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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know one is not supposed to reply to reviews, but a couple of reviewers (who also gave it a good review) queried the era in which I had set But Can You Drink the Water? It had started as a sitcom and I wrote it in 1988 so wanted to make sure I had the setting correct. But when I turned it into a novel I edited out a lot of the scenes and just kept to events from the 1970s, but I left the date as 1988 (stupid, I know).
I have now edited the book to make sure the events mentioned took place in the 1970s, and corrected the date in chapter one and in the description.

My question is: Should I now reply to the reviews that queried the date and let them know I have edited it to the 1970s? :-\
If I don't reply explaining the updated version, potential readers might get confused when they read the description. But I don't want to open a can of worms. :p
 

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Jan Hurst-Nicholson said:
I have now edited the book to make sure the events mentioned took place in the 1970s, and corrected the date in chapter one and in the description.
If you've corrected in the description there's no need to contact reviewers. They don't like direct contact from authors is what I've heard from other writers again and again and again unless they initiate contact with us directly.

Another way would be to explain this correction on your official website. Readers interested in your work will see the change in the product description and/or on your website. Most readers I think read and then move on, they don't stick around and dwell on these type details.
 

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Adding a reply to clarify is totally different than adding a reply to a hateful response or a difference of opinion. You shouldn't reply to the person directly, but leave a review comment to explain the change.

Just note that "In a subsequent release of the book, the timeline was adjusted slightly to clarify things and make the plot smoother...." or something to that effect.

Just my $0.02.
 
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Don't reply to the actual review. Just add a comment to the description. Actually, I do this all the time with RPG products. At the bottom of the description I put something like:

Update 6/11/11-file updated to correct formatting issues in original
It allows you to "respond" without actually responding.
 

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I wouldn't reply directly either.  I do put information like this on my blog/website.  I'm not sure I would put it in the description unless it was a very important detail.  I leave the description to be ABOUT the story to draw people in.  Side explanations (to me) start to read like a thesis rather than a marketing tool.

While it was mentioned in the review, in my mind it is not something that warrants a response.  Many people won't notice it at all.
 

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I'm a little more proactive with comments, especially if you have corrected an issue that you think will affect a prospective reader's choice. I published my first book with a lot of errors (unedited, basically...I'll never make that mistake again) and I wrote the story in the present tense, which was a personal choice based on the book's point of view. Over time, the editing issue was fixed by hiring a professional editor...who also converted all of the verbs into the more traditional past tense. These two areas constituted the majority of customer complaints (reviews and emails). Once the revisions went live, I still received reviews on the older versions, so I post comments (one) explaining that the manuscript had been re-released with the previously mentioned issues corrected. I have also indicated on my description, that the manuscript had been recently revised and re-edited, but I didn't go into details. Details would only detract from the description. I think this is a fair approach, that most reviewers would not find intrusive.

However, if someone posts a review containing erroneous or inaccurate information, you have to weigh whether your comments will appear snarky or truly helpful to prospective readers. It's a tough line to walk, and it all depends on the tone of your response...I hope. Overall, I think the less you respond to reviews the better, however, there are some nasty reviewers out there, and I don't think we (the authors) should acquiesce and make them feel comfortable continuing their less than constructive outlet. I'm always civil and thankful, but I won't let this type of reviewer completely off the hook.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks  :-*
The original description said: set in 1988, But Can You Drink The Water? .....
The new description says: set in the 1970s....

So you think I should add to the description and say: in a subsequent release of the book the timeline has been adjusted to the 1970s ?

Chapter one began:
South Africa 1988

Now it begins:
South Africa 1970s.


Some reviewers were asking why I hadn't mentioned important events in South Africa  during the late 1980s and early 1990s, so it is important to get the timeline correct.
 

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I think this would be fine, but I also think that you could thank the most recent reviewer for noticing this, and let it be known that the glitch is corrected. It doesn't sound like a huge deal, but since it bothers you, you'll probably feel better knowing that you've taken at least one of these steps. For those that have done this in their descriptions, where would you put this information? Top of the description or bottom? I would put a major change at the top, but feel that a smaller detail would distract.
 

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(Hi, Jan...I just wanted to say I read your book a long time ago, but haven't gotten off my lousy butt to write a review yet. I really enjoyed it!)
:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Archer said:
(Hi, Jan...I just wanted to say I read your book a long time ago, but haven't gotten off my lousy butt to write a review yet. I really enjoyed it!)
:D
Thanks so much. :-*

What a lovely last thing to read before logging off for bed ;D
 

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Jan, I would thank the reviewer and say you have now corrected the text. Don't put anything in the description - new potential readers will be reading that, deciding whether to buy your book, and it will look unprofessional. You never get that sort of edit with mainstream books.

