Saturday, May 19, 2012 — I received an email this morning from Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing congratulating me that my e-book, Salmon Salad and Mozart: A Dementia Caregiver’s Journal, Volume I: Begins the Night Music is published for readers to purchase here.
Sure enough, it’s there. Published a year exactly from the day I started publishing this blog. If only I could have just clicked my heels and had the book magically finished weeks ago. It happens, though, that after a month of being misled in a dizzying circle trying to get my table of contents to link to the actual contents, an Amazon KDP employee stuck his hand into my book draft saved on the KDP website and tinkered with my html/web page document mutilating my table of contents formatting rendering it unrecognizable. (Pardon the terminology, but I just got done watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the David Fincher version.) Moreover, he emailed me – the KDP guy, not David Fincher – that he had reformatted my Word document. Where did he get the Word document without downloading my book file into his computer and converting it to Word format? Mind you, I have copyrighted my book with the United States Copyrighting Office. Isn’t what he did illegal? To understate my reaction, I was livid. I emailed him my feelings in all caps, large type. Thank the goddesses I saved a copy of the final draft in my computer. I immediately went to my KDP Bookshelf site, deleted his handiwork and uploaded a fresh, current copy. Then I proceeded to submit the book for publication.
Yesterday afternoon while I was finalizing my publishing details, something was going on under the trees in the forest. When it was done, I received an email of explanation, this one, from Amazon’s Executive Customer Service office, the KDP Wizard, telling me that the reformatted content (that I had deleted) had not been published and that she had now removed it and reuploaded the Word document I had originally saved. I wonder what document that was….
Since there is a two or three day delay between my emailing KDP and their reply, I suspected she had deleted the Word document I had uploaded, my final version. I clicked on the Kindle Previewer on my KDP Bookshelf site and saw – blank pages. I uploaded a fresh copy of the final version, clicked on Previewer again and saw – blank pages. Furthermore, the site now tells me that my book is in review, rather than having been published.
Throughout this month of stumbling amid sweaty entanglements of elephantine vines in the forest, I have been dealing with KDP people all of whom are sitting on their divans in their living rooms in India gazing into their crystal balls: I get emails that say, “Ah, I … see … in your document … that …” you need to change this to that. Means of phone contact does not exist. The next email would say to change that to this or possibly to the other thing. The KDP website instructions tell you to save your Word document as a web page, zip it and upload it. I did that while at the same time sending my Word document to another Amazon Kindle site to be converted to Kindle format and then downloading it into my Kindle so I could see how it looks.
Ultimately, this week the Wizard told me I could simply upload my book as a Word document, what I suspected last month.
Amazon has come under fire for utilizing such exotic hirelings. Overall, their customer service is superb, among the best; during all this crystal ball gazing, one sales supervisor, who knew nothing about Kindles, listened to me on end, sympathetically, and a few days later made a follow-up call to me. He did give me the email address to the executive customer service office.
No matter the place, the hirelings can be right here in the U.S. – the Downsourced. These are the people who never managed to graduate from kindergarten, apparently, who cannot read, write, do numbers, type – or listen; they cannot do anything but text. But they can be paid less. I just wanted a simple number from one young girl and she just could not seem to get it together beyond arguing with me. “Don’t argue with me,” I admonished. “I’m NOT arguing with you,” she said.
In my day, which was about a year ago, to get hired we had to take tests in English, math, IQ and personality – at least I did; maybe they saw me coming and got wary. It’s hard not to outright insult these — the Downsourced — over the phone; but, then, they wouldn’t get it, anyway.
They are the Downsourced, the petty tyrants, and we are their Downtrodden.
Too bad these companies don’t realize that good customer service brings them business. Since my daughter became manager a few months ago of the health food store where she works, due to her endearing personality, sales expertise and product knowledge, she has increased sales and brought back former customers. No one wants to shop where customer service personnel treat you disrespectfully; those stores lose business and then close. It is my intuition that people who treat me disrespectfully disrespect themselves.
As for downsourcing, possibly I could get a job with Amazon KDP, lazing on my living room couch pulling cue cards out of a hat – for the low pay, it couldn’t require that much effort.