Reluctantly, I give this mess of a book 2 stars, but buyer beware!

I am sorry to have to post this review, but I have given the author, Amy Collins, over a month to make this right. Despite many emails preceding and after the one I quote, below, including promises of payment by a certain date and apologies for its lateness and a new promise, she has posted no payment and provided an unusually bizarre response to my having given her the deadline to respond by the end-of-business yesterday (Thursday, January 28)—see below.

I am appalled and surprised that someone who is publishing a book on writing entitled The Write Way: Everything You Need to Know about Publishing, Selling and Marketing Your Book, would unironically send out ARCs and then another version pre-publication that are both riddled with errors for reviewers.

Know this: the Author and her “publisher” (which I now think is comprised of Collins and one other person in the business) INVITED ME TO REVIEW THIS; I did not solicit her and I rarely do reviews.

After I had read about twenty pages and marked up every page, including the cover, with up to 15 errors PER PAGE, I sent her emails, left voicemails, asked her to communicate with me before I continued. I couldn’t believe this was her final draft. Maybe there was another version, I hoped?

She wrote to tell me that she had had a death in her family and while she was out, that “someone at her office sent out the wrong ARC” (there are two?). Then, for many days, she mostly did not respond (except via automated emails saying she would respond within 24 hours) for this entire communication stream.

She did send me a PDF of another ARC version which was supposedly “the right one,” but it, too, was filled with most of the same errors and some new ones. I read about twenty pages into that and emailed her back, telling her that this PDF ARC was a “new” but not a better version.

I asked for a newer, final ARC; no response. I now think there isn’t a better version (yet).

I waited a few days and sent the email, below. After reading my proposal, the author wrote back to say that she knew that I had given her a break on my editing rate (I did have sympathy for her at that point). She wrote to say that she was very grateful for my offer and agreed to pay me for my editing and postage for me to ship the marked-up edition back to her upon receipt of payment. She promised to pay “by the middle of January.”

I told her that I didn’t want to post a negative review. I’d rather that she revise and improve the book before publication: win-win. Plus, I had already completed reading and marking up the book and had marked up every page. I would be happy to get paid for my work.

January 15 came and went; no payment. More emails, more promises, and no payment, and here we are, January 28: nothing. The author said on January 18 that she had been traveling (and still is, apparently; now she’s on a cruise with other authors and publishers, publicists, etc.), but has she obviously access to the internet, since she’s live tweeting from the cruise ship!

I sent her this on Twitter yesterday (1/28/16):

from Sally Ember, Ed.D. ‏@sallyemberedd
to @NewShelvesBooks AMY: Deadline is EOB today Central USA time. My review goes live at 2 AM CST USA Friday, 1/30/16 if no payment is posted

She responded, astonishingly and terribly unprofessionally:

from Amy Collins ‏@NewShelvesBooks
Hi @sallyemberedd Grateful for all the time you put in. Had to redirect the $ to a project I am afraid. I know your review will be spot on.

To which I replied, with a quoted retweet of the above:

from Sally Ember, Ed.D. ‏@sallyemberedd
Sally Ember, Ed.D. Retweeted Amy Collins
This is known as “breach of contract” by professionals. We had a written agreement. #Youoweme #Payup

I won’t bore you with all of our previous correspondence.

In this post, then, the review occurs, starting with the email I sent the author in which I detailed for her many of her book’s most frequent and egregious errors.

Dear Amy,

I don’t know who your developmental, copy and proofreaders/editors are, but they should all be fired.

