Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lessons Painfully Learned

Some time back, I told you about a rather disappointing review my first novel, Letters from Linc, received on Amazon.  The reviewer took issue with a number of typos in my novel, so many in fact that she returned the book for a refund thus causing me the loss of the sale. In posting that review, she also created the possibility that it would deter others from purchasing the work.

Although I was disappointed with the review and in myself for producing such a poor product, I didn’t question it. I typically don’t respond to reviews of my work. Some writers take exception to criticism of their work and go to great lengths to defend it. Making your work available to the public means you’re agreeing to open yourself up to their commentary of said work. I’ve always been a firm believer in taking the good with the bad. Even award winning, best-selling authors are going to have people who don’t like their work and don’t have a problem saying so.

At the time I received this negative review of my freshman novel, something didn’t sound right to me. One of the things the reviewer took issue with was the fact that I often misspelled the name of the hero, calling him Line instead of Linc. Despite the fact that I’d read this novel numerous times and couldn’t recall seeing that error, I didn’t question it. I did share the review with my husband who also had read the book. Like me, he couldn’t remember it being chock full of the errors this particular reviewer alleged she found. Still, neither one of us questioned it.

Since then, several months have passed and subsequent reviews have been good. Even though I haven’t forgotten the sting of that review, I’ve moved on. I’ve also become more focused on my editing; doing my best to make sure I give the readers the polished product they deserve. In the spirit of moving on, my first young adult novel, Like You Mean It, was recently released as an e-book. Since its release, I’ve been anxiously awaiting its availability through the Kindle store. It can be found in Nook and Apple iBooks stores, but still hasn’t been uploaded to the Kindle store. I know because I’ve been checking every day, sometimes twice a day.

It was in checking the Kindle store so obsessively that I made the decision to download a free sample of Letters from Linc, and it was a decision I’m glad I made. I’m sure you can imagine my shock when there, right on the title page, my book title was listed as Letters from Line! Of course that sent me running for my paperback version of the book. I couldn’t believe I’d missed something like that and in the front of the book no less.

Well, guess what? I didn’t miss it! The paperback version doesn’t have this or any of the other errors the Amazon reviewer found. Instead, I suspect there was an issue in the conversion to the e-book format. When I first published Letters from Linc, e-readers didn’t exist. There was an e-book version available, but it was emailed to customers to read as a PDF. Now, it’s purchased from e-reading stores, and the errors abound which leads me to suspect the problem arose when it was converted by the publisher to these new formats.

I think there are some valuable lessons here. First, if you publish your book in both a print and an electronic format, check the copy on both post-publication. Don’t take it for granted that both formats are correct or identical. Second, do this post-publication check immediately after publication. Don’t wait the seven years that I did. Finally, don’t ignore that inner voice when it tells you something isn’t right. After reading that negative review, I kept telling myself it had to be wrong and I hadn’t made those mistakes. I told myself this, but I didn’t listen to myself, and I should have.  Let’s just hope it’s not too late to do something about it. If not, lesson most painfully learned.

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