Sunday, February 03, 2008

Q&A: Hate Amazon But Don't Mind Learning to Get Along?

This question came from one of my favorite online egroups, Word_Mage (word_mage-subscribe@yahoogroups.com) listmomed by Billie Williams. One is from a writer who says she loves Amazon and that if she weren't a tree-hugger she'd carve that into the trunk of a big oak. And, of course, she suggests the chapter in the Frugal Book Promoter that talks about the perks Amazon offers.

Then another member was she was really ticked with them because the reviews of her book had gone missing, had even sent them a blistering note. She said she was "as mad a wet hen." So she was glad to see another point of view.

Then another told her to cool it, that sometimes Amazon is just working on stuff and that, like ghosts or fog, they disappear only to reappear in a couple of days. And I commented said that is true. You know how these e-group threads go. (-:

Of course, I still had to chime in with more, a la Ann Landers. So here it is:

Carolyn's Advice:

In the Frugal Book Promoter , I start the chapter with something like "Authors love to hate Amazon and, sometimes, I hate to love them."

The fact is undeniable, though: Amazon can do wonders for writers and that without them -- especially those of us who publish with POD technology (on occasion or exclusively), we are pretty much lost if we intend to do much volume book selling. Collectively, the booksellers certainly aren't going to do it for us.

Therefore we are duty-bound (for the good of our books) to learn Amazon's perks and how to use them effectively. As an example, I am about to take pictures of some of the farm antiques I have from the polygamist grandfather's farm and post them to the This Is the Place page in the photos feature. (This Is the Place is about five generations of hardy Utah women who all married into the Mormon religion and found the hardships inherent in that situation hard to overcome.) It's based on my own genealogy.

So, be mad as a wet kitten, if you want. But keep learning to work within Amazon's system. Let them know where problems exist. Here's how:

 Wait a couple days to see if the problem resolves itself, especially if it involves disappearing features.
 Use their feedback feature to communicate. Do it politely.
 Be persistent if they don't respond.
 When they do they will give you a URL to respond if your question was resolved and another if it wasn't. Use whichever suits the occasion. Know that the one that clues someone (someone apparently higher up on the Amazon totem) that the problem wasn't resolved, gets action quickly but don't use it without good reason.
 Send a thank you.

You want to stay on Amazon's good side. After all, they're just working people like you and me. Approach it that way and you win (and, yes, so do they!)

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author THIS IS THE PLACE; HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED; TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T; and THE FRUGAL EDITOR: PUT YOUR BEST BOOK FORWARD TO AVOID HUMILIATION AND ENSURE SUCCESS.
Her other blogs include TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com and AuthorsCoalition.blogspot.com, a blog that helps writers and publishers turn a ho-hum book fair booth into a sizzler.

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