Practical advice on writing and publishing for aspiring authors
Dear Author Enablers,
I’m thrilled to be a published author. However, almost every article about my book has had a factual error. I had no quibble when they said I was in my 30s when the story took place (instead of my 40s), but when they referred to my memoir as a novel, I did. What are the guidelines for pointing out an error and/or requesting a correction, and is the satisfaction of setting the record straight worth the risk that the reviewer will think you’re a pain and steer clear of you in the future?
Jo Maeder, author of When I Married My Mother
New York, New York

We’ve noticed a lot of this lately, too—anecdotal observation suggests that increasingly understaffed news outlets don’t do as much fact-checking as they used to. In terms of etiquette, we think it’s OK to point out a misunderstood genre. For factual errors, you might borrow a page from Amy Tan’s book. On her author website she playfully lists all the fiction that has been written about her.

A matter which you didn’t raise is whether or not to respond to the content of a review, especially negative ones. We think authors should tread carefully when considering writing scathing letters to negative reviewers. These angry missives often end up looking whiny and embarrassing.

Dear Author Enablers,
My agent got a nibble from a New York publishing house. The acquiring editor seems to like my writing and ideas but wants a complete overhaul of my book proposal, which will result in a different book than I was planning to write. What do I do now?
Laura Ruth
Berkeley, California

You have a big decision to make—whether to try to play ball with the publisher who is interested now, or move on and gamble that you can find a publisher who will love your book idea as is. Remember that any editor is likely to ask for revisions, and accepting a publishing deal implies working as part of a professional team. We suggest that you save a copy of the original proposal just in case, but also make the requested changes and resubmit. You’ll get some valuable practice in the art of revision, and you might end up agreeing with many of the editor’s suggestions once you’re done. Best of all, you might end up with a book deal.

Dear Author Enablers,
Is there any place like a website or publication where reviews of new print-on-demand books can be found? How do librarians find new print-on-demand books that they may want to buy?
Warren Wightman
Fairport, New York

The new printing technology known as print-on-demand (POD) allows small numbers of books to be published by pretty much anyone. Since POD is used widely, there is no one clearing house for the latest POD books. However, some bloggers review POD books, and online book sites feature customer reviews of all kinds of books.

When we blogged about this topic, a librarian named Cari responded, “I rarely buy POD books unless the author has made a really good case for me to buy it. Prove that spending our money on your book will result in circs [circulation] for us. Sell yourself. Ask us if you can do a book signing. Most importantly, have a good product. So many POD/self-published books are badly written, have bad cover art, grammatical mistakes, and then the author is pushy. Focus on your writing first—put out something great—and then refocus your efforts on marketing to libraries and elsewhere.” That’s advice we second for authors everywhere.

Email your questions to Kathi and Sam. Please include your name and hometown. 

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