Back in late 2013, I decided to try an experiment: I decided I’d self-publish a book of television commentary on a show I was obsessed with at the time, Breaking Bad. The result was Breaking Down Breaking Bad.
The idea was a culmination of several things coming together at once. I’d had over a decade in journalism and knew I could meet a deadline, and with the show coming to an end it looked like a great time to hit the world with something. I’d also been Editor in Chief for a website devoted to movie and TV criticism for a few years, so I’d been down the “critic” road before (though admittedly, it was never my jam; didn’t enjoy doing reviews then, don’t enjoy it now).
A big factor was that my first book on film criticism, A Year of Hitchcock (with Jim McDevitt), had come out a few years prior via the respected academic imprint Scarecrow Press. Figured that would lend me some credibility. And on a small scale, I experimented with Lakehurst: Barrens, Blimps and Barons, a local history book self-published for a very niche audience that met and exceeded expectations, which gave me a feel for the process of putting something out on my own.
So in mid 2013, I started writing, watching, writing, and watching. My aim was to have this thing out just as the show ended. Long story short, I met that goal, albeit a few weeks late, and the book took off in a way that far exceeded my expectations. I won’t share numbers because they’re personal, but I’m quite happy. The damn thing even went to #2 in its category on Amazon UK.
Here’s the thing: It wasn’t the book it could and should have been. It’s an entertaining enough read, people seem to like it, and it still sells even today. I stand by it. But it could be better. I followed it up with two television books, Celebrating Mad Men and Dissecting the Walking Dead, and I think both are superior works in every respect. Better commentary, better insights, better writing, and even better proofreading (important when you put stuff out yourself!) and covers (ditto).
With that in mind, I’ve often thought about revisiting that Breaking Bad book and bringing it up to snuff. Adding new chapters, expanding existing chapters, and just plain working it over. But there’s a dilemma to doing that:
How do I do that without ripping people off? I can’t and don’t expect people to buy it twice, but I’d still like existing readers to have the new stuff. To be the best of my knowledge Kindle versions can be updated cost-free, so that’s cool, but not print.
I suppose I could assume that anyone who has the book got a complete package and they’re happy, so that’s that. Maybe they can sign up for a list to get a PDF version of the new material just so they have it?
Or maybe I can put the new chapters on this website for free, accessible to people who already own the book?
Or maybe I could sell signed copies of the new version to existing readers at a discounted price? That way they get a whole new book, signed, for just a few bucks instead of full price? I’d have to work out the logistics of that.
I could just do what regular publishers do, put a second edition out there, and say that’s that, deal with it. I don’t feel good about the idea, though. I’d like people who already have the book to get the new material at little to no cost while still offering a good new package worth more for new readers.
If I were to do this — that “if” is pretty big — it would be for autumn 2017.
I’m open to workable suggestions.