Essay–Making It Right
I bitch. I complain. When I read a book, especially one published by the so-called "real" publishers, I don’t expect typos. I don’t expect continuity errors. I don’t expect issues with the narrative. When I find them, I get extremely angry. Why? I paid, usually top dollar if it’s from a "real" publishing company, for an inferior product.
That said, however, I am in the publishing game, at least for my own work. I do my best to make my ebooks as professional as possible. For the most part I succeed. However, every now and then, my editor and I will miss something. When it happens, it’s embarrassing and humiliating. But I have to own up to it.
A reader recently sent me an email outlining three mistakes in the Lovers ebook. They weren’t huge. And in fact, most readers that weren’t as diligent would have skipped over them completely. One was a continuity error involving a lamp. The other was a name change for an extremely minor character. And really, it was just a couple of letters off. Regardless, they are errors.
So what did I do? I fixed them. Immediately. I sent the reader an offer for a free, autographed version of the corrected ebook and thanked them for their careful reading and having the guts to email me. I am republishing Lovers with the revisions as we speak. In other words, I’m doing my best to make it right.
When books are published in paper, there are no "oops" moments when you can easily retract the version out there and replace it with a fixed one. Once a book goes to print, it’s over. There’s no more fixes possible until the next printing. Since most books only get a single printing, those mistakes are going to be there in perpetuity and there’s not a damned thing the author or publisher can do about them.
In the ebook world, however, there is a chance to fix mistakes. It doesn’t take much work to correct the issues, re-export the book, and then update your sales channels. Obviously going through something like Smashwords poses additional challenges, but for Kobo, BN, Amazon, and my own channels, it’s extremely easy to republish.
So why don’t we? Why don’t most publishers modify their ebooks when they are notified of an issue? Several reasons. Most of them subcontract out the work and therefore have to pay more cash to get a fix, or at least that’s what I like to think. However, my cynical side says "they don’t give a shit." Unfortunately, I think that’s the real reason.
The old publishing elite out there don’t understand the new digital world. They never have. Until the moldy old bastards at the top die from disease or from going out of business, we’re going to be stuck with one-off, never corrected volumes of digital crap. I simply don’t see this changing any time soon.
But, I’m better than that. If there’s a problem with my product, I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT! I do my best to put out quality. I want to give you the best read I possibly can and that means paying attention to not only the writing itself, but the proofing, the layout, and etc.
Indie publishers are gaining acceptance, but the big five (or is it four now?) continue to tell the world we are a bunch of rank amateurs putting out crap. Yet for every mistake I find in an indie book, I find ten more in the big publishers’ books. But that doesn’t let us off the hook. Not at all.
We have a responsibility to police not only our own products, but the products of our fellow authors/publishers. It’s important we strive for perfection.
At least that’s what I’m doing. If you find a problem in my books, let me know and I’ll fix them. If you like, I’ll send you an autographed, personalized copy of the "fixed" ebook. I strive for perfection. I’ll always fall short, but I’m doing my best.