Monday, June 25, 2007

Who's at Fault - the Author or the Publisher?

I debated whether I should make this a public thing, but maybe it will be a lesson I can pass on to others which may shed some light on bad reviews.

I received a five star review on Amazon recently for the ghostie book, The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost, that I co-authored with Heide Kaminski and Pamela Lawniczak. But, my eyes didn't even sink into the fact that it was a five-star review; but instead on the fact that the review mentioned errors within the book. I'm having a hard time dealing with it for several reasons.

One, this review came from a friend who I have supported throughout anything she's done. I've hosted her on my blog for her virtual book tour, I've supported her through her personal issues and I've really enjoyed having her as a friend. I love her posts in my online writing group and would do anything at all for her. I basically would give her my soul if she needed it. But, although she was basically saying she loved the story, she also mentioned many errors within the book itself and came down pretty hard on the book's publisher, Mardi Gras Publishing. Although I hate peachy cream reviews that sounds like the reviewer didn't even read it but wanted to give this person a good review out of friendship, honest reviews from a friend if they are negative are pretty hard to swallow.

The other reason I'm having a problem with this review is that now that it is up at the largest online bookstore, how many people are going to buy it if they have been forewarned of the typos?

I do a lot of investigating into what works in online promotion and even though they say you should take reviews like a grain of salt, there are some people who really pay attention to what's been said by those who have read the book.

The problem I have with all of this raises the question of how far a friend should go as far as giving reviews to their friends. If you cherish the relationship, would you even mention the typos? Hardly. I know I wouldn't. If I read a book and I saw typos and this was a friend, I would email them and ask them for their permission to post this in such a public place. But, that's just me I guess. If I didn't like your book, I just wouldn't give you a review.

But, she's not saying she doesn't like the book; in fact, she said she loved the book if she could get pass the errors which probably caused a problem in taking the book in like she wanted to. So, who's at fault? The author or the publisher? And why is it an issue at who's fault it is in the first place?

It's an issue because for every book that has my name on it, I am responsible for said book. When Heide found the publisher for us, I knew the book wasn't ready. I told her that. But, she said her A-student daughter edited it and it was ready to go. O...kay. So, I'm busy doing lots of other stuff and before I knew it, the book has been sent to the publisher, sent back to us for revisions, and sent back to the publisher again to be released.

It is at that point where if we did not catch anything and the editor didn't catch anything, that's it, Jack. Because I was "so busy," I fucked up, because had I taken a little bit of time to go through it at that point, I wouldn't be writing this today. Sure, there will be bad reviews no matter how edited a book gets, but why risk getting bad reviews because you didn't take a little bit of time to make sure it was in the best shape it could be to avoid reviews like I've gotten today?

Lesson learned.

Maybe I had to learn the hard way, but I'll tell you this much. No matter who the publisher is, you better make sure you go over it with a fine-tooth comb so you don't end up in my shoes.

The book is a good book. It was something that my co-authors and I put a lot of work into. It wasn't just a book; it was a message we wanted to get across. That message is still there. If you can overlook the "typos," it's there.

And this is the very reason why it is very important to make sure your publisher assigns a good editor to it because to some publishers, it's all about making a buck and not stopping and taking the time to make sure the books that go out with their names on it are the best they can be.

Here is a link to the review if you'd like to read it.

Now, I'm off to walk the dogs and do a little thinking.


  1. Now I think you're making your point much better here than you were before. Good post; good information and good warnings.
    I don't get all that warped out if I read a book and see typos in it or words that might not be used appropriately, etc -provided I am enjoying the base story, that is. I don't "like" to see errors where the wrong spelling is used - like they're, there and their, for a quick example - as I think any writer worth their salt should automatically be in tune to things like that. But then too, it is so easy to do a mistype of words like that, which won't be picked up by spell-checker and in proofing, can sometimes be easily missed too. Bottom line is also that writers are human, make mistakes and we all know "To err is human" too- right?
    No one LIKES to get a review that has anything even the slightest bit negative in it but I'd rather it be pointed out to me than ignored because by pointing it out, it would make me more inclined to look even closer on the next writings.

  2. A friend reviewed one of my business books which I've learned is full of typos. She even went so far as to say the editors (who she named) had done me a disservice. This is a publisher who does all the editing and they don't show it to me before it goes to press. One of my books from a previous publisher had more problems after they edited that before. I went through again and noted many problems, but they weren't all fixed in the end. However, I have the rights to that book back and will certainly do it differently when its re-released :)

    Nikki Leigh

  3. A five-star review is nothing to sneeze at, and the errors are there and they are not going to go away. Someone at some point was going to find them and point them out. Would you rather hear this news from a friend or a hot shot agent or book critic? The book critic would NOT give you a five-star review, but then again maybe they would? Who's to say? But what kind of friend would this reviewer be if she wasn't HONEST about it? If she said nothing about it, and it came up with another reviewer or book critic, wouldn't you be more upset with that friend if you asked them why they didn't tell you the errors were there?

    But whether this information will affect your sales or not is hard to predict. And there are some who just read the book for the story, not whether the punctuation or spelling or formatting is correct.
    By the way, how do your co-authors feel about this and are they willing to approach the publisher and have them corrected?

  4. I'm not sure why they mentioned the typos since typos, unfortunately, sometimes appear in even the biggest publishing houses' books. Annoying but true.

  5. I went over to Amazon to read the review and don't find it offensive. I am not in the writing business but it sounded to me like she was dissing the publishing house, not the authors. There may be some good come from pointing out errors to a publisher, if they will be more careful in their future work.


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