My Darling Geek got my website (www.booksbykimberly.com) up and running, so I’m really out there, on the web, claiming to be an author. Honestly, I didn’t have much to put up on the site, so I copied over all those Grammar Gremlins articles from the Playground archives.
I’m glad I did. According to DG, I’m getting a lot of hits from folks looking for grammar help. I’m not proud; I’ll take my visitors however they get there.
Of course, with so little traffic, I can’t expect email from folks not blood kin or BFF from the site (thanks, y’all), but that doesn’t stop me from checking the inbox regularly, eagerly waiting for someone I don’t know to email me.
Last Thursday, I finally got one! I was so excited. Until I opened it, at least. It certainly wasn’t fan mail of any sort.
One of the visitors to my site looking for grammar help had issue with a few of my comma suggestions and had emailed me to let me know.
Now, y’all know I’ve ranted before about the proliferation of garbage masquerading as information on the internet, so I understand the need to email the authors of such pages to question their “expertise.” But I normally try to do it as a friendly “but what about this…” or “according to Dr. Expert Author of Every Book on the Subject…” or even “maybe this wasn’t what you meant to say…”
Nope. Not this email. I was WRONG. Not mistaken. Not possibly off-kilter. WRONG. And I was “spreading misinformation.”
Yes, my hackles went up. But so did my adrenaline levels. Did I really screw up somehow? Did the file get corrupted somehow during the upload and say something different now? I checked the site, but the articles seemed fine. I pulled out my grammar books to look for exceptions to the rules I’d forgotten to mention. Nothing. I even did some web searches to see if the rules had changed in the months since I wrote the articles. Nope.
I know the general rule is not to reply to such emails. After all, when you engage, you enrage, and we all know what happens when you try to argue on the internet. But I couldn’t help it. I wrote the person back.
I tried very hard not to be snarky or pompous, and I put on my very best professional “voice” as I tried to explain how I thought the writer must have misread the article and invited her to provide me with examples to support her interpretation of comma usage. Then I spent the next few days wondering if I should have hit Delete instead of Send.
She wrote me back.
But this time, the email was totally different. She apologized for her earlier email, thanked me for being a good sport about it, and provided the source of her confusion. (Note to self: remember to write LEGIBLY when correcting student papers.)
I’m glad I responded, and I’m glad I didn’t get my back up or write snarky rebuttals. Hopefully, this will be good practice for the emails I’m bound to get in the future when folks take issue with something in one of my books.
But I’m still looking forward to getting the email…
Have you ever sent email to the author of a web page who has something totally and completely wrong on their site? How did they respond? Have you been on the other side and been the receiver of an email like that? How did you handle it?