FYI for authors: updating a published book–it’s not as easy as you think…

Recently I updated Naughty Words for Nice Writers, a sex scene thesaurus I originally published  two years ago. Revising the book itself was easy; re-publishing the updated version hit some snags. I thought I’d share my experience so you’ll know what to expect if you ever update a book.

Changing the blurb, the price, the genre or keywords is a cinch; that’s not what I’m referring to. By updating I mean the content of the book itself. I wrote a lot of new material for Naughty Words, adding information to existing sections and writing brand new chapters. Also, I changed the subtitle, which necessitated redoing covers for the ebook and paperback.

I probably could have gotten a new ISBN and re-released the “2nd edition”  as a brand new book but I wanted to keep my reviews (they’re rave reviews!). I know if you release an old book with a new ISBN, Amazon Author Central can transfer the reviews, but I wasn’t sure if  they would carry over reviews from a 1st edition to a 2nd edition and didn’t want to risk it.

So: revised book, new subtitle and cover, same ISBN…

First little glitch: I went to CreateSpace to upload the new files and discovered the subtitle was locked. The title and subtitle are tied to the ISBN, and the system doesn’t allow to you change them. Eek! Fortunately, the fix was quick: I phoned CreateSpace customer service; and they changed the subtitle for me lickety split over the phone. Lesson learned: you can change your subtitle, but you’re going to have to contact customer service to do it.

Second little glitch: I uploaded my new book file and new cover to Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace. When I got the email from KDP that the book had been published, I checked the listing. The old cover was still on the site. My author dashboard showed the new cover, but everyone else would see the old one! AND, the LOOK INSIDE feature wasn’t updated either. It showed the old content.  My new blurb talked about the new content, but if buyers”looked inside” at the table of contents, they would think they were looking at the old version! I phoned Amazon Author Central and they transferred my call to Kindle Direct Publishing where I spoke to a real live person in India who told me it takes 72 hours for the cover updates to show up. I didn’t fully trust him, but I had no recourse but to wait. In the end, the update took about 48 hours. Lesson learned: some updates don’t take effect immediately.

Tip: If you’re wondering how to call Author Central, you can find out in this blog post. There is no way to phone KDP directly, but Author Central will transfer the call. 🙂

Third little glitch: From having accidentally clicked on a book I’d already purchased, I knew Amazon won’t let customers buy the same ebook twice. So how could my readers of the first ebook get the updated one? I checked the Help section of KPD and found that if there are significant errors that have been corrected in an updated version, Amazon will notify customers that an updated version is available. But Naughty Words didn’t have errors–it had new content.

I emailed KDP Customer Service, explained the situation and requested they notify customers about the update.  They sent me a form response, restating their policy (that I’d already read and that didn’t address my issue) and saying that if the errors weren’t corrected in my manuscript, they would remove it from publication. What??? Freak out time. The book was live, and I’d planned to announce the launch in two days!

I replied to their email and told them they didn’t address my issue, it appeared they didn’t even read my question, and emphasized there were no errors. There was only new content. I got an email back, this one more personal (with an apology for freaking me out), and they said they’d look into sending out an update notice.

I think it was two days later that I learned that customers who had purchased the first edition of Naughty Words got their books automatically updated.

Lesson learned: I tried to do a good thing for my readers, but I almost shot myself in the foot. But I also learned that if you get the standard unhelpful form response from KDP, if you persist, you can get a personalized response.

Special note: If you want to receive whatever updates are available for any book, you have to turn on automatic updates on Amazon in “Manage Your Content and Devices.” Instructions here.

Naughty Word for Nice Writers blurb

If finding the right words for your romantic sex scene is challenging, Naughty Words for Nice Writers can help. USA Today Bestselling Author Cara Bristol has written a thesaurus for romance authors to help you find the appropriate words to make your sex scene sizzle.

Naughty Words for Nice Writers is packed with more than 2,000 usable, functional synonyms geared for romance, erotic romance, and erotica. Included are more than 50 word lists for male and female anatomy, foreplay, orgasm, kissing, sex scene locations, specific sexual acts, sexual noises, spanking terminology, and much more. The guide offers suggestions on how to write a sex scene and how to tighten your writing so it sings.

With an emphasis on verbs, this guide will help you “show” the intimacy between your characters rather than tell it. Whether you’re writing a “fade to black” scene or a graphic and explicit one, Naughty Words for Nice Writers will provide the tools.

Naughty Words on Amazon – Click Look Inside to see the updated Table of Contents 

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6 Responses to FYI for authors: updating a published book–it’s not as easy as you think…

  1. Cara:

    You might want to get friends in other countries to check updates on their country site, too.

    I learned (also the hard way) that sometimes individual *servers* on Amazon don’t update, and depending on what server your IP address calls on, you will see the old or the new version.

    Which is what has created the anomaly for me where occasionally, people see one of my permafree books with a price on it, even though it’s free for other readers in that country.

    It’s frustrating, but even Amazon don’t seem to be able to fix it — or even see the problem, come to that.


  2. I updated all my covers and Amazon won’t even send that edition to ME, even if I delete and redownload my book. Very frustrating. I wish they’d update a LOT of things. It’s like each vendor does some things good, but not all of them. lol

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Yeah, the changes have to be pretty significant before they will send out an update. I guess the cover alone won’t do it. When I updated Naughty Words, because I added new chapters, all the locations had changed.

  3. Very helpful. I hate those form letters from Amazon. I’m dealing with one now.

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