A New Version of Nolander

So, between bouts of planning on Isolate, I’ve been doing a round of revisions to Nolander. Mostly I’ve been tightening up sentences and fixing details, but I am making a couple larger changes. It’s just about done. I’m hoping to send it to my formatter in the next couple days.

First, I’m adding some additional material to the end of the last chapter (the last one with Beth, before the epilogue), to give the story a bit more of a concluding feel. I haven’t deleted anything from the old ending; rather, I’ve added an additional scene. If there was one consistent complaint about Nolander in readers’ reviews, it was that the book “just stops.” I think that’s an accurate criticism and that I can make it better without changing the story.

The other larger change I’m making is to shift the Ghosteater point-of-view chapters into straight third-person. Originally, I had Beth (a first-person narrator) becoming a third-person narrator in those chapters. Some readers have thought that approach was sort of cool, while others have found weird and distracting. Since I expanded the POV characters beyond just Beth and Ghosteater in Solatium, I decided it was better to just use straight third-person for all of them. This change doesn’t alter what happens in the Ghosteater chapters. It just removes a layer of filtering between Ghosteater an the reader. For instance …

From the silence, Ghosteater watched me kiss Graham. He could smell our arousal. It brought back ancient memories from the time …

… becomes …

From the silence, Ghosteater watched the male and female humans kiss. He could smell their arousal. It brought back ancient memories from the time …

This may strike some readers as a less interesting approach, but I think most will find it more transparent and less confusing. After all, Nolander never deals with the question of why Beth might be able to see events through Ghosteater’s POV.

Examples of the kinds of details I’ve changed: since publishing Nolander in 2012, I’ve read that many paleontologists now believe somewhere between many and all dinosaurs had feathers, so I’ve given the minis of Octoworld plumage. They’re theropods — part of the clade that includes modern birds — and almost certainly would’ve been feathered. Also, I’ve removed most discussion of “castes” to cut down on the amount of info being tossed at Beth early in the book. Castes are still part of the Emanations world, but I realized Beth doesn’t really need to know about them in detail early on. There are a number of small changes along these lines — correcting, tightening.

I’m delighted to be able to do this kind of work. The success of the Emanations series really depends on the quality of  its first book. Nolander is the “funnel” into the series — it’s the free book that people can pick up to see if my writing appeals. So it needs to be as strong as it can be. The ability to make improvements to an existing book is one of the great strengths of indie publishing. It must be so frustrating for traditionally published authors to find a typo or a plot hole in a book — or just to realize that one of their earlier books could be stronger — and never be able to fix it.

So, why am I explaining all this? I’m trying to decide whether to ask Amazon to offer an update of the book to all existing owners. When Amazon offers an update, owners of the book who check their libraries in the cloud will see an option either to keep the version of the book they already have or to download the update, which would copy over and replace the old version. (Amazon will not reach into your library and change stuff without your permission, except in very unusual cases.) Updates are pretty common, but usually they don’t include substantive changes to the book. Some readers might be displeased to find that they book they remember reading has been altered.

The other option is just to put mobi and epub files of the new version up here, on my website, so that people can download the new “edition” if they want. They could sideload it to their Kindles and keep it alongside the older version they purchased on Amazon. This would also allow non-Amazon users to get the new version (I don’t know that the other ebook retailers have any equivalent to Amazon’s update feature). This is the direction I’m leaning.

Thoughts? Reactions? Suggestions?

8 thoughts on “A New Version of Nolander

  1. If I updated the first book of my trilogy they way you have with “Nolander,” I’d probably update the edition number in KDP and call it good. I would not ask Amazon to send an email because of the terrible verbiage they use. Also, I figure that most readers won’t care that I’ve updated the book–they aren’t going to read it again just to see what I’ve changed.

    Some past readers *will* be interested in the new edition, but the ones who care the most about my books have probably subscribed to my new releases list, or they follow my blog, or they may even follow me through one of my social networking accounts. I would just release the new edition and let my core audience know about it through those channels.

    I think you’re right that some readers will be annoyed that the book has changed, but I wouldn’t worry about that. Even traditionally-published fiction books occasionally get reworked and released as a new edition, often with a new cover at the same time.

    • I’m glad to hear you’re thinking along these lines, Daniel! This is pretty much my inclination, too: new edition number but no official update. This seems like the approach that allows maximum choices for readers to do what suits them best. And yeah, I’m sure only a tiny subset will care one way or the other! :)

  2. I like the second option better. I’m an avid reader & I prefer to have both versions rather than have my old on revised.
    I’m curious to see how it turns out.

      • I agree with the previous comments…I much prefer to have the option of getting the revised version and keeping my old version. I loved the book but I appreciate your desire to make things better. you are a great author and I can’t wait to read more from you.

        • Thank you so much, Janet! :) And thank you for the feedback. Once the mobi and epub files are ready, I’ll put them up on the Becca’s Books page, so that folks can download them if they wish.

  3. As of today (an email I received from KDP), this from Amazon on updating content:

    “At this time, customers who have purchased a Kindle book cannot automatically download the revised content. Our technical team is aware of this issue and working to automate this process.

    “Please be assured that, the latest version of your title is what is currently available for sale on our website; hence, customers will receive the updated version only.”

    So no automatic updates of Kindle content unless you have Amazon agree that you changes are substantive, in which case they’ll email all of your customers advising them of a new version.

    • That’s correct, Marc. My understanding of how it works is that there are three possibilities: 1) you just upload a new book file, and people who’ve already downloaded the old version keep what they have while new buyers get the new one; 2) you get Amazon to offer an update to existing owners of the book, which they’ll see if they log into the “My Kindle Books” part of their account; 3) you get Amazon to “push” your update out via email, which means existing owners of the book will get an email informing them that an upgrade is available and can go to their account to download it. I believe the email says the update was posted because “significant editorial issues were present.” Something like that. I did No. 3 once, soon after Nolander was published, and I’ve done No. 1 many times.

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