Here are a sampling of the errors I’ve found, so you know I’m not being a “troll” or pretending to know what I’m doing. You have these types and/or numbers of errors:

—3 errors ON THE COVERS (back and front and spine) in that your formatting is inconsistent (font color, size, style)
—1 error on the TITLE page (do not capitalize “by” or use it at all, actually; this is not a college essay)
—5 errors on the copyright page (no city of publication is listed; no proper copyright symbol was inserted; no need for “by”; missing colons)
—up to 15 errors(!) per page, with at least one and usually more errors on every page throughout the entire book
—TOC has no page numbers in either version, or the page numbers are wrong, and is on the verso rather than recto side
—Some pages have no numbers (the entire Glossary; all front matter)
—paragraphs and some sentences inexplicably start and end mid-sentence on many pages
— bullets are not formatted in a standard fashion within your own book; most of them are formatted incorrectly; AND, you inserted rhetorical questions within them while you BULLETED those questions(!?)
—seem to have no idea how to use (or when to use) the Oxford comma, apparently, and neither do your editors
—random sections (not consistent as to which or why) in italics
—show no permissions granted from the original authors, nor even where the pieces end, when you quote entire articles within your book
—repeating entire sentences and/or paragraphs and/or concepts from one page to the next within the same chapter, sometimes on facing pages. Word for word, sometimes
—use “so” over a hundred times, mostly inappropriately and without proper punctuation
—no standardization I could fathom for/ among and between your levels of headings regarding font, font size, font styles, alignment and/or purposes
—chapters do not all start on the proper side and you have random blank pages between some chapters (which do not result in their staring on the proper side—recto)

This and much more are wrong. I can’t even group or list all your errors.

All unacceptable, wouldn’t you agree?

I had one idea: You could use this as an opportunity to discuss the very things you warn other indies against within your book, and I would work with you on that if you choose to be honorable and do that.

Or, you could pretend it’s all fine, try to fix the errors yourself (good luck with that; you obviously have no clue how to edit your own work), and hope my review sinks to the bottom beneath all your sycophants’ fake ones.

Anyone who gives this book more than 2 stars (and that would be for content, not professionalism), is lying or has no idea how to read or what to expect from a professional nonfiction book.

I actually got quite a lot of good information from this book and do not want to slam you, but your whole “death-in-the-family—someone sent the wrong version” (in a two-person office?) sounds to me, now, like “the dog ate my homework.”

I am sorry for you any anyone who buys a poorly edited version of this book.

Here is another idea: if you pay me $400 (which is low-balling my rates, considering how much time I put into my mark-up and these emails), plus $5 shipping, I will send you my marked-up copy.

Then, when you complete all the revisions, send me a new one and I’ll review it at that point.

And, now, as we know, I will not receive any payment for my work, despite her emailed promise to do so. I still have the edited copy.

Here are some photos of the mark-ups:

write way cover
front cover of The Write Way with font, color, size errors and inconsistencies.

write way 1
There are multiple errors on almost every page and not one page without an error.

write way 2 upright
Apparently, can’t even keep paragraphs together; this occurs on several pages. How on earth does a copyeditor/proofreader not see these types of formatting mistakes?

write way 3 upright
There are up to 15 errors on some pages; this one has only 8.

Believe me, I take no pleasure in this.

I would certainly have preferred to have been paid for my time and expertise and to have had a positive relationship with this author.

I also wanted this book to be everything it said it would be and for it to live up to its title and promises. Many other authors would then be able to benefit from it.

However, since Ms. Collins doesn’t keep her word and seems to be clueless as to how to behave professionally, I am no longer surprised by the poor quality of the writing, the editing and the proofreading. Very disappointing, though, wouldn’t you agree?

Whoever did the editing and proofreading should have to refund their money to Ms. Collins. If she or anyone else continues to hire them, s/he/they should fire these horrible excuses for professionals immediately.

As I already stated, there are many great points, tips, ideas and resources in this book, if readers can ignore or get past all the mistakes and problems with the formatting, writing, proofreading and repetitions.

Especially for amy writers who are new to self-publishing, such writers would benefit from reading this book and taking notes. Do as she says, not as she does!

Try to borrow it; don’t buy this version!

Reluctantly, I give this mess of a book 2 stars, but buyer beware!