Lexi
 

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All of the advice is sound.  But I think the lesson here in this example is the mistake should not have been made to begin with.  Things will always slip through the cracks but perhaps an audit of the editing and review process you used of the book before it was published should be made. 

Starting a book in 1988 when its really the 70's is about as big as having someone you kill off in chapter 1 be alive in chapter 20 with no reason other than you forgot they were dead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
SBJones said:
All of the advice is sound. But I think the lesson here in this example is the mistake should not have been made to begin with. Things will always slip through the cracks but perhaps an audit of the editing and review process you used of the book before it was published should be made.

Starting a book in 1988 when its really the 70's is about as big as having someone you kill off in chapter 1 be alive in chapter 20 with no reason other than you forgot they were dead.
You are quite right. :-[
The novel began as a sitcom and I had a scene at the fun-fair that was built on the beachfront in the 1980s, and I also had a couple of references to things that took place in the 1980s. However, I took out the fun-fair scene for the book, but thought I'd better leave the date as it was because of the other references to the 1980s. The book was meant as a bit of fun with lots of visual gags and is loosely based on my experiences and those of fellow expats, most of which happened in the 1970s. A couple of readers commented on the fact that not much mention was made of the beginning of the dismantling of apartheid etc, which happened in the late 80s and early 90s. Now that I have adjusted the time frame those comments are no longer valid (but I expect someone will find a reference to something in the 1980s that I've missed ::))
 

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My first novel had some formatting and other errors and reviewers mentioned it. When I revised the work and relauched it I just put a not in the description REVISED and the DATE.

Edward C. Patterson
 

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If the review is on a small labour-of-love kind of blog, I will often comment just to say thanks for reading it - this seems polite to me. If it's a bigger blog or a website, I leave it alone. (I link it in my own blog with a thanks.)

If they had negative things to say that I could "rebut" I'm not sure if I would comment directly on their blog. I would certainly link to the review on my own blog/site and explain there, respectfully. I don't know, though, once a review is out there, based on the copy they received, it's rather hard to do anything about it, I think. I would just try to get more reviews with the corrected version.

The only thing I do know for sure is that repeated posts of profanities are not the way to go - I've seen that, and it was not pretty.  :D
 

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If it was me, I would comment on the review, apologizing to the reader and thanking them for taking the time to point out the error.  I'd also let them know a new, corrected version was available for them to download.
 

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After "The Abigail Affair" had been out for a couple of months, and was selling really well, I bought my own Kindle and downloaded a copy. I clicked to the start. There on Page 1 of the prologue, paragraph 3, staring back at me, was the most ghastly typo. It was so obvious. How could I have missed it? On Page 1?

Like many others I now realise it's impossible to proofread or edit your own work to 100% accuracy, and I use a professional editor.

Any reviewer who points out mistakes or shortcomings is doing the author a favour ... although it may not feel like it ...
 

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swolf said:
If it was me, I would comment on the review, apologizing to the reader and thanking them for taking the time to point out the error. I'd also let them know a new, corrected version was available for them to download.
Question: can readers download a "new," revised version from Amazon? If not, I would offer to send them a corrected version in addition to what you suggested.

TimFrost said:
Any reviewer who points out mistakes or shortcomings is doing the author a favour ... although it may not feel like it ...
Right. I have found glaring mistakes and typos in traditionally published books as well. The difference being that indies can respond quickly and correct the mistake.
 

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Here is an example of how I "proactively" responding to a review. As a side note, my book was re-released on May 24, after a thorough, professional edit...yet reviews are still rolling in that address some of the major issues that have been corrected. Not the reader's fault, however, the reviewer's tone opened him/her to some "return fire." Very subtle on my part, but I need to make it clear that the manuscript has been professionally edited, and that while I am thankful for his/her observation, the tone was unnecessary.

Sorry to link to an Amazon review:

http://www.amazon.com/review/R1XVX81DHRFC4R/ref=cm_cr_rev_detup_redir?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2HGUT1NC2EGTX&cdPage=1&asin=B0047DX080&store=digital-text&cdThread=TxUCYXZKIYPHQX&newContentID=Mx3G8NOQZ7E42A3#Mx3G8NOQZ7E42A3
 
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