Are We There Yet?

In its infinite wisdom, Amazon is now allowing readers to provide “quality assurance feedback” on ebooks, line by line, word by word. Readers can also provide input on plotting problems, and all of this ends up on an author’s brand spankin’ new QA dashboard. I got the email from Amazon mid-week, gleefully announcing that this great new feature is now live. I was cheerfully directed to please go through the 217 identified issues affecting seventeen different books, and let Amazon know how I’ll resolve each one.

This helps improve Amazon’s automation! [Insert muttered profanity of your choice here.] Occasionally, readers are genuinely typo-spotting, but mostly…

The day had not gone well before that little bombshell. Running errands in a Phase One opening state, where nobody knows which rules are in force and which ones have been lifted, made for a tedious day. I was also tired from a pretty bad night’s sleep, and then Amazon–who keeps 50 cents for every dollar I make at that site–drops 217 action items on me. If I don’t clear those action items, Amazon will put Mr. Yuck QA stickers on my books, and tank their rankings.

My mood sure tanked. I am normally pretty even-keeled, see-the-humor, this-too-shall-pass, but I got into a grumpy, overwhelmed, to heck with this, place. To a degree that it unnerved me a little, and I bethought myself: Well, what are you going to DO about this, Grace Ann? What can you do?

I did three things (besides make of a cup of tea and have some chocolate): First, I went for a ramble around the yard. I own the nucleus of a farmstead, so my property includes a pretty little bank barn, and I love that barn. I just like to behold it. For a few years, I kept horses in that barn, and that’s a happy memory. I love all my big trees, the sheer abundance of greenery around me, the endless potential for flower beds. Love it, love it.

Second, I picked myself a bouquet of German irises from the yard and put the bouquet where I will see it often.

Third, I went to YouTube, and loaded up on 80s dance tunes. Jump (Pointer Sisters version), Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Little Red Corvette, Sharp-Dressed Man, Never Gonna Break My Stride, I’m So Excited, and of course, It’s Raining Men, among others.

I chair-danced, I got up and shook it, I hit rewind, and I shook it some more. I looked ridiculous, of this I have no doubt, but the cats won’t tell anybody, and so what if they do. I’m of age, and it’s my caboose to do with as I please in the privacy of my own kitchen. I was not instantly ebullient, nor do I have much good to say about Amazon’s business values, but I did raise my spirits enough to get past the day’s speed bumps.

How do you boost your mood when the Undertoad tries to steal your fire? I’ll add three commenters to my ARC list for A Lady’s Dream Come True.

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28 comments on “Are We There Yet?

  1. Chocolate. Coffee or tea or chocolate infused coffee. Flowers (store bought, fresh picked, the view from my window or in a book or magazine). Cookies, preferably chocolate chip. And REPEAT as often as necessary.

    Sometimes I fuss and fume–either in private or in front of my family. It clears the palate when stuff goes golly-wampus and I can move on.

    It’s tough when you are hit with crazy stuff you didn’t sign up for and, like magic, you’re supposed to be the one to rectify it.

    Love that picture of Greg Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov from “White Nights!”

    Have a lovely Memorial Day Weekend, Grace!

  2. I HATE that type of upgrade to “serve you better.” You aren’t selling widgets! One of my favorite series cast Ophelia in Romeo & Juliet or some such, but it was off-broadway, NYC, lots of paranormal and she decided to leave it as it was.You haven’t been given the choice about dealing with action items.

    If I am able I will do what I can. I have successfully challenged my tax assessment 3 times in the last 15 years. Although it still makes me biting mad, they do spell out exactly how it’s done. I have danced. Beach Boys are my choice. Back when my wrists let me, I pounded the piano. Now I try to take a nap. I will do, say and write things that are not “helpful,” otherwise.

    • My daughter tells me there is a full time employee at her place of business, that does manufacture widgets, who reads and answers these action items from a number of platforms all day. Depending on the issue, the company has about five lawyer-approved comments.

      Serious issues are sent up the line with a “Please contact X at Customer Service.” Widgets, after all, can cause bodily harm. “Throw the book” at them?

