If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.
So yesterday I saw a review on Amazon for my first book – Goa Traffic – pointing out a mistake, an unforgiveable mistake – I had written Sheikh instead of Sikh. I saw the comment and I thought that can’t be right. I definitely know the difference there. There are in fact no Sheikhs in the book. I quickly did a search in my original document and to my horror it was there. How had my editor not picked this up, worse still, how had I not picked this up? The book has been on sale for five years. Countless friends have read it – no one mentioned it. Usually I would say people are too polite to mention mistakes…but believe me typos have been pointed out to me before. So either people have read it and thought, that author is an idiot or they haven’t picked it up (I’m hoping for the latter). Either way I feel bad… It’s strange though when someone spotted a typo in my traditionally published book, I shrugged and said, ah well. I guess with having a publisher you don’t feel your work has to be as perfect as when you self pub- because you have the comfort that they have had confidence in you. Self pubbing gets such a bad name when it comes to editing that you have to be perfect and for a non-perfectionist (is that a word?) like me that is hard.
Having self pubbed this book, I feel completely responsible for my faux pas. In fact I feel awful. Now that I know it is there (at least with self pubbing) I can make the change – although it won’t be quick. GT was published in a time before Scrivner when I had to manually sort my formatting. It took an age and I must have wiped from my mind how I saved it as a Mobi file as I have no idea of how to do that now. So I need to put it into Scrivner and organise it that way. This will also give me a chance to add some spiel at the back for Under the Coconut Tree.
I am hoping to get it done this week, but I have also been wondering if I should withdraw GT from the market. Whilst it still has an average rating of 4*s and has 19 5* reviews I can’t deny that there have a few 1* reviews and although critique is good… Do I want a book out there with my name on that I am having serious doubts about?
Don’t get me wrong. I was more than happy with it when I published it, but I was also impatient and my writing skills were limited. I know the POV changes mid scene 9I still like doing that but try to restrain myself) and its more tell than show probably. With every new book I learn some more but once a book is published I cannot open it again. I can’t bear to look inside it. I don’t know why – it’s a thing. Anyway, back to whether I should take GT off the market. The reasons for leaving it on are as follows: GT sells more than any of my other books, without me doing an awful lot. It has been reviewed by editors and companies too which gives me some comfort. I’ve had emails from people saying they loved it and I’ve had some great reviews… and their reviews are just as valid. Although authors love to dwell on the negative. Plus GT was the book that got me out there. Without it I wouldn’t have secured a traditional publishing contract. In fact, without the commercial success of GT I don’t think I would have had the idea of the Chupplejeep mysteries. And finally, as sales for the title were beginning to decline suddenly sales tripled last month. I’ve sold more copies of GT than any other book so which would I rather fewer sales and 0 1* reviews like my other books or loads of sales and some negative comments – you’ll never please everyone I guess. For me the benefits, I guess, outweigh the negatives, for now.
So authors, when we get all those rejection letters after we send our books to agents that is just the start of it. There are so many other upsets along the way that we need to deal … but hey, I’ve taken comfort from the above quote and I still believe it is better to do than to keep your manuscript in a drawer gathering dust. And as H says… It’s just a book –no one is going to die. He doesn’t understand and although that can be annoying at times it takes me out of my writing bubble and makes me realise that it’s not all about me, me,me. I recently read an article where the author said the only people that really read the 1* reviews are the authors themselves. It makes me laugh because it is probably true. Most people I know avoid the extremes of reviews. Anyway, I’ll put the bruised ego away and take a deep breath as Kingsley Amis says ‘A bad review may ruin your breakfast, but you shouldn’t let it spoil your lunch.’