Well, I noticed it the other day, but didn’t say anything publicly besides a passing comment on my Facebook, but it’s time to say something publicly about it for those who don’t know. One of the things we authors who try our hardest to do things right have been complaining about with the digital ebook revolution going on around us is that anyone and everyone can put up a book or a short story on Amazon.com, with no policing for quality, no gatekeepers anymore, so there’s no vetting, no editing, no formatting required. That means those who take the time to do it right are lost in the ocean and lumped in together with those who don’t, giving a bad name to all indie publishing authors.
But there’s something we can do about it now. And it’s worth it.
Below every Kindle book, if you scroll down, down, down, you’ll see a place that says: Feedback. It looks like this:
Do you see that part that says: “Would you like to report poor quality or formatting in this book?”
Thank you, Amazon.com! Thank you! We’ve needed this for some time. It’s important when the marketplace has no gatekeepers that the buying public can report on the issues, something more than just leaving reviews. Reviews can be purchased. Reviews can be gamed. Reviews can be faked. Consumers can be tricked by reviews. But if a customer support specialist really looks at the reports and if more than one person reports the same issue on a book or a story, then maybe, just maybe, the authors or publishers will be required to step up their game and do them professionally, instead of just slapping something up and hoping to make a buck.
When you click on the link to report, it asks several questions, for the type of report. These are:
See that? The choices are: Is poorly formatted… Has Typos… Has low quality images or tables… Has other issues (please specify below)… and it lets you make a comment, regardless of which option you choose.
Now, while I can see some people will use this maliciously, I would like to think Amazon.com can see when that’s happening and it won’t hurt an author who is doing it right. But for those really poor-quality, crappy books that the authors have slapped up just to make a buck (like the PLR stuff, not just books where authors really tried), or for books where the author might truly not even be aware of what’s wrong, this is a chance to find out WHY their book or story might not be selling or why they are getting returns, etc.
If you are an author and you truly want to be read and want people to like your writing and you want to make a career or a living out of doing this, then you should be, have to be, open to feedback and criticism. So if consumers are saying your book isn’t good enough for the marketplace, wouldn’t you rather know the truth, be able to fix it and eventually have a wonderful book that people like and want to read, that’s easy to read and that looks professional? Sure, it might sting a bit when you get a negative criticism, but if you really think about it, criticism isn’t negative at all, if you use the criticism to improve and make a better product for the consumer, your readership. So real writers, who really want to have good books, will not be scared of this reporting feature, even if they do have some issues they might need to address.
And those who don’t give a crap, who just want to slap stuff up and make money, who don’t want to bother with making the work readable, good, quality or professional, those will eventually be pushed down and off the site.
The cream will rise to the top. Consumers have more control. Writers become better writers. Publishers become better service and entertainment providers. The marketplace improves… there is nothing ‘bad’ about this, as long as Amazon.com polices the reports they get and investigates to ensure there isn’t malicious reporting. I’m going to trust them to do that for now.
So my rally cry to all you readers out there, don’t be afraid to report a Kindle book that is not up to par. Be honest in your feedback to Amazon.com customer service when you report it, so they know you’re not being malicious but have a real reason for reporting. They will contact the author or publisher, and the books will be removed or improved and replaced. Your report is anonymous. It’s win/win/win if you do it right.
And if you’re an author or publisher who gets notified by Amazon.com that your book is sub-par for any reason, don’t take it personally. Take it as a criticism geared to improve your product, your writing, and your readership. It’s not negative. It’s a chance to excel, with the reading public telling you exactly what they want from you to succeed. Listen to it, and you can achieve your success. Don’t listen to it, and your Kindle products will sit there, not selling, and you’ll never know why.
Readers, if you want better quality stories and books, take the time to 1) leave a legitimate, detailed review with appropriate rating of every book you read and 2) report books that are sub-par in formatting, typos/editing or other issues. Now, this doesn’t mean report a book just because you don’t like the story–we all have stories we like or don’t like for whatever reason that perhaps our friends did like or we like something they don’t, etc. That’s subjective. But objectively, we know when there’s bad editing, bad writing, bad formatting, etc. Report it. Demand excellence and quality, and eventually, that’s what you’ll get.
Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep reporting. Keep listening. Keep growing.
Onward and upward!
Love and stuff,
PS: My short-story, CELESTE, that’s available on Amazon.com has a couple of pretty good reviews on it, and it’s broken into the top 40k this morning. I’d like to see it rank even higher and I know you’ll find the ending interesting. Please, if you’re looking for something to read, consider picking up this novella today! Email me or ping me here in a comment or on Facebook, and I’ll even send you a coupon to get your choice of one of my other shorts for FREE!