  3. I’m no lady when I need to let off steam.In the privacy of my own home I let rip all sorts of nasty rude words that would shock my friends because they think I speak well and correct.Somewhere in my youth I collected a selection of words that have helped me work through anger,frustration,bewilderment.It’s my little dictionary of obscene words kept in my head and for my ears only.I feel better afterwards.Works for me.!!!Hope you find the strength to combat those extra Amazon frustrations in some way—-good luck.

  4. I want to be added to your advanced reader list! I want to dance with glee on a chair to tad 80’s music when I get crap news and I want my book to never!! End!! I’m currently at 74% of “A Duke by Any Other Name”. I felt myself slowing down in despair as I near the end of my book. I don’t want it to end ! It’s such a great book and they are such great characters. I love Althea. She so different than the normal heroine, quirky, witty and fun. So I ambled on over to your website and read your adorable rant. Loved it by the way. Only to get knocked down by your bad news. Too long to wait for the next book!! Please put me on your advanced reading work list please please please and get me off my own chair dancing to 90s music. Thanks, Jeannie

  5. I’m so sorry about Amazon, Grace. I read another author rightfully kvetching about this new policy this weekend. It’s ridiculous, and I’m so annoyed for y’all.

    I do some deep breathing or meditation, and get out into nature when I want to improve my mood. Best is to do a quick walk in nature. I’ve also starting leaving my office and asking those around me what blessing they are grateful for right now, which is a great way of re-framing my thoughts!

  6. So sorry Amazon has tossed another roadblock at you!

    I find the corgis are great therapy when things frustrate me. Greg will walk anywhere with me. Rose, Greg and I have a 2000 step “oldies“ morning walk. Hit the 10,000 plus steps twice last week due in huge part to the corgi walks. Patting the dogs is a stress reliever, too.

    Of course tea, wine, carrot and cookies help relieve stress as well!

    I try to make a plan to figure out the best way around a roadblock, make a list and work through the issue.

    Take care and try to enjoy the weekend!

  7. First, I am right there with you on the chocolate, especially dark chocolate. Always lifts my mood! Second, as I love to cook, I combine that with loud dance music and shake my booty around the kitchen, spatula in hand. Most situations look better after a great meal and an adrenaline and endorphin boosting workout! My cats also aren’t judgmental, though they have been known to stare…. I don’t care!

  8. Oh dear! I think Amazon has gone insane. I heard another author’s books got mysteriously merged with someone else’s series of different genre & not remotely similar name, despite her series name & number featuring in the book titles! All looked right & tight on her dashboard, but a search for her books by readers brought up something else by someone else entirely. Of course the hapless reps couldn’t see or fix it from their end & I haven’t heard if or how it finally resolved.

    I’ve been following rabbits down YouTube holes to distract myself from idiocy beyond my control. Normally I’d give the house a good scrubbing, but doctor says not yet.

  9. I’m pretty sensitive, so I usually can’t help but stew about it for a while. Then, after I’ve finished pouting, I tell myself to look at the big picture, and how this little incident relates to the state of the world. Then I turn to a good book or movie or favorite food and try to be honest with myself. If the incident is criticism, was it justified? If so, what do I have to do to fix? If it’s just pure meanness, or something beyond my control, I give myself a reality check and try to move on.

  10. I too like to listen to music to lift my spirits; oldies from 60s&70a&80s
    Plus look at yummy book covers from my go to rereads;
    Every Grace Burrowes ebook is on my list

  11. The staying at home has made many things difficult. Since I only use the car once every other week the car battery has slowly weakened. I ordered a battery charger to keep the charge up and, wouldn’t you know it, they delivered it to the post office. I had to get a jump start to go to the post office and then found out that the package was lost. When I came out of the post office the car was dead again. Luckily right next door there was an automotive repair shop that was open. One of the guys walked back with me to jump start the car. I drove it to the shop and bought a new battery, then I went home and cancelled the battery charger. I keep thinking life will get better soon…

  12. Well, I have a new pick me up with the video of ‘It’s Raining Men’. For other pick me ups, I read good books since it is virtually impossible to watch anything uninterrupted in my house. Too many animals and people wandering about.

