When I posted my newest book, FORTUNE’S FLOWER, I was surprised and thrilled to have a 5-star review within 48 hours. The reviewer was delightful and generous, and I am sorely tempted to print it out and put it above my computer as inspiration.
That review, however, was followed by another, not nearly so nice. 2 stars and some cutting criticism. Amazon tells us writers not to get into arguments with our reviewers, it’s highly unprofessional, so I won’t but I need to defend myself somewhere, and so here it will be.
I will tackle my issues with her review individually.
“How does the title Fortune’s Flower relate to this book?”
Actually a valid question, for someone who has not read the book. When I first titled it in its earliest incarnation, it was “The Tie That Binds.” Anyone done a count on Amazon on the number of books titled that or variations thereof? I did. Twelve pages! Most by authors better known than myself. Why did I pick FORTUNE’S FLOWER instead, then? My hero is very wealthy, hence the Fortune. My heroine’s name is Verbena, and verbena is hardly an obscure plant. It has been used for healing for centuries, across several continents, and as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Hippocrates. It is also known as vervain, but MS Word will flag vervain as an unknown word, yet it likes and recognizes verbena. Whatever name you know it by, it is an herb of long standing. All parts can be used, leaves, FLOWERS, and roots. I used her name and the corresponding plant several times in the novel, just to make certain the connection was made.
My other, more painful, gripe: “this book needs numerous typos removed.”
This book was edited by three different people working separately. In addition, I ran it through Spellcheck repeatedly, plus both versions, Createspace and Kindle (same manuscript in two different documents), passed Amazon’s respective spell checkers. As my husband has reminded me, that program won’t catch everything, but I put considerable effort into turning out a clean manuscript.
I do, however, have cockney speech in there, phonetic speech as well as dropped h’s and g’s. I read Stephen King’s ON WRITING, and he has a small bit (one of his own works? He doesn’t specifically say) where the character drops his ‘g’ at the end of words. No apostrophe follows to mark the missed letter. (I seem to remember a longer bit on this writing style, who else uses it and why, but in my copy of this book that expanded part, if it in fact existed, is absent.) Later in the book, I found this. “Let each character speak freely.” Putting an accent down on paper is challenging at best. How does one capture, quoting Stephen King’s book again, “the accents, rhythms, dialect and slang of various groups?”
He did say the decision to leave the missing letters unmarked by punctuation could be controversial.
Apparently so. My editor and I both thrashed this criticism around and decided the reviewer most likely was upset by the missing letters and no apostrophe. All I can do now is hope her review won’t turn off other buyers who think they are getting an unedited book (hardly the case), and that some other kind reader will step up and clarify these supposed ‘typos’ for other readers to come.
(original blog date 10/28/2014)