Definitely do not hire the author or her team for anything at all, ever. She calls herself a “teacher” and an “expert,” but I also found mistakes on her website (no surprise, now), which is: http://www.newshelves.com/ Do not contract with New Shelves for anything since they seem to have with no respect for agreements, unless you’re willing for her/them to decide arbitrarily to put time and money into other projects.

Sorry to have to post this saga and review. I would vastly have preferred the other plan to have occurred, as we had agreed.

When you get back from your cruise, fix your book and try to behave more professionally in the future.

proofreading-details-1
image from http://www.michellerenegoodhew.com

Grace and Frankie, Season 1, Netflix TV Series: my review is on Blog Critics’ site

Grace and Frankie, Season 1, Netflix TV series Starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda
My review is on Blog Critics‘ site

went live on June 24, 2015

http://blogcritics.org/tv-reivew-netflix-comedy-grace-and-frankie-starring-lily-tomlin-and-jane-fonda/

A DNF (Did Not Finish) Experience Does NOT Qualify for a “Review”

As a writer and as a reader, I am a genre outsider. I don’t write or read squarely within any genre except Speculative Fiction, but that is so large as to be considered a literary category and not one genre (see previous post, https://sallyember.com/2014/07/10/guest-post-the-politics-of-speculative-science-fiction/, for what belongs within Spec Fic).

Furthermore, I don’t usually like what is published in most of the #SpecFic subgenres. I don’t even like their plots or characters. Same goes for #Romance. I often have to label books Did Not Finish (DNF), although I reserve even that designation for books I read a great deal of before abandoning.

DidNotFinish_purple_Banner

image from http://www.prettyinfiction.com by Jesse Burgoyne

Here are the reasons that I often Did Not Finish (DNF) a book. Books on my DNF list feature:

  • zombies and other horror characters/plots, especially “damsel in distress”;
  • dystopian, apocalyptic downers;
  • space wars, medieval wars, any other wars;
  • combat/violence masquerading as plot points;
  • instant, superficial romance (humans with humans or humans with aliens, shapeshifters, vampires or whatever);
  • gratuitous sex or violence (meaning, does not advance the character development or plot, and appears every so many pages, anyway);
  • military characters, past/future or pretend;
  • “instant” solutions, usually involving a main character’s finding a lover, to serious grief or other problems;
  • sexist, racist, misogynistic, heterosexist/homophobic, classist, ageist and other oppressive depictions of characters, even if they’re “realistic” for the characters or eras
  • clichès, trite plot twists, 2-D characters, and /or other types of bad writing
  • too many typos, grammar or other mistakes that reveal the absence of or very poor editing
  • nothing interesting, so I’M BORED.

As you might imagine, this list includes most speculative fiction and romance books.

You now understand the main reason I almost never do “review swaps.” I so strongly dislike other people’s books/stories, even when they’re relatively well-written, that I can’t even read past the first few pages for most of them. I have tried to read and review them, especially when they are well-written or the author is someone I wish to support for other reasons, but I just can’t appreciate what I don’t like.

Unlike other reviewers who find themselves unable to finish a book because they don’t like it, I don’t post a “review” of an unfinished book unless it’s written by a well-established author whom many others are praising. In those cases, I post my dissenting viewpoint just to round out the PR for that book, knowing my minority, low opinion won’t crush or crash them.

Otherwise, I don’t post my many DNFs with ratings and I do not post “reviews.” I strongly wish other DNF readers would adopt my policy.

It is completely unfair for anyone to give a “professional” opinion (which is what a review purports to be) of a piece of literature the reviewer hasn’t completed. I’ve had some “reviewers” read a few dozen pages of my 300+-page books and then have the audacity to post a ZERO or one-star “review.” What is the justification for that? When they label a sarcastic or dissatisfied DNF response after having read only a few pages a “review,” that infuriates me.

I don’t mind that some readers DNF my books. I understand that some don’t like them. I also encourage readers to comment on any books they want, all they want. As a frequently dissatisfied reader, myself, I empathize with DNF experiences. Sometimes, I explain.

