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Legio17

Author's Question

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Hi, I am the author of Legion XVII: Roman Legion at War and Legion XVII: Battle of the Danube.  I just received a 1-star rating for Battle of the Danube because the reader was turned off that I put the metric equivalent in parentheses following a notation of yards or miles.  He stated that it was like watching TV and continually being interrupted by commercials.  He said it hurt the flow of the book for him.  Here's what it looks like in the book: ...17 miles (23 km)...

 

I did not use this technique in my first book.  I used it in the 2nd because I read a book from the UK that only used metrics and I had to constantly convert distances and weights.  That made for a difficult read.

 

I'm mid way into my 3rd book and I've been putting the metric equivalent in parentheses like I did in Battle of the Danube.  No other readers have posted a similar comment, so I'm unsure how big a problem it really is.

 

I would appreciate reading your thoughts on this.  

 

 

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...jesus, giving a bad review just because of that is pretty sad,

maybe if possible make two versions a US version (miles) and one for the rest of the world in km...

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It isn't a big problem.  The difficulty with reading reviews - especially those on Amazon - is that it is too easy to accept the reviews at face value and panic.  If all of the reviews say the same thing, then there's a problem.  If it's just one review, it's a fad of the reviewer.  I know this from personal experience, as my own books have had 'odd' reviews.

 

Ask yourself this:  how many books have you sold?  And how many of these complaints have you had?

 

My own take on the reviewing process can be found at http://www.ianhughesma.com/2011/08/26/the-problem-with-reviews/

 

I've come to the conclusion that all you can do is write the book that you would want to read.  If a reviewer doesn't like the way you've done it, they've got the right to go away and write their own book.  Chances are that they won't!

 

Don't worry, after a while the criticisms begin to bite less deeply and you can focus on writing rather than worrying!

Edited by sonic
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Sonic, I am truly pleased to receive a response from a noted author, historian, and gentleman.  I've read the link in your comment, your book reviews at UNRV, and your "About Me" at your websites.  Sorry to say I have yet to read your books, but will.  They look fascinating.

 

I appreciate your practical, common sense response.  Your last line was particularly helpful: "Don't worry, after a while the criticisms begin to bite less deeply and you can focus on writing rather than worrying!"

 

My two books are selling very well, thanks to UNRV.  The negative comment that I mentioned is the only one to highlight my use of standard U.S. distances and the equivalent metric distance.  I will assume that most readers do not have a similar problem until I hear otherwise.

 

Viggen's response mirrored my own.  I'm mulling over his suggestion to publish two books: one for those who think in metrics and a second for all others.  Doing that may confuse readers.  At this point, I'll just carry on with writing and less with worrying!

 

Thank you for taking the time to pen a very helpful comment.

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What about Roman miles? Myanmar also has it's own system of measurements.

 

It's your book, do this however you want. There is a kind of fan known as a "Talifan", this guy isn't as bad as they are, it can get soooo much worst. Just gotta shut them off, and focus on the people who you know you've pleased. It's hard to untangle the product of our work with our sense of self, but we don't have to let others determine the latter... who we are as a result of flippancy on their part.

 

F' em, smile, eat your bagel and move on with what your best at, the stuff you enjoy. You wrote a easy to follow book, I had no complaints.

Edited by Onasander
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Hmm.

 

I must admit, it seems quite an academic way of stating a distance, and I haven't seen it done before in a fictional context.  I'd aim for a much more touchy-feely way of representing distance.  Most of the time in fiction, lengths are stated to give the reader an idea of the distance involved, rather than a an actual 'hard-and-fast' measurement.  This could be done by using such phrses as "a days's march" and still get the concept right over to the reader.

 

One star just for that is tough criticism, though.

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Onasander, Nice to hear from you again.  One of your sentences caused me to pause and highlights your philosophical bent: "It's hard to untangle the product of our work with our sense of self, but we don't have to let others determine the latter..."

 

I had to goggle "Talifan."  I've read some of their comments regarding other books, but haven't yet had to face their wrath.

 

Good advice.  I'm grateful that you took the time to reply.

 

Regards

 

Edited by Legio17

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GhostOfClayton,

 

Thank you for a very practical solution:  "a days' march."  Would solve most of the problems.  I'll begin to use it although I'm addicted to stating precise distances, other measurements, and time of day.  It's probably very unRoman, but it's the way I think and without that information, the story seems incomplete.    

 

I read several of your blog entries to become more familiar with you.  They are very entertaining and informative.  I promise I will never again recline my airlines' seat without first looking to see who's back there.  If it's a tall guy with an English accent, the seat will remain upright!

