December 20, 2013

Made It Moment: Erik Dewey

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 9:50 am

Mercenary Rules

This Moment gets the distinction of being the most humble I’ve ever read. And yet, just as the best humor strikes at pain, in this humility is quite a lofty ambition. What happens when we cross that line from aspiring writer to professional? Whom do we become and how do we know we’ve become it? Erik Dewey found out in quite the smallest way–a moment, not a Moment. It could’ve been embarrassing even. But when it happened, Erik crossed that line to a new career…and found that he had made it.

Erik Dewey

I’m not sure what it says about me that I consider this my “made-it-moment,” but for me it happened when I received my first email from someone telling me why they wouldn’t buy my book.

I had written Mercenary Blues specifically to sell as an ebook. I uploaded files and filled out forms, waiting for that day when I could tell the world it could be purchased.

One section of the form asked for the book’s blurb. I had sketched out what I wanted to say so I quickly composed it on screen, clicked submit, and waited for Amazon to tell me all was good. In hindsight, I should have let someone else read over it first, but hey, lesson learned.

I got the email from Amazon and proceeded to tell the world about my new book. I’m co-host on a popular board game podcast, so they were the first group to hear the announcement. After posting the show, I went back to check and see if there were any reviews of the book (honest, I only check three or four times a day) when I noticed that in the very first sentence of my blurb I made a grammatical error. I used a possessive instead of a plural. Ugh.

No peril, I bring up the appropriate web form, make the correct change to the blurb and click submit. I get acknowledgment that the change will happen within 24 hours. I breathe a sigh of relief and hoped I dodged a bullet.

The next morning, I receive an email from a listener telling me that because of the grammar error in the blurb he would not be buying my book because he couldn’t be sure of the quality of grammar inside. Fair enough, even though you could preview the first five chapters online, it was his prerogative.

I drafted a reply that said how I felt like an idiot letting the mistake through and changed it quickly, but I understood how he felt and thanked him for being a listener. I thought such a note would disappoint me, but I realized that this guy held me to a higher standard, that as a professional author, I should know better (and I should). That is how I know I made it.

Erik Dewey hangs his shingle in the Green Country area of Oklahoma. He has written or contributed to over a dozen books and more than twenty magazine articles. In addition to writing novels, he is also a co-host of the On Board Games and OnRPGs podcasts and has way too many games in his house. He met his beautiful wife in a court-ordered defensive driving course and has been far better for it. Also on his website is the Big Book of Everything, a free PDF life organizer to document all of the important things someone would need to know about in the event of a death or catastrophic life event. He loves it when people read all the way to the end of his bio.


  1. I feel you pain Erik, I’ve done the same thing. My first book had a mistake in the title. How did that happen? I have no idea. It was a year after the book was out someone brought it to my attention. Very disturbing. Green Country? What part. I grew up in Tulsa. Great place to live. How many Avalon Hill Games are in your bookcase? I used to play them day and night from Junior High through college. Here’s GR site you might be interested in:

    Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    Comment by Jeff Dawson — December 20, 2013 @ 10:11 am

  2. IT’s never easy going indie, but it’s rewarding! What a great story! And good luck with ALL your endeavors!

    Comment by Connie J Jasperson — December 20, 2013 @ 10:47 am

  3. Erik,

    I taught high school and college English courses for many years and still find errors in my writing. We’re just not perfect. It happens. The edit of my fourth Kim Reynolds mystery was just completed. I was certain it had to be perfect, but when I got it back from the editor, I still found errors that needed correction. We may be professional writers but we’re still human beings!

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — December 20, 2013 @ 10:47 am

  4. Hey, Erik, I’m going to your web site to look at the BBE—cool idea!

    As an English teacher, I don’t get judgmental about typo-type grammar errors (I make ‘em, too), but if I find predication errors or misplaced modification, I shut the book because it’s too much work to read. Thank you for respecting your readers!

    Comment by Sara — December 20, 2013 @ 10:58 am

  5. Jeff,

    Glad to know I’m not the only one. I do have quite a few Avalon Hill games, including Kingmaker, Civilization, Advanced Squad Leader, Amoeba Wars, Flight Leader, and a few others I’ve forgotten. Game design has changed a lot since then, but the classics are still fun.


    Comment by Erik — December 20, 2013 @ 11:02 am

  6. All,

    Thanks for the encouragement. It is always reassuring to realize you aren’t the only person in the room with the same experience/feelings.

    Comment by Erik — December 20, 2013 @ 11:03 am

  7. Erik, Sometimes bestsellers from major publishers have typos that appear as grammatical errors. I believe we’re correct as authors to hold ourselves to a higher standard, but professionalism is no guarantee of perfection. Even if it were, sometimes our books go through so many hands we can’t control every error that is missed or introduced. I find it admirable that you took responsibility for your mistake, but I also find it sad that someone felt the need to point it out in a cruel way. That person could have communicated the error without trying to shame you. Here’s wishing you all the best with your book!

    Comment by Cara Lopez Lee — December 20, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

  8. LOL! I read all the way to the end, Erik. And we all commit typos, especially those of us without professional publishing staffs behind us.

    (Now I post this, just desperately hoping I haven’t left a typo in it, because by the laws of irony I should have.)

    Comment by Sandra Hutchison — December 20, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

  9. Sandra,

    You wouldn’t believe how many times I spell-checked and re-read the post. I couldn’t have another type appear.

    Comment by Erik — December 20, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

  10. We’ve all been there. To your credit, the mistake bothered you. There are some parts of the world that are considering eliminating the apostrophe. It would be a tragedy to lose such a small part of our literary existence. Sadly, the would-be reader is the loser here.

    Comment by Doug Carlyle — December 22, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

  11. Erik, So been there – so done that. Humbling, isn’t it? But I’m not such a hard nose anymore. You have to give grace to get grace. Thanks for being real.

    Comment by Susan Sundwall — December 30, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

  12. Great tale and I am now quaking thinking of all those typos. It does help you to have mistakes pointed out but it is difficult not to be upset. Depends on the way in which it is done. I would not dismiss reading a book because of a mistake and quite honestly I’ve read many books by well known authors where there are all sorts of errors and they still get zillions of followers. Take heart and good luck.

    Comment by Jane Risdon — January 30, 2014 @ 6:50 am

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