I would love to produce a book that was perfect. The idea of having a book free of typos and grammatical errors drives a lot of the pre-release work of a book. Right now, Free U’tanse is off in the hands of beta readers who are marking up all the errors I didn’t see as I worked through the book several times. When I’ve removed all the errors that they find, I’m sadly confident that there will still be errors. Every author I know of has the same problem. Whether small press or big time NYC publishers, no book is free of typos.
My first book Emperor Dad was an extreme case. I didn’t know what I was doing, particularly in book formatting and details like pricing the book and how much distributor discount to offer. When, in spite of it all, the novel won the Darrel Award for best novel, I knew I wanted a new cover with the award highlighted. Biting the bullet, I reworked the novel, applying the layout changes I’d learned the hard way, as well as correcting the typos that had been reported by readers. I shifted the printer from Lulu to LightningSource and lowered the price. It was a new book, with a different number of pages, in spite of the fact that it was very much the same story. So I gave it a new ISBN number and marked it as Second Edition. That’s what I’m selling today. I still have a handful of First Editions that I don’t bring to events. Maybe someday someone will want them.
However, I have received error reports from other books. These are usually simple typos. I can sneak into the master files and change “on” to “in” and not affect the layout or page numbering at all. Posting the changed version to the printer costs money however, so I tend to wait until my inventory is very low. It’s possible a book that sells poorly will never be updated. Sad, but true.
I’ve decided to mark these “Updated” books, not as new editions, but with just a little mark so I can keep track of which book has been corrected and which hasn’t. On the copyright page, in the printing history, I’ve added a little date stamp (e.g. •215) when a book has received minor typo corrections. The same mark will carry through into the ebook versions as well, and I suspect they will be updated more frequently than the paper version. Sadly, the main limitation on processing these updated versions is my time. If I have to choose between writing the next book and posting updates of the old one, I’ll choose to get the new book out sooner. I hope you understand.