I object strenuously, however, when these DNF readers label their preliminary reactions and comments a “review.” Even more heinous is that some have the gall to rate their DNF books.

In what other profession or situation does a “professional” who has had only a brief experience with the piece become entitled to the right to judge it? Can an Olympic judge watch just a few seconds of the gymnast’s floor exercise routine, then rate it? Do we allow a jury to hear only one witness or just a few words of testimony and give a verdict? When do we ever allow a teacher to give a semester’s grade after briefly meeting the child or giving just one quiz?

DeadLast

image from mackenzian.com

Yes: not all readers finish books or even read most of a book. I am a reader who has a list of titles pages long I have done that with because they did not hold my interest. However, for fairness and professionalism, I strongly request that readers and especially reviewers who DNF not to rate or review those books. Please.

It is fair and helpful, meanwhile, for professional reviewers and avid readers to maintain a DNF list and even to share it. Better would be that we explain a little about our DNF reasons, but that is not expected or required (we’re busy!).

dnf-recap

image from mylifeinbookss.wordpress.com

I hereby proclaim: these are fake reviews, due to the readers’ DNF status. DO NOT READ DNF “reviews.” DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT THEY WRITE. DO NOT SUPPORT “REVIEWERS” who postDNF “reviews.”

One bonus: Within a DNF‘s comments are sometimes witty lines. Those I am pleased to re-post, just for fun.

Meanwhile, back in authors’ support land: please don’t ask me to do a review swap. I mostly do not do reviews, anyway. I do not consider myself a “professional” reviewer. I am just an avid reader and an author.

When I do choose to read a book and finish it, I will post a review. I promise.

Mostly, these days, #Iamwriting my books and blog posts.

Best to you all.

4 stars! #BookReview #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING by Nick LeVar, Free World Authors

4-STAR Review of
This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
from Nick LeVar, Founder, Free World Authors, HIGHLIGHTS here (full review link, below)

“Being a sci-fi fan, I look forward to, and enjoy, fictional worlds that are not real, but are real, and events that have not happened, but could happen, and maybe they have happened, and we just don’t know it, yet. Confused enough? Good, because This Changes Everything is not for the fan of simplistic work. And I mean that as a compliment to the author.”

This Changes Everything challenged my sense of convention.”

“In the first paragraph, Sally immediately piqued my interest by enticing questions. Who is visiting Clara? Are they dangerous? Are they even human? Why don’t they speak when she asks questions? Getting the reader to wonder what they hell is going on is a good way to keep the pages turning. Score.”

“I got the sense that I was in the world as an Earther, feeling what Clara felt, seeing what she saw, and hearing what she heard. The world itself should become another character, and when I can experience the story rather than read it, the author will draw smiles from me.”

“Somewhere in the past, authors have gotten the bright idea to rehash other authors’ stories that have already found success. While borrowing is, in itself, a form of art, I appreciate creativity. This Changes Everything fits the bill. In it, Sally references major events in human history. But that’s not the creative part… I’ll put it this way, you will finish the book wondering what part aliens may have played in the Challenger explosion or the NSA’s invasion of our rights to privacy!”

“If you’re looking for a book that you can skim, then stick to Twilight. If you appreciate a story that reads like the author took her time and was unafraid to challenge what you think you know about story structure, then give This Changes Everything a go. I think you’ll be impressed!”

4 Stars

http://freeworldauthors.com/this-changes-everything/.html

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks
Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

Available wherever ebooks are sold. Buy links, more reviews, interviews and excerpts from Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, starting March 16, on http://www.sallyember.com
Volume II is in pre-orders via Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo and nook for 50% off @$1.99, 4/18/14 – 6/8/14 and releases 6/9/14 @$3.99 on those sites plus Amazon and everywhere.

Last Day for Pre-Orders for “This Changes Everything”

FINAL PUSH! last day for #pre-orders for my first ebook, original, unique #scifi/#romance/#paranormal novel with #Buddhist, #Jewish, #utopian themes, This Changes Everything, Vol. I of The Spanners Series, on iBooks, nook, KOBO thru 12/18; release date 12/19 will show great sales and ROCKET TCE to a high position on “best-seller” lists and get it more visibility IF pre-orders pour in.

