I Had To Go All Gordon Ramsay On Their Ass

“You, you, you, you! Get out!”

GR angrySo this morning, I reached my limit. The final straw. I returned an ebook for a refund.

It upsets me. I’ve only gotten a refund once before and that was because I bought the wrong book, and realized the mistake the second after I clicked the buy button. I support authors. I hate when authors have to take the hit for their publisher’s mistakes. This was one of my must-read authors and I want to read this book and usually I’ll grit my teeth and ignore the nonsense as best I can in order to read an M-R-A.

But… damn it. I can’t take anymore.

Maybe it’s just me. I spent all day yesterday trying to figure out if a new technique will work properly on devices I don’t have ready access to. That’s a lot of work and nitpicking and frustration. Maybe it’s because the internet is crawling with information about how to properly format an ebook, but I still keep finding ebooks that are broken or ugly or amateurish or just plain careless. Maybe I am just fed up and tired of being tolerant and I’ve read too many poorly formatted books here lately. Maybe I expected that at this point in the game publishers should have figured out the basics.

So Dear Angry Robot Books, please learn how to properly design and format an ebook.

  • Do NOT ever center paragraph blocks. Amateur hour! It’s messy, ugly and the only thing missing are hearts and smiley faces dotting the ‘i’s.
  • Don’t compound the ugliness by italicizing the centered text and calling even more attention to how hideous it is.
  • Justify the body text. Left aligned looks like a manuscript. Use it only in special circumstances.
  • Whatever the hell you did to screw up the font size controls so that I was left with a choice between “squint at the screen” or “six words per page”–do NOT ever do that again. Ever. I mean it. Don’t.
  • Use scene break indicators! Want to know what happens when a blank line meets the bottom of the screen? It disappears!
  • Do a proper indent on the paragraphs. That extra narrow indentation is a cheap paperback device to save paper costs. It looks like crap in print and it looks like crap in ebooks.
  • When the ebook is formatted, look at it! Load it up on an ereader and LOOK AT IT. Would you want to read something that is broken and looks awful and is distracting and looks like a 7th grader built it during study hall? No? Then do it over.

So that’s it. I have finally learned my lesson. No more auto-buys from even my most cherished writers. I don’t care if I’ve been salivating a year in anticipation of a new release. Everything gets sampled. Like Gordon says, “Your menu, my standards.” Meet the standards or lose the sale.

Ya donkeys.



What the BLEEP is Wrong With You, Harper-Collins?


Get your BLEEPING substandard BLEEP off my BLEEPING Kindle!

You know what I think about shitty ebooks? It makes me want to start channeling Chef Gordon Ramsay. “Come on! What the BLEEP is wrong with you?”

What set me off? What transformed me from laid-back, easy going, tolerant and generally all ’round good ol’ gal and unleashed my inner-Mad Chef with a potty mouth?


halfheadBefore I go totally off my nut, let me state, categorically, Stuart MacBride is one of my favorite authors. He’s on my recommended reads list, he’s made my two of my top ten lists, (here and here), and I’ve blogged about his books and characters. AND because I know how publishing houses work, the majority of my wrath is directed at


Yeah, that Harper-Collins. You know, the big publisher who curates fine fiction and offers so much value to authors and readers with their editing and covers and marketing and brand name? Yeah, that one.


When I bought my first Kindle the very first book I purchased was Shatter the Bones by Stuart MacBride. Paid a premium for it, too. Despite how little I knew then about ebook formatting, I knew that book was an utter embarrassment. I could make a better looking ebook by running a Word file through MobiPocket. Along with setting me on a journey of learning how to produce a fine-looking ebook, it also taught me the value of downloading samples. Thusly I learned how much contempt Harper-Collins has for its authors and readers. They put out some of the shittiest looking ebooks around.

So why I did buy Halfhead? It looked good and I’m an optimist. I thought, well, finally! HC realizes ebook readers deserve decently formatted ebooks. It wasn’t until I settled in for an enjoyable read that I realized


So to channel my inner-Gordon: “What the BLEEP is BLEEPING wrong with you? Get the BLEEP out of my BLEEPING Kindle! You should be BLEEPING embarrassed! Come on!

Split words, joined words, backward quote marks, mixed up homonyms, and no consistency in hyphenation. That’s proofreading 101. Halfhead is filled with mistakes a sixth grader could have spotted and fixed. It’s embarrassing.

My goal as a self-publisher is to produce a book with fewer than five typos/gaffes per 100,000 words. That’s a freakin’ high standard and damned near impossible to achieve, but it’s a standard borne of respect for authors, literature and readers. The only way to even get close to meeting that standard is to proofread the ebook until my eyeballs bleed. It means loading a PROOF COPY onto my Kindle and going through the book line by line, word by word, and punctuation mark by punctuation mark.


Having not seen a HC contract, I have no idea what kind of royalties they are paying authors. I imagine it’s around 25% net (with publisher accounting that can mean only pennies per unit sold). So figure roughly that authors–for the privilege of being published by HC with all its supposed services and benefits–are giving up anywhere from 82.5% to 94% of the cover price. My question for Mr. MacBride (and any other HC author) is WHY? Why do you let them treat your work like this? Why do you let them abuse your readers with sub-par production? Proofreading is so elemental, so necessary, and to let a book go out the door without it is completely, utterly inexcusable.


No proofreading… Are you BLEEPING kidding me?