one of four sections is travel questions. The other topic areas are general discussion questions like ‘would you rather’ ‘tell me about’ or ‘if you could’. The answers travel trivia questions then don’t give a lot of detail for example for answer to ‘which is the largest continent?’ It just says ‘Australia’ as opposed to ‘Australia which is xyz acres’
These reviews have hurt.
However, by updating my book, I could make these improvements. I could add more questions and bulk up the game so it’s not as “small and flimsy” but also keep it minimal to pack on trips (keeping it small and minimal was intentional).
And, I could provide more fun information in the trivia answers so we can learn more of the why behind the answers. I also thought, if these two people felt this way and took the time to share their critiques, maybe others felt disappointed when they received the game, too, and that’s not the feeling I wanted customers to have!
Now, after launching the second edition of my game 501 Questions: A Travel Game, I received this review:
“This book leaves my entire family begging for “one more question” every time! We love them all, but our favorite category is challenging travel trivia. We are learning so much! We have laughed together more as we answer and discuss questions than ever before. We have done questions at the dinner table, in the car, and with friends and family. It’s a great resource and there are so many questions, it’ll be a very long time before we get through them all!”
While negative reviews are a part of selling any product, this is a great chance to address them and improve your book.
3. Can you save money on printing or earn more royalty with a new version?
Is there a way you can save money on printing costs so you can have more flexibility in the price of your book? Or, is there a way you can make more royalty on each sale? Maybe you can change your page count or change your interior from color to black and white.
After publishing the first edition of my game that was printed in color, I realized I could lower the printing cost by half if the game was printed in black and white. With this change, I could have more flexibility with the price of the book like the negative review suggested above. Or, with the book at the same price, I could make double the royalty with each book sale.
Also, since I published my book, I became a mom and my perspective changed. I envisioned every extra dollar I earned going toward my little boy’s college fund and I had a new motivation to be more strategic.
You may think the printing cost between color and black and white would have been obvious to me while I was creating the first edition, but I was so focused on the “fun user experience” with the game that I thought the interior color was important and I was willing to have a higher print cost.
However, after publishing the game and as I was considering changing the interior to black and white, I asked friends and family if they thought the color was important. All of their responses were they either couldn’t remember it was in color even though they’d played the game or they all thought the value of the game was in the questions, not in the interior color. I took their feedback and thought with the right graphic designer, I could make the interior fun even with black and white.
Is there a way for you to save money on printing or increase your royalty on each sale? To see if you could save on printing costs or earn more royalty, you can access KDP’s print cost and royalty calculator here.
4. What does updating your book look like? Update vs. 2nd Edition vs. Volume II
As you’ve gone through these thoughts to consider, you may be ready to start updating your book. However, KDP’s updating standards may determine which path you take: a simple update to your current book’s file, a big update needing a new edition of your book, or a whole new volume of your book!
If you’ve self-published with KDP, you can see how to update your book here. This may give you clarity on what path you’re update will take.
For my situation, I realized with KDP changing the interior from color to black and white wasn’t a simple fix of uploading a new version of the book’s file. With that type of change, I’d have to make a new book as a second edition with its own Amazon listing.
This meant I was starting from scratch with my listing and reviews. That felt like a big undertaking, but with my new perspective, I thought it was worth it and I decided I would slowly work on it during my son’s naps each day.
So, since I knew I was creating a whole new second edition and listing on Amazon, I decided it was my opportunity to change a lot and improve the game based on the critiques the book received. I changed the cover, the interior from color to black and white, the interior design, the trivia answers, and I added 250 questions to the game. Now that the second edition is published, I can see myself creating a Volume II in the future with a whole new set of questions for people who like the original version.
Do you have clarity on how updating your book will look? Is it updating your current file, creating a second edition, or volume two? You can see KDP’s updating standards here and you can always connect with Customer Service.
5. Do you have the capacity for it right now?
We’re coming up on our second winter with COVID, and I’m already feeling a change in my schedule and meeting up less and less with other people outside. Is this a season you may have an extra thirty minutes or hour every day to update your book and work on it? Could you wake up 45 minutes early, stay up 45 minutes later, or spend an hour on Saturday morning dedicated to it? This season of life may already be too much and updating your book may need to wait—that’s okay.
Like I shared earlier, I had trivia that needed updating, I had negative reviews concerning issues I could answer and improve on with the second edition, and I also knew if I changed the interior I could earn more with each sale. This meant I would be making a whole new Amazon listing. It’d be a big endeavor, but I had a feeling it would be worth it.
Do you feel like you can commit a small chunk of time every day or week to you updating your book or creating a new edition?
If you need guidance and accountability, I recommend reading Chandler Bolt’s book Published. He promises to guide you in writing a book and launching a best seller in 90 days. I’ve used this on my journey to launching both my first edition and second edition of 501 Questions: A Travel Game. The book’s given me the steps to take to have the motivation and encouragement to go for it. I also connect every Monday with an accountability partner who’s also working on a book, so we can keep each other accountable to making progress, encourage one another, and problem-solving together.
I started working on the second edition designs with my designer Margo from High Mountain Creative in March and I launched the second edition in November. It was a long and slow nine-month journey. With a little time dedicated every day or week (depending on the week) and with the support of my editor, my accountability partners, and launch team, the second edition is now in the world! We did it!
I wish you the best on your journey of updating or creating your next book whether you’re starting now or in the future!
In the meantime, if you’re looking for fun, laughter, and good conversation on your road trips, around the campfire, or zooming with family and friends, get our new game 501 Questions: A Travel Game Second Edition! You’ll get 750 questions and trivia to unplug, get to know your travel pals better, and make the time fly!
Like Lindsey, I ultimately decided to take a couple of days to read through and update my book. I found typos, fixed things that were no longer accurate, and instead of listing a completely new book, I just updated the book file and cover. I had over 500 reviews I did not want to lose!
As far as sales go, I launched the new updated version of the book early in March:
This gave a major boost in sales (this chart also shows a great COVID dip in April) and sales kept coming in throughout the year. Is it because I updated the book or because everyone bought an RV this year? That I can’t answer. But I’m certain updating the book only helped!
For more on how to publish your own book, check out the courses in our RV Entrepreneur School.