Please help? Only $1.99. Starting 12/19 @ $2.99.

Give it as a #gift! Geared to older teens and adults.

This Changes Everything cover

Cover art by #Willowraven.

#Free excerpts here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

Other links on http://www.sallyember.com (look to the right and scroll for the link you want: reviews, interviews, blog posts and buy links). THANKS! SHARE!

Pre-orders and Release Date for “This Changes Everything” free coupon!

Please share: Now in Pre-orders @ 50% $1.99 on Kobo, iBooks and nook, Sally Ember, Ed.D.’s first sci-fi/romance/paranormal novel, is getting 4- and 5-Star Reviews in pre-pub: see snippets from Reviews, below and full reviews on Goodreads. This Changes Everything, Volume I of <em>The Spanners Series release date is 12/19/13 via Smashwords to Amazon and all ebook retailers. Book club members, teachers and readers of THIS press release, contact Sally for coupon for free download from Smashwords to use after 12/19 – 12/31/13, sallyember@yahoo.com.
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

What others are saying about This Changes Everything,
Volume I, “The Spanners Series” by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

“[This Changes Everything] is highly-imaginative, but for so many different reasons, and outside of the normal scope. There are times when I felt that I was reading an actual research report of true to life events. Honestly, I’m sitting at my laptop, questioning if Clara has provided this work to Ember, or if the two are one in the same. The experience is mind-altering, and would challenge readers to think beyond the bubble that we live in. I would surely recommend ‘This Changes Everything’ to anyone that enjoys a a well-written and researched Sci-Fi series. I will point out that it pushes the envelope, and toys with one’s perception. Well done! 5 Stars.”
–Janice G. Ross, author, 11/11/13
http://jgrwriter.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/review-this-changes-everything-by-sally-ember-3/

This Changes Everything by Sally Ember is a well-written, complex work that is going to add a strong title to a genre that can sometimes become bogged down with the same old, same old. ‘This Changes Everything’ is a book that I am very happy to have had the chance to read and I would recommend it to any sci-fi/fantasy fan.”
–Zach Tyo, Indie Reviews, 10/4/13
http://indiebookreviewer.blogspot.com/

“You have created your characters very well. I feel for Clara, I imagine her alienating a lot of people because her enthusiasm and drive and ability to push herself makes her someone who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. I would have liked more of the reporter’s life and I didn’t like Epifanio at all. He sounded arrogant and selfish. I loved that the aliens were chosen by lottery. You had so many good touches like that, which made the book a continuing surprise. I…have to say it is one of the most challenging, exciting and original books I’ve read.”
–(Mary) Josephine O’Brien, author, ‘Sharing Skies,’ 9/14/13

“You have written a wonderfully imaginative and original story with plenty of twists and turns. I really like your multiuniverse setting with different timelines and the concept of the ‘Many Worlds Collective.'”
–Sophekles, author, ‘The Serotonin Transfer,’ 10/8/13

“I love your sense of humor. I literally laughed out loud when Clara said that she had given him the name ‘Led.’ I also like that this is an alien story where the aliens are helping, rather than trying to take over the world. It’s a refreshing angle.”
–S.M. Koz, author, ‘Pangalax,’ 9/4/13

[after reading 1st 20 pages only] “…In a lot of ways I’m at a loss to critique this because it’s quite different than what I’m used to encountering. It’s a more immediate version of ‘Stranger in Strange Land’ by Heinlein. Now, what I say next is strictly speaking off the cuff at 11 PM after a couple of rum and cokes, but as it stands I’d probably rate this either three or four stars, depending on how it develops. Once I got into the ideas behind it all, I found it personally fascinating. I’m not sure how that would translate to a broader readership, but it’s nifty stuff. I like alternate timelines and the like…”
–Alexander Crommich, reviewer @ Crommich Industries

