· Just about a year ago, I attended a talk at the Mechanics Institute, Nottingham, along with members of the Nottingham Writers’ Group, and the Brinsley and Eastwood Group. Addressed by Mr Darren Hardy, Top Head Manager God of Kindle Marketing in the UK. (Apologies if I missed something out of his title.) It was a cold, wet, foggy night, and ne’er a creature stirred – you know the sort of thing.
· He was inspiring. Full of explanations, assurances and enthusiasm. We chatted at the mid-break. and again afterwards. I was persuaded to believe in the support from KDP through the technical and formatting nightmare leading up to publication. My fears of floundering alone were assuaged by his silken words. I liked him. Believed in what he said. I was the original disciple.
· My first Sci-Fi Book, “Of Other Times and Spaces” was out within about four months – having circumnavigated the nightmare maze of constructing a book for publication via KDP, and sales via Amazon.
· Diligently, I plied my new trade, finished stories, wrote new ones, created the covers, planned ahead and set up advertising strategies. Found out what Facebook and Twitter are, and LinkedIn… the list goes on.
· I set about encouraging customers to write reviews to mount on the Amazon pedestal.
They mounted up – 5* views. Wonderful!
· Alas, ’twas not to be. An un-named vexant cur puts 3* marks upon my page, with nary a word or name – this shadow creeper hides and thrives and the Great God KDP Customer Support says “That’s alright. We encourage a divergent mix of views from customers.”
· “How do you know it’s a customer? How can repeat a grade with never a name or ID hint?”
· The anonymous slug, he comes again, and leaves his smear again upon my page.
Silent they fall at KDP, the Non-God Customer Support.
· Darren Hardy’s Promises are tarnishing now, I think.
· And then, an evil, loathsome denizen of the swamp, from pits of slime, midst wriggling, slithering things lays eyes up the cover of First-Born-Book. He peers at his 2-inch screen and imagines the print to be vague, through his cataract eyes… “and that radial pattern might look like creases if I shut my mind. I’ll write a review and damn it down to the Pit where my type live. I’ll give it 2 stars. Buy it? Not likely… I’m not a customer. I’m a ball of slime that lives to vexate. I’ll hide behind a silly name that innocent sounds. I’ll call myself teddybears picnic, so none shall suspect my lying ways.
But I’ll pretend to be a customer, and get myself under the wing of Customer Support – and that bestows a godlike stays upon my words. In their blind eyes, I’m a God – a customer. And customers can do no wrong.
They give every appearance of having a strange a system on their computer terminals. It works like this.
Instructions in case of Complaint
1. Do not read it.
2. Press A – “We completely understand your problem. Follow this link to another place.”
3. Shrug. Return to chatter and cups of tea.
4. If complainant replies that the link goes nowhere (obviously), press one button on Row two, labelled Fob Off:
a) That’s a printing problem.
b) A customer-God said it, so it must be true.
c) We aren’t the right department.
d) I’ll pass you on.
e) We encourage a range of opinions.
f) Follow this link.
g) You need Communities Team. Follow this link.
h) Buzz to Communities to remind them that they don’t exist.
5. Go back to 2.
In the past three and a half weeks, I’ve jousted thus through more than twenty emails, links and begging letters. Alas, Christmas will be a suffering time, all for the bile of some loathsome worm. (That’s laid on a bit thick so he’ll feel guilty if he reads it.)
So. Sorry, Darren. I liked you then, and believed every word as we chatted at the break and afterwards. But reality doesn’t bear you out.