Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Amazon Quality Standards & ROW80

First of all, Aeris is currently at 23,154.  Still plugging away, still making it in at least a few hundred above my word count.  If I don't get distracted (easy to do with a wireless connection) I can still pull off my nanowrimo record of 1600ish words in an hour.  Monday I wrote 1745.  Tuesday was 2385 (my son slept in!). Today was less at 1248, because I got distracted by a different story, which caught my eye in the Kindleboards.  I'm hoping to hit 25K tomorrow, if nothing catastrophic happens.  Which reminds me, I need to back up my file.
Okay, that done, I wanted to mention something that the Kindleboards are abuzz about this morning.  So one of the authors in the forum got an email message from Kindle Digital Platforms informing them of some typos in their work and advising them that they needed to make the appropriate changes.  The author was said to have hired an editor, but obviously, the editor was not as skilled at finding errors as they claimed (or the author was lying?).
This led to a 6 page firestorm on Kindleboards.  Everyone wanted to know if this was something Amazon was going to be doing.  They wanted to know if it was random sampling.  They wanted to know what qualified as a "typo".  Some felt it was unfair that indies were being "singled out" and "targeted" —sorry, that one made me laugh out loud.  Amazon is one of the biggest supporters and earners from indies in the entire online, e-reader world.  Why in the world would they TARGET their cash cow?
The author posted an excerpt of the book in question, several people made comments, it was decided the author would hire yet ANOTHER editor and re-upload, so the issue was pretty much resolved by the time I got to it.
But what a great question and philosophical debate that ensued.  Let me assure you, there was not a single author there who didn't seem to be in favor of quality standards, if Amazon was indeed enforcing them in the future.  I think most of the authors on there are committed to making sure they have a good product to sell.  Most of us(who give a crap) hire editors of one kind or another (some hire two!)  and when someone gets feedback on typos, they are quick to try and remedy the problem.  
I think MOST of us realize that it will only damage our industry and our reputations as a whole, to just throw a book together and post it online.  Unfortunately, there are outliers.  Maybe there is a great storyteller, whose books are full of grammar and typo errors.  Or maybe there is a clean book, grammatically, but the story is horrible.  Those exist in both places.  I have to say, in my reading thus far, even when I have encountered errors, there have been few of them.  I don't think I'm the worst judge of grammar, either.  
That being said, some of the most popular authors that are indies have many, many grammar issues in their books.  I won't name names, but my mom recently complained about a certain million dollar earning indie author whose books she read, where the grammar and spelling was atrocious.  So obviously these things don't bother EVERYONE, since people are still reading those books.
They bother me, though.  They do.  As a reader and a writer, I think we have a responsibility to try and hold up some kind of standard.  What is that?  I'm not sure.  Let's call it the "try really hard" standard -where if we see a problem as a reader, we let our fellow readers know.  And if we're a writer, maybe we should be hiring editors instead of just throwing books up on the web.  Just maybe.
But guess what, dear readers of books, there is something you can do!  Just like in our political system, we can let our reps know what we think of the job they're doing, at Amazon, you can let them know if there is a book that is FULL of poor formatting or typos or grammar errors.  It's located at the bottom of a book's sales page.  It looks like this:

If you read a book, ANY book, that you've seen a lot of errors in, you can report it to Amazon and they will let the author or publisher know.  Voila!  Enjoy your week, and happy reading!
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