    • Oh, yes, one of my other unfortunately pick me ups is ice cream. Klondike bars. I’m trying to replace them with apples but that hasn’t quite taken yet.

      • Forgot to add I am so sorry about Amazon’s little addition. I googled the dashboard and it seems as if most of yours are probably going to be ‘not an issue’, but you still have to take the time and trouble to look at each one. I am sorry that so many readers seem to relish reporting what they think are errors. Maybe they are bored being in quarantine?

        I sincerely hope that authors can give feedback to whatever part of Amazon had this fabulous idea and get them to change what can be reported. Having half a chapter missing is worth reporting, or having messed up formatting.

        About spelling issues, I hope someone picks one of Shakespeare’s plays or The Canterbury Tales.

  13. Wow you gotta – well, not love but something – how Amazon does these things ‘for’ readers. To be fair, there are some books on “the ‘Zon” that need some serious revisions, but usually customer reviews point those out without harassing authors with the threat of a frowny face sticker. Good luck with addressing the flags Grace!

    What do I do to deal with the Undertoad? Sometimes I do dance around the house when only the cats and dog can see me. Sometimesss I belt out the lyrics to whatever songs I feel like playing. Sometimes I indulge in chocolate – always a good option, chocolate is. Sometimes I cuddle with the cats and dog — assuming I haven’t scared them away with my dancing and singing. Sometimes I read a book – also a good option pretty much all the time. Sometimes I sit outdoors and indulge in a glass of wine. Often I do some combination of the above options however, usually no dancing or singing outdoors. I don’t want to traumatize my neighbors. 😉

    Along with the other joys of easing back on restrictions, my daughter is a county parks employee and this weekend they reopened the county parks – at limited numbers of guests compared to the old normal. However, admission is cash only at most parks. She is terrified of giving me COVID since I’m high risk especially after my bout with shingles and Ramsay Hunt Bell’s palsy a few years ago. So who knows when I’ll see her without a mask if at all.

    Stay safe!

  14. At the risk of being a total bore, I hug my dogs. I also put on audio books.

    NOW, I am appalled that Amazon takes 50%. That said, How can I get hard copy when your books come out without Amazon? I really do NOT like ebooks. Interesting that I know nothing about this new function???

  15. My comment is likely to be a little all over the board because I’m upset and my mind is pinging around all the corners it never usually visits… BUT…

    I am profoundly upset with what Amazon is trying to do. I fully intend to email Mr. Jeff Bezos ([email protected]) to complain about this new procedure.
    I agree with everyone and think Amazon has gone insane.
    I hardly ever give feedback or write reviews, but this must be addressed. It is not the readers job to improve plot. It discounts ALL the hard work and blood, sweat, and tears the authors (and editors and proofreaders) have gone through to provide the book. It assumes all mistakes or errors need to be addressed. (Maybe in my durable medical equipment this would be true, but it is not in this case.)

    It is also highly unnecessary. We have “reviews”… if the plot or whatever is not great, _that_ is how to address it. It should not be addressed in a form that _requires_ the author to respond.

    Not all books will appeal to all readers. This procedure leaves the creative process out of the picture.
    Are we now able to tell Alexandre Dumas that his “Man in the Iron Mask” needed to be longer? or shorter? That he wasn’t clear enough about who the guy in the mask really was? And, if he doesn’t respond, the book is less worthy to be read and rated? Should we tell him that killing D’Artagnan was totally depressing and he should fix that and have him live?

    There are other reasons why this is a bad idea and I really want to rant a whole lot more… but, I will stop.

    *taking a deep breath, counting to ten, releasing slooowwwllllyyyy…
    Ok. What _I_ do to let off steam is rant in a big way until I come up with _every_ single solitary reason why my way is right and honorable… frequently, my vocabulary extends into cursing despite my southern-politeness-at-all-times Mother’s instructions. Then I take a deep breath and think about if there is anything I can do to fix the issue. Does an injustice need to be addressed? Will my words help? If yes, I write. Do I need to go somewhere in person? Then I jump in the shower, get in my car, and go.
    I like the dancing bit, though! Music improves mood so much and the dancing helps release more endorphins to lift the spirit.

