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Getting back into the swing of things

I’m going to admit right off the bat that my brain is not fully functional, at least not for much more than caring for Mom. One week ago today, she had reverse shoulder replacement. She’s doing great, especially considering her age. By day two post-op, she’d cut the pain meds down to half. By day four, she cut them out entirely except for at night. The problem is she is right-handed, profoundly right-handed and it was her right shoulder they replaced. So, for the next five weeks or more, that arm is in a sling and she can’t use that hand for much more than holding her cellphone. She hates asking for help. I am trying not to hover too much and I am once again sleeping–or not–like I used to when my son was a toddler.

But that also means I’m out of the loop about what’s going on in the world of publishing. Well, not exactly out of the loop but what I have been privy to isn’t for pubic consumption–yet.

So that leaves me with what to write about today.

First off, for those of you who have published your print books through Createspace, Amazon is finalizing the migration of those books to KDP Print. Check your dashboards. There is a very simple, three-step process to import the books and link them to the e-books and audio books you already have.

However, while making the migration, take a hard look at the print books (hell, do it with the e-books as well) and see if you need to update your covers, change anything with the interior, etc. This is the perfect time to do so. Also check your blurbs, your key words, sections, etc.

Now, this could be the shortest post I’ve ever done but I decided to check out KBoards, something I haven’t done in a while. One of the topics that caught my eye started with a post that said something like this: “I got scared when I read about Amazon removing books and closing accounts because of KU problems. These authors were innocent and I didn’t want to become the next victim. But now my income has been slashed dramatically. Whatever should I do?”

After I quit rolling my eyes, I scanned some o the comments. They run the gamut of “evil Amazon” to “go wide” to “follow the rules and you don’t have to worry”. The problem is, the author starting the thread did what so many others did at the time. They knee-jerked in fear. They saw how some authors were caught up by mistake in Amazon’s latest round of purges and panicked. They either didn’t trust themselves to be following the Terms of Service or they didn’t think they could spare the time to fight for their rights. All they saw were the “Amazon is evil” and bought into it hook, line and sinker and fled the ship without first checking to see if there was a lifeboat available.

Here’s the thing, mistakes on both sides are going to happen. But you as an author have to treat this as a business. You need to make sure you are following the rules (the ToS) and you need to regularly check to make sure you know what those rules are. Then you need to do your market research. Find out how your genre and sub-genre of books sell on the other sites. Most of all, when the horror stories begin, don’t buy into them without doing your own research. What you don’t need to do is panic at the first sign of possible trouble. If you do, the battle is already lost.

Another thread caught my eye as well. A new author posted about receiving a 2-star review complaining about how they needed a proofreader due to all the problems with the book. Most indie authors have received reviews like this at least once. What made this one stand out was the author in question followed the “Amazon Customer” link for the reviewer and discovered something very interesting. The reviewer is an author as well. In fact, they are an author in the OP’s genre.

The OP, wondering if they smelled a rat, then checked out the OP’s author page and clicked on one of their books. Seems like the reviewer was in sore need of a proofreader–and more–themselves. So was this a case of “do as I say, not as I do” or of jealousy? Who knows. More to the point, it doesn’t matter. That sort of behavior is what drives authors crazy when they are on the receiving end of it. As for the reviewer, it is bad form. It makes you look like you are trying to torpedo another author.

So what do you do if you see a book in need of help? As an author, especially if I know the other author, I will drop them an email or PM them and ask if they’d like some feedback. I appreciate it when I get that sort of information. Even though I have an editor and someone who proofs my work, things slip by. If you, as an author, aren’t convinced, I have a challenge for you. Go back to one of your earlier works. Preferably something that’s been out for several years and that you haven’t looked at for at least a year or more. Open it up and read it with a critical eye. I guarantee you that most of you who do will find not only proofreading errors but will find parts of the book or story you’d write differently now than you did then.

As the reviewing author, perhaps you should check your own work before casting stones. There is a reason why most authors I know don’t leave book reviews. Nothing on the internet is anonymous for long. So don’t think you can hide behind the anonymous “Amazon Customer”. Remember that the review you leave will reflect on you, not just as a reviewer but as an author. Don’t become that author behaving badly we’ve seen the horror stories about.

