I just got a message from a reader who was pretty upset. Not for my fiction book, but for one of my computer language textbooks. It wasn’t about the actual content of the book, but the way that it was printed.
By the indignant tone, it seems the reader must think that I have have a set of quill pens in a backroom where I hand print each page, carefully glue them together and give each one a final hug, before they are sent into the wild.
Let me give you a hint. I don’t do that.
What I actually did was type a bunch of characters into a word processor and emailed the files to the publisher. A little while later, I received some galley proofs, which I looked over, and waved a rubber chicken over them to bless them for publication. That was it. End of story.
I had no input on the cover image, the margins on the page, what type of paper was used, what color ink was used, what font was used, the line spacing, whether or not it was translated into Swahili first, nothing else. So to complain to me that the printing looked of inferior quality, doesn’t really help all that much. Yes, I can and will complain to my editor, but at the end of the day, I’m not really expecting that my comment will go very far. It won’t be for lack of trying, but honestly, I’m pretty far removed from where those type of decisions are made.
Given today’s economic woes, I can imagine that publishers are trying to cut costs, and maybe the quality of the printing is suffering. If so, I’m not happy about that and I will do my best to fix it, but at the moment, I’m feeling pretty powerless.
I don’t fault the consumer for complaining if the product is substandard. I would do the same. But talking to me about it is like telling a musician that his CD sounds like crap. It doesn’t really help. Once he plays the music, it’s pretty much out of his hands.
If you don’t like the quality of a book, CD, or other manufactured product you should complain, but complain to the guy with the printing press, not the artist.