Me Thinks They Protest Too Much

I’ll be honest. I couldn’t figure out what to write about this morning. When that happens, I tend to check a couple of sites for ideas. One of them, The Passive Voice, almost always gives me an idea or three. Sometimes, I’ll find an idea at Publishers Weekly. Facebook can even give me an idea from time to time. The problem now is there are too many ideas. So, since I haven’t had enough coffee to narrow them down as much as I should, here is your Tuesday hodge-podge of things writers sometimes have to think about.

Let’s start with the weirdness that came from Draft2Digital late last week regarding Scribd. Somehow, between the two sites, a glitch in the continuum happened. As a result, a number of authors, including yours truly, who publish to Scribd through D2D got emails saying our books listed at $4.99 violated Scribd’s terms of service and were being de-listed on that platform. A lot of worried authors took to the interwebs about it–most without actually contacting D2D or Scribd. Within 24 hours, corrections went out. The titles weren’t going to be de-listed. Quit panicking. It was a glitch. The lessons to be learned? Make sure you know the terms of service for every platform your work is offered on and know how to contact said platform. Then, when something does happen, contact the platform before adding to the brushfire on social media.

Next up, there’s a post going around on FB, especially in groups/pages dedicated to writing, warning about what happens when readers report “errors” in books on Amazon. We’re talking about e-books.

If you have an e-book available on Amazon, go to your bookshelf and notice the banner immediately under the navigation bar: “View Your Quality Issue Dashboard”. If you click on it, you’ll be taken to a new page where you can see your “quality notifications”. This includes open items, suppressed titles, etc. What all this means is every time a reader reports TO AMAZON issues with an e-book, it may show up on this page. The bots may then send you a notice telling you to correct the issue, whether it is an actual error or not.

These “errors” run the gamut from alleged misspellings to grammar and punctuation issues to even the use of British vs American English. Books have been suppressed and some removed from sale until you affirm to Amazon that you’ve corrected the “errors”, errors that often are deliberate stylistic decisions made by the author.

In reading some of the comments yesterday and then again this morning, I saw comments from authors who have hired additional editors to remove British spellings, to remove regional “accents” in dialog. All because of these reports to Amazon.

I’ll admit, I’ve received a couple of these reports. In them, when I checked the supposed issues, 90% were stylistic choices. Another 6 to 7% were grammar “rules” that have changed over the years or that I chose to ignore/apply for clarity in the text. The remaining 3-4% were actual errors, all of which were minor. But, in most cases, there were NO corrections needed to the title in question but the only way to get the warning removed was to upload a “new” file.

Here’s the thing. As we discussed in the comments to another post in the last week or so, authors generally have no problem with readers emailing comments to them. We might not get to those comments right away. We often don’t get the chance to say thanks. Remember, a lot of us are a one person shop, so to speak. But that doesn’t mean we ignore them. Once corrections are made, we upload new files and move on. The problem then becomes Amazon. To start, if we don’t give the new file a unique name, the bots won’t recognize that a new file has been uploaded and needs to be pushed out to those who already purchased the book. Even if you do that, if the bots don’t think the file is different enough from the previous file, it won’t automatically push the new version out and readers have to then figure out a new file exists and manually download it.

There is also apparently a Twitter war going on over the price of e-books. Now, that by itself isn’t anything new. I’ve often been critical of the price of e-books from traditional publishers. But one of the comments/examples I saw quoted was one of those apples and oranges sort of comparisons and most of those chiming in didn’t realize it. Basically, the OP noted how most folks won’t bat an eye at paying $3.50 or so for a birthday card but whine at paying $7.99 for a book.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I see a fundamental issue–actually, more than one–with the comparison. It is the same issue I have with trying to justify e-book pricing by using print book rational. That birthday card was printed on actual paper or card stock. It had to be transported to a warehouse where it was then transported to store where someone had to put it on display for sale. The e-book doesn’t have a “physical” presence. It doesn’t have to be transported via land or air to a warehouse where it will be stored before being transported to another physical outlet where it then has to be put out for display. I really wish some of these folks would learn the basics of economics before pulling out an apple and orange comparison.

What else?

TPV had an interesting excerpt from an article about “sensitivity readers” and, as always, PG’s comments were great. Check it out here. As for my thoughts, I have no problem with having someone check a book for authenticity. Little  throws me out of a book quicker than seeing a glaring historical error or cultural error. But there were things in the article that jumped out at me and had me shaking my head.

Bloomsbury, Bonnier and Quarto all told The Bookseller they had employed sensitivity readers, saying the move was “important in inclusive, forward-thinking publishing” while rejecting any suggestion authors were being forced to make changes they did not want to make. None of the Big Four publishers responded to requests to comment.

Now, how do you write a story set in any timeframe more than 20 years ago and fit today’s “forward-thinking publishing” and yet still present a realistic version of what life was like back then?