As for what all this means? Simple. Writing is our business. We need to treat it, all aspects of it, as such.

Now, if you don’t mind, Mom is napping and I’m going to do the same. Until later.

30 Comments
  1. I have some eagle-eyed readers who flag things that skip through. When I get ready to release the next volume in the series, I go through and do any newly-discovered corrections, any formatting updates, and re-upload the corrected volumes. That keeps people from wondering why Vol 3 is now out but 1 or 2 are not available at the moment.

    October 9, 2018
    • I tend to do the same thing. Although, I really need to go back and reformation all my older work.

      October 9, 2018
      • *tips head to side* You’re making all your characters Lutheran? This could be interesting…

        October 9, 2018
        • Synova #

          I was going to say that Lutherans aren’t particularly interesting, except that Luther was a character and a half. Jail-braking involuntary nuns out of a convent by hiding them in barrels? There are some pretty high bars to meet for “interesting”.

          October 9, 2018
  2. Yeah. Covers. Ugg.

    October 9, 2018
    • LOL. I know, right?

      October 9, 2018
      • SheSellsSeashells #

        I lucked out and got a friend to do my cover (still working on covers, plural). I like her work and I was able to pay her in sushi. 🙂

        October 9, 2018
        • I pay our own Sarah for my covers with editing. So count me in as one who lucked out as well. But I still feel guilty asking her to do anything for me.

          October 9, 2018
          • SheSellsSeashells #

            Yeah, I plan on Real Money for the next one, but having an option for the Sushi Installment Plan is helpful.

            October 9, 2018
        • Draven #

          I need to see if i can contact a friend from high school and have him do the line work for drawn covers… then scan iot , ink it and color it in Clip Studio Pro.

          October 9, 2018
  3. Uncle Lar #

    Couple years back I did a MGC post on editing which resulted in several authors asking me for a bit of help which I was more than willing to give on a time available basis.
    One author sent me a copy of her latest work in progress in an ongoing series. Did a beta read and loved what she did both concepts and story telling ability. It was however riddled with small typos and grammar errors. I checked her reviews on Amazon and found that such mistakes were her main source of criticisms.
    Since I did really like that book I went ahead and did a full copy edit and sent the corrected manuscript back to her. Never heard from her again. Truly thought she’d passed away until a year later I saw that the book I’d tweaked was up on Amazon. I guess I hurt her feelings.
    The book best I could tell did incorporate all of my corrections.
    On that subject of grammar and typos, for Ghu’s sake understand that MS Word’s grammar and spelling app is an idiot. It’s also geared towards English term papers, not actual story telling. When I work on one of Herself’s books the pages are slathered with MS Word markups because Her Highness is incredibly fond of runon sentences. Which makes perfect sense when you’re writing about a conversation. It’s how people really talk after all. She’s also a bit dyslexic. Makes for an absolutely fascinating experience when I do a full copy edit.

    October 9, 2018
    • Uncle Lar, you are absolutely correct. The only grammar check I have found that is halfway decent is part of ProWritingAid. I like it because you can tell it exactly what you want it to look for. Want to see how often you repeat phrases? Ask it. You don’t have to ask a particular phrase, it will tag all that are repeated in close proximity to one another. Same with passive verbs. It will flag them if you want. I don’t accept most of what it says but it has made me more aware of some of the habits I’d fallen into.

      October 9, 2018
      • Uncle Lar #

        My greatest complaint when editing your stuff my dear Amanda is that I get so wrapped up in your story that I forget why I’m there in the first place. Hard to nail those pesky typos when you’re overcome with a pressing need to find out what happens next, dag nab it.

        October 9, 2018
        • Awww, now you have me blushing, Uncle Lar. High praise. Thanks.

          October 9, 2018
      • I have had good luck with a program called Perfectit, although it seems to be oriented more towards people writing legal briefs. It is very good about catching inconsistencies in capitalization, use of abbreviations and hyphens.

        October 9, 2018
        • You can tell ProWritingAid you are writing fiction and the rules are changed some to take that into account.

