This is an update of a post that originally appeared on March 18, 2011.
I get upwards of 65 e-mails about my books on most days. Some of the conversations I have with readers are amazing and many readers have continued to write me for years. It’s gratifying to know that my books are helping people—it’s the reason I continue writing. Although I make a living from writing, I could easily make more money doing just about anything else. The thought that I might help someone do something special is why I stay in this business. When I actually hear about some bit of information that has really helped someone, it makes my day. I just can’t get the smile off my face afterward.
Of course, I’m constantly striving to improve my writing and I do everything I can to help the editors that work with me do a better job too. Good editors are the author’s friend and keep the author from looking like an idiot to the reading public. In fact, it’s the search for better ways to accomplish tasks that led me to create the beta reader program so many years ago. Essentially, a beta reader is someone who reads my books as I write them and provides feedback. The extra pair of eyes can make a big difference. Beta readers receive my thanks in the book’s Acknowledgments. Sometimes I provide other perks, such as a free copy of the book, depending on the level of beta reader input. (If you’d like to be a beta reader, please contact me at [email protected] for additional details.)
A typical book has five beta readers, but sometimes there are more or less of them. They provide all sorts of input that ranges from finding grammatical, spelling, and technical errors, to providing advice on how to approach a particular topic for readers from other nations or those with disabilities. Some of my beta readers are critical thinkers and play devil’s advocate, others are great at pointing out inconsistencies, especially in my artwork. So, there is no typical beta reader; they have a very wide range of experiences and provide me with a wide range of insights.
You’d think that with all the pairs of eyes looking at my books, they’d come out error free. After all, it isn’t just me looking at the book, but several editors and the beta readers as well. Unfortunate as it might seem, my books still come out with an error or two in them. The more technical the topic, the greater the opportunity for errors to creep in. Naturally, the errors are amazingly easy for just about everyone else to pick up! (I must admit to asking myself how I could have missed something so utterly obvious.) When there is an error found in the book, I’ll provide the information to the publisher so it’s fixed in the next printing. The error will also appear on the book’s errata page on the publisher’s site. If the error is significant enough, I’ll blog about it as well. In short, I want you to have a good reading experience so I’ll do everything I can to hunt the errors down and correct them.
However, not every seeming error is actually an error. There are times where an apparent error is simply a difference of opinion or possibly a configuration difference between my system and the reader’s system. I’ll still try to figure these errors out, but I can’t always guarantee that I’ll fix things in your favor. After all, another reader has probably found still other results or has yet another opinion on how I should present material in the book.
The long and short of things is that despite my best efforts, you’ll probably encounter an error or two in my books and I apologize for them in advance. We’ll also continue have differences of opinion and that’s usually the source for new ideas and new ways of viewing things. I’m honest enough to admit that I do need your help in creating better books, so I’ll always listen to you and think about what you have to say. I hope that you’ll continue to read my books and do amazing things with the information you find therein. The results of your researches are truly the reason I remain in this business and I realize that we’re in this together. Thanks for your continued support!