Time for a Second Edition

If you are an Indy author who just published your latest book, should you consider a second edition of your original novel to clean up the formatting problems with the first edition?

In my case, the answer to that question is easy: Yes. John and I are currently finalizing a second edition of the paperback version of our novel 60th Hour to correct a lot of annoying formatting glitches.

At the time we published 60th Hour last year, neither of us really knew how to prepare a book for publication. We had contributed to the Emerald Cove short story anthologies, but others had done the actual formatting of the manuscripts for the ebook. The anthologies were never released in paperback.

In the beginning of March 2020, John and I decided to try our hand at self-publishing. I took the various “Kindle University” video classes and learned about the steps necessary for publication. We decided to release our first novel in both ebook and paperback formats.

The Kindle edition of the book (the ebook) turned out to be fairly easy to produce. Because the reader of an ebook can change the font sizes to make them larger or smaller, the manuscript requires special formatting. Amazon has excellent tools to produce that kind of novel. All you have to do is plug in your manuscript, follow some directions and suddenly you have an ebook. (All right, I’ll admit that the process was not quite that simple, but overall it was straightforward and the tools provided worked very well.)

Likewise, the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) book cover creator was both easy and fun to use. I am no artist, but I had a great time playing with various ideas for the cover.

Kindle University also has detailed instructions for how to format a paperback, but in March 2020, those seemed long and complex to me, especially given the ease of producing an ebook. When I discovered that I could upload the same ebook-formatted manuscript to use for the paperback, I jumped at the chance.

Sadly, that was my first mistake. A different paperback book might be just fine using the ebook formatting, but 60th Hour had a few quirks that made publishing especially challenging.

In particular, many of the early chapters of the manuscript had been written in the 1990’s using WordPerfect software, not Microsoft Word. The chapters were later converted to Word and the remainder of the manuscript was written in various versions of Word, but the conversion apparently left some hidden formatting within the text. As soon as that manuscript became a KDP paperback, those hidden commands caused extra spaces to appear at random intervals between some of the paragraphs. In addition, all the “widow/orphan” protection disappeared, so it was possible to have the final page of a chapter contain only a single sentence or a few words. While those glitches did not keep someone from reading the paperback version of the book, they were obvious and annoying.

My second mistake was that I did not order a “galley proof” of the paperback book to review before publishing. A lot of the formatting issues were present when I reviewed the uploaded manuscript on my computer screen as part of the publishing process. However, I naively assumed that the problems were because of the video nature of what I reviewed and that they would be gone when the physical paperback book came out. Had I taken the time to order a galley proof and review it, I would have realized that all those formatting glitches remained present in the paperback book. What I had viewed in that video version was exactly what was printed in the paperback.

For the past year, I had intended to produce a second edition of 60th Hour, but it was never a high priority. Then, when John and I published Prophecy’s Malignant Son in July 2021, I discovered that people were buying the paperback version of 60th Hour. Suddenly, those embarrassing formatting errors became important again.

So, John and I started the process of preparing the second edition of the book. This time, we are doing it right — I am following all of Amazon’s guidelines for formatting paperback books, and I ordered a galley proof copy which should arrive tomorrow.

With luck, the second edition will be finalized and ready for publication next week.

Then we get to start a whole new experience….(drum roll)….trying to advertise our two books on Amazon. Wish us luck!

Susan 8/27/2021

Those Little Formatting Oddities

I love books. I love libraries. I love bookstores. That beautiful paper fragrance in a second-hand bookstore is a wonderful thing. When I was a kid, in addition to visiting our local library, my family would occasionally drive to downtown San Diego to visit the huge public library. It was (and still is) an amazing place.

Emerald Cove released its first two anthologies (Kidnapped! and Stolen!) solely as ebooks. They were never intended to be paperbacks. The text size and other formatting in an ebook can change depending on the preference of the reader and the type of e-reader used. As an ebook author, you can’t stress too much about formatting, because you really don’t control it.

However, when John and I published 60th Hour, in addition to ebook format, we decided to publish a paperback version as well. (Did I mention that I love books?) The ebook came out first, and then I spent time formatting the paperback. Despite my appalling lack of technical competency, it was fun to play with the text and try different formats: “Oh look, John! You can make the first letter of the first paragraph of each chapter large and bold, like they do in real books!”

Until the print version went live and I got my author’s copy in the mail, I did not realize two things. First: all the little formatting oddities that I saw on the screen would still be there in the paperback. For example, when I added those large first letters, the paragraph text around them condensed in a weird way compared to the other paragraphs. I naively thought that issue was just a problem with the computer screen and would correct itself in the print version. Likewise, I assumed the extra spaces that appeared between some of the paragraphs for no reason I could fathom would undoubtedly be gone later. (Haha! Silly me.)

Second: I didn’t realize that all those formatting oddities looked better on a large computer screen than they did in a printed book. That sentence hanging at the end of Chapter One seemed like no big deal when I was reviewing digital pages side-by-side. When I flipped through the paperback, however, the hanging sentence made me wince.

There are even a couple of typos in the text. *cringe* Question: How many proofreaders does it take to catch a typo? Answer: At least one more than you used to review your manuscript.

At some point in the near future, there will be a second edition paperback version of 60th Hour to correct those formatting errors and typos. I’m not exactly sure when that will happen, but it will certainly be before Emerald Cove publishes Haunted!

Hah! Maybe I should use the weird formatting as a marketing tool: Hey all you book collectors, buy your first edition paperback with all those formatting oddities now, before the corrected version is released!

Or maybe not.

-Susan 8/21/20