          October 9, 2018
  4. It will be interesting to see how my WIPs will turn out, as my alter ego is Conan the Grammarian.
    Wrestling with formatting ATM. Writing is so much more fun.

    October 9, 2018
  5. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    In fairness, proofreading your own stuff is extremely challenging. The beam in one’s eye is not always blatantly obvious.

    We all know I’m an obnoxious jerk. Knowing that, it is better that I make a practice of simply not commenting on my competition’s work. If I stick to doing the best work I can do, the difference in quality will speak for itself. Maybe not in my favor, but if my work is shoddy, in the long run I’ll still be better off without negative advertisement. People find assholes very wearing. If I’m trying to entertain, I’ll be better off not reminding people of how cruel I can be.

    October 9, 2018
    • Synova #

      Seems to me like there’s lots of wisdom in your approach.

      October 9, 2018
  6. Speaking of proofreading:

    “Well, not exactly out of the loop but what I have been privy to isn’t for pubic consumption–yet.”

    To be honest, even if it is for “pubic” consumption I don’t think I want to be “exposed” to it. 😀

    October 9, 2018
    • Thp. You’re lucky I got a post up today. I almost bowed out again this week. This was written pre-coffee.

      October 9, 2018
    • Synova #

      I didn’t even catch that. I’ve recently (don’t remember where) seen someone write pubic for public several times, but none of that compares to how funny it is the other way around!

      I have a wonderful memory of my grandmother, reading a newspaper article out loud and about busting herself laughing so hard… the whole article was about the spread of “public lice.”

      October 9, 2018
  7. mrsizer #

    Spelling errors rarely throw me out of a story. Homonyms and apostrophes on the other hand! Combine them (“whose” vs “who’s”) and I’m tossed out for certain.

    For covers, I’d say book one of a series is most important, as that’s where I’ll be starting. However, recommendations and also-boughts frequently show some book in the middle. I’ve come to like Indie covers because they are usually done for Kindle size, not hardcover. The 1632 covers are beautiful, but a complete mess on a Kindle in black-and-white.

    My most recent whipping boy, Star Force, has the same cover for the first 25 books. Fortunately, they linked together nicely so the leftmost one on the “others by” section was always the next one. The next 25 have festive covers, but they are not linked together properly, so after each one I had to scroll around trying to find the next. I’ll take the identical covers.

    P.S. I’ve finally caught up to the author (book 55!), so my Mad Genius backlog is getting read (Imperial Magic is great). I’m afraid to see how many Kurtherian books have come out in the meantime.

    October 9, 2018
    • Thank you. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it. The next one is at 42K words and climbing.

      October 9, 2018
      • mrsizer #

        You do an amazing job with that world. I’m not quite sure how to phrase it, but “loving description” is close. Yes, that’s in the review.

        October 10, 2018
  8. Stanley Miller #

    Why not put an e-mail address, unique to the book, in the preface and ask readers to copy/past any sentence with a typo or spelling error into an e-mail and send it along to you?

    You should be able to search for the offending bit and correct it fairly easily. Save them up until you are ready to do a revised/corrected version and go at the pile all at once.

    If you are feeling brave you could ask about any other issues folks have. Make the reader part of the editing process (for version 2) and they might be kinder in their reviews.

    October 9, 2018
    • snelson134 #

      Because Kindle doesn’t do copy/paste, for starters.

      October 10, 2018
      • Stanley Miller #

        I haven’t used a Kindle device and so was unaware of that shortcoming.

        Looking at other readers, the Browser based reader also won’t copy/paste.

        The Kindle app on Android does as does the Windows based Kindle reader.

        I can’t test the Apple app based version or the Fire Tablet one.

        I guess the usefulness depends on what portion of your readers are using the restricted Kindle reading options versus the full featured ones.

        Thanks for the tip, I learned something today!

        October 10, 2018
    • snelson134 is right. But there is another thing to consider as well. If you do that, you are going to have to look at every comment that comes in and, trust me, a lot of what folks see as errors might be for a formal or technical paper but not for fiction. Others aren’t nearly as good when it comes to grammar or spelling as they think. I include an email link in my books now, but it isn’t difficult to find me online either for those who really want to.

      October 10, 2018

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