Cycling

Cycling Europe… But Not Escaping The Publishing World…

Yesterday the following review was posted on Amazon.co.uk for ‘Along The Med on a Bike Called Reggie‘: 

 

Now first of all I’m grateful to the reviewer for having taken the time to write the review. The reader has clearly enjoyed reading the book as it has been given a 4-star rating. I have no objections whatsoever to the opinions he or she expresses in the first paragraph and I am delighted to see that when the third book is published I will have at least one customer. 

However the reviewer is not the first to comment upon “lots of” typos in the text. Normally I squirm a little as I read such reviews as I know that both books contain errors, but life goes on and my ego is massaged back to a state of normality by a subsequent review that doesn’t make any reference to typos. However, fewer than 24 hours later I have received an email from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), the arm of Amazon that manages the distribution of self-published eBooks such as my own. The message starts:

“We’re writing to let you know that readers have reported problems in your book.”

OK… That’s fair enough. In my mind I’m immediately linking yesterday’s review and today’s email together. Is there a formal procedure for readers to alert KDP to errors in the text? Or has an automated review taken place as a result of ‘typographical errors‘ being mentioned in a review. Not sure. The email from KDP then lists the errors that it has identified. Here they are:

  • Kindle Location: 1472 ; Description: “given me the same of a site,” should be “given me the name of a site,” 
  • Kindle Location: 6858 ; Description: “café with descent wifi to catch up” should be “café with decent wifi to catch up” 
  • Kindle Location: 5735 ; Description: “I was waved down my one of the employees” should be “I was waved down by one of the employees” 
  • Kindle Location: 6221 ; Description: “sign some 1okm into my” should be “sign some 10km into my” 
  • Kindle Location: 4761 ; Description: “in the final 1okm,” should be “in the final 10km,” 
  • Kindle Location: 4675 ; Description: “tent, so I instead I created” should be “tent, so instead I created” 
  • Kindle Location: 3441 ; Description: “1okm along” should be “10km along”
  • Kindle Location: 7991 ; Description: “The again, perhaps they” should be “Then again, perhaps they”

Thanks to Amazon for that. Nice to see that the descent/decent issue is included! 

At this point I’m going to, well, get to the point. The books are self-published. That means that everything the reader sees and reads is my responsibility. The text, the editing, the cover, the layout and yes, the typographical errors. I am not a professional publisher or proofreader. That said, over the course of the last four years, I have gone to great length to ensure that the books are of the highest possible standard that a self-publishing author can achieve. Both books have been independently reviewed by good friends who know their stuff when it comes to the correct usage of English. The work that they did was magnificent. I have files full of corrections that they suggested and which were subsequently amended in the manuscripts. These friends didn’t do the work out of the goodness of their hearts. I paid them to do the lengthy and detailed job that they did. The first book contains about 110,000 words, the second about 180,000. When not on my bicycle travelling across Europe I regularly pick up the books, choose a random chapter and read it. I do not find that either of the books, as the reviewer in this case has phrased it, are “full of typographical errors“. Such emotive expressions give the impression that errors riddle every page. They don’t. As I have said above, I don’t deny they are there but “full of“, no. 

There’s a second point I would like to make. When Julie Rand of the CTC reviewed ‘Along The Med…‘ book for the organisation’s Cycle magazine she too gave the impression of having enjoyed the read. However she also made a point of mentioning the typographical errors, including the descent/decent one (which is a near-homophone nightmare for any writer using Microsoft Word as the word is frequently one of those to be autocorrected). In addition, in the same way that yesterday’s reviewer has done, Julie also referred to me being a teacher. Since when has being a teacher been a reason not to make errors? Indeed the worse teachers are those who think they are all-knowing and infallible. I fail to see any link whatsoever between errors made in a book manuscript and being a secondary school teacher. 

My rant is at an end. I will now return to the ascents and descents of cycling across the continent at least in the knowledge that I have made a decent rebuttal to my critics.

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8 replies »

  1. Whilst I’m always correcting my kids grammar, be it written or verbal, having been taught by wrote at school, something todays education system seems to despise, I agree wholeheartedly that we are only human and as such can make mistakes. Even more so with the advent of ‘smart’ devices with auto correct, predictive texting, US English!!! How we manage to produce anything readable at all sometime eludes me.

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  2. Hi, Andrew!
    As I don’t support Amazon by buying books there because of their unsocial behaviour for their workers and their destroying local bookshops I haven’t read the critics…Don’t care to much about those critics…

    I think the most important thing about a travel book is that the reader can feel the vibes of travelling – with or without mistakes, doesn’t matter!
    The only thing I would be happy to find in your next book would be pictures and real maps with your track…pictures say more than 1000 words.
    So good weather and enjoy your marvellous trip!

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  3. 100% with you on TYPOs and I will even stretch it to grammatical errors…

    Being a teacher does not make you immune to dropping the occasional error into your writing! We are all human…

    I QC Edit ‘Financial Translations’ and our team is expected to never, ever, ever make a typo or grammatical error in our writing. Which I find a bit inhuman! Especially in informal emails and notes…my rant over as well.

    I wish I could be in Scandinavia right now…

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