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This is either the funniest, or saddest email I’ve received thus far in connection with my book. I’m having trouble deciding how to reply to such an asinine, hypercritical message so I’ve decided to leave it up to the court of public opinion.

Jason,

I was looking at your book on Amazon and clicked the link to http://www.principlesofbeautifulwebdesign.com/ . While I do like the message and techniques presented, I am amazed you include a misspelled word on a web site design example. I am also amazed no one reamed you in the reviews.

The possessive form of “it” is “its.” “It’s” is only used as a contraction for “it is.” Period. The error is under Imagery, end of the first line.

Check http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/it if you need a confirmation.

Also, under the “About the Author” section, the comma belongs inside the quotes. Pick up a newspaper or magazine and notice where a period or comma should be placed when at the end of a quote.

Sorry, but you lost a sale because of those blunders. Maybe if you fix them you won’t lose another. Pretty layouts and color choices are not the only things that make a beautiful web site.

Regards,
(Name Removed)

In this persons defense, I’m terrible at catching grammatical and spelling errors. My wife and the editors at Sitepoint can verify that. I’ve since fixed the two minor grammatical errors, but I’m curious how you think I should respond? Please leave out any expletives.

I’m really hoping this whole thing is just a payback joke for mass rick-rolling everyone I know on twitter. 🙂 Regardless, it’s pretty classy.

23 Comments

  1. Really, you’re probably better off not having this person as a customer. The book would probably sustain some pretty severe water damage when they cry themself to sleep each night.

  2. The book would probably sustain some pretty severe water damage when they cry themself to sleep each night.

    Hmm…perhaps I should suggest they buy the hardcover edition for that reason.

  3. I’d write back with: scuse me sir I can has grammar lesson?

  4. I would reply using all HTML entities for quotes, commas, ampersands and the like; or , just reply using one run on sentence like this one; and maybe throw a few BTW, or IMHO, or MYOB, or i dont know… LOL

    seriously, I agree with Rob. You cant satisfy everyone. If someone gets erked by errors like that, they aren’t getting the point of learning from the book, or any book for that matter.

  5. I would respond politely to the email, thanking them for their notice of the errors and ignore the rest of their comments. People like that don’t need any encouragement to spam you with hate mail or anything else of that realm. Spelling errors are going to happen, it’s the way of life. And I really doubt someone who was really interested in what the book offers is going to be turned off by a few spelling mistakes on a website.

  6. @Anon E. Moose
    Very funny. Perhaps I should send them lolinated version of the book site. In case anyone hasn’t seen it yet, The Lolinator is absolutely brilliant. I fall off my chair laughing every time run a website through it.

  7. Persenally, I can’t beleive you wuold make such semple spelleng mestakes.

  8. Although the guy sounds like a real moron you have to remember that he may have just gotten some bad news earlier and then happened to visit your site. Then he wrote while already in a bad mood. You never know what is going on “behind the scenes” in someone’s life.

    Rise above it!

    Here’s how I would answer:

    Dear So-and-so,

    Thank you for reviewing my book and taking the time to write. I have made the corrections you suggested and I appreciate you sharing them with me.

    Please understand that I am first and foremost a designer. I enjoy writing, but I leave the editing up to the professionals who work for the publisher. Obviously, if the book were a book about writing or grammar the mistakes on my site would certainly have been more glaring, and your criticisms would have been valid.

    I would like to propose the following: Buy the book and take it for a “test drive.” If you are not satisfied, return it to me in good condition with the original receipt and I will gladly refund your money.

    Thanks again, So-and-so, for your comments.

    Kind regards,
    Jason

    Of course, you’d have to be willing to buy the book back and that you have corrected the mistakes on the site. But the point is, if you answer graciously and without invective, and offer an incentive for him to buy the book with no risk, you may win a loyal reader for life — who may become an “evangelist” on your behalf because you took the time to write without returning the critical spirit he used.

    Also notice my sample letter begins with “Thank you.” Always begin such letters by putting the other person first.

    Remember that Saul of Tarsus was highly energetic, but angry and wicked. After his conversion, “Paul” was still highly energetic, but his direction and motivation changed.

    Hopefully, you can respond in such a way that will redirect your critic’s energy away from you so that it works for you.

  9. Once again, I accidentally whacked my

    blockquote

    Caramba.

  10. I love those kinds of emails. I got one last year about my spelling of ridiculous. I had a habit of spelling it with an “e” in place of that first “i”. Thanks to the note I got, I’ve never forgotten how to spell it. Similarly, an executive at an old job came down on me for using “stationary” (still) when I meant “stationery” (paper).

    Some people, for whatever reason, get really bothered with mistakes like these. My mom, an elementary school teacher really pounded on me growing up and I still make mistakes. It’s why I’m so forgiving when people say things like “I don’t want to loose my keys.” Um… what, you want to tighten them? 😀

    If it were me I would respond very briefly with something like this…

    “Dear ______, thank you so much for catching my errors. I have so little time remaining after everything else I do to devote to a serious editing of my writing. Without diligent and observant people like you (and book editors) scrutinizing the details, this book could never have been published at all. Although I’m sure this particular error hasn’t hurt book sales, it can only help my credibility to fix these mistakes, so I appreciate your candor.”