    Grace IS grace under fire!

    I get to be the one to complain and be heard because, as the customer, I can affect Amazon’s bottom line… maybe only by pennies, but even a little should scare them into reviewing this ridiculous thing they are doing because a trickle can become a flood.

  16. Oh man, even plotting problems? That’s awful! What do they expect you to do about those, after the book has been published? And to answer the question, recently when something brought me down, I watched a favorite video. Also I’m partial to listening to Runaway Train when down; for some inexplicable reason that makes me feel better! Sometimes I write stories. Often I use bad language. 🙂 but eventually I brighten up again. Stay well!

  17. While I’m not really against the “new and improved” way of doing things, I don’t like that they discount the old way in the process. When they add the truly negative aspect, because we all know that the negative comment gets more press than the encouraging one, then there should be a halt to the progress until they work in some plus sides to the equation.
    Since i’m generally overworked with 2 jobs, I have simplified my desires for myself, and put desire back into the calculation. I read your books and others to allow myself that lift to my spirit. I’ve read all of yours and the families portrayed have become family to me. My husband of 42 years encourages me to get happy and indulges me in helping erase the day’s worries. He loves that I research the weird little aspects of the story and now know about merino sheep and coal regions in Wales or that I have a new word to use from the superlative vocabulary in these books.
    Just keep being your lovely self and switch off the computer if it gets to be too much, except for the dancing – that sounds fabulous.

  18. Happy Memorial Day! I take a deep breath and then make a mental list of five things that I am thankful for, then I dive into a favorite book. I do not understand what Amazon is doing. Your books are great! They are well written, connect well and are a must read. Have a blessed day!

  19. I am appalled at Amazon’s policy of opening your writing to such a widespread invasion. Every word you write is your intellectual property. It belongs to you and should not be used by Amazon as a miserable stunt to get more activity on their site. I find their insistence that you “fix” every comment made by an anonymous source to be insulting and a form of blackmail. I am so sorry! You do not deserve such treatment.

  20. The Amazon plot to rule the world continues! So sorry to hear about this added aggravation.

    A nice long walk — or run, when my knees were younger — always makes me feel better — fresh air, green trees, blue sky, some birds and some wonderful exercise.

    Of course, chocolate is always useful, too, lol!

  21. I have a specific playlist named: Music to Get Out of a Funk. Like yours, they require movement. In fact, it is impossible for me to be still. In theory the movement generates much needed endorphins. Doesn’t matter. It works.

    • When my kids were toddlers, I had 2 90 minutes cassette tapes of lively music. I date myself. However, they danced, ran, rolled… I think I entitled one “Wonderful Noise.” Got me in some trouble later on as I found out they’d learned lyrics to some interesting songs.

  22. Please, please, please tell me how I can access this “quality assurance feedback” dashboard. I am horrified and outraged that Amazon has felt authoritarian enough to so blithely intrude upon an author’s work. If it is believed that readers have the right to criticize an author’s work, Amazon needs to recall that an avenue is already available: reviews. Once I have seen it for myself, I’ll be armed to write to Jeff Bezos about the simple fact that he has lost his mind.

    I’m further horrified by the fact that Amazon keeps 50% of your hard-earned money. Personally, I prefer the Kindle application for reading books, but I do have the apps for most other major retailers (Nook, Rakuten/Kobo, iBooks, etc.). If any of those others give you a better deal, please let me know. That would be reason enough to switch.

    Obviously, the best deal of all for you is purchasing from your web store. Unfortunately, I have already preordered your all your future books through Amazon, up to and including an anthology you’re participating in that is to be released in May, 2021. I will have to cancel all of them.

    As far as what I do when I’m overtaken by idiocy that creeps into my life, I’m doing it. I write. There’s a saying in my house: “I feel a letter coming on!” I have fumed at my family for a bit about whatever has my dander up and then I write a letter. I was told, long ago, by a superb nursing lecturer, to always send the mail to the right address. It increases the chances that it will get there.

    Long story short, crabbing to my husband or best friend accomplishes nothing. Send it to the right person to get results. Maybe.

    Best wishes to you, Grace-