I’m Afraid I’m Going to Have to Write You a Ticket…

traffic-cop-2961283233111fWzH[1]Smashwords will be implementing a new feature soon. In fact they already have it in motion.

Smashwords authors who go into their dashboards to view their list of books will notice a new column at the end of the line.  It reads “retailer tickets”. It’s a ticket feature, something that shows rejections from the publisher they distribute to.

Authors the system over are probably moaning, “Aw man! As if it isn’t hard enough with people writing spiteful bad reviews just because they can, or the big guys sending out rejection notices like puffs of cream air! Now we gotta put up with this too!”

Guys, guys. Calm down. They’re not after you. They’re not ripping your work apart in the name of good grammar… necessarily. Those of you who get your books actually rejected for your super bad grammar don’t count. What they’re doing is telling you why it was rejected so you can correct it… or fight for your right for stylistic interiors if you so wish.  Both are viable actions.

This potentially can be a very handy tool. I can’t count the times I’ve warned a client, “Um, your book has these issues and um… yeah… please fix…” only to get ignored and blamed when the all purpose “your book was rejected” statement came through. Now authors can see for themselves exactly what nitpick didn’t make the cut. Which means they don’t have to run in circles and pay me full price to format their book from scratch when a simple font size change would do it. And believe you me, you will pay me full price because if *I* am going to fix your book I’m going to make sure it’s 100% fixed. NO tweaking. Tweaking bad.

Currently Apple is the largest participator in this new plan. But. According to my whispery source, Kobo will be reviewing their books and joining in the fray sometime in the near future.

“But whyy do they have to do this to uuusss” we all are prone to whine.

Professional appearance, that’s why. I’ve talked before about how badly formatted books just look… bad. And they can chase your readers away. And if I haven’t talked about it before, then I just mentioned it. So there.

Many folks know I’m one of the biggest advocates of book interior freedom. I believe we should be allowed to have large fonts, small fonts, flexibility with our images, and a number of things that can make a book joyful to read. I don’t believe in “simple is all there should be” because a boring book is a boring read. On the other hand, I also don’t believe in “it’s not just a book it’s a movie!” Seriously with the bells and whistles, Apple. Chill out.  I just think a book should be a thing of beauty, as they have been for centuries upon centuries complete with illuminations.

But, books should also have clarity and a sense of order. That’s why for these guidelines and publishing standards. It’s to keep things from getting stupid, which is what ebooks were doing when Smashwords first began.  In the past year I’ve seen some awesome advances in what Smashwords accepts as far as style goes – one of which I’m super proud to have halfway gotten started myself.  So I personally am not threatened by this new feature in the least. I’m excited by it.  It hands the author greater control over what’s happening with their book, because as GI Joe put it: knowledge is power.

So run with it, folks. Get to know this new feature. Smashwords’ very own Mark is building a FAQ about it that we all should get familiar with, bookmark, and watch. The link is: https://www.smashwords.com/tickets. And I hear the Styleguide will be updating soon.

Back to you, Jane.