With provision, altering a published work is acceptable. But see the preceding paragraph.
Let's set up a few provisions. Take from the pile as needed. Wouldn't want any of you going hungry.
I've been working on Neon Gods. It's important that all the sub-plots match. I daren't have anything in book two or book three contradicting material in book one - unless I'm being deliberately devious in order to reveal stunning plot-twists later.
The work had not been going well. Large cast of characters. Many cults and conspiracies to wade through. And a sticking-point that I only recently ditched.
For a long time, I stuck to the view that each book in the series would be about the same length. I didn't want to ramble too far from the main path on every new adventure.
The more I tried to stick to the arbitrary limit of roughly 180,000 words, the more I became a prisoner of the format. I had to break out of a convention that would automatically limit the nature and amount of action in each story.
Having now ditched the limit, I'll just write the stories I am meant to write. No need to worry about squeezing in so many cast-members.
Bearing that in mind, I started writing fresh material for Neon Gods. The scene? A rather plush house in the big city. Our anti-hero arrives by cab.
In the first book I made it clear that cabbies were all government snitches. Cabmen couldn't be trusted. This new scene involved a tame cabbie, pressured into silence.
I had to refresh the memory.
Were these people cabbies, cabmen, or cab-men? Possibly a combination. I searched the original file and found my cabbies easily enough.
Of the seven uses of cabmen, one was hyphenated. Inconsistency must go. I've updated Neon Gods Brought Down by Swords. Which brings me to this blog post.
Just because we have the capacity to constantly update e-books, doesn't mean that we should. I'm on record as saying this...
If you really want to go back in and make massive changes to the story, write a new story and call it something else. Make sure you are absolutely straight with your readers when you do so.
You can, and should, alter your e-book with the following in mind...
One. Correct mistakes, formatting glitches, and other typographical inconsistencies.
Two. If you made a potentially defamatory statement in your e-book, go back in and remove it.
Three. Make mechanical changes to improve the reading experience. For example, a Table of Contents with a better layout. Areas in the front matter of an e-book deserve to be clutter-free.
In the back-matter of an e-book, you might be forced to update also available entries or biographical notes.
You may still live in Wisconsin with a husband, but if he's your second husband you might want to mention him by name to avoid confusion and dagger-stares. And a second divorce.
Four. Adding bonus material that was unavailable for various reasons. This is okay. Best to leave it in the back matter.
Five. You spot material that needs tidying on the following grounds...the material as written makes a nonsense of the plot and you realise this late in the day...
New material adds clarity to the work...
Legal reasons prevent use of the material as written and something must take its place.
Time to look at those points. How am I doing?
One. Yes, I spent the better part of a year wrestling with one of Amazon's "known issues" before I found a fix. No one noticed, all the products were updated, and I continued as before.
Fixing formatting glitches and killing gremlins is inevitable.
Two. No. Haven't defamed anyone yet. Misattributed a contributor, but I managed to put that right.
Three. Yes, I've streamlined Tables of Contents. Periodically, I update the back matter.
Four. I'm considering this, but haven't done it as I blog unto ye. Better, perhaps, to gather additional material in a new collection. Depends on the nature and size of the bonus goodies.
Five. The tricky one, with its three categories. And some of those can be subdivided into other areas. Okay, first part. My plots are all nonsensical anyway, so I have no reason to alter them once published.
Second part. Adding clarity to the work. I am considering doing this for one story that is already out there. Two areas concern me, both are technical, and, after studying many a YouTube video, I've concluded that a few extra sentences here or there would help the readers out.
That's not rewriting the story, changing the plot, altering the setting, revamping the characters or anything major. After having published more than a million words, I feel two rough spots could do with flattening. I call that good going.
If I go ahead with the additional material, providing clarity, I'll talk about that in a blog post. I have no desire to alter the plots of any of my stories.
The third part. Legal reasons. Haven't faced those yet.
So what do you need to know about changing your e-book after publication? For the Kindle, you must inform Amazon. Go into the bookshelf, and use the contact us section. Provide as much information as possible. Amazon conducts a review.
If changes to the work are critical, Amazon will e-mail the people who bought your book. Those readers are entitled to update to the latest version by managing their Kindle.
What do you really need to know about altering your e-book after publication? My advice is to resist temptation. You write the story you write, and you throw it out there. Let it stay that way.
If you want to write a better version or take a second stab at it, go for a sequel and show yourself that your writing improved since the Olden Times.
Don't rewrite your plots. Reach a point at which you cut loose of your story, and let it go. Write another story. Keep going.
Update on this topic. HERE'S A BLOG POST ABOUT THAT.