Monday, 26 August 2013

Amazon Woes, Goodreads Bullying, & Mormon Writers Back Gay Author

I have a more serious and sombre post for you today.

If you're one of my Facebook friends, you'll l already know I've been having major technical issues with Amazon KDP. To say that the last few weeks have been stressful, would be putting it mildly. But before I explain, let me say that I love Amazon KDP. As an indie writer, I like the freedom it gives me - the ability to decide the content, cover image, and price. So, this is not a post bashing Amazon KDP itself.

So what has been my problem with KDP? I uploaded updated files for both my eBooks in July and, despite the updated versions showing as live on my author bookshelf, they're not being sent to NEW customers. I tried to get this problem corrected via author support. Numerous emails went back and forth. Each time I contacted them, or they replied to me, a different person dealt with my problem. At first they didn't even understand the issue. When I finally seemed to be making progress, they told me they could offer no further advice or assistance. In other words, they don't understand and/or care.

Let me stress, I KNOW new customers are not receiving the updated versions of my books. I've had friends purchase my books just to check.

For Passing Time this isn't to big an issue. The updated book only contains added details of my second eBook - a cover picture, blurb, and links. Still, it would be nice to have them there. However, the updated version of Taking Time contains corrected errors. I NEED that version to be live.

The problem is there is no way for me to contact anyone higher than author support. I now have no choice but to re-publish both books as second editions, so that the correct versions are on sale. Passing Time should be available early September, after it's current term in KDP Select ends. This time I will be publishing it in ALL major eBook formats, not just through Kindle.

Unfortunately, Taking Time will have to wait until mid-October. Due to the errors, I've reluctantly taken it off sale. I will let you know when it's available again nearer the time.

The sad thing is it seems I'm not the only KDP author to be experiencing this problem. I've had other authors contact me with similar issues. On the other hand, I've had dozens of authors tell me they've not had any problems updating their books recently. So, what is going on?


Now on to Goodreads Bullying.

WARNING: You may find parts of this offensive.

Over the last week, alleged bullying at Goodreads has been the hot topic (Please note, I'm using the word alleged here because I haven't actually seen these reviews or listings myself). Author Lauren Howard made the decision to not publish her first book, Learning to Love, due to the behaviour of some Goodreads members. Unfortunately, Lauren has now taken down the post in which she details her yet to be published book receiving one-star ratings, nasty reviews, and being added to book lists where the author should be raped or sodomized. If this is the case, I can only imagine the distress this must have caused her.

While I believe that a reader has the right to leave any rating or review (and writers need to learn to accept that), the existence of such offensive Goodreads lists is wholly unacceptable. There should be some form of moderation, which would remove such listings because of their offensive nature. I can only hope that the media attention this issue has received will make Goodreads re-consider the current freedom to say anything you like policy.

In the meantime, author Lexa Cain has highlighted that there IS an option to flag an abusive review. You can complain. Click here to visit her blog and learn how to. Thank you, Lexa.


The third thing I want to discuss today is something that has gone a little way to restoring my faith in hunanity, Mormon Writers Back Gay Author.

I'm sure most, if not all of you, will have heard the shocking news that David Powers King and Michael Jensen's Woven publication was cancelled due to the inclusion of one line in Jensen's biography - a line that made reference to his male partner that the publisher felt would alienate their LDS readers. I'm not going to repeat the details of the homophobic discrimination Jensen was subjected to. However if you're only just learning of this issue now, here are some links:

David Powers King on Woven cancellation
Interview with Michael Jensen

What I would like to draw attention to is that since the shocking news of the books cancellation and the reason why, more than 40 Mormon authors in Utah have signed a letter supporting Michael Jensen. In it they say:

"While publishers have the right to choose what they will and will not publish, we believe books should be accepted or rejected upon the merits of their content, quality, and commercial viability, not on any other factor," the letter states. (You can read the full article here)

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/24/3583401/mormon-authors-back-gay-writer.html#storylink=cpy

I second that. I can only hope that more people come forward and offer their support and the voice of reason. It's a sad day when a person's sexual orientation dictates whether they can be published.

