Customer service: you win some, you lose some

Last week, out of the blue, my Kindle packed up. Lines across two thirds of the screen. I turned it on and off again. I cuddled it and told it I loved it, but nothing. I got home and contacted Amazon Customer Service. Have you ever contacted them? On the site, there’s an option for them to call you and literally as soon as you click on it the phone starts ringing. Amazing.

So I told the guy what was wrong and he said it was a hardware failure and, since my Kindle was out of warranty (I’ve had it for two years), I’d have to buy a new one, but they could offer me a discount on whichever one I wanted. I said I’d have to think about it. I thought about it for a while and then I rang up and ordered a new one.

Again, the two people I spoke to at customer services were wonderful: polite and efficient. I was probably on the phone for no more than 3 minutes. They said the Kindle would be sent by free delivery, so it would be with me by next Friday (i.e. the 17th). It arrived yesterday. And before it had even arrived, I went on the website to send a sample to my iPad and the option was there to send it to “Keris’s 2nd Kindle.” Fab.

We ordered a new bed from KandCo on 27 June. They would contact us to arrange delivery within three weeks. Got back from holiday to find a delivery card through the door with ‘Bed’ scrawled on it. They hadn’t been in touch. Couple of days later, two men in a van turned up to deliver the bed (they still hadn’t been in touch). I had to turn them away since we had nowhere to put it while we still had our old bed. They said that was fine, the company would be in touch re redelivery.

Got rid of our old bed. Nothing from KandCo. Emailed customer service. They wrote offering a 20% discount on next order, no info re delivery. I phoned last week, someone would get straight back to me. This morning I got an email to tell me the bed had been returned to the warehouse and the order cancelled. Sorry!

On the upside, I can use the 20% discount to buy the bed again. But delivery is within 3 weeks and we’re sleeping on a mattress.

The future is here

I’ve just signed one of my books on Kindle. No, really.

A while ago, I signed up with Kindlegraph. I spent way too long trying to get my signature just right with a mouse and then forgot all about it.

Yesterday, I had my first request! I tried the mouse thing again, but then remembered the iPad and actually managed a marginally better signature with my finger (you can only imagine how long I spent trying – if I buy one of those iPad pen thingies, that might be better).

Exciting!

(I don’t usually put a kiss over the i in my name, but since I couldn’t dot it with the iPad – and I usually put a kiss after my name – I thought I’d kill two birds.)

Five things you (probably) didn’t know you could do with your Kindle

I’ve mentioned Wrappz.com before and my Kindle is currently adorned with a lovely Jessie Hearts NYC skin from there, but new book = new skin, so soon I will be ordering an Emma Hearts LA version.

I read about Readlists via Swissmiss and it sounds like a great idea. Collect a bunch of web pages and have them sent to your Kindle like an ebook.

I haven’t tried Readlists, but I do use the Google Chrome Send to Kindle add-on quite a lot. As above, it’s for sending web content to your Kindle for offline reading. Great for longer articles/blog posts. I’ve also just started using Instapaper (on Diane‘s recommendation) and that seems really great. You save any articles you want to read later and set Instapaper to send them direct to your Kindle.

Did you know you can transfer the notes you make on your Kindle to your computer? No, neither did I. (Unless you did, in which case, why didn’t you tell me?) Until I read this. (via @IndieAuthorsAlliance)

I’m sure you know you can send documents to your Kindle, but did you know that if you email a PDF with “convert” in the subject line, it will automatically be converted into a more readable format? So much better than all the zooming you have to do with a PDF.

Anything I’m missing? Let me know. 

UPDATED: Recalculating by Jennifer Weiner: from idea to ebook in less than a week

I know that as an author I’m not supposed to be excited about the possibilities of e-publishing, but I can’t help it, I really am. So I was intrigued to hear about Jennifer Weiner’s latest project: a short story (approximately 10,000 words) called Recalculating.

