The Gorilla and the Grasshopper

Gorilla

Who is the gorilla and who is the grasshopper? Well, in my post the gorilla is Amazon and the grasshopper is me. I figure I am less in the sight of Amazon than a grasshopper but the connotation of mites is not pleasant.

Why do I make this comparison?

Because my exchanges with Amazon customer service have been frustrating, when I managed to find them, and without resolution or reply to my question. I also understand that to them I am not important.

The Gorilla

Like many victims of the Gorilla’s algorithm I lost many honest reviews. Some were from people on my mailing list – and I didn’t tell them to leave 5-star reviews. A few might have, but I do not know who had left them. All I knew was that the review total dropped. What I did notice a few weeks ago was a puzzling notice when I clicked to review in order to put a direct link into the back of my latest novella..

Amazon, the gorilla stomps

So, I checked my books and novellas.
Hold the Faith – has the notice.
Grow in Grace – has the notice.
Light of Truth – has the notice.
Keep the Flame – has the notice.
Hell Shall Not prevail – you guessed it – has the notice.
After the Thirty Days – has the notice.
No Evil Shall Befall You – has the notice.
Clash of Faiths, now also has the notice.

Apostle John Fiction and spin-off novellas, cover images
Amazon gorilla gatekeeper

Shock, puzzlement, annoyance, and then another doze of bewilderment set in. Because every one of my books had that notice, and still have, I had no choice but to brave the gatekeeper and contact Customer Service.

I say ‘brave the gatekeeper’ because the few times I have tried to contact Amazon customer service the ‘hoops and pages’ to go through are daunting. Then ‘Contact Us’ requires choices from a series of drop-down choices… none of which have ever fitted my query.

The Grasshopper

Well, I went through the hoops and reached a chat option. (Email was not an option.) After reiterating all that I had put in ‘Other’ in order to move forward, the person asked me to wait while he/she checked.

I did.

Thew grasshopper

When the person returned it was to tell me that someone would contact me by email within twenty-four hours.

That didn’t happen. Another day later, I jumped through the hoops again and spoke to another operator – who did the same thing… asked me to wait while he/she checked. This time the reply was slightly different. “The reason for the delay is that there is an issue. I promise it will be sorted within twenty four hours.’

Truly – the person said ‘promise.’

email icon

Well it was more than twenty-four hours, but an email finally arrived.

 

This is a copy of the text.

Hello,

When we detect unusual reviewing behavior on a product, we place limits on review submissions. We may limit the submission of all reviews or limit reviews to Amazon Verified Purchase reviews. We place limits on reviews to preserve trust in customer reviews.

While we are unable to determine when the limits may be removed, customers are free to try submitting reviews later.

My question had been ‘Why is there a notice on each of my books and novellas saying, ‘We are currently unable to accept a review for this product.’

However, I now had an email address so didn’t need the customer service hoops, so replied to the email and said that the reply did not answer my question… and asked my question again, with some additional, appropriate information. Also, what is unusual reviewing behavior?

The next reply was even less relevant.

Customer Reviews are removed for the following reasons:

• The review violates our Customer Review Creation Guidelines (http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines).
• A customer can decide to remove their own review.
• The review is on a page that incorrectly links multiple items. We remove these reviews when we separate the items.

To protect the privacy of our customers, we do not share information about specific reviews with anyone other than the customer who posted it.

Stomped on by the gorilla. I did try in the Amazon Facebook group and they sent me an address, but all that happened when I used it to ask my question was a similar ‘off-topic’ reply.

Susan M B Preston, author

I am glad that my writings are not ‘exclusive’ to Amazon. If their algorithms do this to many people, Amazon might find it is a monkey in the room, not the gorilla.

Stomped on but not squashed,

Susan

Where do the books, and novellas come from?

Books

Books and novellas come from the writers’ minds.  I can only tell you about my books and the process of writing them.

If you arrived here via the ‘welcome’ page you would have seen the cover and part of the blurb for the latest novella – ‘No Evil Shall Befall You.’ I change the page for each of the new books and novellas I publish. There is a third novella coming. (Stay tuned.)

My books and writing

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

I have been asked before about how I write, but that was a long time ago, and now there are more. The Apostle John Series is complete, five books in all. Originally, they were inspired by a detailed series of Bible studies that set me wondering… and researching. Then, as I have seen other authors mention, the characters take over, so, I have to ask if I will ‘allow’ that, or if it takes the book in a different direction. Writers are often asked if they are ‘plotters’ or ‘pantsers.’ In other words, is each book plotted out chapter by chapter, or written by the ‘seat of the author’s pants?’

Mine are a mixture. I know what will happen, and key points on the way to the end, but the bits in between are the result of inspiration, research and sometimes a bit of correction. (The characters have to remain consistent over the book series, and in the case of the first novella, to the way they were in the books in the series.)

Please allow me to explain

After the Thirty Days, by Susan M B Preston

After the Thirty Days is the completing of Esther’s story. This novella picks up some threads from the middle of Hell Shall Not Prevail (before we join John on Patmos.) Her cousin, Judah, heir to their grandfather, ‘Old Simon,’ and the workers in ‘Old Simon’s’ shop are also carry-overs from the series to this novella. All of them needed to be consistent with where they appeared in the books in the series.

No Evil Shall Befall You follows After the Thirty Days – loosely. Simon, son of ‘Old Simon’ returns to Egypt where he has lived for many years to an unpleasant situation he must deal with before he can act on his plans.

No Evil Shall Befall you

In the third, and final, novella, Simon returns to Ephesus.

(Any more at this point would be a ‘spoiler’ and although it is written in my head, it is just over halfway in the manuscript.)

I check everything from the start each time I write.

Making the books authentic

book research

It takes a great deal of research to make the books true to the times. Someone once commented that it would have been better if there had been a kiss in one of the books in the Apostle John Series between a couple whose betrothal was being planned. This would have been totally inaccurate to the time and culture… unless the young woman had been a different ‘type’ of person.

 

I knew this type of information because of extensive research, but my readers do not necessarily have these facts.

This is why I have added ‘Marriage in the 1st Century, AD’ to the ‘Starter pack’ of background information for VIP Readers.

For current VIP Readers a link to download this new PDF will be in the next newsletter, together with ‘Death and Mourning in the 1st Century, AD.’ There is another planned – background to the Egyptian aspects in the second novella. ‘No Evil Shall Befall You.’

Biblical Fiction Books

All the books in the Apostle John Series, as well as the novellas are Biblical fiction. (Spoiler alert – the characters in the novellas are not Christian, but the fiction is Biblical.)

My aim with all of them was, and is, to tell the story of the times. I have been told that through the characters I succeeded and I am grateful to my readers for their feedback.

Remember, you can always ‘pay it forward’ and leave a short review where you bought the book and help other readers make up their minds if it is for them.

Hope you enjoyed the ‘peep behind the scenes’

Till next time,

Susan