Saturday 25 October 2014

A Stranger Asks You to Promote a Book with a Typo in the Title

Signs of a problem: unsolicited email in your inbox; mouth open in horror.

The symptoms: anger; frustration; pain.

Your book has just been rejected for inclusion in a major bookstore’s core catalogue, your local paper has overlooked your book launch and your former university has released a magazine listing ‘Published Alumni’ that only includes fiction endorsed by conventional publishers.

Why, you ask, why is the world so prejudiced against self-published authors?

And then it happens: you receive an email asking you to help promote a stranger’s book. This, in itself, is not unusual. However, what stands out about it is that the book has a typo in the title. You scan its product page looking for signs of irony or child authors, but there are none. You wonder if failing to capitalise ‘I’ is a house style. But then you realise that the other instance of ‘I’, in the same title, is capitalised. You take a look at the cover. This contains the same capitalisation error, but on the second ‘I’ this time.

Steam is coming out of your ears. This is why your book is being overlooked.

It’s important not to let your success go to your head. Remember when you started out. Were your books completely error free? Did you accidentally make a typo in a first sentence? (Yes.) Remember that not everybody can afford an editor and not everybody is capable of the same attention to detail.

Then get mad anyway – it’s the title for goodness sake, the title.

However, no matter how frustrated you may feel, do not respond to the author with, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ If you are rude, you run the chances of upsetting the author.

Remember, you are not the grammar police, or the self-publishing police, or the eBook standards firing squad. Stay calm.

When an author tells you, “I don’t really care about polishing my book or perfecting my title. I just want to get my story out there,” you must resist the urge to scream, “But I care, and so do dozens of other hard-working indies.” One of the merits of self-publishing is that it gives everybody a chance to make their story heard. Let readers be the judge of whether they want to read As i Walk in my Mothers’ Footprints I smile :-).

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