I recently came across a great blog post that author Marla Madison did on Reading and Writing are Fattening on the subject on KDP Quality Notices. Forget the fact that I had not heard of this offering from KDP; I was surprised at some of the responses. I found myself having a very mixed reaction to the article which, bottom-line, discussed quality control in publishing. One was from a reader/reviewer and one was from a business person perspective.
For those not familiar, KDP Quality Notices are notices sent to authors who utilize KDP services notifying them of complaints regarding the quality of their product. These seem to be focused more on editing and formatting issues, which Amazon reviewers have identified as to reasons for lower ratings on books. While KDP Quality Notices are not meant to be punitive, the general feeling that I had was that they were seen as such.
Marla offered some great advice regarding using an editor/proofreader, but I was also intrigued with some of the feedback from participants, including Marla, regarding the subject and acceptance of grammatical errors and typos. This concern was not in a bad way, so I don’t mean anything negative from it, but more of an observation that I tend to see industry wide, even a slack by traditional publishing houses and print/online news organizations. In other words, by those who consider themselves to be wordsmiths. Some of the responses were:
- These Amazon notices sound absolutely frightening…and I think two errors is nothing (I find two to three in almost every traditionally published novel I read). Seems Amazon has put things on automatic, sending a notice to anyone and everyone for small typos
- I cannot believe there would actually be readers that would actually complain about 2 typos.
- I’ve never published on KDP and have always been traditionally published (but am seriously thinking about going Indie), but this is unfair. I could understand it if books were riddled with errors, but a few is nothing.
Now, I have to be honest and say it wasn’t all bad. Most of the respondents recognized the need for a professional editor/proofreader. I think what concerned me more was the acceptance of grammatical errors/typos in any branch of the literary world.
These responses are not uncommon. I hear this from authors almost every day when I discuss the use of editors, proofreaders and manuscript evaluators. I have been told that they are not necessary, my best friend is doing it for me, I used one before and find them useless, etc.
Terri Guiliano Long, a wonderful voice in my head and who happens to edit these pieces for me, brought an interesting point to the table. Terri compared the finding of the two typos to drunk driving. It is reported when a person has been caught for drunk driving, they have done it numerous times before that and not been caught. So, how many errors did this novel actually have that only two were caught?
As I was reading this post and its responses, I decided to think about this in other industries and how would people react. So, imagine you go out to eat for a nice meal. As you are chowing down, you come across some hairs in your food. When you call over the manager, he states “There are only two hairs! You are complaining for two hairs! We figured that we could get out of using hair nets in our kitchen because it is only an extra cost and hair is natural, so there is no harm in eating it.” Think of it from a quality perspective; what would your response be? Should you not expect to come across hairs in your food that they pay for? Readers should expect to have the BEST product come to market that they pay for.
On a final note and I think the one that bothered me the most was the response from a respondent who stated that she wished the readers would contact the author/publisher versus contacting Amazon. My response to this was:
I think one other comment that I felt that I needed to add is regarding the reader coming to the author/publisher with complaints regarding grammar/quality. As a book reviewer, that is my job. As a READER/consumer, that isn’t my job. A consumer expects the product that they are purchasing to be perfect. Posting a review on Amazon for a book that I PURCHASED is no different than if I posted a review for a pair of jogging shoes, a food item or any other consumer product. This is the business side of publishing.
Donna Brown, another wonderful voice in my head and a BOOK REVIEWER, brought up a point for me to ponder and I had to concur with her. I stated above that as a reviewer it is my job to come to the author with grammar/misspelling concerns. I don’t think I stated it clearly enough. While it is a reviewer’s job to say that these issues were present, it isn’t a reviewer’s job to be the editor or proofreader. It is the job of the author to hire an EXPERIENCED, VETTED, PROFESSIONAL EDITOR to fill this role. We will be discussing this on an upcoming edition of The Author CEO.
My whole point of this is that authors, like the example above, are not inescapable from providing a quality product to consumers who, in this case, happen to be your readers. When readers find grammatical mistakes and POINT THEM OUT, this is not a good thing. This is your image…This is your brand. It is a sign of lack of quality. Would you accept a lack of quality in the example above? If not, why would you in something that you have attached your name to?