I am not a perfect person.
And I write characters who aren’t perfect.
Also all of my books, both traditionally and independently published, have had typos.
I almost want to stop with that admission, but I can’t. The last book Momfriends that I independently published contained a number of typos. In spite of the fact that I had a copy editor and that a couple of people proofed the book a bunch of times, typos are a fact of life. There is no longer a team of people working to make my book perfect. And if there were, I would probably have to charge more than $5 for the digital copy.
I get bummed out when I read reviews by people who claim to love the story, but then go on to discuss the typos and remove stars. These are all people who paid $2.99 for my book, but have a bone to pick. Everyone is entitled to her opinion, but it reminds me of people who like to shout out in the middle of a theater (or quiet living room) while watching a movie about all the geographical inconsistencies they see. Is it relevant?
I choose to believe that my readers are well-intentioned and that they don’t realize that those kind of comments are not a critique of a giant publishing house, but me. Maybe I should be flattered that they don’t know that it’s just me, but it still stings.
And yes, I should be beyond caring about reviews after over a decade of being a published author, but I direct you back to the first line.
It’s one thing to take issue with my writing or any writing. We all shoot for a certain level of professionalism, but even books that cost much much more and that are published by the BIG 6 (5?) contain typos. I started composing a list of those books, but then I stopped. I’ve had long conversations over cocktails with friends about this very thing. They jokingly point out typos of major books in the paperback edition and I just get angry that no one calls those out. But, I decided not to put my list into this post because then I become one of them.
What matters to me is the story. That should be what a book is judged on. Then maybe the cover. (I know, I know)
Does one listen to indie music or watch indie film expecting Beatles level production or Michael Bay style CGI? I don’t think so. But all of the sudden because this is “literature”, there is an expectation that I have a team of proofreaders, stylists and royal tasters.
I’m starting to sound bitter and I don’t want to be. With every post I like to work from a place of gratitude, so I will say that, annoying as it is, reviews like those that point out typos remind me to be more mindful and vigilant about my work. I guarantee that my latest independently published novel A Semester Abroad has at least one typo, but I also guarantee it has many less than past novels. And isn’t the cover so pretty? The story is almost as good.
Anyway, what mistakes have you made? Or what bothers you about reviews? Do you have tips for being better about reading reviews with a grain of salt?
And finally, apologies for any typos in this post.
Ariella Papa's latest novel A Semester Abroad is the way to get away this summer.