“The writing is complex and done extremely well….There were times when I almost forgot I was reading a work of fiction and not a news account of real events, and I would consider that to be skilled writing indeed….[D]id I enjoy more of it than not? Yes. Four stars. Did I like the overall content? Most of the time. Three stars. Was the writing of good quality? Oh, definitely yes. Five stars. My overall rating: four of five stars.”
–Lynda Dietz, Easy Reader, ilovetoreadyourbooks.blogspot.com, 11/4/13

About the Author
Sally Ember, Ed.D., is a published, nonfiction author and produced playwright (children’s theatre, Crystal Dreams; Grading System for adults) whose sci-fi romance/speculative fiction, YA, New Adult and adult series, The Spanners, starts with Volume I, The Changes Everything, uploaded in e-book format by Smashwords and for sale December 20, 2013. Volumes II – X are planned (see Appendix A, below). Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is coming out in Spring, 2014, and the others are in various draft stages. Sally also has some short stories and articles published in ‘Out of the Kitchen,’ a journal available in the 1980s in print format only. She has co-written, edited, and proofread many nonfiction books and worked for a some magazines in the early 2000’s.

Sally was raised Jewish and is a practicing Buddhist meditator. She is also an almost-daily swimmer, a mediocre singer/pianist, avid feminist, dreamer, and devoted mother/ sister/ aunt/ daughter/ cousin/ friend.
Her website includes a blog: visit and comment, follow, “like,” and share! sallyember dot com.

In her “other” professional life, Sally has worked as an educator and upper-level, nonprofit manager in colleges, universities and private nonprofits for over thirty-five years in New England (every state), New Mexico and the San Francisco Bay Area (where she now lives). Sally has a BA, a Master’s (M.Ed.) and a doctorate in education (Ed.D.).

Interacting With and Finding Sally Online
Please write a review and give This Changes Everything a rating on SMASHWORDS, iBooks, Kobo, nook, whatever retailer you use for ebooks, as well as many other sites that bring readers to this book: Authonomy, Wattpad, Indiebooks, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember, her blog, http://www.sallyember.com. Help bring people to ‘The Spanners Series’ via any other website that invites readers to post comments and reviews of Sci Fi novels, especially if you LOVE it!

Sally would be delighted to visit your Book Club or class in person or via SKYPE to talk about ‘The Spanners Series.’ Ask her to co-develop curricula, projects and activities for your group/class members!

You will want to check on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber or her website to find out when the next Volume will be available.

Follow Sally on Twitter @sallyemberedd and please Tweet about this book and series! She will be posting excerpts of the upcoming Volumes on the Series’ FB page. Notices of those postings will be on Twitter.

For photos, images, music, bios and other memes relevant to Sally as an author and directly to ‘The Spanner Series,’ please visit her ten boards on Pinterest: “‘The Spanners Series’ includes…”; “Inspirations for the Earth locations in The Spanners Series”; “Music of ‘The Spanners Series'”; “Space Shots I like”; “Books that changed my life”; “TV shows and movies I actually like”; “Writers I Love”;”Resonating Pins” (from others’ boards); “Blog Posts”; and, “Flora and Fauna that amaze me.” She also puts up promos for her own and other authors’ books on occasion via “Book Billboards.” Please follow her Boards on http://www.Pinterest.com/sallyember gets you to her boards.

Cover Art by Willowraven: willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com

This Changes Everything cover

Visit Bits, Bites and Books Cafe today and in a week or so for comments about “This Changes Everything” and a full review

This author makes me blush! “Dr. Ember is a delightful person, full of energy and ideas. I do recommend her book [This Changes Everything] because it is a delightful mix of fiction, fantasy, stream-of-consciousness, and humor. She is the Alice Walker of the Spanner[s] generation.”

Visit using the link, below, for more of her opinion and later this fall, a full review!

Thanks, Ria!

http://bitsbitesbooks.weebly.com/blog.html