That's it for today's post. I'll be back on Wednesday, with two Speculative Fiction Writer guests - the awesome Angela Brown and Gwen Gardner.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/24/3583401/mormon-authors-back-gay-writer.html#storylink=cpy

27 comments:

  1. Sorry you are having issues with Amazon. Good to know your books will be available elsewhere though. (I hit the iBookstore first, Amazon second.)
    Saw Lexa's post. That's terrible what readers did to Lauren. The worst I've experienced is vengeful one star ratings on Goodreads.
    And Michael and David's story is so sad. If they didn't want to publish because he's gay, they never should've offered a contract, but the real shame was the president's words to Michael. That was inexcusable. You don't treat any person like that.

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    1. I agree, Alex. Why offer the contract in the first place? As for what the president of Cedar Fort said, shame on him.

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  2. I've seen some awful reviews on Goodreads, but I've never witnessed anything like is being talked about. It's a shame that any proof has been taken down. I remain a huge supporter of Goodreads, but with 20+ million users now, it's hard to police, which is why we all need to be vigilant. I have to say, whenever I've flagged anything, I've had a response from Goodreads within 12 hours. The librarians there are amazing.

    Sorry about your KDP problems too. Again, Amazon have never been anything other than great to work with for me.

    And as for the disgusting treatment of David and Michael, well, their book will find a home, a real home. I wish them much success.

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    1. At least the Goodreads librarians are taking notice of any flagged abuse. That's good to know, Donna.

      I'm sure Woven will find the home it deserves.

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  3. I've heard rumors about GR's, but haven't seen it either. But I don't get involved in anything other than being there and doing the occassional giveaway.

    I hope this resolves your issue with Amazon. What an ordeal you've had.

    David and Michael are getting great mileage out of all this. I'm sure they'll land on better ground than they started on. But gayness or lack of shouldn't be grounds for how people are treated ever. I think because that squeaky cog makes a lot of noise, businesses think bigotism is more popular than it is.

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    1. I've never seen abuse of that nature on GRs, either. I've seen what are obviously vengeful or jealous one-star ratings, but I've also seen low ratings with well articulated reasons behind them.

      I hope my problems with Amazon will be a one-off. Keeping all my fingers crossed.

      I'm sure David and Michael will find a new, much better and more deserved home.

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  4. I haven't seen any such bullying behaviour on GR, but it's DEFINITELY not acceptable and the GR powers that be definitely need to step in if things have gone that far.

    Sucks about your Amazon woes - I hope they get sorted soon.

    And I'm glad to hear that all those Mormon authors are being vocal in their support of Michael Jensen. The news of their cancellation and the reasons for it was shocking.

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    1. Absolutely unacceptable, but unfortunately the downside of today's social media.

      Thank you for your good wishes with regard to my Amazon problems.

      Here. Here. To all the Mormon authors backing Michael.

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  5. Hi Ellie .. life can be so challenging dealing with the big boys - I can't imagine the hassles and don't want to. All I can say is I sincerely hope you can get your publication issues sorted; bullying in any format is just dreadful and so unfair.

    The incredible news re Michael and David just beggars belief - why praise the book in the first place .. I agree they'll be better off elsewhere ...

    Hope life can settle for you again soon .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Thank you, Hilary. I feel so angry about both the Goodreads bullying and Michael and David's treatment. I had to speak out about both.

      Yes. I'm hoping my Amazon problems can be resolved and I can get back to writing!

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  6. There seems to be no end to cyber-bullying. I hope your issues with KDP will soon be resolved.

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    1. Cyber-bullying is the nasty side of the internet, where any user is a faceless entity and can hide behind that anonymity. It sickens me.

      Thank you for good wishes regarding KDP.

      Delete
  7. There is a list in GR calling for authors to be raped and sodomised?! Er.. hello!??! Where are the police? What is GR doing about it? Where are the police? :-(

    How utterly depressing.

    Wishing Michael all the best and yay for such wonderful support from fellow writers.

    Good luck sorting out the KDP amazon glitches - shame on their customer services though. :-(

    Take care
    x

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    1. Allegedly there are, Old Kitty. Shocking, isn't it? However, it's good to know that there is a way to flag abusive reviews and that action is taken.

