January 21st, 2011 by Will Entrekin

Objectivity & The Exciting Promise

The other day, I mentioned a positive review from Shannon Yarbrough at the LL Book Review. Today, I’m going to mention a few others, and make an announcement about something I’m rather excited about.

Today, Raych at Books I Done Read gave it high-caterpillar review. A juicy blurb:

Silly and poignant and real … totally hilarious … basic love story meets girl Tarot card battle royale

Now, Raych disclaims: if you’ve finished Meets Girl, you know that Raych gets a shout-out at the conclusion. Some people might fear some lack of objectivity.

I don’t. I started reading Raych’s blog pretty much as soon as she started it, and I love what a fool she is, and by fool, I mean the n’uncle sort, who says perhaps many nonsensical things and who maybe distracts you with the bouncy jingle balls on his hat but is, often, the wisest person in the room. The canniest. The one who knows what’s what.

I felt the same thing about Veronica’s brother Tom, in the novel. I could see his band–Foolish–doing something silly and poignant and real. Some of what I think are exactly those moments in the novel–the ones that are silly and poignant and real–belong to Tom. When Tom handed our young hero-narrator Foolish’s CD, I saw him offering one with a jaunty, silly, hand-crayoned cover because leave it to the wise-fool to leave the name of the band off.

So it fit, and when I needed a title for that album, I cribbed Raych’s blog.

She doesn’t seem to have minded. Thank goodness. I’m glad she didn’t sue my ass. For cookies. Because who’d sue a broke-ass grad student/novelist/professor/personal trainer for money?

I do wonder about objectivity. Not Raych’s. Just in general. Like, is anyone objective anymore?

One of the hallmarks of the Internet is the insta-communities that spring up so quickly. Twitter is less a website with hundreds of millions of users than a portal where all those users’ pocket-communities overlap, which is largely what’s happening. Same with Facebook, and nearly every other site out there; we ken to kin, know our brethren when we read their tweets or see their blogs, and communities overlap. It’s less like a Venn diagram than a huge cloud of information uncertainty where individual sites like Facebook and the Huffington Post and the Nervous Breakdown and the New York Times form tiny electrons of density, and everything overlaps and speeds and winks into and out of existence so fast good luck keeping up with it all.

Which, of course, translates to subjectivity and objectivity. To place it on a grand scale, do you believe what Fox News says about News Corp, or trust that NBC or MSNBC or CNBC is relaying the latest and greatest news about energy, given that its parent company is General Electric? I mean, of course MSNBC would make a huge news event out of the BP oil disaster last year; GE owns a lot of alternative-energy properties, including the wind-power assets of Enron.

I guess sometimes I just wonder if objectivity is as silly a fantasy as Meets Girl. Which it must be! Because that’s what Raych called it!

I saw another review of Meets Girl yesterday, as well. This one via Goodreads (an awesome site), where a reader said:

The beginning 2/3 or so of the book would have been five stars, maybe even six. I’m not always into the “broken fourth wall” stuff, where the author talks directly to the reader, but it WORKS here.

Which is pretty awesome. First, in that reaction to the book seems pretty divided among halves; some people love the first half but not the second, while others have the opposite reaction.

What’s not pretty awesome is how that review continues:

Unfortunately, as I kept reading, the spelling and grammar mistakes increased. I can certainly tolerate a few, but I began noticing them, and then every one I found gave me a little pop of irritation. This is such a good book that it really deserves another proofreading round to remove these glitches. They’re little (“saif” instead of “said”, for example) but aggravating.

Lemme tell you what: I got a nice little lecture from my editrix yesterday. Yow.

Because lemme also tell you how bad that sucks.

I hate that that reader had that experience. It’s my job to make sure the story works, and to deliver it to you, and to get out of the way in so doing. It’s my job to make sure readers’ experiences of the stories I write are seamless.

And it’s not like I don’t have my editrix. Whom I met at USC, and who completed the same master’s degree in professional writing I did, and who’s edited a lot of other stuff besides mine. Like, this isn’t just a friend who’s spent all her life reading. Which I think is important, and I think differentiates my editor from at least a lot of the entry-level assistant editors or less-than-entry-level editorial interns.

Because believe me, I was an editor once upon a time. My qualification for the job? That I had a degree in English literature. And I was an assistant editor, which is higher up than an editorial assistant (but not so high as an associate editor).

And I sucked at it. Because every manuscript I saw, I thought I could rewrite it to make it better. Which is not the job of an editor. A real editor, a good editor, makes a manuscript better while preserving the author’s original—er. Whatever. Intent. Voice. Style. It’s ineffable.

Me? I’m completely effable. Totally effable. You wouldn’t believe how effable I am.

So when it came time to publish my work, when it came time to start Exciting Books, I knew I needed help. My collection was workshopped and passed through a dozen hands.

Meets Girl? Just about the first thing I did was give it to my editrx, and you can see the results here.

Anyway, I say that because when I read that Goodreads reader’s review, my stomach sank. I hated that she’d had that experience, and that typos that were my fault–because my editrix caught those–had prevented her from enjoying the book.

I will note–and not as an excuse. I don’t believe in excuses–that formatting can introduce typos, or it can when I do it. You’ll notice my editrix edited a bound copy of Meets Girl, which I did deliberately, because if I had to format into paperback format after she read it, well, I’d have botched it worse than I did. I also notice the reader read the Kindle version, the first files of which were riddled with typos that occurred while I was formatting the html file. And I’ll be honest; this was the first time I’ve used MobiCreator and Kindle.

So it wasn’t perfect.

It never will be perfect, of course. To corroborate, I cite Gaiman’s First Law

Gaiman’s law of picking up your first copy of a book you wrote held true: if there’s one typo, it will be on the page that your new book falls open to the first time you pick it up. It never fails. It used to make me sad or frustrated. Now I half-expect it.

There’s rarely one typo. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book without at least one typo.

Which I’m not saying makes it all right.

Because I don’t think it ever is. One of the first things I did, when I read that Goodreads reader review, was open up the html file, locate the offending “saif,” and upload a new file to Kindle, so copies after the next couple days should be corrected. The speed with which I managed it all is one of the many perks of being an independent author.

Here’s the Exciting promise, though: if you find any typo in any most-current version of any Exciting Book, write to me, and I’ll thank you profusely, fix said typo, and upload a new file to Amazon. In addition, I will replace your copy with a corrected copy, and I will gift a Kindle copy of an Exciting Book to a friend of your choosing. If the typo has already been caught, I’ll apologize profusely, let you know when and point you to the info that it had been (if it exists; a couple times, I’ve caught typos when I’ve gone back to read my own stuff, which I like to do, because I write stories I wanted to read), and figure out a way to make it up to you.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Will Entrekin, Will Entrekin. Will Entrekin said: New post: Objectivity & The Exciting Promise – http://tinyurl.com/4ad8lea [...]

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