Thursday, October 6, 2011

Another Reason for Indies to Proofread Carefully

There is a developing story I wanted to post this week: Amazon might be weeding through and pulling ebooks that contain errors.

The post begins: "For those of you who've missed the latest, Amazon initially yanked and wirelessly replaced, and then removed entirely from sale, a book (Neal Stephenson's Reamde) after a reader posted a scathing, virulent review of the errors she found in the book."

(You can also read the review via the blog post.)

There was also this response, posted by author SM Reine.

You may want to scroll through the comments, too, to get an idea of what people are saying about this.

And actually, this isn't the first I've heard of this. A few weeks ago I was following a thread on the KindleBoards where this happened. The author received a notice from Amazon saying that his book was being pulled because of errors. The errors were listed and . . . guess what?

No, you don't have to guess.

All of the errors were stylistic choices (and, if I recall correctly, they were punctuation and jargon-related). The author wrote to Amazon, and, while it was confirmed that the book was never removed from the site, it was still a very frustrating experience. (It would have been even MORE frustrating if the book WAS taken off sale and sales were lost during the time.) I really wish I could find the thread now, but I lack the time needed to search for it. (mutters: Crazy Day Job)

My thoughts? I'm glad Amazon is trying to police ebooks. These are two specific cases I know about: one involving an Indie author, and the other a traditionally published author. (I'm sure there are others.)

The problem I'm having, though, is where is the line drawn? Do I want to read an ebook filled with typos and structure or formatting errors? No. Should the author be notified? Yes. But then I think it's up to the author to do something about it. The fact is: reviewers are quick to post info about typos, and it's pretty easy to gauge "frequency and depth of errors" in a sample. There's too much competition, and these books are going to sink, anyway.

And by the way, I've seen more formatting errors in the traditionally published ebooks I've read than Indie books. I swear, they're paying people to slap books up as quickly as possible, and there is little quality control.

Dear Publishers: please check your ebook editions before you list them for sale!

In all cases, I wrote it off because I paid less than four bucks . . . but still.

Dear Indies: make sure you proofread, hire an editor, hire a content designer, whatever, and double, TRIPLE check your formatting.

Dear Readers: PLEASE don't run out to report me for errors.

I know how to construct a sentence. The fragments are a stylistic choice. My characters? They struggle to finish their thoughts. I do, too. That's just how we roll. And that thing with the ellipses? I know it's a problem. I'm in search of a 12-step program to rid them from my life. Okay, well, not RID them, because I *love* my ellipses. They say so much without saying . . . anything at all, really. But I’m trying to use them less frequently. X my <3!

Better yet, if you find an error or two (or twenty! EEK!), shoot the author an email. I saw a KB poll not too long ago where the vast majority of Indie writers welcomed reader corrections. It's *so* easy to fix them, y'all! We don't have to bring in the Big Dogs. They're *so* busy these days, what, with world domination and all. 

So . . . this is definitely something to keep an eye on. There's the potential for a lot of good here, but there's also quite a bit at stake, too, and I would never want to see a feature that's meant to help people abused.

That is all.