      Thank you for your good wishes regarding my KDP problems!

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  8. Your news in this post is in turns frustrating, shocking and depressing. I don't think most people would realise how scary it is for an author to put their work 'out there' where it (and the author!) is open to this kind of abuse, disrespect and lack of support from the very organisations that should be championing books and are earning money off the back of your endeavours.
    Hope you get your KDP stuff fixed, and take care 'out there'.

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    1. Well said! It IS frustrating, shocking and depressing. But if enough of us speak out about these issues, they will have to sit up and take some notice.

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  9. Hope your KDP glitch gets sorted soon! Such sad news :( but I am certain WOVEN will find a fabulous home soon and David and Michael will be treated respectfully, as every author deserves. <3

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    1. I'm certain of that too, Mia. The right publisher will step forward this time, and they'll be so much better off for it.

      Thank you for your good wishes regarding to my KDP problems.

      Delete
  10. Do you think the KDP thing is a glitch they can't figure out or won't figure out? Must be Peeves. So sorry!

    The Goodreads thing is creepy.

    David's a good friend, and my heart's been breaking for him and Michael. What happened was deplorable and something had to be said. The one silver lining to this whole thing, as noted by other, is the attention they've been getting.

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    1. I have no idea, Donna. Personally I get the feeling they know there is a problem and can't sort it. The reason I say this is that at no point did they refer to or even acknowledge the actual problem.

      I agree with what you say about David and Michael's book. It was deplorable and my heart goes out to them both.

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  11. Good luck with getting the two books back out, updated as you want, and distributed. I hope it all goes smoothly - and I'm sure this time it will.

    I too have heard about the GR bullying, but not seen it myself. There are some very strange people out there freely posting their abusive nonsense on the internet, and the issue is sometimes difficult to address - but when it takes place on a site like GR it is not difficult at all. GR should take it in hand and ban those offending members. It's not difficult, not complicated, and most forums deal with abuse better than GR have so far dealt with this.

    Thank goodness David and Michael are getting support from the writing community. Ironically, this horrible case of bigoted behaviour from a publisher has resulted in a level of publicity which will serve them well should they choose to publish independently. I wish them good luck whatever course they choose.

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    1. I hope the second edition goes more smoothly as well. One positive thing to come out of this is that it has given me the kick up the backside to release my book in more than one format.

      Well said about GRs. It's not difficult. It's a matter of moderation.

      Yes. If there is a good thing to have come out of David and Michael's treatment, it's that they will get another publisher. That's not to say Woven wouldn't have without the publicity because clearly it's a book worth publishing!

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  12. There sure seems to be a lot of controversial stuff going on. I'm so sorry for your issues with Amazon-- sounds very frustrating.

    I'm also sorry David and Michael have gone through all the mess they have, but I suspect, in the end, good karma will go their way.

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  13. I'm so sorry about your problems with Amazon. While the net is an awesome place, it seems some companies have grown so big so fast that they don't have management to take care of problems properly. Google has taken away people's blogs for nebulous reasons (including blocking mine for a few days) and GR has the problems you mentioned, which are even more alarming when you realize that GR minimum member age is 13. Yes, 13-year-olds can easily read the rude, crude, and lewd messages and shelf-names on GR.

    Thanks for giving my blog a shout out! I really hope you have no more troubles with either PASSING TIME or TAKING TIME after this. :-)

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  14. I'm sorry you're having all the Amazon problems. I hope the second editions at least get the problem solved. Amazon is just a huge machine that doesn't have the capability of handling any kind of human aspect. A bit sad, really.

    On the other hand, those Mormon authors totally showed their humanness. Good for them!

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  15. Amazon was once a nice alternative to other large combines, but now it is all for the shareholders and nothing much for the customers just like all the rest. As for nasty comments, I was always told, if you cannot htink of anything nice to say, then say nothing. Pity that philosophy seems to be lacking in so many people on line.

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  16. Sorry to hear you've been having these problems - my experience with Amazon has been mostly very good, although I've had one or two serious issues with KDP, too. I hope it all gets resolved soon.

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