What should a writer consider before working on a second edition of his book?

By Aliker P’Ocitti

Two years ago, while reading a biographical book titled, Oteka Okello Mwoka Lengomoi: A legend among Acholi of Uganda, by Jim Ocitti (not related); at a public Café in Gulu, Uganda, an elder was shocked to find me with such a book that rekindled his memory of his father’s work on the historical political evolution of leadership in Acholi.

He then asked if I could help write the second edition of his father’s book. The elder got to know me as a writer from a previous interview I had with him about his father’s works.

While I was impressed with this honour, I asked him for $10,000 since it would cater for my extensive research and ghost-writing fees for a second edition of his father’s book. In my estimation, the project would take 3-4 years.

The old man sharply turned away from me with the look of a man faced with a conman and not a comrade, chuckled and started to walk away in disgust with a sense of urgency until I called him back.

I asked him again, “what exactly do you want?” after a minute, he said,” I only want more copies of my father’s books to keep his legacy.

Instantly, I noticed his frustrations with me are from a miscommunication. The old man is interested in reprinting copies of his father’s books and not a second edition of his father’s books.

So, what is a second edition and what should a writer keep in mind before deciding on a second edition of a book?

When an author produces more copies or makes minor changes such as fixing typos, the new print is considered a reprint. Beyond a reprint, if a major part of the material remains the same with just a few updates, it is considered a, “revised edition.” However, if there is substantial change to the book, then second edition would be more accurate.

The decision to write a second edition is a very difficult one for every Writer, as it has its own challenges.

A book should only be released as a second edition if readers who already own the first edition would benefit from owning a second edition.

Imagine, if a reader owns a first edition of your book and finds no difference with what he had previously purchased, how would they feel?

Certainly, you will look a dishonest fraudster making ends meet by taking advantage of your clients.

A second edition is considered a different product of its own and will require its own International Standard Book Number (ISBN).

New editions also mean revised editions, anything other than a reprint with minor fixes. This implies, it will require significant financial resources to distribute, market and brand the new product besides printing.

The most common mistakes made by Writers when it comes to second editions of their book is calling a book a second edition with a new ISBN, when only minor changes have been made. Since the titles will appear in distribution listings as new and with multiple distribution listings, it’s better for Writers to avoid it as much as possible.

The other mistake Writers normally make is including significant changes but not releasing it as a second edition.

In this case, clients will order the book and receive an outdated copy of the book because a second edition has principally been released.

Conclusively, Writers are advised to pursue the path of integrity and honestly produce second editions when they are making substantial changes to the book to merit further investments in the book by their clients.

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