Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mistakes . . . I Mad(k)e a Few by Ariella Papa

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. 


  1. You are far too gracious. I'd love to see the list. The double standard drives me crazy. I think people have a more highly alert typo radar when reading indie books because they expect to find them. And when you expect to find something, you usually do. So vice versa means they let a lot of things slide in tradionally published books. But I'm a bit of a hypocrite because I love to find typos on menus. Still, it's not like I go onto Yelp and call them out.

    Thanks for a great post1

    1. Thank you! I love the yelp analogy.
      We cannot sink to their level.

  2. Hi, Ariella. Great post! As far as bad reviews, every single one of them comes close to destroying me. Sounds melodramatic, I know, but it's the truth. I'm one big raw nerve and I take them very personally. My lot, I suppose, as I'm unable to develop a thick skin.

    And yes, September Abroad has a lovely cover! Congrats!!

    1. Perhaps we need a thin skin support group.
      The sad thing is I wish I could let the good ones make me as happy as the bad ones upset me.
      Thanks. I'm really happy with how the cover for A Semester Abroad came out too.

  3. Email me the list!!

    Kidding, I'm totally kidding. I read traditionally published books ALL THE TIME with typos.

    And yes, I've found that folks are really tough with their indie reviews. Really personal.

    Love this post. Off to purchase A Semester Abroad!

    1. Hooray for the support!
      I can't stoop to their level, but it sounds like you have your own list.
      I wish it wasn't personal.
      Thanks for the reply.

  4. I feel your pain, Ariella. A typo or two, and sometimes more, can be found in indie published or traditionally published books but as an author what I prefer to hear is whether my story and the characters will bring the readers back for more. As a reader, I'd prefer a great story with a typo here and there versus a perfectly typed book with no depth to the story or interesting characters. No matter what people might expect from this process, the birth of a book can never be described as a perfect!

    1. Thank you Paula.
      Nothing is perfect and the book birth is usual painful, but I hope that stories continue to bring readers to books and bad reviews don't keep authors away.

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