Also, doesn’t it say a lot that the Big Four didn’t respond to requests for comments? Does that mean they are at least pressuring writers to agree with whatever the sensitivity readers say? Sounds like it to me.

Wow, guess there was a lot out there this morning. Too bad the coffee hadn’t kicked in by the time I started this post.  😉

Now for a bit of promo.

Don’t forget that Jaguar Bound is out on Amazon and making its way onto the other platforms as we speak.

Twenty years ago, the world first learned of the existence of shapeshifters and other paranormals. It hasn’t always been easy but now Normals and Paras live in relative peace. Mackenzie Santos played a large role in making that happen. Mac has spent most of her adult life enforcing the law. Once she started turning furry, that law included Shifter law. Because of her and those like her, the world is a safer place.

Or is it?

A new threat appears on the horizon, one that puts both Paras and Normals in danger. Will Mac be able to meet and defeat this new challenge or will it turn into her greatest fear: war between Paras and Normals?

Coming next month is Destiny from Ashes.

spaceship and navigation interfaceColonel Ashlyn Shaw is on a collision course with an enemy determined to destroy her and all she holds dear. Honor demands she not turn away from the upcoming battle. Duty requires her to do whatever is necessary to protect her command and her home system. The Corps and her family stand with her, ready and willing to do whatever it takes to finally bring this war to an end.

But when the enemy turns out to be closer than she thinks, how will Ashlyn react? Will this finally be what breaks her or will it see the might of the Fuerconese Marine Corps raining death and destruction down on all who would stand against Fuercon and her enemies?

Honor and duty. Corps and family. These are the hills upon which Ash and every Marine in her command will live and possibly die as they fight to protect Fuercon and her allies.

Featured Image by Christel SAGNIEZ from Pixabay

20 comments

    1. Well, think about Hollywood. They had no problem putting out a version of Persuasion that changes everything about Persuasion, including the English language dialogue, when they knew that Austen already had a large built-in fanbase. And that is not the first time they have done it to Austen. Not even the tenth time.

      Some people in Hollywood think the past is offputting by definition, just like some people won’t even look at monsters or aliens on screen. They think they are helping when they make modern things happen in Regency novels.

      But it is frustrating, because usually there is a period way to do whatever it is.

      1. The number of stories that go with that kind of exuberance is limited, to be sure.

  1. Well, I won’t pay $3.50 for a birthday card – that’s why places like 99¢ Only exist!

    But the birthday card/e-book comparison fails in another way – people are willing to pay more for special events (like birthdays and weddings) because the events are special (or the person buying the gift doesn’t want to appear cheap). P-books that are meant as gifts are priced differently than a paperback novel. A more appropriate comparison would be e-books versus other entertainment forms (movies, music, games, etc).

    1. Dollar store USA-made card packets, I buy them like crazy and make wedding gift boxes. (a selection of cards, envelopes, papers and Forever stamps)

      Ten cents each!

          1. Well, they do sell online, but the selection is limited, items are sold in multiples, and you can’t see the quality (Daiso quality ranges from cheesy to very good). I’m fortunate to have multiple Daiso stores within a 15 minute drive.

            1. :teases about that giving a good idea on where he lives:

              Seriously, though, the main thing I miss from either Sasebo or the Seattle Blob is being able to find a Daiso.

    2. The birthday card is also a ridiculous comparison because I don’t read 2 or 3 birthday cards a week . . .

  2. I will note at this time that Stephanie Burke, recently sent home from (some con whose name I can’t remember) for saying [mumble mumble nobody knows what it was] is a “sensitivity reader” trainer.

    I’m tempted to find out exactly what the sensitivity types consider offensive and then write a story including -all- of them. Just to be that way.

    1. Well, I was once stuck on an outline and then offended by a discussion of the Bechdel test so I thought, What if, instead of meeting the woman I was planning on having them meet, I had them meet a male character instead? In fact, what if there are no speaking women at all?

      The result is “The Witch-Child and the Scarlet Fleet.”

  3. Hope I did not overstep, emailed you a markup of Jaguar Bound with some small nits I spotted along with a few comments. I would never attempt to contact Amazon about things in an indie published work. That’s just wrong.
    Just back from Libertycon with mixed feelings about the whole thing. Venue was not all that conducive to interactions but I did get the chance to visit briefly with Sarah and company.

    1. No offense at all, Uncle Lar. I appreciate your comments. Have I had a chance to look at them yet? Nope. Life’s been interesting. Hopefully in the next day or so.

  4. I’m late to the party (just got back to the land of reliable internet), but if your computer and software are old enough, the Quality Issue dashboard isn’t available. I can get to it on my “work” computer, but not my writing computer. (Ancient by Apple standards MacBookPro.)

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