Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mea culpa: Responding to my critics

I'm pleased and proud that reviews of my eight books on Amazon.com are overwhelmingly positive. The books have received mostly five-star reviews, just a couple of four-star reviews, and nothing worse than four.

However, since I spend a lot of space on this blog criticizing books by other authors, it's seems fair to post the criticisms of my books -- and, of course, my responses.

(1) "The fonts are HUGE, my goodness, I haven't seen fonts this big since elementary school!"

The body type is 12-pt. That's the same size that the U. S. Supreme Court requires in briefs filed for the Court (although I use Constantia and they want Century Schoolbook, which has slightly taller lowercase letters). Both the Supremes and I want words to be easy to read. I've recently bought several books that use fly-poop-size type that is impossible for me to read.
CRITICISM: INVALID

(2) "The embedded images all over the book have very little -- far too little -- whitespace around them."

You're right. This was an early book, and I was experimenting and learning. My later books have more space around the images.
CRITICISM: VALID

(3) "I noticed numerous repetitious passages in the book where the same argument is made multiple times."

You're right. Some of the repetition is there because I wanted people who chose to read just parts of the book to read important points. Some of the repetition is there because of my sloppiness.
CRITICISM: PARTLY VALID

(4) "some of the comments printed in this book are not fact - at least not in my experience."

A comment may be an opinion, not a fact; and people have different experiences.
CRITICISM: INVALID

(5) "For example, the time to get published taking so long. Frankly, what's stated is not true with my experience. If you submit a decent error-free manuscript (like you would to Lightening Source), one read through the galley and if all is okay, you sign off and the next day you're for sale."

  • First of all, speaking of "error free,"  it's "Lightning" Source -- not "Lightening."
  • Second, one reading of a proof is probably not enough to catch the errors.
  • Third, the book says: "Time for a book to be listed on Amazon.com after a proof is approved: 1-3 days."
  •  CRITICISM: INVALID

So, it looks like I've received one-and-a-half valid criticisms for eight books published over two-and-a-half years. I can live with that. The book that received the valid criticism has been on two Amazon bestseller lists and one reviewer called it "the best in its field." The new updated and revised version of that book is bigger and better -- and the price is the same. 

2 comments:

  1. Michael,

    I would say that's a pretty good track record! Self-publishers don't have many of the built in "safety mechanisms" the traditional publishing industry has, not to mention the industry's experience when it comes to proofing, book design, etc. I still find errors in the trade publisher's books so they are not perfect either!

    Also, self-publishers either out of financial need or masochistic desire tend to have to be a jack-of-all-trades with the result of being a master of none.

    I also commend you on your willingness to bring to the public eye the criticism of your books and address them.

    One of the advantages of POD is you can correct your errors!

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  2. Good for you for being open about criticisms people have made. Self-publishing is almost by definition something that most people have to learn about, as you have, by doing it. I think re-issuing earlier efforts as you improve on them is a great entrepreneurial idea, too. Thanks for sharing.

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