One of the great things about Googling yourself is finding reviews and/or reader comments and such that you didn’t know were there (and being a hermit, I love that I can find out stuff without leaving the house).
The downside is finding your book listed on pirate sites and not-so-great reviews and/or reader comments that you didn’t know were there and could have done without ever seeing.
Now authors aren’t supposed to respond to negative comments and I’m a great believer in not going bat crap crazy on the Internet (or anywhere, well, except sometimes you just have to go a little crazy when the hubs has done IT—fill in the blank for which IT he did this time—only that’s a different blog post or possibly a whine-one-one call to my sister).
But reviews and reader comments can make you think, and if you resist the urge to go bat crap crazy, they can become teaching moments, or at least make an interesting blog topic. (Or perhaps a “mere” blog topic, since “interesting” can’t always be gauged prior to posting).
So by now you’re probably wondering what I’m going to whine about (and maybe thinking the “bat crap crazy” approach could be more interesting).
When I started writing my first novel in 1990 (originally called Pig in a Park, but renamed The Spy Who Kissed Me by my publisher), I will confess I was not worried about issues that might arise if it was re-released by a new publisher in 2011.
At the time I was living in hope of finding A publisher. (It is hard to imagine now, in these heady, multi-publishing option times for authors, but back then there were very few publishing options for authors and digital publishing was a distant dream. I only “met” the Internet in 1993, though it was around before that. LOL!)
Eventually I did find a publisher and the first (digital only) edition released in 1998 as Pig in a Park. A second, hard cover edition followed in 2000 as The Spy Who Kissed Me (with a 2000 copyright date, I might add, just to add further confusion).
Fast-forward to 2010 when I pulled my backlist from my old publisher and contracted with L&L Dreamspell to re-release my novels with new cover art and some updating. (Note: this updating did not involve changing the time frame the novels were set.) They re-released The Spy Who Kissed Me using the 2000 copyright date (yes, I looked).
But the copyright date is not the date of creation.
Why does this matter you ask (a bit impatiently).
It matters because I found a reader comment about how typewriters weren’t being used in 2000.
There are probably some writers who would dispute this (I saw a guy typing a short story at FenCon last Sept, so they are still in existence and in use). And I suspect this reader might be too young to remember/know there was a first Gulf War, which might explain why she believed the story had been written in 2000.
I guess my question/problem/concern is how does an author deal with re-releasing older content and not get hammered for not doing their research or understanding their time period (particularly since I lived through that particular time period so pretty much nailed it)?
In my announcements of the reissue, I did call it a reissue, but it never occurred to me to also mention it was written during a different war.
I do have a series of “Behind the Book” interviews on my website where I talk about the time period the book was written and how that influenced the writing. But not every reader finds an author’s website—or finds every bit of information about a book if they do.
The fact that the reader noted the year 2000 in her comments tells me she looked at the copyright date, but that only tells a reader when a book released, not when it was written.
It took me five years to find a publisher and then two more to find a print publisher. That’s almost ten years from when it was written—a bit unusual now in our brave, new world of fast publishing, but was very typical for the 1990’s.
I suspect that particular reader wouldn’t have like The Spy Who Kissed Me with or without the typewriter, but it does sting that the reviewer thought I got my research wrong. Okay, so that was a bit of a whine. LOL! And I do think it’s funny that the reviewer thinks that virgins were also extinct by 2000, but that’s also a different blog.
I recognize that an author can’t control that much after a novel releases (and if they try it can get bat crap crazy real fast), but I do wonder if this is a whine-one-one or a real issue that an author needs to deal with prior to a backlist release?
Some publishers’ post content warnings, but those are usually about disturbing content (and even if I had posted a warming, who knew a reader would be disturbed by a virgin and a typewriter?).
I am happy to say I don’t run into this type of commentary very often. I guess, because I love reading so much, I feel somehow responsible when a reader has a less than wonderful experience with one of my books.
I probably need to get over that, don’t I?
You can learn more about The Spy Who Kissed Me and my other novels at www.paulinebjones.com
Um…Yeah, I Wrote That in 1991