Marsha Canham's Blog

May 27, 2011

An author’s worst nightmare

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 1:39 pm

Actually there are a few *worsts* and I’m sure we’ve all experienced them at one time or another.  We’ve all laboriously typed out a chapter and hit *save* only to realize afterward that we hit something entirely different and sent the chapter off into cyberland never to be recovered.

I remember working all day long on editing a chapter in The Iron Rose that had been giving me aggravation for weeks.  I had written it one way, then another, then another, and it still didn’t sound right.  Of course it was a major love scene, so there had to be emotion and angst and action and reaction and I needed just the right mood.  So I was giving it one more shot to get it right, and it was late at night and I was tired but I finally, finally had it.  I double checked each word, each sentence. I read it out loud, I smiled, I sighed, I was happy with it….and the power went out.  Boom.  Utter darkness.  It was only out for a few seconds,  but that was long enough to  wipe out all my work. This was at least eight years and two computers ago, so there was no spiffy feature that pulled up whatever you were working on when the power went out.  It was before I had a battery backup too…which was immediately rectified.  I just sat there staring at the screen, with that cold awful feeling crawling up and down my spine.  I couldn’t move, couldn’t think, just sat there with my hands clamped over my mouth to hold back the second flood of four letter words.

Augh. Just augh.  My brain started thumping just typing that out.

So flash forward to this week.  I’ve had Bound by the Heart reduced to .99 the first two weeks of May, and free (at Smashwords) for the last two.  Amazon picked up on the free price and matched it for six days before restoring it to .99 cents.  In the meantime, and I should have known better than to tinker with something in the middle of an *event* but when upwards of 40K readers have downloaded your book, albeit the free version, you still feel the need to give them the best product you possibly can.  Having been alerted to some type-0 and formatting errors I spent an afternoon tidying up the file with the intention of uploading the cleaner version. 

My first clue that a nightmare was about to unfold was when I was zooming through the file to make the corrections and it came to an abrupt end at Chapter 24.  The file…the main book file…was missing 6 chapters at the end!!!  I quickly checked the copy Smashwords had and all 30 chapters seemed to be there, so obviously my computer had simply decided to eat the last 6 chapters in the main file.  I copied the missing chapters back into the file, double checked the formatting and uploaded the new version to Smashwords and Amazon.  This was on the 24th.  Today I checked at SW just to make sure there were no errors in the submission and to my horror, there was a little note saying “Chapter 28 appears to be missing”


I pulled up the file…the new file…and sure enough, Chapter 28 was gone. Vanished.  I don’t know how it happened.  It was there when I fixed the old file.  It was there when I went through the pages to restore the italics that had been wiped out in the formatting process.  It was there when I hit SAVE and I could swear it was there when I hit UPLOAD.  But it was gone. And when I checked my Amazon numbers, what should have put a huge smile on my face seeing that another 2K readers had downloaded it, made my heart sink into my toes.  All those readers will be zooming along, following the adventure, getting set for the major sea battle near the end of the book and….there’s no sea battle!  I can imagine if it was a print book, that book would be flying across the room with ultra force.

SO.  I’ve redone the file yet again.  I’ve filled out a “review this book” thingy on the Amazon page apologizing profusely for the error and advising readers if they downloaded the book between May 24 and May 27 it’s missing a chapter and to please upload a new copy.  I’m blogging, Facebooking, and Tweeting….but how  do I reach the readers who don’t read blogs or Tweets or Facebooks?  I’m totally sick about this and can’t apologize enough.  It’s taken so long for this book and my other backlist books to see the light of day again…augh…just augh.

So for anyone reading this who has downloaded a copy over the past couple of days, my very humble apologies for the missing chapter and please do go and download a new file.



  1. Oh, dear! So sorry to hear this. Hard to believe now, but such errors make fond memories later. Loving you and your work as they do, readers might even be glad to own an ‘unusual’ copy. I speak from experience…

    My second title, Knight in my Bed, released with a variety of bad copies: missing pages, upside-down pages, chapters in the wrong order, etc… A ‘bad batch at the printers,’ or so I was told. I still hear from readers who find bad copies in UBS.

    Long-time, faithful readers who nabbed a bad version see them as collector items. So keep your chin up, know readers love you anyway, and make lemonade. 😉

    If all else fails, remember: this, too, will pass.

    Comment by Sue-Ellen Welfonder — May 27, 2011 @ 3:06 pm | Reply

  2. Ugh, so frustrating! Sorry. Frustrating for the readers, but worse for you to know it and not be able to reach everyone. I hope it all works out.

    Comment by Sherri Browning Erwin — May 27, 2011 @ 3:22 pm | Reply

  3. And this could happen to any of us. I always close my eyes and shiver as I press “upload”, and I’ve only had a few minor glitches happen during the uploading process which, surprise, surprise, I was able to fix and, fortunately, before anyone purchased the book. But I know how sick you are over this, Marsha. Surely Amazon can help you get the word out to buyers of BBTH.

    Comment by Jill Metcalf — May 27, 2011 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

  4. The good news is that if this same thing happened with a print book the fix would involve going to a store or waiting for something to show up in the mail. At least with this problem, the fix is only a download away. I wonder if Amazon can email everyone who purchased the book between those dates?

    Don’t worry to much though. Your books are so good that they are worth a little effort to get a complete copy!

    Comment by Christa — May 27, 2011 @ 11:54 pm | Reply

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