    It’s diplomatic and doesn’t give in to his/her bating. But off the record, what a goober! Seriously, what kind of language nazi refuses to buy a book because of a minor spelling/grammatical error on a website? Okay, well, except maybe a book about grammar or spelling.

  11. I think that person was secretly hoping you would send them a free copy of your book to prove to them you market a quality product. Don’t get sucked into the game. Stand firm and remember you cant believe everything you read on the web.

    Great book, loved it.

  12. Hear yoo go:

    “Its verry hard four me too speel beecuse off ann axident I had wen I was a kid. Ive had ‘speshul needs’ evar sence than. I tryed reel hard two doo my best on teh webssite wifout ane hellp. Thanks four makeing me feel badly. Yoove convinsed me two take my lives. I hop your happy know.”

  13. Thanks for all the feedback peeps. I guess the overall consensus is that I should take the high road, acknowledge the errors and ignore the attitude.

  14. im in ur blog. rightin codez!

  15. Sweep the leg! Do you have a problem with that Mr. Lawrence?!

  16. (Dramatic pause…) No sensei!

  17. I am aghast. Why is incorrect spelling/grammar considered acceptable, and why is someone who points it out made a mockery of? Why do you have to ASK how to deal with being corrected?? Is your ego so fragile that it can’t take a hit like having an error pointed out??

    “It’s” and “its” have entirely different meanings; people are generally taught this in grade 5 primary school where I come from. I certainly don’t expect to find a child-like error like that in a book written by an adult that I’ve paid good money for. Spelling errors reflect very badly on you whether you like it or not; they make you look stupid.

    You need to thank this person for pointing it out, and GIVE them a copy of your book. Then you should have a quiet chat with Sitepoint’s editors and demand that they lift their game.

    “… ignore the attitude..” What attitude?? Someone has pointed out errors WHICH SHOULD NOT OCCUR with a proper and rigorous editing process, and has done so in a most courteous manner. Your response is to throw it back in their face by reproducing it here and calling it “asinine” and “hypercritical”. Two errors are “hypercritical”? And pointing them out is “asinine”??

    Congratulations, you just lost another customer (and by word of mouth, probably a few more: “wow, take a look at this!!”) because of YOUR attitude to what should have been a simple and innocuous thing such as “Oh gee, thanks for letting me know, I’ll fix that right away.”

    And incidentally, regarding the book’s website: I fail to see the point of popup text that pops up over the top of other text so that neither can be read. That’s what happens when you click one of those nav items and then roll over them. I have javascript turned on, but clicking a nav link seems to turn it off or something because a link appears telling me to turn the fun back on. I never turned it off! I came here to contact you to tell you that, then saw your total lack of grace in dealing with someone who was trying to offer the help that Sitepoint’s editors should have.

  18. Interestingly enough, the last poster failed to read that the misspelling/incorrect grammar was on a webpage and NOT in the book and decided to rant about something they didn’t even understand. Way to go!

  19. Wow is what I got to say. This guy has nothing better to do then critique other peoples gramatical errors? Heaven forbid someone makes a mistake. I work at a newspaper where I do advertising graphics and my work goes through two proof readers besides me and sometimes even then somethings just get by. He could of been polite about it and just mentioned he noticed a couple of errors. That is no reason not to enjoy what the rest of the book has to offer. I don’t even know if I would reply. But I guess to be professional I would apologize and tell them you have corrected the errors. If I wasn’t professional I would tell them to go play with a monkey and don’t worry about gramatical errors in other peoples books because you don’t have the talen to write your own. MUHAHAHAHAHA (evil laugh). I am not evil, really…by the way… LOVE YOUR BOOK. I am a novice trying to build my talent. Peace!

  20. Thank the person for the free editing service and send him/her a free copy of your book.

    That’s just good business.

  21. Thought I already posted what I did here, but I guess I didn’t yet.

    I sent a nice “thank you” reply similar to what Paul Erickson suggested above and still haven’t heard back.

    At first, I thought Mr. Incredulous above was the original sender, but he obviously didn’t understand that the errors were on the promo site and not in the book. Honestly, even if the errors were in the book, I wouldn’t be horribly offended. I’ve learned though that some people would have been and that’s a lesson I’ll take to heart. I really do know the rules of grammar, how to spell, and the correct punctuation of “it’s”, but I communicate so often, so quickly, and so haphazardly online that Im bund too mayke missteaks. 😉 Not that it’s right…

    To those of you who’ve chimed in with suggestions, encouragement, or bizarre pictorial references to Karate Kid, thank you!

  22. I too am seriously disappointed that you chose to handle it like this (even if you did respond to them nicely). You’re calling the person asinine because some very silly spelling mistakes were made.

  23. I said the message was asinine and hypercritical, not the messenger. The tone of the email is indisputably condescending and confrontational.

    “I am also amazed no one reamed you in the reviews.”

    I can handle criticism and I appreciate knowing when I’ve made a mistake, but the statement above was so far over the top that I honestly did not know how to respond. Perhaps I should have deleted the message, fixed the mistakes and moved on. Instead I chose to make it public, thinking that it might have even been a practical joke. That’s just not the way you report minor typographical errors.

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