Jennifer had the idea for the story last Tuesday. And it was published – on iBooks, Amazon and B&N today. Yes, today. From idea to publication in less than a week. (Read Jennifer’s blog post about it here.)

Now Jennifer is a professional with nine published books behind her and years of experience as a newspaper journalist. She wrote the story quickly, her agent, editor and copyeditor all read it and gave her feedback and it has a professionally designed cover – this is very much not the same as an unpublished author e-publishing their NaNoWriMo book on 1 December – but it’s still a pretty exciting idea, don’t you think?

Even though I don’t like ghost/horror stories (because I am a massive wuss), I was intrigued enough to download Recalculating and I really enjoyed it. It was involving enough that until Joe responded to a question Dora the Explorer asked on TV, I’d forgotten he was there (I am an excellent mother…) and it absolutely didn’t read like a rush job (and I only spotted one mistake – “Blue-ray” instead of “Blu-ray”).

So what do you think? Is this an interesting prospect for authors or the beginning of the end? Or, you know, just a story…

UPDATED: Following a heated debate in the comments in which I was accused of being “pointlessly snide” about self-publishers, I just wanted to clarify my position. I didn’t intend to be snide or negative about self-publishing at all. The point I (thought I) was making with the example of NaNo novels published on 1 December, is that, for the majority of authors, publishing anything so soon after writing it isn’t a good idea. I used NaNo as an example a) because it starts tomorrow and b) because apparently agents and publishers are actually sent unedited NaNo novels at the beginning of December (which obviously is also a very bad idea!). I’m not accusing anyone of anything!

Win a Kindle skin from Wrappz.com

 

It arrived! Isn’t it gorgeous? After my last post about how to use your Kindle to promote your book, I contacted Wrappz.com and cheekily asked them if they’d consider offering me a freebie. And they did. But not just that, they also offered a £20 voucher for me to give away as a prize.

You can spend the voucher on whatever you want – it doesn’t need to be a Kindle skin and it certainly doesn’t need to be the Jessie cover – Wrappz.com also provides custom skins for iPods, phones, laptops, iPads, and more.

If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning, leave a comment and I’ll pick someone at random in a week. Tweet for an extra entry. And this competition is open internationally – hurrah!

Competition closes midnight GMT on Friday 17th June

Would you want a “director’s commentary” for a book?

Have you seen the “Public Notes” option on the Kindle?

It allows Kindle users to make their book notes and highlights available for others to see. Which means that any Kindle user – including authors – can “opt-in to share their thoughts on book passages and ideas with friends, family members, colleagues and the greater Kindle community of people who love to read.”

I haven’t tried it yet, but surely that means an author could add background or extra details to a book, much in the way that turning on “director’s commentary” in DVD extras works with a film. I think it’s an interesting idea. What do you think? Is that something you’d be interested in reading? (Authors: is that something you’d be interested in writing!?)

Use your Kindle to promote your book

I was just footling around on Twitter, as is my habit, when I saw the lovely author Stephanie Burgis had tweeted a link to some gorgeous Kindle skins. Now I love my Kindle, but looks-wise it is a bit on the dull side, no? So I hopped over to have a look at the skins and while there were some lovely ones, I thought, “You know? I’d like one with my book cover on. Also that would turn my Kindle into an excellent advert if I ever, you know, left the house.” I tweeted this concept to Stephanie and Iffath of fab book blog Love ReadingX sent us a link showing a Kindle skin featuring Josephine Angelini’s book Starcrossed. I immediately Googled “bespoke Kindle skins” and found Wrappz.com. I uploaded the Jessie ♥ NYC cover and then…

… I’m not going to tell a lie, I squee’d, wiped a tear from my eye and hopped up and down in my seat like a chimp. Then I made one for Stephanie:

And then did one for Della Says: OMG:

Fabulous, right? Obviously I haven’t ordered one yet so don’t know what they’re like in reality, but they cost just £14.99 (plus £2.95 postage) so it’s definitely worth a try. I’ll order one asap and report back.