by Erin Mitchell
It’s been quite a week. To wit:
It started with Sandy. We all know what happened, but I fear that few of us fully realize the ferocious impact the storm continues to have on the humans inhabiting New York and its environs. I’ve heard stories of horrific devastation and great kindness on the part of those trying to help. This report from one such volunteer pains a stark and frightening picture, and is well worth a read.
And because I’d be remiss in not mentioning this: In the hours before and then right through Sandy’s arrival, I was online, and I was horrified to see that people—including authors—were still posting and sending marketing messages. “Download my book before the power goes out!” Really? I didn’t think this needed to be said, but here goes:
When there is a major natural disaster imminent or happening that affects a large portion of your audience (aka, fellow human beings), hit “pause” on your marketing messages. Take a break. Show some respect. Spend your energy elsewhere. Thank you.
In other news, Amazon seems to have finally acknowledged that their review system has problems, and they’ve responded by making it even worse. It seems that legitimate reviews posted by authors are being deleted. Far from addressing the real sockpuppet issues, this slash-and-burn policy only proves that Amazon has yet to get it. And worse, they haven’t even bothered to explain this new policy in their review guidelines. Steve Weddle explains what’s happened in this post. One of the emails he received from Amazon said:
We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product. As a result, we've removed your reviews for this title.
This seems to mean that according to Amazon, authors, publishers, and people who work in bookstores aren’t legitimate readers.
This week also saw the arrival of November, which means the US presidential election is in the home stretch. Whatever your political persuasion, I think we can all agree that this has been the harshest election cycle in memory. If you don’t know where to vote (and even if you think you do, because polling places occasionally move), Google has a helpful tool here that will provide your polling place as well as a ballot summary.
Finally, should you happen to be reading this from anywhere in the vicinity of Milwaukee, I hope to see you at Murder and Mayhem in Muskego next Saturday, November 10.
Be careful out there.