 

Your avatar has to do with Rosemary Sutcliff's Eagle of the Ninth and your guide duties at Hadrian's Wall.  Naxos Audio Books cover art.

 

Thanks for your comment.

Regards

Edited by Legio17

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My book has 17 reviews on Amazon.  Of that number, 13 gave it five stars, 3 gave it 4 stars, and ONE gave it a single star and called it "the worst book he had ever read."  You're just never going to please everybody!

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Indianasmith, Thanks for posting a response.  I looked at your book reviews on Amazon.  Should make you feel good that so many readers are enjoying  it.  Great ratings!  I also read the one 1-star review.  Strange how so many find the book extremely well written and interesting and yet one individual calls it terrible.   Your statement, "You're just never going to please everybody!" is the only reasonable explanation.

 

Regards 

 

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I read several of your blog entries to become more familiar with you.  They are very entertaining and informative.  I promise I will never again recline my airlines' seat without first looking to see who's back there.  If it's a tall guy with an English accent, the seat will remain upright!

 

Good lad!

 

Your avatar has to do with Rosemary Sutcliff's Eagle of the Ninth and your guide duties at Hadrian's Wall. Naxos Audio Books cover art.

 

Whilst you're right that you'll find the centurion in question on the cover of some editions of Eagle of the Ninth, the truth is that it and my Avatar share the same original source.  Identify that source, and the mystery prize will be yours (if the Christmas present from the blog wasn't enough - what a munificent man I am!)

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William Bell Scott "The Building of the Roman Wall"

 

If you really work on the wall, kindly ask the park maintence guys to close the gap between the wooden walls and the mounds, it's causing OCD Anger Fits in me seeing such a absurdly useless defensive array being on display. If the Romans actually used it, they all deserved to be ambushed and die. Rule 1 for any defensive fortification: The Defensive Walls has to reach all the way to the ground. It's about the worst place I can imaging for a shortcut. Its almost as bad as forgetting to put a lock on the city gates.... or making them so they can only be locked from the outside only, your just asking for problems.

 

Of course, this is the same wall that built a defensive ditch to the REAR of the wall (????), and took delight in plastering the front of the wall. It's a shameful wall.

Edited by Onasander

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Aaha!  Wasn't sure where you were going with this until I goggled "William Bell Scott."  Excellent research!  You not only identified the Centurion avatar for GhostOfClayton, but made an educated and interesting comment on the wall itself.  Kudos!

 

You've earned the mystery prize!

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William Bell Scott "The Building of the Roman Wall"

 

If you really work on the wall, kindly ask the park maintence guys to close the gap between the wooden walls and the mounds, it's causing OCD Anger Fits in me seeing such a absurdly useless defensive array being on display. If the Romans actually used it, they all deserved to be ambushed and die. Rule 1 for any defensive fortification: The Defensive Walls has to reach all the way to the ground. It's about the worst place I can imaging for a shortcut. Its almost as bad as forgetting to put a lock on the city gates.... or making them so they can only be locked from the outside only, your just asking for problems.

 

Of course, this is the same wall that built a defensive ditch to the REAR of the wall (????), and took delight in plastering the front of the wall. It's a shameful wall.

 

Good work on the painting, though the full title is "The Romans Cause a Wall to be Built for the Protection of the South".  A typically over-verbose William Bell Scott title.  Do please PM me while I desperately try and think of a prize.

 

I'm not sure quite where you're thinking about wooden-wall-wize.  All I can think of is the recreation of the turf wall at Vindolanda.  This was built in the 70s, and to my knowledge hasn't been repaired since, Not a realistic archeological experiment, given the presence of rabbits in the UK that weren't (arguably) there in 122AD.

 

The turf wall should have been a defence in and of itself, but it has been argued that it may have had a wooden pallisade along the top for patrolling.  I won't go into the various arguments for and against that here.

 

I don't go to Vindolanda very often, but I know the turf wall has lost over half a metre in height since it was built, so I imagine gaps have appeared beneth the pallisade.  Do you think that's what you meant?  If not, do you have a photo or some such i can have a look at?

 

The wall itself was very much a cowboy job.  Very poor quality.

 

I once had a job in an Engineers' Stores.  The odd-job man was asked to brick up a hatch and, not being a skilled brickie, made a total mess of it, with no brick ending up parallel to any other, or indeed perpendicular to the force of gravity.  So, he rendered it, got a plank of wood, and dragged his thumb along it in the wet plaster to create a perfect brickwork effect.  he then painted it white.  It looked pretty convincing in the end.  I often think that's what was happening with the plaster they found at Wallsend.  For completeness, I will say that there's no evidence of render anywhere else along the wall.

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