If you self-publish, beware of the KDP police! (Or anyone who doesn't like you.)
Here’s why I’m ticked off about this: I take great care to make sure that my work is edited. I even hire an editor or two, whatever my budget will allow. Basically, I take great pains to turn out quality books that appeal to a variety of tastes. Now, I’m not saying that my books don’t have the occasional typo or misplaced coma, but as a whole, I believe they are fairly well-written and give most readers what they want, a quick and entertaining read that doesn’t require a whole lot of thinking.
y book sales through Amazon are also my only source of income. So if even one of my books is pulled that impedes my ability to pay a bill. And if Amazon decides to look into all of my books because of a complaint against one—and this is something they have done in the past—then there goes my only source of income, and as a consequence, my livelihood.
Here is what Amazon says is wrong with my book.
We're writing to let you know that readers have reported a problem in your book.
There are some words in your book that our spell check dictionary could not identify. If any of the words are not spelled the way you intended, please update your content and resubmit it to us. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know that the words are spelled correctly. Here are the words and their locations:
Kindle Location: 593 ; Description: "staring at Jackie and I with" should be "staring at Jackie and with"
Kindle Location: 1049 ; Description: "attention. I knew that that was the ghost I" should be "attention. I knew that was the ghost I"
After you've made the correction, please upload your revised content through the 'Book Content' section in your KDP Bookshelf. If you have further questions, please reply directly to this email and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
For further information regarding specific book errors (including why some errors are more critical than others), please see the Guide to Kindle Content Quality Errors at https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=200952510.
Thanks for using Amazon KDP!
Let’s look at the two instances of supposed grammatical errors.
In the first example, Amazon is only quoting a portion of the sentence. The entire passage reads, “I saw the man staring at Jackie and I with an irate expression.”
Amazon, or rather the person who complained, insists that I should take out the word I so that the man is staring at only Jackie. Here’s the problem with that: the man is staring at both Jackie and the narrator of the story, i.e. the both of them. For me to do as they asks will completely change the story and negate everything that was written before and after that sentence.
In the second instance, “I knew that that was the ghost.” Amazon wants me to remove one of the thats. If you read the paragraph before and after this particular sentence, the way I have it written is correct and makes sense. It isn’t wrong to say “I knew that that was…” or “He had had to go…” and so forth. It may be inadvisable, and some of you older than me are probably quick to point out how wrong I am in framing a sentence this way, but it is not grammatically incorrect and is reminiscent of how a lot of people speak. And since Mel is telling the story, I decided to make the narrative mirror how an individual would speak.
What really makes me angry about this, and suspicious, is that two days ago I left an honest, and scathing review, about another independent author’s book, highlighting a multitude of grammatical errors. The author could not form a complete sentence, much less spell correctly, use proper punctuation, or even get a coherent thought across in his writing. He had asked me for an honest review or his book. I guess he didn’t like it when I told him he should throw it in the garbage and start over. So, I published that review and now I’m getting a message from Amazon informing me that someone has complained about the grammatical issues in one of my books. I don’t know if it was him, or one of his friends, but a part of can’t help but wonder. And this wouldn’t be the first time someone sent one of their friends to trash my books because I didn’t like one of theirs.
I am an avid reader and have read books released by big name companies with grammatical errors, and I mean more than just a missing comma, but I can’t imagine Amazon sending them a notice, telling them to fix it or else.
I have been publishing my books myself since 2011. In all of that time I have strived to improve my writing, but have also set out to give people the kind of books they like to read. I have also received a multitude of criticism from reviewers quick to point out a single typo, or tell me how they would write a particular passage, and if it’s not written the way they would do it, then it is grammatically incorrect in their mind. I have also had people tell me that the correct phrase is “Jackie and me” not “Jackie and I”; and they know what they are talking about because they are English teachers and so know everything about proper usage of the English language. Also, the moment you start making a name for yourself, but are still not a NYT bestseller, other authors, and some of the big name publishers, will try to get rid of you by:
Leaving a ton of negative reviews on your books.
Complain to Amazon about quality issues.
Send lawyers after you threatening legal action, unless you remove your book, because you supposedly stole the title from one of their books. And if you ignore them, then they complain to Amazon and your book is removed and there isn’t anything you can do about it.
Have people buy your book and return it to hurt your sales rankings.
Tit for tat. If you review their book and didn’t like it, they, and their fans, will trash yours. I once left a 3 star review on someone’s book and the author sent me 20 emails that day calling me a “fucking cunt” and threatened to destroy me and send her fans after me if I didn’t remove my review.
I do not know who complained about my book, but I do know that the complaint, in this case, is not valid. I also know that Amazon has the power to pull my books. I can’t fight them. So if that one book I mentioned, and some of my others disappear, you’ll know why.