Thursday, August 11, 2011


Bumps on the e-book road

We've just encountered our first hiccup in the Little Treasures e-publishing experience. If you follow this blog you'll know that we, The Ladies' Killing Circle, published our first e-book in July. Little Treasures is a collection of seven stories from our first mystery anthology.

Up to now the e-publishing process has been a dream - seamless and much more fun than any of us expected. We had the extreme good fortune to have Donna Carrick, of Carrick Publishing handle the hard bits. She knows all there is to know about getting books onto Kindle and other e-books, such as Kobo, Sony and Nook.

Donna is speedy but meticulous and insisted that we be as well. Each of us went through the entire text with a fine-tooth comb, reading each story again and again. The final publication reflects this attention to detail. I've read several other books on my Kindle that could have benefitted from Donna's ministrations.

So where's the hiccup? Our very first Kindle review was published yesterday by a woman from New Jersey. The book was unreadable, she said, words were jumbled up, parts of sentences missing. The text was white print on a black background. Well, no wonder she had trouble reading it! This was clearly a transmission problem or at least a problem with her Kindle. It would be nonsense to think that Amazon would publish a document in white text on black background. Their stock in trade is that all their books look exactly alike and they all look as much like paper books as possible.

The problem is that a single bad review sits on the Kindle site like an anvil. It drags all other reviews down with it and scotches any hopes we might have had for a consistent five-star rating. This reviewer admits that she didn't read any of the stories (as they were understandably unreadable in their pixilated form) but choosing to give the book a bad review because of a transmission problem, gives us a problem and more importantly it gives our excellent publisher a problem. This kind of review makes all of us look bad.

As long as there have been books and literary critics, authors have griped about bad reviews. But at least, in the pre-ebook days there were editors to ensure that what was being reviewed was the writing and not just a poor print run. Today, with peer reviews, we don't have that safeguard. Anything goes.

Sue Pike has published a couple of dozen stories and won several awards including an Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Crime Story. Her latest, Where the Snow Lay Dinted appeared in the January issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

Sue and her husband and an opinionated Australian Shepherd named Cooper spend the winter months in Ottawa and the rest of the time at a mysterious cottage on the Rideau Lakes.


  1. Ouch! That's awful -- is Kindle fixing it for you? I can't imagine how that could have been so badly screwed up. In fact it sounds so insane that it makes me wonder if the review is genuine. Have you checked yourself to see if the e-book is as bad as she says? I understood that once you PDF'd the pages, that was it and they couldn't be changed from what was on the page so I don't understand how this could have happened. Good luck with it!

  2. It is a mystery isn't it? We've checked our e-readers and friends have checked theirs and everything seems to be in order. Kindle's response was a shrug in the form of a form letter. Sigh

  3. Sue, this post really hit home. Just yesterday, I was thinking how hard it is to be an author these days, when anyone can put up a review of your book - even those who have never read it. If I were still teaching in the day program at Sheridan, I would be sincerely worried about disgruntled students and the like.

  4. Mysteriously, the offending review has disappeared. Perhaps, the reviewer realized there was something wrong with her reader, as no one else found anything wrong with it.

  5. A Brave New World, indeed.

    Thanks for sharing Sue. Good things for all of us to learn in this new publishing environment.

  6. Mary Jane, you are far more trusting than I am. I question the validity of the problems claimed in the review. Sounds like someone sour grapes-ing to me, and trying to discourage others from either Kindle or the Ladies. Either way, glad to hear it's resolved.